First Draft of History: The AP reports the Fall of Saigon and End of the Vietnam War

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Original Associated Press Broadcast Wire Bulletin, Urgent and Story on the Surrender of South Vietnam. (4 partial sheets).

These are four sheets neatly torn from the continuous paper feed for the AP wire service machine consisting of:

  • 1) The initial four word Associated Press BULLETIN that moved on the wire on April 29, 1975 at 10:27 PM Eastern Daylight time and the additional one-sentence “Take 2” that moved a minute later (with a sports score in between). The copy starts with the AP’s number for the item (APB454 | 375) followed by the five single quotation marks that triggered a bell on the wire service printer to ring times (an alert to the newsroom of a bulletin) and then the story, datelined Saigon: “South Vietnam has surrendered.” That is followed by a sports score and then the addition to the bulletin (APB456 | 379): “The unconditional surrender to the Viet Cong was announced by President Duong Van ‘‘Big’’ Minh.”
  • 2) The AP URGENT story on the surrender that replaced the bulletin – slugged SURRENDER (TOPS) – that followed at 10:35 PM. It runs for four single-sentence paragraphs. (Note: The slug TOPS means that this story was to replace the previous bulletin.)
  • 3) An addition to the URGENT story – slugged SURRENDER (TAKE 2) – that adds additional information, particularly dealing with the earlier withdrawal of American troops:
   “The surrender came only hours after American has left Saigon in an armada of helicopters guarded by some 800 Marines.
   “The evacuating Americans had dodged random shots fired by bitter South Vietnamese soldiers and had fought off desperate civilians.
   “Viet Cong gunners had sent rockets into Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut (THAN SUHN YUHT) Air Base as a rear guard of American Marines had been evacuated from the rooftop of the abandoned U-S Embassy in Downtown Saigon.” (Note: The name of the Air Base in parentheses is a phonetic spelling for the broadcast announcer to know how to pronounce the name.)
  • 4) The lead story on the surrender from the five-minute newscast the AP prepared for airing on the 11:00 PM news, sent as another URGENT at 10:51 PM Eastern Daylight Time.

These are the actual typescript stories from the AP wire service machine, saved by the radio station reporter who tore them off the wire that night and kept them as part of his personal collection. The machines had a plexiglass cover with a beveled edge so that individual stories could be neatly torn off the continuous roll of paper that fed into the printer. Although the wire service paper was a cheap paper, these sheets are only lightly tanned from age and are in mint condition.

Shipped weight: 2 ounces

Inventory No: 1238.