DURING the past week, I had ordered the reduction of American personnel in the United States mission in Saigon to levels that could be quickly evacuated during an emergency, while enabling that mission to continue to fulfill its duties.
During the day on Monday, Washington time, the airport at Saigon came under persistent rocket as well as artillery fire and was effectively closed. The military situation in the area deteriorated rapidly.
I therefore ordered the evacuation of all American personnel remaining in South Vietnam.
The evacuation has been completed. I commend the personnel of the Armed Forces who accomplished it as well as Ambassador Graham Martin and the staff of his mission, who served so well under difficult conditions.
This action closes a chapter in the American experience. I ask all Americans to close ranks, to avoid recrimination about the past, to look ahead to the many goals we share, and to work together on the great tasks that remain to be accomplished.