Oakland, California, 1975: A telex machine in an office inside the Leamington Hotel whirs into action with a message sent from across the Pacific. A name is printed, that man is contacted and strongly encouraged to send a résumé, to be forwarded to the office of a construction company in downtown Bangkok.
The war in Vietnam was all but over, with the USA reeling from a near total defeat and the loss of over 57,000 service personnel killed or missing.
The Southeast Asian conflict had lost public and political support in America, with combat operations ending in Vietnam by 1973. The Case–Church Amendment legislation was was approved by the U.S. Congress in June 1973 and prohibited further U.S. military activity in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia without Congressional approval. This included air support.
Military and economic aid still flowed to Saigon, and to the government of Lon Nol in Cambodia, which had lost control of most of the country. After five weeks of heavy fighting, Kampot fell to the Khmer Rouge on April 2, 1974. The communist forces then advanced to capture Oudong to the northwest of the capital. By the end of the year forces loyal to the Khmer republic held little more than outposts around the capital and lowland provincial towns including Battambang and Siem Reap. Historians continue to argue over the issue, but airpower does appear to have prevented the communist forces seizing these targets earlier in the 1970’s.
Watergate, resignations and criminal trials came to Washington, but with so much blood, sweat and tears invested in Indochina, along with the billions of dollars spent, the US was reluctant to completely sever ties with former allies (the New York Times in 1975 reported that the cost of the war in Vietnam alone was equivalent to spending $7000 on every South Vietnamese citizen, around $33,435 today).
With most farmland firmly in enemy hands, the food situation in Phnom Penh was critical, and by 1973 weekly cables reporting the rice situation in the capital were being dispatched to Washington. Malnutrition, especially among the young was becoming common by 1974.
1975 began with the final push on Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge. The plan was to cut off the last supply route to Saigon; the Mekong River, and starve the city into submission. By the end of February, the Khmer National Navy (MNK) had lost a quarter of its ships, and 70 percent of its sailors had been killed or wounded.
With the Mekong abandoned by the army, all supplies needed relied on airdrops into Ponchentong airport. Under the Case-Church Amendment, military hands were seemingly tied by Congress, but out of the shadows stepped a silver-haired construction contractor by the name of William H. Bird.....
https://cne.wtf/2020/01/19/history-will ... -air-lift/