GBH Openvault

Vietnam: A Television History; Passage to Freedom

Part of The Vietnam Collection.


1) MS Vietnamese being loaded aboard army dump trucks. 2) MLS Vietnamese in line waiting to climb into trucks. 3) Loaded trucks driving away; refugees lined up against fence. 4)Looking down pier toward AK unloading refugees. 5) Vietnamese baby crying as parents try to give him oranges. 8) Refugees scrubbing fiber mats on deck of ship; water pouring from fire main. 9) Children scrubbing deck of ship with brushes. 10) USS Bayfield APA 33 at anchor. 11) Deck of Bayfield; sign, "Passage to Freedom." 12) Deck of Bayfield as ship pulls into Saigon, Indo-China. 13) Bayfield with LCM ahead coming into Saigon Harbor. 14) Deck of Bayfield, Vietnamese refugees. 15) Sailors carrying stretchers with wounded down gangway. 16) Nuns coming down gangway; sailors help them with luggage. 17) Refugees coming downy gangway. Refugees are embarking at "Freedom Pier."

License Clip
Vietnam: A Television History

Passage to Freedom

Series Description

This 13 part series covers the history of Vietnam from France's colonial control, through the 1945 revolution, to the 1975 U.S. evacuation from Saigon and the years beyond. The series' objective approach permits viewers to form their own conclusions about the war. 101--Roots of a War--Despite cordial relations between American intelligence officers and Communist leader Ho Chi Minh in the turbulent closing months of World War II, French and British hostility to the Vietnamese revolution laid the groundwork for a new war. 102--The First Vietnam War (1946-1954)--The French generals expected to defeat Ho's rag-tag Vietminh guerrillas easily, but after eight years of fighting and $2.5 billion in U.S. aid, the French lost a crucial battle at Dienbienphu--and with it, their Asian empire. 103--America's Mandarin (1954-1963)--To stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, America replaced France in South Vietnam--supporting autocratic President Ngo Dinyh Diem until his own generals turned against him in a coup that brought political chaos to Saigon. 104--LBJ Goes to War (1964-1965)--With Ho Chi Minh determined to reunite Vietnam, Lyndon Baines Johnson determined to prevent it, and South Vietnam on the verge of collapse, the stage was set for massive escalation of the undeclared Vietnam War. 105--America Takes Charge (1965-1967)--In two years, the Johnson Administration's troop build-up dispatched 1.5 million Americans to Vietnam to fight a war they found baffling, tedious, exciting, deadly and unforgettable. 106--America's Enemy (1954-1967)--The Vietnam War as seen from different perspectives: by Vietcong guerrillas and sympathizers; by North Vietnamese leaders; by rank and file; and by American held prisoner in Hanoi. 107--Tet (1968)--The massive enemy offensive at the Lunar New Year decimated the Vietcong and failed to topple the Saigon government, but led to the beginning of America's military withdrawal. 108--Vietnamizing the War (1968-1973)--President Nixon's program of troop pull-outs, stepped-up bombing and huge arms shipments to Saigon changed the war, and left GI's wondering which of them would be the last to die in Vietnam. 109--Cambodia and Laos--Despite technical neutrality, both of Vietnam's smaller neighbors were drawn into the war, suffered massive bombing, and in the case of Cambodia, endured a post-war holocaust of nightmare proportions. 110--Peace is at Hand (1968-1973)--While American and Vietnamese continued to clash in battle, diplomats in Paris argued about making peace, after more than four years reaching an accord that proved to be a preface to further bloodshed. 111--Homefront USA--Americans at home divide over a distant war, clashing in the streets as demonstrations lead to bloodshed, bitterness and increasing doubts about the outcome. 112--The End of the Tunnel (1973-1975)--Through troubled years of controversy and violence, U.S. casualties mounted, victory remained elusive and American opinion moved from general approval to general dissatisfaction with the Vietnam war. 113--Legacies--Vietnam is in the Soviet orbit, poorer than ever, at war on two fronts; America's legacy includes more than one half million Asian refugees, one half million Vietnam veterans and some questions that won't go away. Series release date: 9/1983



Asset Type

Stock footage

Media Type


Nationalism and communism
Operation Passage to Freedom, 1954-1955
Indochina (Asia) region
Department of the Navy. Bayfield (Attack Transport). (11/30/1943 - 09/18/1947)
Thanh Pho-Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Asia
Signs and signboards
Civilians in war
National liberation movements
Evacuation of civilians
Dinners and dining
Thanh Pho-Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
War and Conflict
Ellison, Richard (Series Producer)
Publication Information
Rights Summary

Public Domain Rights Holder: NARA

Chicago: “Vietnam: A Television History; Passage to Freedom,” 08/01/1954, GBH Archives, accessed December 6, 2021,
MLA: “Vietnam: A Television History; Passage to Freedom.” 08/01/1954. GBH Archives. Web. December 6, 2021. <>.
APA: Vietnam: A Television History; Passage to Freedom. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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