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From the Archives: President Nixon welcomes Marines home from Vietnam

April 30, 1971: WELCOMING THE MARINES HOME--President Nixon and Marine Corps Commandant Leonard F. C
April 30, 1971: President Nixon and Marine Corps Gen. Leonard F. Chapman Jr. receive salutes from 1st Division Marines back at Camp Pendleton from Vietnam.
(Fitzgerald Whitney / Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

After a five-year deployment in South Vietnam, the 1st Marine Division returned to Camp Pendleton. On April 30, 1971, President Nixon visited the returning division.

Staff writer William J. Drummond reported in the next morning’s Los Angeles Times:

CAMP PENDLETON — President Nixon on Friday looked over a parade ground full of battle-seasoned U.S. Marines recently returned from Vietnam and declared that they had come home with "mission accomplished."

The men of the 1st Marine Division, the oldest and most decorated Marine Corps division, were dressed in their green combat fatigues as they stood before the commander-in-chief to receive a Presidential Unit Citation.

With a pleasant westerly breeze rippling the flags and streamers, the president said that when the 1st Marine Division went to Vietnam, millions of people were under communist rule and South Vietnam was threatened by a communist takeover.

After five years of fighting, Mr. Nixon said, the 1st Marines had helped enable the South Vietnamese to take over the “major burden” of their own defense and they will soon be able to assume the whole load.

In the meantime, he said, the United States would be withdrawing at the rate of one division a month from Vietnam.

“America welcomes you home with pride and we will not fail you in winning the peace,” the president concluded in a brief, extemporaneous speech.

During the Vietnam War, 7,012 men from the 1st Marine Division were killed in action.

This photo appeared on the front page of the May 1, 1971, Los Angeles Time.

This post was originally published on May 23, 2014.

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here


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