May 12, 2014

50 years ago today: the first draft-card burnings to protest of the war in Vietnam.

According to Wikipedia, which cites an event involving 12 students in NYC.

The citation goes to the book "Hell no, we won't go!" which I can't search inside at Amazon or Google Books, and I couldn't find an article in the NYT archive, so I'm a bit unsure of the accuracy. This Vietnam War timeline has this for "May 1964":
Some 1,000 students gather in New York City to protest the Vietnam War. Twelve burn their selective service registration cards—draft cards....
The next year, reacting to various protests, Congress made it a crime to "knowingly destroy" or "knowingly mutilate" your draft card, and, in 1968, the Supreme Court rejected a free-speech challenge to the law.

If you carried around a draft card back in the 1960s, did you ever abuse it?

54 comments:

David said...

I had too much respect for Evelyn D. Crummy, the clerk who signed my draft card. I have never forgotten her name.

chickelit said...

Which date commemorates the first bra burnings? They were contemporaneous in my mind but then, I was but a child.

MisterBuddwing said...

As one of your commenters noted in an earlier, related posting. U.S. military involvement in Vietnam hadn't escalated yet to the point that the antiwar movement was as galvanized as it would become.

From my personal experience, what I remember is, the U.S. yanked its troops out of Vietnam in 1973, and by the time I arrived at Syracuse University in the fall of 1974, all was quiet on the protest front.

The Drill SGT said...

"If you carried around a draft card back in the 1960s, did you ever abuse it?"

Yes, I carried one, and no abuse here...

I turned 17 just as I graduated HS (1967) and arrived in Saigon at 20, 43 years, and 361 days ago.

traditionalguy said...

I cannot remember ever having a Draft Card that we carried around anymore than a Social Security Card. You just knew you status and knew your number from a letter sent to your Registered address.

The symbolic activity of Burning Your Draft Card was the only known reason for having a Draft card.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

You wanted to hold onto your card to get it punched because the tenth draft was always free.

Ann Althouse said...

@traditionalguy It was a crime not to have the card in your possession at all times, and that was the law even BEFORE the 1965 criminalization of destroying the card. The existence of the possession requirement was the premise of the free-speech attack on the 1965 law in O'Brien.

This is from O'Brien, describing the earlier law:

"At the time the Amendment was enacted, a regulation of the Selective Service System required registrants to keep their registration certificates in their "personal possession at all times." 32 CFR 1617.1 (1962). 5 Wilful violations of regulations promulgated pursuant to the Universal Military Training and Service Act were made criminal by statute. 50 U.S.C. App. 462 (b) (6). The Court of Appeals, therefore, was of the opinion that conduct punishable under the 1965 Amendment was already punishable under the nonpossession regulation, and consequently that the Amendment served no valid purpose; further, that in light of the prior regulation, the Amendment must have been "directed at public as distinguished from private destruction." On this basis, the court concluded that the 1965 Amendment ran afoul of the First Amendment by singling out persons engaged in protests for special treatment. The court ruled, however, that O'Brien's conviction should be affirmed under the statutory provision, 50 U.S.C. App. 462 (b) (6), which in its view made violation of the nonpossession regulation a crime, because it regarded such violation to be a lesser included offense of the crime defined by the 1965 Amendment. 6 [391 U.S. 367, 372] "

I'm Full of Soup said...

Draft cards were used for ID to get served in bars. We had a blank draft card and made fake ID's which we presented at bars to get served [the fake ID of course showed we were born 4-5 years earlier than our real birth year].

I think I still have a blank one somewhere. Anyone need one? Perhaps to use to register to vote or to validate you are not an illegal immigrant?

LYNNDH said...

No, did not abuse. Would have had my draft notice one day after grad from college. In '68 that meant Marines. So I joined the Navy since I was from a Navy family.
Just visited DC and the Memorial. Was a Guardian for Honor Flight. Had some Viet Vet with us.

I'm Full of Soup said...

And no, no one I knew ever burned their card. I did not turn 18 until 1970 and got my real card in 1970 or 1971.

Ipso Fatso said...

"From my personal experience, ... the U.S. yanked its troops out of Vietnam in 1973, ...Syracuse University in the fall of 1974, all was quiet on the protest front."--MisterBuddwing

Huh? The posting reads May 1964, not May 1974.

Michael K said...

In 1964, I had been a member of the military reserve and active duty (1961-62) services since 1959 and thought the draft card idiots were despicable. The "Vietnam War Protests" were actually draft protests and disappeared when Nixon ended the draft.

It was the beginning of the decline in American values and hasn't stopped yet.

Bruce Hayden said...

From my personal experience, what I remember is, the U.S. yanked its troops out of Vietnam in 1973, and by the time I arrived at Syracuse University in the fall of 1974, all was quiet on the protest front.

I lost my 2S in favor of a 1A the previous June (1972) after 4 years of college. Moderate draft number (138), so spent the next three months expecting a draft notice. But they apparently quit drafting about Sept. and didn't get that close to my 138 before then. If I had been a year older, likely would have been drafted, but not sent to Vietnam. It was really classes of 1970 and earlier who really faced serving in Vietnam, and earlier than that to have faced a good chance of dying there. The joker in the deck though was that 2S deferments were eliminated for the HS class of 1970 (or 71?) (college class of 1974). All they had was the lottery, whereas my class (HS 1968/college 1972) had the choice - a lot of those with high draft numbers dropped their 2S, sat out their one year of 1A, and were done with it.

What is weird about the war was that it really was LBJ's war. The highest fatalities were in 1967, and dropped steadily from there to close to zero by the time they stopped drafting in 1972 under Nixon. The big difference in my mind is that LBJ/McNamerra fought a war of attrition, whereas Nixon fought to win. The attrition strategy worked for Eisenhower almost 30 years earlier in the Battle of the Bulge (over the complaints of generals like Patton). McNamerra had this theory that we could win as long as we had a good enough ratio of casualties. Which is why they so obsessed over bogus body counts. He saw our casualties as numbers. Many others saw them as sons, brothers, friends, etc.

As to my draft card - I probably carried it, but have no memory either way. It wasn't something I obsessed over.

dc said...

I never abused it.However,by failing to get it laminated my poor draft card was probably the victim of constant microaggressions.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

I recall the 1964 poster of the Baez sisters looking gorgeous over the slogan of 'Girls Say Yes to Boys Who Say No'. Does that count?

Smilin' Jack said...

...I'm a bit unsure of the accuracy.

I hope the date can be verified. It should be made a national holiday.

blogtom said...

I still have mine and the student deferment one as I was the last 18 yo to qualify for college deferment. My second college year we started the lottery - I was 117 and my Bham draft board was drafting through about 320. As long as one kept up their year progression, the deferment stayed until graduation, which in 1973 my board was drafting thru about 95. So at 117 I was "safe." Then it went away. It took years to move past the guilt I felt that others less fortunate served in my place. I always thank a Vietnam veteran for their service and admire them. John Kerry's congressional testimony was BS... I attended a 20th reunion of my small fraternity pledge class and to a man they remembered their lottery number - Mr Clinton claims not to remember his - one of his many prevarications...For those who would not have gone if called, I have tried to honor their decision. I just wish the wounds of that era would heal, but they seem too deep. I do not respect those who take their opposition to service, or the war in general, as a moral preening of their goodness. The implications for this moral decision were too profound for glibness, at least for this 18 yo in 1969, and today in retrospect. So my draft cards stay as part of my personal papers for my child to one day sort. As Dylan suggests, it's all just a simple "twist of fate."

traditionalguy said...

OK, how many people were arrested and charged with failing to carry around their Selective Service card before LBJ's Asian War heated up? My guess is zero. Your Library card, which was similar in appearance, actually had a use.

But criminalizing the failure to carry your Government Papers with you at all times was an unknown concept in 1964 in Atlanta, Georgia.

MisterBuddwing said...

"From my personal experience, ... the U.S. yanked its troops out of Vietnam in 1973, ...Syracuse University in the fall of 1974, all was quiet on the protest front."--MisterBuddwing

Huh? The posting reads May 1964, not May 1974.


The (lame) point being, there wasn't that much impetus for this type of demonstration in 1964 - and not much after 1973. (Not saying that the 1964 protest didn't take place, but it is interesting that it wasn't considered newsworthy at the time.)

Tank said...

Michael K said...

In 1964, I had been a member of the military reserve and active duty (1961-62) services since 1959 and thought the draft card idiots were despicable. The "Vietnam War Protests" were actually draft protests and disappeared when Nixon ended the draft.


Mike

I say this respectfully, and with respect for those who felt it was right to serve: there was nothing idiotic about not wanting to risk your life for "South Vietnam." The war itself was idiotic.

I was lucky. I was 1A (and still have my card) just when they stopped calling people up. I had a very low number. I sure as shit was NOT going into the military or Vietnam at that point.

Somebody said...

I waived my deferment when it became clear that my lottery number would not be reached. When I got the card showing my 1-A classification, I taped it to the door of my dorm room, not as any kind of anti-war statement--I just thought it was kind of cool to be 1-A. After one year in that classification, I was dropped down to a 1-H category with an even lower probability of being called.

I'm almost exactly the same age as Prof Althouse.

traditionalguy said...

Testing my memory about the Draft days, and it seems that while authority to call up men lasted until 1973, it was only used on 19 year olds after the first lottery calendar year when the up to age 26's had been included based on a random birthday numbers drawing done in December, 1969.

so in 1970 only 195 out of 365 numbers of drawn birth dates were called up in the first 9 months of 1970. Those over 19 and not reached in 1970 became free.

So Nixon had effectively stopped the draft by
September 1970, except for the 1950 thru 1952 birthdates.

Matt Sablan said...

"I cannot remember ever having a Draft Card that we carried around anymore than a Social Security Card"

-- When I turned 18, over 10 years ago now, I did get a card after I registered with the Draft/Selected Service. Was that what was burned?

cassandra lite said...

In 1969 I was 17--therefore, no draft card yet--and took a hippie girl whose pants I really wanted to enter to a Joan Baez concert. Though I looked the part, too, sex with this girl looked like it was going to require a full-on counterculture useless gesture.

So when Joan invited everyone down to the stage (Forum in L.A.) to burn their draft cards, I didn't want to just sit there as the hordes descended. I got up, too, and as I walked down there took something from my wallet that I then pretended to throw onto the pyre with everyone else. In triumph, I returned to my seat.

And later that night, in the bushes alongside a walking path in the LaBrea Tar pits, my antiwar protest reached home plate.

cassandra lite said...

@traditionalguy,

In late 1969, the first draft lottery was held according to birth dates from the year you were eligible to enter the draft. In that first year or two, you were generally safe if your number was above about 200, then the numbers declined quickly.

William R. Hamblen said...

Did I abuse my card? No, but I was 4F.

Sigivald said...

What was the point of the physical card?

Surely the Selective Service Department (or whatever it was called in 1964) knew about you anyway?

(And mandatory constant possession? What on Earth was the rationale for that?

If the Soviets invaded overnight someone might need to know your draft status based on a piece of paper because they couldn't ask Washington?

Madnes.)

Rusty said...

A pointless gesture. I kept mine in my wallet until it finally deteriorated, Sometime in 1979 or 80.
I was 1A and never got called up.

Meade said...

AJ Lynch said...
"Draft cards were used for ID to get served in bars. We had a blank draft card and made fake ID's [...] I think I still have a blank one somewhere. Anyone need one? Perhaps to use to register to vote or to validate you are not an illegal immigrant?"

If I did, I'd be virtually the one and only case of voter impersonation to occur in present day Wisconsin.

Michael K said...

"I say this respectfully, and with respect for those who felt it was right to serve: there was nothing idiotic about not wanting to risk your life for "South Vietnam." The war itself was idiotic."

The war was a mistake, or at least was fought in an incorrect way. The British tried to teach us how they stopped the Malaya insurgency although that involved Chinese insurgents who were not Malays. It was Johnson who determined how the war was fought. Read "Dereliction of Duty" some time.

Still, the draft riots and the wild behavior of the college generation in the 60s has pretty much destroyed the country now as those idiots wormed their way into major institutions like the universities.

I saw some of them as medical students and they were just about useless. Since medical students are as serious as any student I have ever seen, God knows what the rest were like. We live with the consequences.

Before LBJ, it was a Special Forces war. It should not have become a conscript war. Our army in World War II was no great fighting force, especially the infantry. There was no reason to believe that conscripts would do any better in 1964 than they did in 1944.

David said...

"Draftees vs. volunteers: 25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees. (66% of U.S. armed forces members were drafted during WWII)
Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam."

http://www.mrfa.org/vnstats.htm

I'm Full of Soup said...

You must be omniscient Meade- how could even you know that is true?

Unknown said...

In NY/NJ in the mid-late 60's, a draft card was the ultimate ID and was the "proof" to legally drink in a bar. No one I knew wanted anything to happen to it

The Drill SGT said...

I say this respectfully, and with respect for those who felt it was right to serve: there was nothing idiotic about not wanting to risk your life for "South Vietnam"

What about what happened after the war when all those good socialists took over South Vietnam?

Would you have fought to prevent?

1. 2 million people sent to "reeducation camps"
2. of those 150,000+ died
3. another 150-200,000 direct executions including large nuumbers of Catholic priests and teachers
4. 50,000 died in "work camps of the harsh regime"
5. 300,000 died fleeing in boats.
-------
roughly 650,000 deaths

Cambodia?
2-3 million dead

Laos
200,000 dead

all after the fall of Saigon.

would you have fought to save as many Asians who died as Jews in the Holocaust?

Just checking your level of humanity...

PS: I was a student at the University of California before and after Vietnam service so I got to see the anti-war movement up close.

I make the comparison between Hanoi Jane Fonda, and Joan Baez, who was pro-peace, not a Communist like jane. After the fall of Saigon, Joan took out a full page ad in the NYT naming the atrocities that the Communists were inflicting on the South. It split her from the Hard Leftists.

PPS: yeah, the war was fucked up and un-winnable perhaps, but we abandoned our friends and broke faith with our promises to them. (Or rather a Democratic Congress did)

Tank said...

@drill No. And much of that was a reaction to us.

You think you could convince Americans today to sacrifice another 50, 000 young men there ??? How about another 200, 000 wounded, many beyond repair ?

I cried at the Vietnam Memorial for all those men who died for nothing on the other side of the world. Those were American boys.

Rusty said...

(Or rather a Democratic Congress did)

Teddy Kennedys finest hour. He sponsored the Foreign Aid act that stripped S Vietnam of all U.S. monetary and military assistance. Essentially throwing them to the N Vietnamese. If there is any justice maybe he and bob Mcnamara are buggering each other in hell with sharpened spades.

richardsson said...

@Ann Althouse -- I don't recall whether I carried my draft card or not, I was never asked to produce it by anyone. I treated it like a Social Security Card. In California you had to produce picture I.D., a driver's license, to buy liquor. Since I started going bald at age 14, I never had to produce any I.D. after I turned 16. For most of my life, I'm told, I looked like a 30 year old cop. I pulled a very low number in the Gigantic one shot 1970 Lottery, and they attempted to induct me on the day of my last final exam. But I was found medically unfit after two days of medical exams. I missed the graduation ceremony and got a C in European Economic History but it was a very small price that I paid. I soured on the war in '65 when they were having one coup after another in South Vietnam. I soured on the Anti-War movement in 1967 when it was clear that the leaders were Communists. Those years were ugly as hell.

traditionalguy said...

I see now. Of course the draft age of 18 was also the legal drinking age and therefore an ID in New York.

Here in a Georgia legal drinking age remained 21 until the nonsense of drafting boys for Asian land wars of attrition's necessary cannon fodder while declaring them too precious to be allowed to taste beer was finally noticed in 1968.

I still blame Dean Rusk. He was an over educated idiot like John Kerry.

William said...

I didn't burn my draft card. I sautéed it by joining the Air Force.

30yearProf said...

Running away from leadership roles (throwing ROTC off "elite" college campuses) was the most immoral thing the American upper class did in the 20th Century. A good Lieutenant is a life saver. Smart and courageous, he figures out how to accomplish the mission at the least cost. The Army must have LT's. If the best and the brightest aren't there, 2-yar college washout, Rusty Calley, will be. Thousands of men lost their lives in Vietnam because the rich, bright boys opted out. I'll never forgive them.

30yearProf said...

Running away from leadership roles (throwing ROTC off "elite" college campuses) was the most immoral thing the American upper class did in the 20th Century. A good Lieutenant is a life saver. Smart and courageous, he figures out how to accomplish the mission at the least cost. The Army must have LT's. If the best and the brightest aren't there, 2-yar college washout, Rusty Calley, will be. Thousands of men lost their lives in Vietnam because the rich, bright boys opted out. I'll never forgive them.

Smilin' Jack said...

What about what happened after the war when all those good socialists took over South Vietnam?

Would you have fought to prevent?

Cambodia?
2-3 million dead

all after the fall of Saigon.


Actually, it was the North Vietnamese who defeated the Khmer Rouge and ended the genocide in Cambodia. America the Beautiful was on the side of the Khmer Rouge.

RecChief said...

This brings a question to mind, with all this title IX, equality bullshit, when will women have to register with the selective service?

Also, went to the DMV the other day. It was in the middle of the day, so I was in duty uniform. The clerk asked me if I had registered for the Selective Service Admin. I was taken by surprise so instead of laughing, I said "You're kidding, right?". Apparently she wasn't. wow did she get mad easy.

Ken Mitchell said...

I had a draft card for about 4 months. But by the time they tried to draft me, I was already at Navy Boot Camp in Great Lakes. BIG mistake, going to Great Lakes in November and December. I should have demanded San Diego.

It all worked out, and I spent 21 years in the Navy, and most of it was good times. 21 years in the US Navy, and I slept aboard ship for exactly three nights.

Now, most of you would say that this didn't count, because the ship was the RMS Queen Mary, which is WELDED to the pier in Long Beach, but I say a ship is a ship.

grackle said...

I got out of the Navy in March 1964. I didn't pay much attention to the news - was too busy partying in NYC and later in LA.

Later on, after the nuttiness got more heated I decided to beat the shit out of the first idiot I saw spitting on a man in uniform. Military types get thrown in the brig if they do such things. You don't want to be in a military prison if you can possibly avoid it.

Never had to teach that particular lesson. Never happened in my presence. Probably a good thing.

Trashhauler said...

The ones that piss me off are the older dudes who say in the bar after their third drink, "Ya know, I should have gone into the military." I've heard it for over forty years.

I always get the urge to ask them, "Who in the hell would ever trust you to watch their back?"

Then I think, "Yeah, I wonder what you tell the kids and grandkids when they ask you what you did in the war, you friggin' hero."

Trashhauler said...

"America the Beautiful was on the side of the Khmer Rouge."

Yeah, that's the type. Disdain for the country leaks out even when citing an historical falsehood.

grackle said...

Actually, it was the North Vietnamese who defeated the Khmer Rouge and ended the genocide in Cambodia. America the Beautiful was on the side of the Khmer Rouge.

One communist army defeated another communist army – something rarely if ever seen before or since.

The comment above seems to be referring to a policy some claim was promulgated by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor. This has been disputed by Brzezinski.

Then as now a dedicated liberal, Carter gave the world a terror-sponsoring Iran, soon to be a nuclear-armed sponsor of terror, and might have supported the Khmer Rouge.

The "killing fields," in which millions died in Cambodia occurred during the years 1975 to 1979. Those years straddled the presidencies of Ford, and then Carter.

http://tinyurl.com/lxr3eje

Keep in mind, readers, that it was during Nixon's last term in office when the US withdrew from the area. All US troops in the area were gone by 1973, never to return. Nixon made a campaign promise to turn all the fighting over to the South Vietnamese and he kept his promise. Imagine that – a politician who actually kept campaign promises!

After Nixon's resignation the Democrat-controlled Congress wouldn't allow President Ford to give military arms to the South Vietnamese, yet the South Vietnamese military held off the communists, who were amply supplied by China, for 18 months.

However, no army can fight without bullets and the south finally had to surrender. Any Vietnamese who had helped the US were dead meat after the North Vietnamese took over. Kind of a lessor "killing fields" that Democrats don't like to talk about.

I do not believe it is fair to blame the US for the killing fields in Cambodia, as the above comment implies. It would be impossible to prevent genocide without some major military assets rushing to the area where the genocide is taking place. And Congress was dead set against anything like that. American public opinion was also against any further involvement. I remember the era well. Not our finest hour.

Below are links to timelines for Vietnam and Cambodia.

http://tinyurl.com/6jssdgs

http://tinyurl.com/kz34cw9

Smilin' Jack said...

On 10 January 1979, the DK army had been routed and the Vietnamese troops had captured the capital Phnom Penh. The KPRC proclaimed that the new official name of Cambodia was the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK)...A genocidal regime had ended, but to China—who had steadfastly supported DK—the United States—eager to find ways to get even with Vietnam for its humiliating defeat in the Vietnam War—as well as to other major powers, the swift defeat of the Khmer Rouge marked the beginning of "the Cambodian Problem".[15] International forums, like ASEAN meetings and the UN General Assembly would be used to condemn the PRK and the genocide of the Khmer Rouge was removed from the centre stage of attention and Pol Pot effectively won the support of the US and most of Europe against Vietnam.[55]

From the Wikipedia entry on People's Republic of Kampuchea

Trashhauler said...

"A genocidal regime had ended, but to China—who had steadfastly supported DK—the United States—eager to find ways to get even with Vietnam for its humiliating defeat in the Vietnam War—as well as to other major powers, the swift defeat of the Khmer Rouge marked the beginning of 'the Cambodian Problem'"

Even taking this questionable jumble of assertions as true, it says that the Chinese supported the Khmer Rouge, not the US. At most, this says the US viewed the Vietnamese as a separate problem - after the Killing Fields were already over.

You might want to review the Mayaquez Incident to learn about our actual feelings about the Khmer Rouge. Go ahead and use Wiki.

grackle said...

The commentor replies with a profusion of words apparently cut and pasted from some … Wikipedia entry on People's Republic of Kampuchea.

Would the commentor please, just to clear up any confusion, provide a link to the Wikipedia entry? I've found it's always best to examine sources firsthand in these cases. There are literally thousands of pages having to do with this subject in Wiki. I've tried my best but I'm 71 years old, in my declining years and had a subdura hematoma just last month. I'm not up to a search that could amount to reading a long book.

I think it would be nice also if the commentor would provide more to the readers than short, cryptic statements chock full of implication but without any objective substance. Cutting and pasting stuff from Wiki, really doesn't count for much in a real, vigorous debate.

To the readers I would also point out that nothing in the commentor's post, which seems to be referring to events which occurred in 1979, provides any credible or logical proof that the US was responsible for the Cambodian 'killing fields,' which was MY main point. Keep in mind, readers, that the murder of millions, known as the "killing fields," began in Cambodia a couple of years after all US troops were gone from the region.

Smilin' Jack said...

I didn't claim that America was responsible for the killing fields, only that it gave aid and comfort to those who were. So you can still be proud of your country...I guess.

grackle said...

I didn't claim that America was responsible for the killing fields, only that it gave aid and comfort to those who were. So you can still be proud of your country...I guess.

Ah! Finally something somewhat more specific from the commentor. But still no link to any proof of "aid and comfort," to the Khmer Rouge. We'll probably wait a looooong time for that link, dear readers. Why O why must the blame-America-first folks always be so vague?

One reason might be to hide behind the vagueness - after swallowing Lefty myths from spurious Lefty sources and then, when called out on it, finally doing a bit of research and suddenly realizing his Smiling Jack ass has just been handed to him. The only thing to do then is to deny you implied what you obviously implied and slink away into a more friendly and comforting area of the World Wide Web.

But I'm hopeful, always hopeful to get that link. How 'bout it, Smiling Jack?

Yours,
Grinning Grackle

The Drill SGT said...

Smilin' Jack said...
I didn't claim that America was responsible for the killing fields, only that it gave aid and comfort to those who were. So you can still be proud of your country


The way I remember it is that the Khmer Rouge were the puppets of the NVA. Part of the support force for the war. It was only when they became a world wide embarrassment, did the Vietnamese crack down on their allies.

The US was always in opposition to the KR. Wiki says:

While visiting Beijing in 1970 Sihanouk was ousted by a military coup led by Prime Minister General Lon Nol and Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak. U.S. support for the coup remains unproven.[42] However, once the coup was completed, the new regime, which immediately demanded that the Vietnamese communists leave Cambodia, gained the political support of the United States. The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces, desperate to retain their sanctuaries and supply lines from North Vietnam, immediately launched armed attacks on the new government. The king urged his followers to help in overthrowing this government, hastening the onset of civil war.[43] Soon Khmer Rouge rebels began using him to gain support. However, from 1970 until early 1972, the Cambodian conflict was largely one between the government and army of Cambodia, and the armed forces of North Vietnam. As they gained control of Cambodian territory, the Vietnamese communists imposed a new political infrastructure, which was eventually dominated by the Cambodian communists we now refer to as the Khmer Rouge.[44] Between 1969 and 1973, Republic of Vietnam and U.S. forces bombed Cambodia in an effort to disrupt the Viet Cong and Khmer Rouge.

On New Year's Day 1975, Communist troops launched an offensive which, in 117 days of the hardest fighting of the war, collapsed the Khmer Republic. Simultaneous attacks around the perimeter of Phnom Penh pinned down Republican forces, while other CPK units overran fire bases controlling the vital lower Mekong resupply route. A US-funded airlift of ammunition and rice ended when Congress refused additional aid for Cambodia. The Lon Nol government in Phnom Penh surrendered on 17 April 1975, just five (5) days after the US mission evacuated Cambodia