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Signing of the Paris Peace Accords: January 27, 1973

On January 27, 1973, representatives of North Vietnam, South Vietnam, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam (which included the Viet Cong), and the United States signed the Paris Peace Accords, leading to the end of the United States’ active military engagement in the Vietnam War.

Fold3 Image - Drawdown of US troops following Paris Peace Accords
Though both secret and official peace talks, predominately between the United States and North Vietnam, had been taking place on and off since at least 1968, the breakthrough finally came in 1972. Up until that point, North Vietnam had insisted on an agreement that would ensure a new coalition government, and the U.S. had demanded the withdrawal of North Vietnamese troops from the south—both non-starters for the other side. But in 1972, the North Vietnamese signaled they would be willing to drop their demand for a coalition government, and the U.S agreed that the north could keep their troops in the south.

In October 1972, American diplomats led by Henry Kissinger and a North Vietnamese delegation led by Le Duc Tho created a near-final agreement that led Kissinger to announce that “peace is at hand.” However, the South Vietnamese government, under President Nguyen Van Thieu, found the agreement unacceptable, feeling that the deal did not look after South Vietnamese interests, and the peace talks fell apart in December.

Following the U.S.’s 11-day Christmas bombing campaign at the end of 1972, the North Vietnamese agreed to resume negotiations in January. The final deal, which was not much different than the one agreed to in October, was secured on January 23, 1973. Then the formal peace agreement—officially named the “Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring the Peace in Vietnam,” but informally called the Paris Peace Accords—was signed in Paris on January 27, 1973. Key points of the agreement included a cease-fire, the U.S. withdrawal, and the return of American prisoners of war.

Although from the U.S. perspective the agreement was meant to end the war, it only really ended the U.S.’s active military involvement. In December 1974, the North Vietnamese broke the cease-fire and attacked the south at Phuoc Long. Despite a promise to the south that the U.S. would take retaliatory action if the north violated the peace agreement, the U.S. did not provide the south with military aid. In late April 1975, Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, fell to the north, and the entire country was reunited under a northern, communist government.

Learn more about events in the Vietnam War on Fold3.


  1. It was a bad agreement.
    I have always thought that Kissinger was a poor negotiator.
    LBJ’s micro-management was the biggest mistake.
    If the generals had been allowed to do the job they were trained for, I believe, there would’ve been different results.

    • Denny Goodwill says:

      You hit the nail on the head. Excellent summary.

    • Barbara says:

      Kissinger started his political career as am adviser to Eisenhower and every president through Clinton.
      His sole purpose was to have power.
      The book NO PEACE, NO HONOR gets into the mind of Kissinger and Nixon; and it is not pretty.

    • I did not know when Kissinger started his interference, but thanks for the info.

    • Venson says:

      The United States betrayed all its principles. First by supporting the French colonial government after WWII, denying self-determination to the Vietnamese people, and thrusting them into the Communist camp. Then the United States refused to accept nationwide elections for Vietnam, knowing that US puppet leaders in the South had no possibility of winning the election. Denying the Vietnamese people the right to self-government led to 60,000 American deaths and millions of Vietnamese deaths. That is what happens when the US opposes democracy. Each and every American who served in Vietnam was betrayed by their leaders.

    • Robert Martinez says:

      Venson: Well said.

    • Jona says:

      Well said.

    • William Blanton says:

      Nothing else to say !

  2. bonnie oren says:

    Hmmm. Your comment is insightful. I was younger at the time & didn’t understand the
    Vietnam war or the people involved. Truths are beginning to filter out to us, after long passage of time. Too bad we have to wait so long to understand what was really going on and who were the people “behind the curtain” running the show.
    Hhhmmmm. I will have to look into LBJ-Kissinger-Nixon more closely.

  3. Richard L Vie Brooks says:

    Uncle To was in Paris trying to negotiate for an independent Viet Nan after WW1 ended.
    The resolve of their people had not and would not ever have faded. As far as or generals being able to win they didn’t have a clue from what I’ve seen. Anything left on the battlefield could and would be used against us from ammunition to empty ration cans.
    Short of genocide I can’t see how you win against an enemy like that.

  4. Rich Rios says:

    Rich, agree. Uncle Ho said in so many words…Regardless of how many of us you kill, we will have more to replace them. Sheer math. Also said, whoever controls the Central Highlands will control South Vietnam. I worked the Central Highlands 69 -70…3/506th Currahee Infantry Battalion, 101st Airborne Division.

  5. Joseph C. McHale says:

    I was at 8th Air Force for Linebacker II, the final major bombing campaign against North Vietnam. I have since spoken with Vietnamese civilians who were in the North during the final bombing and lost many relatives to bombs. I spoke with a former highly placed Vietnamese civilian employee of the U.S. Government, who in actuality was a Northern spy. Today he is a wealthy businessman in what was Saigon. Nixon and Kissingerror ended the war and it was not pretty. Still, they ended it, even though no one was happy.

  6. Vera Hummel McHale says:

    I was pregnant living well and securely in my brand new home in 1973 being born during WWII. Books by Dr. Tom Dulley about the work and conditions in that region played a big part in JFK sending peace troops to build hospitals. “The Night They Burned the Mountain” especially expressed the need for intervention. However to anyone to region where cruelty was the norm and not taught the language or culture was not fair to our troops. They thing nothing of castrating without anesthetic to get info they want out of people. After out fly boy Hollywood war image disillusioned young soldiers. And the US news makers were just as cruel. But LBJ held his dog up by it ears so Dessert Storm troops went far better prepared and were in and out in quick time. The Commander in Chief is your responsibility to choose every 4 years. Choose wisely. Pay attention and do your DC homework.

    • The biggest mistakes made in the Middle East that brought about the rise of Daesh was a CIC that announced the date we were leaving on. It meant that he could not see that he was handling in the same ignorant way that LBJ did by using micromanagement.
      LBJ even went further by have models built of the encampments and was acting like the field commander.
      Have you noticed the the rules of engagement have changed since we now have CIC who understands how to delegate authority to get things accomplished .
      Have a great New Year.
      1966 Vietnam Veteran

    • Linda Parks says:

      Very good advice. We have people who don’t follow this advice.
      Thank you for the insight.

  7. Vera Hummel McHale says:

    p.s. There was still a draft for the Vietnam War. That meant if your were an adult US male, you went to the Federal Building closest to your residence and got a draft card marked A1 ,A2 etc, Depending on their criteria including “not fit for duty.” If you were summoned, it was not by your choice but a duty to gear up and be ready to kill or be killed. It still amazes me that WWII vets gladly served. I still have my food and gasoline rationing stamps with my name on them. Brutality should never be tolerated, but personal gain as reason to send any people to war should not be tolerated either. US Soldiers today are wearing the uniform by their choosing because they think we are worth it. Don’t disappoint them by what you choose.

    • Linda Ballard says:

      There was a draft for WW2. My father was drafted, after 2 exemptions. Those volunteering felt US was attacked. We were not a party to the Vietnam War; we were interlopers!

  8. Joseph McHale says:

    PPS Well written. I spent 15 years on the Air Force active duty after two years in the U.S. Navy Reserve. I volunteered for all of it. I am a proud totally disabled vet. If I had it to do over again, there would be very few things I would change. I would not change the years of service. It may have been old fashioned, but I am still proud of this country and my service

  9. Dave says:

    my wife is an old flower child. I am a 20 year air force retiree. We married late in life without thought of politics, on my part anyway, We are now solidly on our own sides of the fence. makes for an interesting home life. WE DON’T DISCUSS POLITICS. She goes to the family room and watches MSNBC with door closed. and I go to my computer room for FNC. She streams fonda stuff with door closed.
    I find it very interesting how the fake news media and holly wood are trying to educate our young people about the Nixon watergate stuff and trying to twist it to fit President Trump’s situation.

  10. Phil White says:

    Well, Ron and others. I agree that LBJ’s micromanagement wasn’t helpful, but he is not the first President that abused his C.I.C. role. However, other Generals managed to be successful in their execution of battle. I finished my obilgation just prior to the war and I was not satisfied by the way the generals fought this war one bit. And subsequent wars have just re-inforced that opinion.

  11. Robert Martinez says:

    The first few readers state the traditional reasons for our loss in Vietnam, that is, it was due to poor leadership of the Generals and presidential interference. For many years, I have always believed that reason. The next few readers state the new informed reason, that is, we could never have won that war even with different generals, different presidents and even if you throw in an additional hundred billion dollars and another million men. The answer is simply the North Vietnamese were not ever going to give up … never. They were as much Communists as they were Nationalists. We were told the reason for the war was to stop Communist aggression. But to the Vietnamese, we were the aggressors and they used Communism as a tool to get the invaders out of their country. Uncle Ho used the Communists for their armaments and munitions. As soon as the war was over, he (or his successors) kicked the Soviets and the Chinese out of Vietnam. In the case of the Chinese, the Vietnamese had to use military force to kick the Chinese out. Having been to Hanoi, and spoken to the people they will confirm this to you, on the street or in their museums. As horrific as that war was, the North Vietnamese did not hate us half as much as they did the French. The French were invaders or occupiers of Vietnam who for decades abused and tortured the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese, even in the North, had a better opinion of us, but all the same, they wanted us out and wanted their country back, unified. Once you understand the concept of Nationalism, only then will you understand why we could not win that war. McNamara came to the same conclusion unfortunately he did not share it with the media and withheld his opinion to Johnson until McNamara was leaving office to accept his job with the world bank. He did not share his opinion with the American public until many decades later shortly before his death in the two books he wrote about the Vietnamese experience or should I say the Vietnamese Nightmare.

  12. Ray Schuetze says:

    I believe Robert is right! Having served in the Central Highlands for two years, one with the 4th ID and the other year with the 2nd Vietnamese Ranger Group in Plieku, I saw the war from both sides. We did some great things and won some battles where we were far outnumbered, but there was no way that we were ever going to win back the South for democracy and free elections! I learned a great deal in those two years, and I’m glad I got back alive! LTC Ray Schuetze

  13. Al G says:

    First, let me say that we never learn: we got into Vietnam after the French showed it was undeniable. US arrogance thinking we know how to do it–just need to waste more money and young lives. We’re doing the same thing in Afghanistan–the Soviets with all their barbarity and atrocities couldn’t defeat the Afghanis, what makes anyone think we can win by not playing as cruelty?
    Second, I salute all our Vietnam Veterans who served in the jungles, and not running away to Canada, waiting for Ford’s pardon. I missed the draft and war by a matter of months. I got my lottery number in 1972, the year I and my friends all turned 18. The differe6 was that while all their numbers were in the 300s, mine was 041. I was a senior in high school, so I still had a little time to graduate before deciding on the USN or USAF. I wasn’t going to be a ground pounder subject to friendly fire from above. Fortunately, Nixon ended the draft before Uncle Sam could contact me, saving my keister. When he came up for re-election, I expressed my gratitude by voting for him. Who knew how he’d turn out?
    Jump forward 6 more years and I’m getting commissioned at Lackland AFB. I had nothing against the military and if I would have been called up to serve, I would have.
    I served 13 1/2 years in the USAF, enjoying it for the most part. I only left because Reagan was downsizing our military and closing bases, so I was forced out, along with many others, into an economy that was not able to absorb us. I was unemployed, and under employed for 10 months before securing steady employment.

    • Robert Martinez says:

      I know this is off topic but still tangentially related. What Al G was referring to above leads us to wonder if we have learned anything from our experience in Vietnam. Of course he is referring to Afghanistan. Apparently those who fail to read History are doom to repeat it. A better understanding of History would have kept us out of Vietnam and now Afghanistan.

  14. Annie says:

    I agree with Robert Martinez &d recommend a book titled “Bare foot, Iron Will”. By the son of the American who was in charge of distibuting the terrible Agent Orange. Zumwalt.
    Having been to Vietnam I have nothing but admiration for the population who show no signs of bitterness & have picked themselves up so well.

  15. Larry McHale says:

    Hey Joseph and Vera McHale. You guys are not related to any of the Lawrence. N. Andover, Dracut or Lowell Mass. McHales are you?

    Larry McHale

  16. Paul S. Nicholls says:

    Draft number 16, class of ’71, enlisted in the Air Force and proudly spent 4 years serving. Did a tour in SEA (U-Tapao Thailand) in 74-75 and was there for the fall of Vietnam. It wasn’t a pretty sight watching all those people fleeing their country over to our base. Also have served as a civil service employee (retiring after 35 years) in both Iraq and Afghanistan with the Navy and Marines.
    After reading many of the above comments, have to agree with a lot of the conclusions. We made many mistakes and for some dumb reason, don’t learn well from them. One point that was not brought up was MONEY. Every war and every conflict has someone capitalizing in the end. And believe me, it is not those who served on the frontline.
    With luck, the next conflict we enter into, we take a look outside the box first before jumping into the box.
    For all that served, thank you, for those who support us that served, a bigger thank you.

    Paul Nicholls
    USAF 1972 – 1976

  17. duncan nichols says:

    Thank you to all who have served. I mean that sincerely as I am a social worker who worked at the VA in my area.
    This business of “christmas bombing campaigns” though is sickening.
    When will be stop trying to annihilate each other? When there is nothing left to bomb? All of us should work harder to make a good world. I know many veterans have worked hard on healing themselves, and the world, knowing the suffering first hand.

  18. Cpress says:

    Yes, you hit the nail on the head ! They fended it. The problem was that there was a huge backlash to watergate giving the Dems control! They refused to fund our agreement to help S Vietnam defend itself . Many were killed or put into Prison camps . Many did not survive !

  19. DT. Snow says:

    Truth be told…
    Johnson escalated the war.
    He’s farm in Texas wasn’t doing so well, he married Lady Bird Johnson she was heavly invested there in Vietnam.
    When all else fells in life’s journey for understanding ?
    “Follow the money”…

  20. Dave Arnold says:

    First, Ray thanks for your time in country. Second, the subject here is the end of the conflict, not why we got in nor how the generals conducted the operations GIVEN THE POLITICAL restrictions. (Yes, LBJ would actually quier pilots about to roll in on a target…stunning!! ) Third, the North came to the final table due to one thing: Nixon approved Rolling Thunder I and II. Nixon was clear, as he noted, “…both President Johnson and i have ability to bring the North to the table. The differene is, I have the will.”

  21. Daniel O'Connell says:

    Bad WAR BAD OUTCOME FOR THE 58,000 THAT NEED NOT PERISH. As long as the politicians design the rules of engagement, the young of this country are at a higher risk of death than necessary.

  22. duncan nichols says:

    Just as politicians design policy they have no business with (combat and strategy), the military likewise carries out bad orders from generals who inevitably are connected to politics. With all due respect, if we keep talking about Americans who perished and not mention (or have consciousness of) the Vietnamese who did as well (millions) then we will continue to do this. Also, we should ask: Who is our ally, when? Most of these wars are completely unacceptable, and often illogical from the p.o.v. of the citizens of the u.s. and other countries. While soldiers must be well trained and have a chain of command, they also have a soul and are human, and like in this blog should discuss and debate.

  23. Glb IV says:

    My father left medical school and volunteered and ended up serving as a medic and served three years. He always expressed a deep respect for the montenard people. He came home but his sanity would never return. Yeah we got out but we caused millions of deaths by not fulfilling our promises. Ironically southeast Asia and the middle East are the two region that can out reproduce any casualties of any conflict due to centuries of warfare. Hell, even Reagan had enough sense to not get involved when barracks bombing happened in 83.

    • Robert Martinez says:

      Incredible, somebody other than me, has remembered what President Reagan said in 1983. Gib IV is absolutely correct. At the bombing of the US Marine Barracks at the Beirut Airport, Lebanon, in October, 1983, that killed 241 Marines, the Marines suffered their worst causalities since Iwo Jima in WWII. Shortly afterwards, President Reagan announced new American foreign policy. He stated that the American military would not ever be involved in a middle eastern war and promptly pulled all of the remaining marines out of Lebanon. What is the link to Vietnam? I am not sure as I have heard different accounts, but didn’t President Kennedy make a similar pronouncement regarding Vietnam just months before his assassination?

  24. Jack says:

    And the Communist bloodbath that followed in Indochina from 1975-78 surpassed all the combined deaths on both sides in the previous 15 years. Not to mention the re-education camps. Estimated 250,000 drownings at sea. So much for peace.

  25. Frieda Ticer says:

    My dad served in the Navy in WW1 on the minesweeper Blackhawk ,he enlisted in So. Texas. Can you tell me where he might have gone to boot camp. He enlisted July ,1917