It is one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century and one of the most famous from the Vietnam era. It shows the evacuation of Americans and desperate Vietnamese from an apartment building in Saigon as their city and country began to capitulate to the North Vietnamese Army. Many others would be evacuated from the U.S. embassy.
Just six years earlier, on April 30, 1969, U.S. troop levels had peaked at 543,400. By then, there had already been 33,641 Americans killed, a total greater than the Korean War (historyplace.com).
But on April 30, 1975, the Vietnam War effectively and abruptly ended for America. As the defenses of the city began to collapse, thousands of friendly Vietnamese came to the American embassy in hopes of being evacuated before the communists arrived. Many were evacuated from the embassy rooftop by helo and transported to Navy ships waiting to take them aboard. Almost seven thousand Americans and Vietnamese were evacuated before the airlift ended.
“At 8:35 a.m., the last Americans, ten Marines from the embassy, depart Saigon, concluding the United States presence in Vietnam. North Vietnamese troops pour into Saigon and encounter little resistance. By 11 a.m., the red and blue Viet Cong flag flies from the presidential palace. President Minh broadcasts a message of unconditional surrender. The war is over.” (historyplace.com)
This is a video telling the story of the evacuation from military personnel who were there.
[Updated Apr 30, 2014]