The fall of Saigon in the hands of the North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong forces took place on April 30, 1975, the last day of the Vietnam War. The battle for Saigon was preceded by a heavy artillery bombing of the city, targeting South Vietnamese Army compounds, bases, the airport, and telecommunication centers. At dawn, on April 29, 1975, Tan Son Nhat airport was hard hit by rockets and heavy artillery. At 03:00 hours, on April 30, the commander of the North Vietnamese Army, General Van Tien Dung, was ordered to launch the final attack on the city of Saigon. By 10:00 hours, key facilities and South Vietnamese military installations had been captured after fierce fight as the North Vietnamese T-55 tanks rolled into Saigon, thundering down the streets, bristling with guns that fired shells on South Vietnamese positions. Crowds of South Vietnamese civilians desperately milled about the American Embassy and on the airport periphery.
Evacuations of civilians had already begun on April 3, through Operation Babylift. In addition to the 2,000 orphans evacuated by Babylift, Operation New Life resulted in the evacuation of over 110,000 Vietnamese refugees. Between April 29 and April 30, more than 5,000 American and South Vietnamese civilians were evacuated through Operation Frequemt Wind, using CH-53 Sea Stallion and CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters which landed on US ships. The main evacuation point was the DAO Compound at Tan Son Nhut as buses moved through the city picking up passengers and driving them out to the airport.
The first North Vietnamese Army unit which poured into the city was the 324th Division. At about 11:00 hours, the new South Vietnamese president Duon Van Minh, who had just replaced Nguyen Van Thieu three days before, announced a surrender and asked all South Vietnamese units to cease hostilities. At 11:30 hours, the North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the government palace and a few minutes later the North Vietnamese communist flag was hoisted over the Palace. At 15:30, Duon Van Minh, who was now a prisoner, broadcast over the radio, declaring the Saigon government of South Vietnam completely dissolved at all levels.