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This Day In History: The Final U.S. Combat Troops Withdrew From Vietnam

March 29, 2017

This day in history, March 29, 1973,  the last U.S. combat troops left South Vietnam as Hanoi freed the remaining American prisoners of war held in North Vietnam, just two months after the Vietnam peace agreement was signed.

7,000 U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees remained behind to aid South Vietnam in conducting what looked to be a fierce and ongoing war with communist North Vietnam.

U.S. troop withdrawal began in 1969 and continued throughout the early 1970s due to how unpopular the war effort was in the United States.

In January 1973, representatives of the United States, North and South Vietnam, and the Vietcong signed a peace agreement in Paris, ending the direct U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War. The provisions included a cease-fire throughout Vietnam, the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the release of prisoners of war, and the reunification of North and South Vietnam.

The peace agreement stood for a very short amount of time and even before the final American troops withdrew on March 29, the communists violated the cease-fire, and by early 1974 war had resumed. By the end of 1974, roughly 80,000 soldiers and civilians were killed that year.

On April 30, 1975, the final Americans still in South Vietnam were airlifted out of the country as South Vietnam fell to communist forces. The Vietnam War cost 58,000 American lives and as many as two million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed.