World Food Prize Ambassador Quinn
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THE ARCHIVE OF AMBASSADOR KENNETH M. QUINN
FROM THE MISSISSIPPI TO THE MEKONG
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The Last Battle of the Vietnam War: The Mayaguez Incident

12/5/75

While the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975 is generally seen as the concluding act of the Vietnam War, in fact the last battle took place on a Cambodian island on May 12 when the Khmer Rouge Cambodian communists seized a U.S. commercial ship the Mayaguez. Amb. Quinn recounts the decision by President Ford to bring a unit of U.S. Marines from Japan to liberate the ship and the crew. On the evening of May 14, Air Force helicopters carried the Marine force onto the beaches of Koh Tang Island where it was believed the crew was being held. That attacking force came under extremely heavy Khmer Rouge fire which pinned them down on the beach. At the same time U.S. Air Force planes began bombing the Cambodian main land, near where the crew was actually being held. Amb. Quinn was among a handful of National Security Council staff in Henry Kissinger’s West Wing office, where the entire operation was coordinated. That show of force caused the Khmer Rouge to immediately announce they were releasing the crew. President Ford, Kissinger and NSC Advisor Brent Scowcroft were photographed in the Oval Office with smiles indicating their satisfaction that the strong response to the Mayaguez Incident sent an important message around the world.

© 2020 World Food Prize Ambassador Quinn. All rights reserved.