New Lens on 'Last Days in Vietnam'

ABC News' Jonathan Karl speaks with filmmaker Rory Kennedy about her new documentary, including never-before-seen footage of the U.S. evacuation of Saigon.
3:56 | 09/21/14

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Transcript for New Lens on 'Last Days in Vietnam'
In our "Sunday spotlight," echoes of Vietnam still resonate in today's debates about war, and now a striking documentary, "The last days in Vietnam," offers a new take on America's exit. The filmmaker is bobby Kennedy's daughter Rory, and Jon Karl spoke with her about the drama she uncovered after all these years. The soldiers behind me are firing at Vietnam units. Reporter: It was America's first televised war, but somehow filmmaker Rory Kennedy managed to uncover stunning moments never before seen. The footage is so grainy and beautiful. Reporter: In America's dark final days in Vietnam. There's real drama. The vietcong are coming in and we have to get not just U.S. Personnel out, our diplomats, our military personnel, but those who have been our allies. The government said, we just got to get the Americans out. It's falling too fast and this handful of Americans on the ground said not so fast. You know, if we leave our Vietnamese friends and allies and comrades behind, they're going to be killed and they're going to be tortured. Reporter: The last personnel serving in Vietnam risked their lives to help as many of their Vietnamese friends and allies escape. Among the most desperate were south Vietnamese helicopter pilots. They came to this ship, the "Uss Kirk." They started hovering above. "Kirk" didn't know who they were, if they were enemy or not, took the risk, brought them down, landed on the boat. Took the Vietnamese out who were so grateful but then there were more helicopters hovering overhead, and they said what do we do? We don't have room for more helicopters. Pushed the helicopter over. They pushed these helicopters into the sea, the next one came down. The larger helicopter that came, the chinook helicopter, couldn't land on the "Kirk." It was too big and would have destroyed the ship so waved the guy away. He had his family on board. He was running out of gas. So we hovered over the "Kirk" as the "Kirk" is moving, and he throws his family -- Including a baby. -- Including an 8-month-old baby, a 2-year-old, 5-year-old, throws them off of the deck of the helicopter onto the deck of the "Uss Kirk" but then, of course, helicopter pilot is still in the helicopter and can't land. So he goes off to see -- he goes over to the starboard side of the ship. He leans the helicopter over to the right, and he jumps off of the left side. The helicopter goes into the ocean, explodes, the guy drops into the ocean, nowhere to be seen, and then he pops up 30 seconds later. These amazing images had never been seen before. The film sat undeveloped in a former shipman's attic for nearly 40 years only coming to light as Kennedy started putting together her documentary, "The last days in Vietnam." The ambassador, unfortunately, is no longer alive but seems like virtually every other major figure in the film you're able to talk to and I mean even the very last -- the very last marine who got out -- Juan Valdez there on the roof. The helicopter pulls up and they count, there are only 10 of us. There should be 11, so they go back down and, you know, they look behind, Juan Valdez's hands are gripping onto the helicopter lifting off so, you know, the drama of these moments is really extraordinary. For "This week," Jonathan Karl, ABC news, Washington. I would love to know what happened to that little baby. And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. This week the Pentagon released the names of two service members killed in Afghanistan. And that is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World news tonight" and I'll see you tomorrow on "Gma." And I'll see you tomorrow on "Gma."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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