Primary Sources: The Situation in Danang
This excerpt from a declassified government report describes the chaos on the ground in Mai Thi Kim's hometown, Danang, as the North Vietnamese Army advanced in March 1975. General Fred C. Weyand submitted this report to President Gerald Ford on April 9, 1975 -- days after the U.S. began airlifting children out of Vietnam.
...Hue was evacuated on 25 March, but by then NVA units had cut Route 1 south of the city and the removal of Hue's 20,000 defenders, including most of ARVN's [Army of the Republic of Vietnam -- the South Vietnamese army's] 1st Division, became largely dependent on haphazard, improvised sealift operations. During this same period, over-extended GVN [government of South Vietnam] units in Quang Nam, Quang Tin, and Quang Ngai Provinces, were being dispersed or defeated piecemeal by advancing NVA forces.
The GVN's presence in MR [military region] 1 collapsed into an enclave at Da Nang. What was left of the GVN's effective strength in that region -- basically the Marine Division and a part of the 3rd ARVN Division -- tried to set up a defense of Da Nang, but the effort was not successful. Arrayed against the GVN's 10,000 odd organized defenders were over 30,000 NVA troops advancing with thew momentum of success. Further compounding the situation's problems was the influx of more than a million refugees. With a total of close to 2 million people increasingly desperate to get out, panic spread and on 28 March order collapsed. NVA tanks began moving into the town soon thereafter. No more than 50,000 refugees were brought out by air or by sea, and the GVN succeeded in extracting approximately 22,000 troops, including about 9,000 marines and 4,000-5,000 troops from the 2nd and 3rd ARVN divisions, but the fate of the remainder of Da Nang's civil and military population is unknown.
Excerpt from General Fred C. Weyand, Vietnam Assessment Report, 9 April, 1975. Folder "Vietnam (13), Box 19, National Security Adviser." Presidential Country Files for East Asia and the Pacific, Gerald R. Ford Library. http://www.ford.utexas.edu/library/exhibits/vietnam/750404a.htm