The Vietnam War was a long, costly armed conflict that pitted the communist regime of North Vietnam and its southern allies, known as the Viet Cong, against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The war began in 1954 (though conflict in the region stretched back to the mid-1940s), after the rise to power of Ho Chi Minh and his communist Viet Minh party in North Vietnam, and continued against the backdrop of an intense Cold War between two global superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. More than 3 million people (including 58,000 Americans) were killed in the Vietnam War; more than half were Vietnamese civilians.

By 1969, at the peak of U.S. involvement in the war, more than 500,000 U.S. military personnel were involved in the Vietnam conflict. Growing opposition to the war in the United States led to bitter divisions among Americans, both before and after President Richard Nixon ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973.

In 1975, communist forces seized control of Saigon, ending the Vietnam War, and the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the following year. During World War II, Japan invaded and occupied Vietnam, a nation on the eastern edge of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia that had been under French administration since the late 19th century.

Inspired by Chinese and Soviet communism, Ho Chi Minh formed the Viet Minh, or the League for the Independence of Vietnam, to fight both Japan and the French colonial administration. Japan withdrew its forces in 1945, leaving the French-educated Emperor Bao Dai in control of an independent Vietnam. Ho's Viet Minh forces rose up immediately, seizing the northern city of Hanoi and declaring a Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) with Ho as president.

Seeking to regain control of the region, France backed Bao and set up the state of Vietnam (South Vietnam) in July 1949, with Saigon as its capital. Armed conflict continued until a decisive battle at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954 ended in French defeat by Viet Minh forces.

The subsequent treaty negotiations at Geneva split Vietnam along the latitude known as the 17th parallel (with Ho in control in the North and Bao in the South) and called for nationwide elections for reunification to be held in 1956. In 1955, however, the strongly anti-communist Ngo Dinh Diem pushed Bao aside to become president of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam (GVN).


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How is it that we lost the Vietnam War? We the most powerful military in the world’s history, with technology that far exceeds all other countries and made mince meat of several other and larger countries in wars before this? Well I sure can’t believe it and frankly it makes me mad. I have some ideas of why it went so badly over there and that is what I want to talk about in this article.

The Vietnam War was a sort of humanitarian assistance program that slowly drew us into a war that we weren’t expecting. We were trying to help a fledgling democracy and were actually fighting the communist regimes and attitudes of the day. We in effect were fighting the beginning of the Cold War. So there was more at stake than the country that we were fighting for and that is what got us into trouble. We should have simply went after the real enemies from the start.

Anyway we also went in without a clear objective. We wanted to do a good job while not sacrificing life. This went on to a fault and ended up costing a lot more life than it should have. You see we as a country back home was not real into the conflict as a rule and didn’t really understand what it would take to do the job right. This was the fault of our government entirely.

Only when the troops got into it were they able to see what it was all about. They were persuaded that the Vietnam War was worth the loss of life when considering the championing of life and liberty but the public in America who were very shielded and lied to had a harder time. This also coincided with a rebellion of the young people against the cultural values that had gone before them of hard work, discipline, and responsibility for something other than our own individuality.

So it was the military fighting both the enemy in the Vietnam War and also their own home country’s citizens who were sticking their nose where it didn’t belong and not understanding the investment of life for liberty. I don’t know about you but I have a tremendous respect for those who went to do a job that was very worth it to champion liberty and democracy and were dying for it all the while their own people were against them too. It makes me angry and I worry that this conflict in Iraq presently is going the exact same direction.



Vietnam timeline.

1945

Ho Chi Minh Creates Provisional Government: Following the surrender of Japan to Allied forces, Ho Chi Minh and his People's Congress create the National Liberation Committee of Vietnam to form a provisional government. Japan transfers all power to Ho's Vietminh.

Ho Declares Independence of Vietnam

British Forces Land in Saigon, Return Authority to French

First American Dies in Vietnam: Lt. Col. A. Peter Dewey, head of American OSS mission, was killed by Vietminh troops while driving a jeep to the airport. Reports later indicated that his death was due to a case of mistaken identity -- he had been mistaken for a Frenchman.

1946

French and Vietminh Reach Accord: France recognizes Vietnam as a "free state" within the French Union. French troops replace Chinese in the North.

Negotiations Between French and Vietminh Breakdown

Indochina War Begins: Following months of steadily deteriorating relations, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam launches its first consorted attack against the French.

1947

Vietminh Move North of Hanoi

Valluy Fails to Defeat Vietminh: French General Etienne Valluy attempts, and fails, to wipe out the Vietminh in one stroke.

1949

Elysee Agreement Signed: Bao Dai and President Vincent Auriol of France sign the Elysee Agreement. As part of the agreement the French pledge to assist in the building of a national anti-Communist army.

1950

Chinese, Soviets Offer Weapons to Vietminh

US Pledges $15M to Aid French: The United States sends $15 million dollars in military aid to the French for the war in Indochina. Included in the aid package is a military mission and military advisors.

1953

France Grants Laos Full Independence

Vietminh Forces Push into Laos

1954

Battle of Dienbienphu Begins: A force of 40,000 heavily armed Vietminh lay seige to the French garrison at Dienbienphu. Using Chinese artillery to shell the airstrip, the Vietminh make it impossible for French supplies to arrive by air. It soon becomes clear that the French have met their match.

Eisenhower Cites "Domino Theory" Regarding Southeast Asia: Responding to the defeat of the French by the Vietminh at Dienbienphu, President Eisenhower outlines the Domino Theory: "You have a row of dominoes set up. You knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly."

French Defeated at Dien Bien Phu

Geneva Convention Begins: Delegates from nine nations convene in Geneva to start negotiations that will lead to the end of hostilities in Indochina. The idea of partitioning Vietnam is first explored at this forum.

Geneva Convention Agreements Announced: Vietminh General Ta Quang Buu and French General Henri Delteil sign the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam. As part of the agreement, a provisional demarcation line is drawn at the 17th parallel which will divide Vietnam until nationwide elections are held in 1956. The United States does not accept the agreement, neither does the government of Bao Dai.

1955

Diem Rejects Conditions of Geneva Accords, Refuses to Participate in Nationwide Elections

China and Soviet Union Pledge Additional Financial Support to Hanoi

Diem Urged to Negotiate with North: Britain, France, and United States covertly urge Diem to respect Geneva accords and conduct discussions with the North.

Diem Becomes President of Republic of Vietnam: Diem defeats Bao Dai in rigged election and proclaims himself President of Republic of Vietnam.

1956

French Leave Vietnam

US Training South Vietnamese: The US Military Assistance Advisor Group (MAAG) assumes responsibility, from French, for training South Vietnamese forces.

1957

Communist Insurgency into South Vietnam: Communist insurgent activity in South Vietnam begins. Guerrillas assassinate more than 400 South Vietnamese officials. Thirty-seven armed companies are organized along the Mekong Delta.

Terrorist Bombings Rock Saigon: Thirteen Americans working for MAAG and US Information Service are wounded in terrorist bombings in Saigon.

1959

Weapons Moving Along Ho Chi Minh Trail: North Vietnam forms Group 559 to begin infiltrating cadres and weapons into South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Trail will become a strategic target for future military attacks.

US Servicemen Killed in Guerilla Attack: Major Dale R. Buis and Master Sargeant Chester M. Ovnand become the first Americans to die in the Vietnam War when guerillas strike at Bienhoa

Diem Orders Crackdown on Communists, Dissidents

1960

North Vietnam Imposes Universal Military Conscription

Kennedy Elected President: John F. Kennedy narrowly defeats Richard Nixon for the presidency.

Diem Survives Coup Attempt

Vietcong Formed: Hanoi forms National Liberation Front for South Vietnam. Diem government dubs them "Vietcong."

1961

Battle of Kienhoa Province: 400 guerillas attack village in Kienhoa Province, and are defeated by South Vietnamese troops.

Vice President Johnson Tours Saigon: During a tour of Asian countries, Vice President Lyndon Johnson visits Diem in Saigon. Johnson assures Diem that he is crucial to US objectives in Vietnam and calls him "the Churchill of Asia."

1962

US Military Employs Agent Orange: US Air Force begins using Agent Orange -- a defoliant that came in metal orange containers-to expose roads and trails used by Vietcong forces.

Diem Palace Bombed in Coup Attempt

Mansfield Voices Doubt on Vietnam Policy: Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield reports back to JFK from Saigon his opinion that Diem had wasted the two billion dollars America had spent there.

1963

Battle of Ap Bac: Vietcong units defeat South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) in Battle of Ap Bac

President Kennedy Assassinated in Dallas: Kennedy's death meant that the problem of how to proceed in Vietnam fell squarely into the lap of his vice president, Lyndon Johnson.

Buddhists Protest Against Diem: Tensions between Buddhists and the Diem government are further strained as Diem, a Catholic, removes Buddhists from several key government positions and replaces them with Catholics. Buddhist monks protest Diem's intolerance for other religions and the measures he takes to silence them. In a show of protest, Buddhist monks start setting themselves on fire in public places.

Diem Overthrown, Murdered: With tacit approval of the United States, operatives within the South Vietnamese military overthrow Diem. He and his brother Nhu are shot and killed in the aftermath.

1964

General Nguyen Khanh Seizes Power in Saigon: In a bloodless coup, General Nguyen Khanh seizes power in Saigon. South Vietnam junta leader, Major General Duong Van Minh, is placed under house arrest, but is allowed to remain as a figurehead chief-of-state.

Gulf of Tonkin Incident: On August 2, three North Vietnamese PT boats allegedly fire torpedoes at the USS Maddox, a destroyer located in the international waters of the Tonkin Gulf, some thirty miles off the coast of North Vietnam. The attack comes after six months of covert US and South Vietnamese naval operations. A second, even more highly disputed attack, is alleged to have taken place on August 4.

Debate on Gulf of Tonkin Resolution: The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is approved by Congress on August 7 and authorizes President Lyndon Johnson to "take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression." The resolution passes unanimously in the House, and by a margin of 82-2 in the Senate. The Resolution allows Johnson to wage all out war against North Vietnam without ever securing a formal Declaration of War from Congress.

Vietcong Attack Bienhoa Air Base

LBJ Defeats Goldwater: Lyndon Johnson is elected in a landslide over Republican Barry Goldwater of Arizona. During the campaign, Johnson's position on Vietnam appeared to lean toward de-escalation of US involvement, and sharply contrasted the more militant views held by Goldwater.

1965

Operation "Rolling Thunder" Deployed: Sustained American bombing raids of North Vietnam, dubbed Operation Rolling Thunder, begin in February. The nearly continuous air raids would go on for three years.

Marines Arrive at Danang: The first American combat troops, the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, arrive in Vietnam to defend the US airfield at Danang. Scattered Vietcong gunfire is reported, but no Marines are injured.

Heavy Fighting at Ia Drang Valley: The first conventional battle of the Vietnam war takes place as American forces clash with North Vietnamese units in the Ia Drang Valley. The US 1st Air Cavalry Division employs its newly enhanced technique of aerial reconnaissance to finally defeat the NVA, although heavy casualties are reported on both sides.

US Troop Levels Top 200,000

Vietnam "Teach-In" Broadcast to Nation's Universities: The practice of protesting US policy in Vietnam by holding "teach-ins" at colleges and universities becomes widespread. The first "teach-in" -- featuring seminars, rallies, and speeches -- takes place at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in March. In May, a nationally broadcast "teach-in" reaches students and faculty at over 100 campuses.

1966

B-52s Bomb North Vietnam: In an effort to disrupt movement along the Mugia Pass -- the main route used by the NVA to send personnel and supplies through Laos and into South Vietnam -- American B-52s bomb North Vietnam for the first time.

South Vietnam Government Troops Take Hue and Danang

LBJ Meets With South Vietnamese Leaders: US President Lyndon Johnson meets with South Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Cao Ky and his military advisors in Honolulu. Johnson promises to continue to help South Vietnam fend off aggression from the North, but adds that the US will be monitoring South Vietnam's efforts to expand democracy and improve economic conditions for its citizens.

Veterans Stage Anti-War Rally: Veterans from World Wars I and II, along with veterans from the Korean war stage a protest rally in New York City. Discharge and separation papers are burned in protest of US involvement in Vietnam.

CORE Cites "Burden On Minorities and Poor" in Vietnam: The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) issues a report claiming that the US military draft places "a heavy discriminatory burden on minority groups and the poor." The group also calls for a withdrawal of all US troops from Vietnam.

1967

Operation Cedar Falls Begins: In a major ground war effort dubbed Operation Cedar Falls, about 16,000 US and 14,000 South Vietnamese troops set out to destroy Vietcong operations and supply sites near Saigon. A massive system of tunnels is discovered in an area called the Iron Triangle, an apparent headquarters for Vietcong personnel.

Bunker Replaces Cabot Lodge as South Vietnam Ambassador

Martin Luther King Speaks Out Against War: Calling the US "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world," Martin Luther King publicly speaks out against US policy in Vietnam. King later encourages draft evasion and suggests a merger between antiwar and civil rights groups.

Dow Recruiters Driven From Wisconsin Campus: University of Wisconsin students demand that corporate recruiters for Dow Chemical -- producers of napalm -- not be allowed on campus.

McNamara Calls Bombing Ineffective: Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, appearing before a Senate subcommittee, testifies that US bombing raids against North Vietnam have not achieved their objectives. McNamara maintains that movement of supplies to South Vietnam has not been reduced, and neither the economy nor the morale of the North Vietnamese has been broken.

1968

January

Sihanouk Allows Pursuit of Vietcong into Cambodia

North Vietnamese Launch Tet Offensive: In a show of military might that catches the US military off guard, North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces sweep down upon several key cities and provinces in South Vietnam, including its capital, Saigon. Within days, American forces turn back the onslaught and recapture most areas. From a military point of view, Tet is a huge defeat for the Communists, but turns out to be a political and psychological victory. The US military's assessment of the war is questioned and the "end of tunnel" seems very far off.

February

Battle for Hue: The Battle for Hue wages for 26 days as US and South Vietnamese forces try to recapture the site seized by the Communists during the Tet Offensive. Previously, a religious retreat in the middle of a war zone, Hue was nearly leveled in a battle that left nearly all of its population homeless. Following the US and ARVN victory, mass graves containing the bodies of thousands of people who had been executed during the Communist occupation are discovered.

Westmoreland Requests 206,000 More Troops

My Lai Massacre: On March 16, the angry and frustrated men of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division entered the village of My Lai. "This is what you've been waiting for -- search and destroy -- and you've got it," said their superior officers. A short time later the killing began. When news of the atrocities surfaced, it sent shockwaves through the US political establishment, the military's chain of command, and an already divided American public.

March

LBJ Announces He Won't Run: With his popularity plummeting and dismayed by Senator Eugene McCarthy's strong showing in the New Hampshire primary, President Lyndon Johnson stuns the nation and announces that he will not be a candidate for re-election.

April

MLK Slain in Memphis:

May

Paris Peace Talks Begin: Following a lengthy period of debate and discussion, North Vietnamese and American negotiators agree on a location and start date of peace talks. Talks are slated to begin in Paris on May 10 with W. Averell Harriman representing the United States, and former Foreign Minister Xuan Thuy heading the North Vietnamese delegation.

June

Robert Kennedy Assassinated

August

Upheaval at Democratic Convention in Chicago: As the frazzled Democratic party prepares to hold its nominating convention in Chicago, city officials gear up for a deluge of demonstrations. Mayor Richard Daley orders police to crackdown on antiwar protests. As the nation watched on television, the area around the convention erupts in violence.

November

Richard Nixon Elected President: Running on a platform of "law and order," Richard Nixon barely beats out Hubert Humphrey for the presidency. Nixon takes just 43.4 percent of the popular vote, compared to 42.7 percent for Humphrey. Third-party candidate George Wallace takes the remaining percentage of votes.

1969

Nixon Begins Secret Bombing of Cambodia: In an effort to destroy Communist supply routes and base camps in Cambodia, President Nixon gives the go-ahead to "Operation Breakfast." The covert bombing of Cambodia, conducted without the knowledge of Congress or the American public, will continue for fourteen months.

Policy of "Vietnamization" Announced: Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird describes a policy of "Vietnamization" when discussing a diminishing role for the US military in Vietnam. The objective of the policy is to shift the burden of defeating the Communists onto the South Vietnamese Army and away from the United States.

Ho Chi Minh Dies at Age 79

News of My Lai Massacre Reaches US: Through the reporting of journalist Seymour Hersh, Americans read for the first time of the atrocities committed by Lt. William Calley and his troops in the village of My Lai. At the time the reports were made public, the Army had already charged Calley with the crime of murder.

Massive Antiwar Demonstration in DC

1970

Sihanouk Ousted in Cambodia: Prince Sihanouk's attempt to maintain Cambodia's neutrality while war waged in neighboring Vietnam forced him to strike opportunistic alliances with China, and then the United States. Such vacillating weakened his government, leading to a coup orchestrated by his defense minister, Lon Nol.

Kent State Incident: National Guardsmen open fire on a crowd of student antiwar protesters at Ohio's Kent State University, resulting in the death of four students and the wounding of eight others. President Nixon publicly deplores the actions of the Guardsmen, but cautions: "...when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy." Several of the protesters had been hurling rocks and empty tear gas canisters at the Guardsmen.

Kissinger and Le Duc Begin Secret Talks

Number of US Troops Falls to 280K

1971

Lt. Calley Convicted of Murder

Pentagon Papers Published: A legacy of deception, concerning US policy in Vietnam, on the part of the military and the executive branch is revealed as the New York Times publishes the Pentagon Papers. The Nixon administration, eager to stop leaks of what they consider sensitive information, appeals to the Supreme Court to halt the publication. The Court decides in favor the Times and allows continued publication.

Nixon Announces Plans to Visit China: In a move that troubles the North Vietnamese, President Nixon announces his intention to visit The People's Republic of China. Nixon's gesture toward China is seen by the North Vietnamese as an effort to create discord between themselves and their Chinese allies.

Thieu Re-elected in South Vietnam

1972

Nixon Cuts Troop Levels by 70K: Responding to charges by Democratic presidential candidates that he is not moving fast enough to end US involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon orders troop strength reduced by seventy thousand.

Secret Peace Talks Revealed

B-52s Bomb Hanoi and Haiphong: In an attempt to force North Vietnam to make concessions in the ongoing peace talks, the Nixon administration orders heavy bombing of supply dumps and petroleum storage sites in and around Hanoi and Haiphong. The administration makes it clear to the North Vietnamese that no section of Vietnam is off-limits to bombing raids.

Break-In at Watergate Hotel

Kissinger Says "Peace Is At Hand": Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho reach agreement in principle on several key measures leading to a cease-fire in Vietnam. Kissinger's view that "peace is at hand," is dimmed somewhat by South Vietnamese President Thieu's opposition to the agreement.

Nixon Wins Reelection

1973

Cease-fire Signed in Paris: A cease-fire agreement that, in the words of Richard Nixon, "brings peace with honor in Vietnam and Southeast Asia," is signed in Paris by Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho. The agreement is to go into effect on January 28.

End of Draft Announced

Last American Troops Leave Vietnam

Hearings on Secret Bombings Begin: The Senate Armed Services Committee opens hearing on the US bombing of Cambodia. Allegations are made that the Nixon administration allowed bombing raids to be carried out during what was supposed to be a time when Cambodia's neutrality was officially recognized. As a result of the hearings, Congress orders that all bombing in Cambodia cease effective at midnight, August 14.

Kissinger and Le Duc Tho Win Peace Prize: The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Henry Kissinger of the United States and Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam. Kissinger accepts the award, while Tho declines, saying that a true peace does not yet exist in Vietnam.

1974

Thieu Announces Renewal of War

Report Cites Damage to Vietnam Ecology: According to a report issued by The National Academy of Science, use of chemical herbicides during the war caused long-term damage to the ecology of Vietnam. Subsequent inquiries will focus on the connection between certain herbicides, particularly Agent Orange, and widespread reports of cancer, skin disease, and other disorders on the part of individuals exposed to them.

Communists Take Mekong Delta Territory

Nixon Resigns

Communists Plan Major Offensive: With North Vietnamese forces in the South believed to be at their highest levels ever, South Vietnamese leaders gird themselves for an expected Communist offensive of significant proportions.

1975

Communist Forces Capture Phuoc Long Province: The South Vietnamese Army loses twenty planes in a failed effort to defend Phuoc Long, a key province just north of Saigon. North Vietnamese leaders interpret the US's complete lack of response to the siege as an indication that they could move more aggressively in the South.

Hue Falls to Communists

Communists Take Aim at Saigon: The North Vietnamese initiate the Ho Chi Minh Campaign -- a concerted effort to "liberate" Saigon. Under the command of General Dung, the NVA sets out to capture Saigon by late April, in advance of the rainy season.

Ford Calls Vietnam War "Finished": Anticipating the fall of Saigon to Communist forces, US President Gerald Ford, speaking in New Orleans, announces that as far as the US is concerned, the Vietnam War is "finished."

Last Americans Evacuate as Saigon Falls to Communists: South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh delivers an unconditional surrender to the Communists in the early hours of April 30. North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin accepts the surrender and assures Minh that, "...Only the Americans have been beaten. If you are patriots, consider this a moment of joy." As the few remaining Americans evacuate Saigon, the last two US servicemen to die in Vietnam are killed when their helicopter crashes.

1976-80

Pham Van Dong Heads Socialist Republic of Vietnam: As the National Assembly meets in July of 1976, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam names Pham Van Dong its prime minister. Van Dong and his fellow government leaders, all but one of whom are former North Vietnamese officials, take up residence in the nation's new capital--Hanoi.

Jimmy Carter Elected US President

Carter Issues Pardon to Draft Evaders: In a bold and controversial move, newly inaugurated President Jimmy Carter extends a full and unconditional pardon to nearly 10,000 men who evaded the Vietnam War draft.

Vietnam Granted Admission to United Nations

Relations Between Vietnam and China Deteriorate

Vietnam Invades Cambodia: Determined to overthrow the government of Pol Pot, Vietnam invades Cambodia. Phnompenh, Cambodia's capital, falls quickly as Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge followers flee into the jungles.

"Boat People" Flee Vietnam: Swarms of Vietnamese refugees take to the sea in overcrowded and unsafe boats in search of a better life. The ranks of the "boat people" include individuals deemed enemies of the state who've been expelled from their homeland.

China Invades,Withdraws from, Vietnam

US GAO Issues Report on Agent Orange: After years of Defense Department denials, the US General Accounting Office releases a report indicating that thousands of US troops were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange. Thousands of veterans had demanded a government investigation into the effect that dioxin, a chemical found in Agent Orange, had on the human immune system.

Ronald Reagan Elected US President

1981-85

Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC Dedicated: Designed by Maya Ying Lin, a 22 year-old Yale architectural student, the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial opens in Washington, DC. The quiet, contemplative structure consisting of two black granite walls forming a "V", lists the names of the 58,183 Americans killed in the Vietnam War. The memorial itself stirred debate as some thought its presentation was too muted and somber, lacking the familiar elements of war-time heroics found in most war memorials.

Reagan Promises to Make MIAs "Highest National Priority": For the family members of those still listed as Missing-In-Action, the war is not over. In an address to the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia, President Ronald Reagan pledges to make the finding of these individuals one of the "highest national priority."

Dow Chemical Knowledge of Dioxin Revealed: Documents used as part of a lawsuit brought by 20,000 Vietnam veterans against several chemical companies reveal that Dow Chemical had full knowledge of the serious health risks posed by human exposure to dioxin, a chemical found in the herbicide Agent Orange. Evidence indicated that despite this information, Dow continued to sell herbicides to the US military for use in Vietnam.

"Unknown Soldier" of Vietnam War Laid to Rest

US Offers Asylum to Vietnamese Political Prisoners

Vietnamese Forces Defeat Khmer Rouge Rebels: An offensive launched against refugee Khmer Rouge rebels spills over the Thai border and eventually comes to involve Thai troops. The Vietnamese are successful in suppressing the rebels and solidify their hold on Cambodia despite criticism from neighboring countries and the United Nations.

1986-90

George Bush Elected US President

Vietnamese Troops Leave Cambodia: All Vietnamese troops exit Cambodia by September of 1989, paving the way for UN-sponsored elections in 1993. As a result of the elections, a coalition government is formed and work on a new constitution begins.

1991-97

Bill Clinton Elected US President

Washington Restores Diplomatic Ties with Hanoi: As Communist Vietnam inched toward market reforms and pledged full cooperation in finding all Americans listed as still missing-in-action, the United States restores diplomatic ties with its former enemy in 1995.

McNamara Calls Vietnam Policy "Wrong, Terribly Wrong": Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, one of the key architects of the US's war policy in Vietnam, admits grave mistakes in that policy in his 1995 memoir, In Retrospect. McNamara, in his book, says that "...We were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why."

US and Vietnam Exchange Ambassadors: Ushering in a new era of cooperation between the two former enemies, the United States and Vietnam exchange ambassadors. Douglas "Pete" Peterson, a prisoner of war for 6 years during the Vietnam War, is named US envoy to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, while H.E. Le Van Bang assumes the position of Vietnamese ambassador to the United States.


Vietnam War troops resting


It is not easy to characterize the Vietnam War in a simple way because of its duration and complexity: it was both a civil and an interstate war, as well as an irregular and a conventional war involving a variety of actors over time. Historically, it is a composite of many successive wars: it began as a resistance war during the Japanese occupation of Vietnam, pitting mostly communist insurgents against Japanese occupiers. Following the country’s liberation, it mutated into an anticolonial war against the French (1946-1954), undergoing various periods and ending in a compromise that saw the country’s partition.

The North became communist, while the South turned toward the West, with the Americans replacing the French as its main sponsors. Partition was followed by substantial migration in both directions, as many Southern communists left for the North and many northern anticommunist Catholics migrated to the South. However, the communist infrastructure in the South was not destroyed despite a wave of repression in 1954-59. In 1959-60, the communist remnants of the South, fortified with “returnees” from the North, launched an insurgency in the South.

Available regional and local research suggests that the insurgency was greatly facilitated by the organizational infrastructure that was left from the previous period, positive memories of past insurgencies, and the failure of the repression to root out communist activists.

This was a textbook insurgency in almost every respect, with the only difference that it did not take place in rough peripheral terrain but in the country’s heartland. Mixing selective benefits (especially land reform) with selective violence, the insurgents (who became known as the National Liberation Front – NLF or Vietcong – VC) were able to sap the presence of the state in a substantial part of the country, reducing its ability to control its territory. By 1965, the South Vietnamese regime was on the verge of collapse and was saved only by the American decision to intervene massively.

After this point, the war mutated from a classic insurgency into a combination of civil and interstate war fought both irregularly and conventionally by NLF insurgents, South Vietnamese regular soldiers and local militias, and regular American and North Vietnamese troops. The US promoted and implemented vigorously a massive counterinsurgency campaign that attempted to wrest control of the Vietnamese hamlets away from the insurgents. As Huntington (1968:650) put it:

“The war in Vietnam is a war for the control of the population.” This campaign was quite successful, judging from both qualitative studies and HES data. Induced urbanization through massive population displacement toward the cities and mass Vietcong defections weakened the social basis of the insurgency.

However, the high human and economic cost of the war led to the eventual disengagement of the US, eventually followed by a North Vietnamese conventional military invasion of the South, which led to the country’s reunification under communist rule.


Agent Orange is dioxin Vietnam war


War is brutal and it effects generations long after it is done. Not only are there issues within the souls of our soldiers and citizens that we carry after war, but is also effects our children. Walls of unforgiveness are often erected. Bitterness contaminates us within. Then there are inhumane practices performed in the name of war that perpetuate pain throughout generations. Agent Orange is just one example of the horrifying after effects of war. Agent Orange is dioxin a chemical that makes total war on just on vegetation but also on the roots and essences of life itself. The orange was clockwork from the start.

The historical atrocities are still being compiled. During the Vietnam War, about 12 million gallons of lethal toxin, in Orange form alone, were sprayed on Vietnam (on both Vietnamese and American forces fighting in the same jungles). Washington and famous corporations like Dow and Monsanto engaged in ecocide, poisoning from the skies the greenery and ecological soil and root systems below. Dioxin working its way down through the roots, the soil, and water entered the entire food chain of Vietnam.

Today among a populace of 84 million people, 1 million Vietnamese are afflicted with the after effects of Agent Orange. Women give birth to “monsters,” children are born with bright-yellow skin, cleft palates, deafness, muteness, pretzel limbs, all lolling heads. The terrible expressions on parents faces haunt you. Americans alike were adversely effected and victimized by Agent Orange. Yet the victims legal proceeding and court action was not heard until after over 20 years of waiting.

Admiral Zumwalt saw the effects first hand in the birth of his own children. He later said about Vietnam, it was “the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time.” When will we in America learn to not blindly listen and follow our politicians into wars that cannot be won? It seems history does repeat itself. Today American soldiers are coming back from Iraq in body bags, maimed, and grossly injured. Awake America!


bombing missions over North and South Vietnam


The war saw the U.S. Air Force and their South Vietnamese allies fly thousands of massive low-altitude bombing missions over North and South Vietnam as well as over sites of suspected Communist activity in neighbouring Laos and Cambodia. The B-52 heavy bomber, developed by Boeing in the late 1940s, helped the U.S. And South Vietnamese dominate the skies, along with smaller, more easily maneuverable fighter planes like the F-4 Phantom.

Also widely used was the Bell UH-1 helicopter, dubbed the “Huey,” which could fly at low altitudes and speeds and land easily in small spaces. U.S. Forces used the Huey to transport troops, supplies and equipment, aid ground troops with additional firepower and evacuated killed or wounded soldiers. Among the more devastating explosives used in U.S. And South Vietnamese bombing runs was napalm, a chemical compound developed during World War II.

When mixed with gasoline and included in incendiary bombs or flame throwers, napalm could be propelled greater distances than gasoline and released large amounts of carbon monoxide when it exploded, poisoning the air and causing even greater damage than traditional bombs.

Though the large-scale U.S. And South Vietnamese aerial bombardment efforts damaged or destroyed much of the land and population of Vietnam, they proved less destructive to the enemy than expected, as North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops fought an irregular style of guerilla warfare that proved much more resilient than the Americans had hoped.


Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam

At seven o'clock the South China Sea, and the 611th Ordnance Company area at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, was in front of him. Lightly lit, the moon drifted down dimming the dirt road in front of the Company area's office -as if it was under a shadow-(the office shelter, often referred to as a Quentin hut); Corporal Evens enduring the peninsula's evening heat, slightly intoxicated-sipping on a can of beer, gently walking towards the front road, and past the Captain's office, on a metal platform, in the centre of the Company, used for morning and evening formations.

His face was warm, somewhat tired, yet engaged, interested in the commotion taking place there. Staff Sergeant Fuller, a black sergeant from the south, Dixie, along with Private Presley from Mississippi (who said he was a third cousin or distant relative to Elvis Presley, so he claimed) both looked on, both looked curious, both looked a bit tired and a little under the weather, and in need of a shave, just standing nearby, watching things develop.

"What's going on in the Captain's office?" Evens asked. Priestly pointed towards the window, one could see a soldier leaning over the edge of the Captain's desk looking down and towards the left corner of his back wall of the office wing. "I don't know for sure," said one of the two voices, Evens now looking towards the window, trying to see the activity inside the office, and just seeing the shoulder and back of a soldier, and a figure on the floor. "Maybe Private Thompson's going to kill the Captain, fill him with holes, he's aiming his M16 right in his face-I think his face, he was anyhow, awhile ago!" said the Staff Sergeant.

Thompson was screaming at the Captain now, who was huddled in the corner like a foetus, screaming like a lunatic. Evens stepped slightly outside of the road's shadow, under an arch light, closer to the office shelter, a few steps, no more than that, he could see a little clearer now through the upper part of the bugged infested window-the head of Thompson, the rifle in his hands, plus the window was halfway opened, so he could see clearer on bottom the Captain hunched in the corner. "I swear I saw him earlier talking to himself in his hutch, looking at some pictures. He must had been drinking or smoking weed, or whatever all afternoon.

The Captain refused his leave," said the Crusher (a nickname), really a Buck Sergeant who was taken into the company for rest and recuperation-that is: a lighter duty; he head been out in the bush looking for Charlie, the enemy for several months without much relief, and was going wacky himself. (It was his third stint in Vietnam, three times in a row-or 36-months: he loved the action.) He had joined the idle standing group. He had returned with a Military Policeman (MP)to assist in this mounting situation.

But the MP simply inferred, if he'd try anything, it might provoke the shooter to shoot the Captain, wanting to stand back, wait and see, plus he was waiting for his superior to arrive, a Sergeant. Then Thompson leveled off: the nose of his rifle sharply lifted upward, and turned along-side, to his left side looking out the window slightly from the corner of his eye towards the crowd mounting, resting the butt of his M16 on the wooden floor; his face rapt, in a childish composure.

"I hope Thompson shoots him," a voice came out of the gathering by the dirt road. Yet for forty-minutes longer, the ordeal continued with long periods of silence, contemplation, staring of the culprit onto the victim, and then the Captain ducked down further, his head between his legs, as if he was told to say his last prayers.

It appeared the Captain was begging, and then crawled about-Thompson peering out of the window now and then, to inspect the gathering, and then they emerged, both standing face to face, the Captain about four-feet away, stiff as a board. Right about this time, two MPs-the one that had been waiting for his superior and the superior, who was a sergeant-walked down to the side widow to talk to Thompson, a tinge hesitant-Thompson looked tired, worn, less intoxicated than he had been two hours earlier, more in tuned to what he was actually doing, and what was going on: it appeared one of the two Military Policemen knew him.

The Captain's face a little less grim, a little eager for the MPs to talk sense into the Private First Class; the MP's voice carried a high pitched, an unsure one, but non threatening. "Oh, I say: Private First Class Thompson! Keep that rifle down and maybe we can talk this thing out." Each of the MPs had a pistol in their holsters strapped onto a belt, on their hips. They had kept their distance, but now were inching their way up to the windowsill; everyone waiting for a shootout or a quick strike by the MPs.

Thompson looked at the police, identified with one. "What! Don't do what?" Thompson annoyingly said. "The rifle, it's not on safety, don't shoot us, we just want to talk. I mean, you know what I mean! I mean this is all stupid, the Captain isn't worth jail time, matter of fact, I think you just won your ticket home." In a fainting voice, Thompson started to cry, wail about his girlfriend-then shifted his position, glared at the Captain. Then the two policemen said in unison: "That's right, they'll be sending you home soon," then the superior, the sergeant, added: "Just a little time in the hospital for a psychological evaluation I bet, they'll call it PTS, and send you home."

(There perhaps was some truth to that, but jail time was downplayed, and a medical and dishonourable discharge were in line.) Then one of the two MPs moved his hand slowly over the windowsill through the window (the window was halfway open),as the Captain sank down again, this time onto his knees, Thompson contemplating, allowing the MP to grab his rifle as if he wanted this all to end: thus, the confrontation was over, it was kind of an about-turn. Whereupon, Thompson was handcuffed, as the small crowed in front of the office dispersed: seemingly, some disappointed the Captain was not shot.

For others indifference, it was no more than an evening's entertainment, the Captain had very few friends. For the Captain himself, he was more than frightened, more than shaken up, he was nearly out of his wits, and was never seen of after that night, and would be replaced by Captain Rosenboum within thirty-six hours; the First Sergeant, a little black man from the south, pert near always drunk, held down the fort, figuratively speaking, in the interim.

For me, I had only been at the 611 for less than two month, I was just haggard out and tired, wanting another beer, and hoping for a good night's sleep. Dennis Siluk Dr.h.c.


The M-48 tank use in Vietnam


The M-48 tank, with mounted machine guns, could travel up to 30 mph and was used to provide support for U.S. and South Vietnamese troops. Due to Vietnam's soggy jungle terrain, tanks were not used extensively in combat during the Vietnam War. Armoured personnel carriers such as the M-113 transported troops and performed reconnaissance and support functions.

A common artillery weapon, previously used in World War II, was the 105mm howitzer, which could be towed behind a truck or carried by helicopter and dropped into position. Operated by crews of eight men each, the howitzers fired high-explosive shrapnel shells or "beehive" cartridges (thousands of small, sharp darts) at a rate of three to eight rounds per minute over a range of some 12,500 yards.

One of the most common infantry weapons used by U.S. troops in Vietnam was the M-60 machine gun, which could also be used as an artillery weapon when mounted or operated from a helicopter or tank.

The gas-powered M-60 could fire up to 550 bullets in quick succession at a range of almost 2,000 yards, or at short range when fired from the shoulder. One drawback of the M-60 was the heavy weight of its cartridge belts, which limited the ammunition that soldiers could carry. Standard issue for infantrymen in Vietnam was the M-16, a gas-operated, magazine-fed rifle that could fire .223-caliber bullets accurately over several hundred yards at 700-900 rounds per minute on its automatic setting; it could also be used as a semi-automatic. Its ammunition came in "clips" of 20-30 rounds, making it relatively easy to reload.


Most of the weapons, uniforms and equipment used by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces were manufactured by the Soviet Union and China. The portable, shoulder-fired SA-7 Grail missile was one of many anti-aircraft weapons extensively against American aircraft conducting bombing raids in North Vietnam. On the ground, the DP 7.62mm light machine gun (the equivalent to the U.S.-made M-60) was based on a Soviet design and manufactured in both the Soviet Union and China.

The simple but deadly accurate AK-47, known to many as the "peasant's rifle," was shorter and heavier than the M-16, with a lower rate of fire (up to about 600 rounds per minute). It was extraordinarily durable, however, and was able to fire 7.62mm bullets either automatically or semi-automatically from a 30-round clip at a rate of up to about 600 rounds per minute, at a range of up to 435 yards.

Another widely used semi-automatic rifle, the SKS carbine or "Chicom," was the Chinese version of the AK-47, with a slightly greater range. In addition to Soviet- or Chinese-supplied arms, Communist forces also carried weapons captured from the French and the Japanese in earlier Indochina wars or used weapons made by hand in Vietnam. Troops in the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) or the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) had access to more standard-issue clothing and weapons, while Viet Cong often used improvised weapons and wore peasant clothing to blend in to the South Vietnamese population.


Operation Ranch Hand spraying angent orange


In addition to rifles and machine guns, U.S. infantry troops were armed with hand grenades (such as the Mark-2), which could be thrown or propelled using rifle-mounted launchers. Mines were used to guard the perimeter around campsites; they could be triggered by trip wires or exploded manually. In terms of chemical weapons, U.S. Air Force planes sprayed more than 19 million gallons of herbicides over 4.5 million acres of land in Vietnam from 1961 to 1972 as part of Operation Ranch Hand, a large-scale defoliation program aimed at eliminating forest cover for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, as well as crops that might be used to feed them.

The most commonly used defoliant, a mixture of herbicides containing the toxic dioxin and known as Agent Orange, was later revealed to cause serious health issues--including tumors, birth defects, rashes, psychological symptoms and cancer--among returning U.S. servicemen and their families as well as among large sections of the Vietnamese population. For their part, North Vietnamese and particularly Viet Cong forces often used explosives captured from U.S. and South Vietnamese forces or cut open unexploded bombs to manufacture their own crude explosives.

They also employed booby traps, including hidden bamboo maces or crossbows that could be triggered when soldiers stepped on a tripwire. One particularly common menace was the punji stake trap, a bed of sharpened bamboo stakes that was concealed in a pit for enemy soldiers to stumble across.


The Cu Chi Tunnels Vietnam


The Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City are an incredible destination for war and history buffs. During the Vietnam War it was the major battleground between the U.S and Viet Cong. In the heart of the jungle, 200km of tunnels were well hidden from American soldiers. Originally built to protect the Vietnamese from French air strikes in the lat 1940's to 1950's, they were re-used during the 60's as a staging ground for attacks on American troops.

Surprisingly, the U.S. knew that the tunnels were there, they simply could not find them or destroy them. They put everything they had into taking out the tunnels from dispersing agent orange and napalm to relentlessly dropping bombs, but the caves remained in tact. The land didn't fare as well and the jungle was completely destroyed along with everything in it. Today it is thriving once again however, showing that with time, the earth can repair even the harshest results of destruction. If you are lucky, you may receive a first hand account from a former Vietnamese soldier.

Guides will tell you stories of their time in the war and can give you information on intimate details of the war that took place in this jungle. If you listen carefully, you can learn a great deal about history. The Viet Cong used the jungle to their advantage. They could run through with ease, knowing their way around their own land and had several cave entrances at the ready to disappear into. They were hidden well with termite hills placed atop, or with leaves scattered above.

Guide dogs could not follow their scent because they would sprinkle cayenne pepper around the entrance confusing the dogs and making them turn in the opposite direction. They could safely disappear into the 200 km system and if followed, the American soldiers couldn't fit inside anyway. The entrances were tiny and made for a slight frame, for a large U.S. soldier, fitting in would be almost impossible without blasting it. They knew their tunnels well, unlike the American soldier. They would enter the tunnel avoiding the booby traps placed to kill or maim the enemy.

Several different types of crude traps were laid in wait for the poor soldier that had to follow them in or the soldier that was sent to investigate upon a discovery. There were other tactics besides the tunnels that offered the Vietnamese an advantage against the United States. Surprisingly, foot rot was a major problem with U.S. soldiers. The heat and humidity of the rain forest caused sores, rotting flesh and infection. When your major form of battle is to walk through the jungle this can be a serious problem. Instead of wearing boots, the Vietcong wore rubber sandals made from tires.

They are well constructed and durable and you can see them for yourself. If you want to try them out, buy a pair for a nominal fee. It is impossible to imagine how people managed to live in these tunnels for several years. The passageways were very tight at less than a meter high and they were dark and filled with disease. They had to deal with insects and venomous snakes and the fear of being found out. However, the Vietnamese managed to carve out a way of life however building kitchens, living areas and first aid stations.


Guillio Douhet


Guillio Douhet was an Italian general who is recognized as a great exponent of Air Power. Douhet's theories on the superiority of Air Power have been accepted by all. What did Douhet propound? Douhet was of the opinion that air war and a systematic bombardment from the air, was an essential requirement for victory in any modern war.

The question that begets an answer is as to how come the United States of America had to retreat from Vietnam, despite having complete control of the air and an air power that could cripple North Vietnam. There is no doubt that the USAF had complete control of the skies and in the air the USA was the unchallenged master. But the USA in real terms lost the war and had to leave Vietnam. Was Douhet wrong or the answer is something else.

For an answer to this question we will have to look at the conduct of the war and the use of air power. When the war began the use of air power was minimal. But after the Tonkin Gulf incident, President Lyndon Johnson ordered the aerial bombardment of North Vietnam. Thus B52 bombers of the strategic air command began an attack from bases as far away as Guam and Tokyo. Targets in North Vietnam were hit and the USAF on the whole resorted to precession bombing of military targets.

Civil targets were not touched. All this sounds fine, but in real terms the USAF and the targets to be bombed were severely curtailed by Congress. This was because of world opinion which was against the air war over Vietnam. Bowing to world opinion, the USAF was reined in and this negated a basic principle of Douhet. The potency of air power can be gauged from the fact that the aerial bombardment during Linebacker II was so severe that in 14 days of sustained bombardment, North Vietnam came to the negotiating table. This is a vindication of Douhet's theory of the effects of air power.

Perhaps in case the USAF had been used as envisaged by Douhet, the result of the war would have been different. But that would have meant lifting all restraints on the USAF and the targets that they chose. Obviously the cost in terms of collateral damage would have been heavy, but perhaps the war may have taken a different course. But now that almost 3 decades have elapsed we can only speculate. But certainly Douhet's theory of airfare is still valid. Madan G Singh


Lyndon B. Johnson


The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the American War, occurred from 1959 to April 30, 1975. The term Vietnam Conflict is often used to refer to events which took place between 1959 and April 30, 1975. The war was fought between the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam and its communist allies and the US supported Republic of Vietnam. It concluded with the defeat and dissolution of South Vietnam.

For the United States, the war ended with the withdrawal of American troops and failure of its foreign policy in Vietnam. Over 1.4 million military personnel were killed in the war only 6% were members of the United States armed forces), while estimates of civilian fatalities range up to 2 million. On April 30, 1975, the capital of South Vietnam, Saigon fell to the communist forces of North Vietnam, effectively ending the Vietnam War. A coup by some of his own generals succeeded in toppling and killing Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, in November 1963, three weeks before Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

The ensuing political instability in South Vietnam persuaded Kennedy's successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to further increase U.S. military and economic support. The following August, after DRV torpedo boats attacked two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, Johnson ordered the retaliatory bombing of military targets in North Vietnam.

Congress soon passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave Johnson broad war-making powers, and U.S. planes began regular bombing raids, codenamed Operation Rolling Thunder, the following February. In March 1965, Johnson made the decision--with solid support from the American public--to send U.S. combat forces into battle in Vietnam.

By June, 82,000 combat troops were stationed in Vietnam, and General William Westmoreland was calling for 175,000 more by the end of 1965 to shore up the struggling South Vietnamese army. Despite the concerns of some of his advisers about this escalation, and about the entire war effort as well as a growing anti-war movement in the U.S., Johnson authorized the immediate dispatch of 100,000 troops at the end of July 1965 and another 100,000 in 1966. In addition to the United States, South Korea, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand also committed troops to fight in South Vietnam (albeit on a much smaller scale).


The President of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem


As dictated by the Geneva Conference of 1954, the partition of Vietnam was meant to be only temporary, pending national elections on July 20, 1956. Much like Korea, the agreement stipulated that the two military zones were to be separated by a temporary demarcation line (known as the Demilitarized Zone or DMZ). The United States, alone among the great powers, refused to sign the Geneva agreement. The President of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, declined to hold elections.

This called into question the United States' commitment to democracy in the region, but also raised questions about the legitimacy of any election held in the communist-run North. President Dwight D. Eisenhower expressed U.S. fears when he wrote that, in 1954,80 per cent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh over Emperor Bao Dai. However, this wide popularity was expressed before Ho's disastrous land reform program and a peasant revolt in Ho's home province which had to be bloodily suppressed. In June 1961, John F. Kennedy bitterly disagreed with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev when they met in Vienna over key U.S.-Soviet issues.

Cold war strategists concluded Southeast Asia would be one of the testing grounds where Soviet forces would test the USA's containment policy - begun during the Truman Administration and solidified by the stalemate resulting from the Korean War. Although Kennedy stressed long-range missile parity with the Soviets, he was also interested in using special forces for counter insurgency warfare in Third World countries threatened by communist insurgencies.

Originally intended for use behind front lines after a conventional invasion of Europe, Kennedy believed that the guerrilla tactics employed by special forces such as the Green Berets would be effective in a "brush fire" war in Vietnam. He saw British success in using such forces in Malaya as a strategic template.


USS Maddox Vietnam war


On August 2, 1964, the USS Maddox, on an intelligence mission along North Vietnam's coast, started a gunfight with torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. However, the Maddox claimed that it was attacked. A second attack was reported two days later on the USS Turner Joy and Maddox in the same area. The circumstances of the attack were murky. Lyndon Johnson commented to Under-secretary of State George Ball that "those sailors out there may have been shooting at flying fish." The second attack led to retaliatory air strikes, prompted Congress to approve the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and gave the president power to conduct military operations in South East Asia without declaring war.

In the same month, Johnson pledged that he was not "...committing American boys to fighting a war that I think ought to be fought by the boys of Asia to help protect their own land." Escalation of the Vietnam War officially started on the morning of January 31, 1965 when orders were cut and issued to mobilize the 18th TAC Fighter Squadron from Okinawa to Danang air force base (AFB).

A red alert alarm to scramble was sounded at Kadena AFB at 3:00 a.m. F-105's, pilots and support were deployed from Okinawa and landed in Vietnam that afternoon to join up with other smaller units who had already arrived weeks earlier. Preparations were under way for the first step of Operation Flaming Dart. The mission of Operation Flaming Dart, to cross the Seventeenth Parallel into North Vietnam, was already planned and in place before the attack on Pleiku.

The attack on Pleiku occurred on February 6, 1965. On February 7, 1965 forty nine F-105 Thunderchiefs flew out of Danang AFB to targets located in North Vietnam. From this day forward the war was no longer confined to South Vietnam. It took almost an hour to get all forty nine of the F-105's in the air. On that morning, the continuous loud roar of the F-105 engines going down the runway, one following another, was described by the ground crew as a "rolling thunder". At this time the Marines had not landed and Danang AFB was unprotected.


Vietnam war fighters


After several attacks, it was decided that U.S. Air Force bases needed more protection. The South Vietnamese military seemed incapable of providing security. On March 8, 1965, 3,500 United States Marines were dispatched to South Vietnam.

This marked the beginning of the American ground war. U.S. public opinion overwhelmingly supported the deployment. Public opinion, however, was based on the premise that Vietnam was part of a global struggle against communism. In a statement similar to that made to the French, almost two decades earlier, Ho Chi Minh warned that if the Americans "want to make war for twenty years then we shall make war for twenty years. If they want to make peace, we shall make peace and invite them to afternoon tea." As former First Deputy Foreign Minister Tran Quang Co noted, the primary goal of the war was to reunify Vietnam and secure its independence.

The policy of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) was not to topple other non-communist governments in South East Asia. During the 1968 presidential election, Richard M. Nixon promised "peace with honor". His plan was to build up the ARVN, so that they could take over the defence of South Vietnam (the Nixon Doctrine). The policy became known as "Vietnamization", a term criticized by Robert K. Brigham for implying that, to that date, only Americans had been dying in the conflict. Vietnamization had much in common with the policies of the Kennedy administration.

One important difference, however, remained. While Kennedy insisted that the South Vietnamese fight the war themselves, he attempted to limit the scope of the conflict. In pursuit of a withdrawal strategy, Richard Nixon was prepared to employ a variety of tactics, including widening the war.


The Paris Peace Accord vietnam war

Battle of Ia Drang - Day 1:

Initially holding his forces in the LZ, Moore soon began sending out patrols while waiting for more men to arrive. At 12:15 PM, the enemy was first encountered northwest of the creek bed. Shortly thereafter, Herren ordered his 1st and 2nd Platoons to advance in that direction. Encountering heavy enemy resistance, the 1st was halted though the 2nd pushed on and pursued an enemy squad. In the process, the platoon, led by Lieutenant Henry Herrick, became separated and was soon surrounded by North Vietnamese forces.

In the firefight that ensued, Herrick was killed and effective command devolved to Sergeant Ernie Savage. As the day progressed, Moore's men successfully defended the creek bed as well as repelled assaults from the south while awaiting the arrival of the remainder of the battalion. By 3:20 PM, the last of the battalion arrived and Moore established a 360-degree perimeter around X-Ray. Eager to rescue the lost platoon, Moore sent forward Alpha and Bravo Companies at 3:45 PM.

This effort succeeded in advancing around 75 yards from the creek bed before enemy fire brought it to a halt. In the attack, Lieutenant Walter Marm earned the Medal of Honor when he single-handedly captured an enemy machine gun position (Map). Battle of Ia Drang - Day 2: Around 5:00 PM, Moore was reinforced by the lead elements of Bravo Company/2nd/7th. While the Americans dug in for the night, the North Vietnamese probed their lines and conducted three assaults against the lost platoon. Though under heavy pressure, Savage's men turned these back. At 6:20 AM on November 15, the North Vietnamese mounted a major attack against Charlie Company's section of the perimeter.

Calling in fire support, the hard-pressed Americans turned back the attack but took significant losses in the process. At 7:45 AM, the enemy began a three-pronged assault on Moore's position. With the fighting intensifying and Charlie Company's line wavering, heavy air support was called in to halt the North Vietnamese advance. As it arrived over the field, it inflicted major losses on the enemy, though a friendly fire incident led to some napalm striking the American lines. At 9:10 AM, additional reinforcements arrived from the 2nd/7th and began reinforcing Charlie Company's lines.

By 10:00 AM the North Vietnamese began withdrawing. With fighting raging at X-Ray, Brown dispatched Lieutenant Colonel Bob Tully's 2nd/5th to LZ Victor approximately 2.2 miles east-southeast. Moving overland, they reached X-Ray at 12:05 PM, augmenting Moore's force. Pushing out of the perimeter, Moore and Tully succeeded in rescuing the lost platoon that afternoon.

That night North Vietnamese forces harassed the American lines and then launched a major assault around 4:00 AM. With the aid of well-directed artillery, four assaults were repelled as the morning progressed. By mid-morning, the remainder of the 2nd/7th and 2nd/5th arrived at X-Ray. With the Americans on the field in strength and having taken massive losses, the North Vietnamese began withdrawing. Battle of Ia Drang - Ambush at Albany: That afternoon Moore's command departed the field. Hearing reports of enemy units moving into the area and seeing that little more could be done at X-Ray, Brown wished to withdraw the remainder of his men.

This was vetoed by Westmoreland who wished to avoid the appearance of a retreat. As a result, Tully was instructed to march the 2nd/5th northeast to LZ Columbus while Lieutenant Colonel Robert McDade was to take the 2nd/7th north-northeast to LZ Albany. As they departed, a flight of B-52 Stratofortresses was assigned to strike the Chu Pong Massif.

While Tully's men had an uneventful march to Columbus, McDade's troops began encountering elements of the 33rd and 66th PAVN Regiments. These actions culminated with a devastating ambush in the vicinity of Albany. Under heavy pressure and taking major losses, McDade's command was soon aided by air support and elements of the 2nd/5th which marched in from Columbus. Beginning late that afternoon, additional reinforcements were flown in and the American position was appearance during the night.

The next morning, the enemy had largely pulled back. After policing the area for casualties and dead, the Americans departed for LZ Crooks the next day. Aftermath of Ia Drang The first major battle that involved US ground forces, Ia Drang saw them suffer 96 killed and 121 wounded at X-Ray and 155 killed and 124 wounded at Albany. Estimates for North Vietnamese losses are around 800 killed at X-Ray and minimum of 403 killed at Albany. For his actions in leading the defense of X-Ray, Moore was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Pilots Major Bruce Crandall and Captain Ed Freeman were later (2007) awarded the Medal of Honor for making volunteer flights under heavy fire to and from X-Ray. During these flights they delivered much needed supplies while evacuating wounded soldiers. The fighting at Ia Drang set the tone for the conflict as American forces continued to rely on air mobility and heavy fire support to achieve victory. Conversely, the North Vietnamese learned that the latter could be neutralized by quickly closing with the enemy and fighting at close range. Anon.




The Paris Peace Accord, agreed between communist Le Duc Tho, Henry Kissinger and reluctantly signed in January 1973 by President Thieu, produced a ceasefire and allowed for the exchange of prisoners of war. Later that year the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho but the Vietnamese negotiator declined it saying that a true peace did not yet exist in Vietnam. Gerald Ford took over in 1974 after President Nixon, who resigned the presidency on August 9 due to the Watergate scandal. The U.S. midterm elections in 1974 brought in a new Congress dominated by Democrats who were much more willing to confront the President on the war.

Congress immediately voted in restrictions on funding and military activities to be phased in through 1975 and to culminate in a total cut off of funding in 1976. On December 13, 1974, North Vietnam violated the Paris peace treaty by attacking into the South. When North Vietnam violated the 1973 cease-fire agreement and invaded the South again in 1975, Ford desperately asked Congress for funds to assist and re-supply the South before it was overrun.

Congress refused. The U.S. had promised Thieu that it would use air power to support his government. But, having been forbidden by law to assist South Vietnam, Ford was unable to act. The balance of power thus shifted decisively in North Vietnam's direction.


War in Vietnam helicopters


There were about 12,000 helicopters that served in the Vietnam War (we have specific tail numbers for 11,827 from all services). See below for losses. Bell Helicopter built 10,005 Hueys from 1957 to 1975. Prior to 1957, there were three XH-40 prototypes and six YH-40 test helicopters manufactured. Of the 10,005 production Hueys, the first 732 were designated HU-1A and HU-1B. 9,216 of these went to the U.S. Army, 79 to the U.S. Air Force, 42 to the U.S. Navy, and 127 to the U.S. Marine Corps.

The rest went to other countries. Our records show that 7,013 Hueys served in the Vietnam War. Almost all were Army. KIA KIA served destroy pilots crew UH-1 80 80 36 17 UH-1A 8 1 UH-1B 729 376 139 144 UH-1C 696 415 167 158 UH-1D 1,926 1,028 224 247 UH-1E 156 100 39 41 UH-1F 31 18 4 5 UH-1H 3,375 1,285 457 487 UH-1L 2 UH-1M 5 5 3 UH-1N 2 2 UH-1P 3 3 1 ----- ----- ----- ----- 7,013 3,305 1,074 1,103 Total helicopter pilots killed in the Vietnam War was 2,202.

Total non-pilot crew members was 2704. Based on a database I got recently from the Pentagon, we estimate that over 40,000 helicopter pilots served in the Vietnam War. To help in understanding the above numbers, the first 80 Hueys are missing a letter for some unknown reason. UH-1Ds were upgraded to UH-1Hs. That is why you see a higher percent of losses for UH-1Ds.

They were destroyed before they were upgraded to Hs. They were both used as slicks so they should be counted together when making any conclusions. UH-1Bs were upgraded to UH-1Cs then to UH-1Ms. Most of the UH-1Bs and nearly all of the UH-1Cs were used as gunships. The UH-1E, F, L, N and P were typically non-Army. 2,709 people were killed while in Hueys. 1,074 pilots 1,103 crew members 532 American passengers. 


McDonnell F-4 Phantom II vietnam


Though a "misunderstood event" in US history, the Vietnam War was a time when the US had the most powerful air force. Air force advisers were even sent to South Vietnam with a variety of planes on which to train the South Vietnamese Air Force in aerial tactics and techniques. In 1965, jet aircraft arrived in South Vietnam with the Republic F-105 Thunderchiefs, large fighter-bombers with limited manoeuvrability as the first. They were soon replaced by McDonnell F-4 Phantom IIs which descended from the McDonnell FH-1 Phantom.

When electronic warfare became extremely important in Vietnam, the United States used numbers of laser and television-guided bombs to hit difficult targets. So when the North Vietnamese began to build a massive surface-to-air missile (SAM) arsenal in 1965, America's response was the Wild Weasels. Originally modified F-100 Super Sabres but later F-4Gs, the Wild Weasels carried equipment to detect electromagnetic energy in order to identify and destroy SAM sites. Wiith airborne warning and controls system (AWACS) planes becoming an essential component of the air war, the Lockheed EC-121s were used.

While in Vietnam, EC-121's mission changed to finding enemy fighters, through radar and interrogating radio transponders, to determine location and nationality of each plane. EC-21s also directed U.S. aircraft to aerial refueling tankers and guided rescue planes to downed pilots. These air crafts that served varied purposes like search and rescue mission, infantry support, and bombing campaigns are relived through model replicas by many companies like Master craft Collection.

Bringing these air crafts to life honours the many brave men who piloted them and saved lives. The civilian cost of the war was again questioned, when the U.S concluded operation Speedy Express with a claimed body count of 10,889 NLF (vietcong) guerillas with only 40 U.S losses, Kevin Buckley writing in news week estimated that perhaps 5,000 were civilians. The invasion of Cambodia sparked nationwide U.S. protests.

Four students were killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State University during a protest in Ohio, which provoked public outrage in the United States. The reaction to the incident by the Nixon administration was seen as callous and indifferent, providing additional impetus for the anti-war movement. In 1971 the Pentagon Papers were leaked to the New York Times. The top-secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, commissioned by the Department of Defense, detailed a long series of public deceptions. The Supreme Court ruled that its publication was legal.


Kennedy Vietnam war


The Kennedy administration remained essentially committed to the Cold War foreign policy inherited from the Truman and Eisenhower administrations. In 1961, Kennedy faced a three-part crisis - the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the construction of the Berlin Wall, and a negotiated settlement between the pro-Western government of Laos and the Pathet Lao communist movement made Kennedy believe another failure on the part of the United States to gain control and stop communist expansion would fatally damage U.S. credibility with its allies and his own reputation.

Kennedy determined to 'draw a line in the sand' and prevent a communist victory in Vietnam saying, "Now we have a problem making our power credible and Vietnam looks like the place" to James Reston of the New York Times (immediately after meeting Khrushchev in Vienna).

The National Security Council recommended a three-stage escalation of the bombing of North Vietnam. On March 2, 1965, following an attack on a U.S. Marine barracks at Pleiku, Operation Flaming Dart and Operation Rolling Thunder commenced. The bombing campaign, which ultimately lasted three years, was intended to force North Vietnam to cease its support for the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF) by threatening to destroy North Vietnam's air defenses and industrial infrastructure.

As well, it was aimed at bolstering the morale of the South Vietnamese. Between March 1965 and November 1968, "Rolling Thunder" deluged the north with a million tons of missiles, rockets and bombs. Bombing was not restricted to North Vietnam. Other aerial campaigns, such as Operation Commando Hunt, targeted different parts of the NLF and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) infrastructure.

These included the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which ran through Laos and Cambodia. The objective of forcing North Vietnam to stop its support for the NLF, however, was never reached. As one officer noted "this is a political war and it calls for discriminate killing. The best weapon would be a knife The worst is an airplane." The Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force Curtis LeMay, however, had long advocated saturation bombing in Vietnam and wrote of the Communists that "we're going to bomb them back into the Stone Age"


My Lai in March 1968 Vietnam


The Soviet Union was responsible for supplying North Vietnam with military apparatus – in the form of tanks, helicopters, planes, arms and artillery. They also provided medical supplies. The Soviet union suffered minimally, in terms of human life, when compared with other countries that played a role in the conflict. It's estimated that the number of deaths of Soviet Union citizens would have been in the single digits. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Russian government officials made a statement acknowledging that 3,000 troops were stationed in Vietnam during the conflict. China's interests in the Vietnam War began in the late 1940's when the communists managed to gain control.

The CPC, which stands for the Communist Party of China, assisted Vietnam communists through providing materials and support because of the similar political beliefs that they felt they had. In 1962 their somewhat intangible assistance changed shape when they provided ninety thousand guns and rifles to Hanoi – this was done without charge. China also played a role in rebuilding and defending the infrastructure of North Vietnam, opting to provide anti-aircraft and engineering resources. They repaired roads, railways and undertook other engineering initiatives.

In doing this, it is said they freed up troops to pursue the conflict in the South. Over the duration of the war around one third of a million Chinese troops served in Vietnam of which, it's estimated, 1,500 died. To support the South’s government, the United States sent in 2,000 military advisors, a number that grew to 16,300 in 1963. The military condition deteriorated, and by 1963 South Vietnam had lost the fertile Mekong Delta to the Vietcong. In 1965, Johnson escalated the war, commencing air strikes on North Vietnam and committing ground forces, which numbered 536,000 in 1968. The 1968 Tet Offensive by the North Vietnamese turned many Americans against the war.

The next president, Richard Nixon, advocated Vietnamization, withdrawing American troops and giving South Vietnam greater responsibility for fighting the war. His attempt to slow the flow of North Vietnamese soldiers and supplies into South Vietnam by sending American forces to destroy Communist supply bases in Cambodia in 1970 in violation of Cambodian neutrality provoked antiwar protests on the nation’s college campuses.

Nixon sought to deflate the antiwar movement by appealing to a "silent majority" of Americans who he believed supported the war effort. In an attempt to limit the volume of American casualties, he announced a program of withdrawing troops, increasing aerial and artillery bombardment and giving South Vietnamese control over ground operations.

In addition to this policy, which he called "Vietnamization," Nixon continued public peace talks in Paris, adding higher-level secret talks conducted by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger beginning in the spring of 1968. The North Vietnamese continued to insist on complete U.S. withdrawal as a condition of peace, however, and the next few years would bring even more carnage, including the horrifying revelation that U.S. soldiers had massacred more than 400 unarmed civilians in the village of My Lai in March 1968.

Anti-war protests continued to build as the conflict wore on. In 1968 and 1969, there were hundreds of anti-war marches and gatherings throughout the country. On November 15, 1969, the largest anti-war protest in American history took place in Washington, D.C., as over 250,000 Americans gathered peacefully, calling for withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam.

The anti-war movement, which was particularly strong on college campuses, divided Americans bitterly. For some young people, the war symbolized a form of unchecked authority they had come to resent. For other Americans, opposing the government was considered unpatriotic and treasonous. As the first U.S. troops were withdrawn, those who remained became increasingly angry and frustrated, exacerbating problems with morale and leadership.

Tens of thousands of soldiers received dishonourable discharges for desertion, and about 500,000 American men from 1965-73 became "draft dodgers," with many fleeing to Canada to evade conscription. Nixon ended draft calls in 1972, and instituted an all-volunteer army the following year. In 1970, a joint U.S-South Vietnamese operation invaded Cambodia, hoping to wipe out DRV supply bases there. The South Vietnamese then led their own invasion of Laos, which was pushed back by North Vietnam.

The invasion of these countries, in violation of international law, sparked a new wave of protests on college campuses across America, including two at Kent State in Ohio and Jackson State in Mississippi during which National Guardsmen and police killed a total of six student protesters.

By the end of June 1972, however, after another failed offensive into South Vietnam, Hanoi was finally willing to compromise. Kissinger and North Vietnamese representatives drafted a peace agreement by early fall, but leaders in Saigon rejected it, and in December Nixon authorized a number of bombing raids against targets in Hanoi and Haiphong. Known as the Christmas Bombings, the raids drew international condemnation.


THE REAL PLATOON full metal jacket we were soldiers VIETNAM WAR MUSIC VIDEO HD born on the fourth of July welcome home to all Vietnam vets thanks all gave some some gave all filmed around Vietnam . The United States entered the war to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam as part of their wider strategy of containment. Military advisors arrived beginning in 1950. U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s and combat units were deployed beginning in 1965.

Involvement peaked in 1968 at the time of the Tet Offensive. Despite Paris Peace Accords, a peace treaty signed by all parties in January 1973 and Case-Church Amendment, a legislation passed by the U.S. Congress in June 1973 prohibiting further direct U.S. military intervention without Congressional authorization, the U.S. was still heavily invested in the war until 1975. The capture of Saigon by North Vietnamese army, in April 1975, marked the end of Vietnam War. North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year. Air Cav Huey Pilot in Vietnam platoon we were soldiers Casualties and losses Exit of the French, 19501954 South Vietnam .

Kingdom of Laos . US . South Korea . Australia . New Zealand . Thailand North Vietnam & NLF . P.R. China . Soviet Union The Vietnam War was a military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1959 to 30 April 1975. The war was fought between the communist North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of South Vietnam, supported by the United States and other member nations of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). a Vietnam pilots war footage of choppers and fire birds AHC Between June 1964 and December 1972 around 3500 New Zealand military personnel served in South Vietnam.

In contrast to the First and Second World Wars, this country's contribution was modest. At its peak in 1968 the New Zealand force only numbered 543. Thirty-seven died while on active service and 187 were wounded. The Vietnam War − sometimes referred to as the Second Indochina War − lasted from 1959 to 1975. In Vietnam it is often referred to as the American War. It was fought between the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and its allies, and the US-backed Republic of Vietnam in the south. It ended with the defeat of South Vietnam in April 1975.

Nearly 1.5 million soldiers and perhaps 2 million civilians died during the war.revival greatest hits Apocalypse Now Black Hawk Down M*A*S*H What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? mash platoon full metal jacket we were soldiers "Platoon (film)" Army Military Force Navy Air Marines Forces Soldier born on the fourth of July HD Apocalypse Now good morning Nam Vietnam battlefield search destroy call of duty military warfare helicopter Black Hawk Down greatest hits The Deer Hunter Good Morning Vietnam Hamburger Hill The Killing Fields 10,000 Day War - documentary Tigerland


USA marines in Vietnam war


"WALKING IN CHARLIE'S LAND" SONGS BY AMERICANS IN THE VIETNAM WAR 18 March, 1991 Fan blades/helicopter blades rotating slowly above a troubled dreamer, Jim Morrison's voice singing "The End"... Young soldiers, on their way to Vietnam in the summer of Woodstock, marching on board their plane at Ft. Dix singing "Fixing To Die"... Correspondent Michael Herr catching helicopter rides out to the firebases, "cassette rock and roll in one ear and door- gun fire in the other," or crouched under fire in a rice paddy while Jimi Hendrix' music blares from the recorder held by the soldier next to him... Grunts linking arms in a beery E.M. club and screaming out the lyrics to the Animals' "We Gotta Get Out of This Place"... The rock and roll war... To most of us, the Vietnam War has a rock and roll soundtrack.

All the songs of the sixties were part of life in the combat zone; troops listened to music in the bush and in the bunkers. They had their own top forty, of songs about going home, like "Five Hundred Miles," or "Leaving on a Jet Plane," or of darker or more cynical album cuts which reflected their experiences: "Run Through the Jungle," "Bad Moon," "Paint it Black," or "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." References to popular music are an integral part of the language of the war: "Puff the Magic Dragon" or "Spooky" meant a cargo plane outfitted with machine guns, "rock and roll" fire from an M-16 on full automatic. But there were other songs in Vietnam, too--the songs made by the American men and women, civilians and military, who served there, for themselves.

Some of these were part of the traditional occupational folklore of the military. Many of the Vietnam War fighter pilots' songs were sung in the two World Wars and the Korean War; the grunts complained about the brass in the rear in a song made by British troops World War I.

Other songs grew directly out of the Vietnam experience: songs about flying at night along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, defoliating triple-canopy jungle, engaging in fire fights with an unseen enemy, or counting the days left in a 365-day tour. In some cases both the words and music were original, usually new lyrics were set to folk, country or popular tunes. Barry Sadler's "Ballad of the Green Berets" alone spawned dozens of parodies.

These songs served as a strategy for survival, as a means of unit bonding and definition, as entertainment, and as a way of expressing emotion. All of the traditional themes of military folk song can be found in these songs: praise of the great leader, celebration of heroic deeds, laments for the death of comrades, disparagement of other units, and complaints about incompetent officers and vainglorious rear-echelon personnel. Like soldiers and sailors from time immemorial they sang of epic drinking bouts and encounters with exotic young women.

Songs provided a means for the expression of protest, fear and frustration, of grief and of longing for home. Some of the songs show empathy with the enemy; Chip Dockery, who served with the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Udorn, wrote a superb series of songs from the point of the North Vietnamese truck drivers on the Ho Chi Minh trail. Others display a kind of black humor mixed with violence: "Strafe the Town and Kill the People," "As We Came Around and Tried To Get Some More," and "Napalm Sticks to Kids." Civilians serving with agencies such as AID, CORDS, OCO, JUSPAO, the State Department and the CIA had their own songs.

They griped about the unpunctuality of Air America flights ("Damn Air America, You're Always Late") and the futility of pacification efforts ("We Have Pacified This Land One Hundred Times") and made cynical political comments ("I Feel Like a Coup is Coming On"). Jim Bullington, who was working for AID in Quang Tri in 1968, wrote "Yes, We Are Winning" while he was in hiding in Hue during the Tet Offensive of that year.

In Dong Tam Emily Strange, (Red Cross), with her friend Barbara Hagar (USO), wrote "Incoming," complaining about having to go the bunkers every night, and sang it for enthusiastic grunts on the fire bases. All the streams of American musical tradition meet in the songs of the Vietnam War. The influence of the folk song revival was strong, especially in the early or advisor period of the war. Many of the soldiers, especially the young officers who had been exposed to the revival in college, were already experienced musicians when they arrived in Vietnam.

A few brought instruments with them, others ordered them from the United States or purchased Japanese guitars from the PX or on the local economy. Many of them sang together in Kingston-Trio-style trios or quartets: the Merrymen, the Blue Stars, the Intruders, the Four Blades.

Country music groups were also formed in Vietnam and many songs are based on country favorites: "I Fly the Line," "Short Fat Sky," and "Ghost Advisors." One of the great song writers of the war, Dick Jonas, wrote almost entirely in this tradition. Later in the war, many of the young soldiers had played in rock bands before being drafted and this, too, is reflected in the music.

Some of the songs of the anti-war movement at home were also sung in Vietnam; one night at Khe Sanh Michael Herr saw a group of grunts sitting in a circle with a guitar singing "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" (1977:148). Joseph Treaster, a member of The New York Times Saigon bureau, wrote in 1966:


Vietnam helicopter escape


To this day, three decades following the departure of the last American troops from Vietnam, the Vietnam War lives on in American historical memory.  It lives on, not just as a senseless conflict in which the United States should never have involved itself but as one which effectively drained the United States' resources, led to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of American youth and culminated in the humiliation of the USA. 

The Vietnam War was never, at any stage of the conflict, popular with the American public and, indeed, the strikes and protests against this war are as much a part of US history as is the war itself.  Given the undeniable unpopularity of the war, one can only assume that the United States' leadership had a rationale for involvement in this conflict. 

Accordingly, in order to arrive at an objective conclusion regarding the United States' involvement in this war, the political and historical context of the conflict shall be considered, following which the two alternate points of view shall be presented for determination of their respective strengths and weakness.

The Vietnam War has its roots in the Viet Minh's struggle for the independence of Vietnam from Japanese control during the Second World War.  The leader of this struggle, Ho Chi Minh, was a communist national who, although independent of USSR control, maintained friendly and cooperative relations with Moscow.

Despite alliance with the Soviet Union, however, the United States actively supported Ho Chi Minh's bid for independence and, in assertion and affirmation of its support, the United States even trained Ho Chi Minh's guerilla fighters, preparing them for the seizure of their country and the declaration of Vietnam independence following World War II.

Following the surrender of the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II, several factions emerged, demanding control over an independent Vietnam.  The Japanese, however, awarded the Viet Minh control over the country and, on 2 September 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared his country's independence from French colonialism, expressing his confidence and hope in US support. 

There were several reasons for Ho Chi Minh's confidence.  The first was the support which the United States had extended him in the training of Viet Minh guerillas.  The second was the United States' opposition to European colonialism and support for independence.  In other words, there was a string foundation for Ho Chi Minh's belief that the United States would support his government.


Ballad of the Green Berets


Music and song have always been an important part of human expression and experience. Song writers and performers use the art form to convey their thoughts and emotions. Listeners listen to the music that resonates with them.

We all have personal "soundtracks" in our lives, consisting not only of the music we like to listen to now, but of the different pieces of music we've identified with throughout our lives. There is also a musical soundtrack to history itself. Through the music of a period, we can understand more about the important issues and emotions of that period.

And by listening to the music, we may even make an emotional connection with some of the views held during that period. This is particularly the case with Vietnam War Music, which provides superb insight into the US involvement in the Vietnam War in the '60s and early '70s. Soldiers had full access to the abundance of rock and folk music being produced back home. Sophisticated and powerful stereos were affordable and readily available, and became pervasive throughout soldier life.

Many songs that were recorded without any reference to the war became soundtracks to their lives. Songs such as The Animals' "We Gotta Get Out of This Place", whose main lyric had particular resonance. Or Simon and Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound", which is about a homesick musician, but again, the key emotion was relevant. The list of examples is enormous. As in all wars, musicians within the soldier population also performed popular songs, and traditional folk and military tunes, as well as composing new songs.

One famous example is the "Boonie Rat Song", a folk song created in the 101st Airborne Division, counting down the days until they go home, describing the first few days, and then the emotions of a few points during the tour of duty. The pervasiveness of tape recording and playback technology meant that soldier musicians' performances could be easily recorded. Popular recordings quickly found their way throughout the US soldier population in Vietnam, and back home to the States with returning soldiers.

There was a large social movement in the US protesting the war. Many popular songs were composed and released that were either generally anti-war, or specifically anti-Vietnam-War. For example, there was: the quirky "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die-Rag" by Country Joe and the Fish; or the moving "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, about the killing of four students at Kent State University during a protest; or John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance", or Edwin Starr's powerful soul performance "War". There were also many songs that were patriotic or that supported the troops.

The most popular example is Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler's "Ballad of the Green Berets", which topped the charts for 5 weeks in 1966. The after-effects of the war on society can also be seen from the songs released in the decades since that make reference to the War. For example, Bruce Springsteen's 1984 "Born in the USA", is about the issues faced by Vietnam War veterans when they returned. Robert A. Bourne



The United States' international relations' priorities and agenda, however, underwent a significant shift following World War II and it did not support the Viet Minh.  The Cold War had begun and the United States, who perceived of the world as being divided into two camps, the communist and the capitalist camps, was determined to curb the power of the Soviet Union. 

It saw the Soviet Union as a real threat to the West, to the United States and was utterly convinced that should it allow Vietnam to fall to communism, it would be directly contributing to the growth of Soviet Union and would be facilitating the domino effect, wherein one country after the other would fall to communism.  The United States did not simply change its strategy vis-à-vis Vietnam and its earlier support of Ho Chi Minh, but went to war in order to ensure that Vietnam did not fall to communism, hence Soviet influence.

Leadership of Vietnam became indeterminate.  The United States was opposed to ho Chi Minh and Moscow supported him.  Eventually, in the Geneva Conference of 1954,  the country was partitioned until such a time hen national elections could be held and decides upon leadership.  The United States chose Ngo Dinh Diem, an avowed anti-communist as the leader of South Vietnam. 

Diem, however, was extremely unpopular, added to which he was an autocratic dictator.  Matter came to a head in 1955 when he effectively launched a war against all opposition factions, declaring all those who disagreed with him Viet Cong and communist conspirator.  Shortly after, he held general elections, and the results were rigged in his favour.  He declared himself President of the Republic of Vietnam.  He was, however, exceedingly unpopular.


Ngo Dinh Diem, an avowed anti-communist as the leader of South Vietnam.


As Diem was unpopular and his popularity was increasingly the year, by 1960 North Vietnam determined that the time was right for the reunification of Vietnam.  Hanoi, accordingly, authorized a military occupation of the Republic of Vietnam.  Die did not have the military means to withstand the attack and, indeed, he had no popular support.  Hence, the United States decided to intervene and by 1962 had 12,000 troops in the country.  By 1964, the United States was trapped in the Vietnamese conflict and had begun to institute the draft.

The Vietnam War was exceedingly unpopular, as earlier noted and, added to that, the United States was caught in a war which it just could not win.  Fighting continued to escalate as did the level of US involvement.  The war lasted until 1973, at which time the United States withdrew, having accomplished very little.

Given the outcome and the causes of the Vietnam War, one question imposes itself upon us.  That is, why did the United States involve itself in this conflict.  The answer is ideology and the containment policy which the US was pursuing.  The United States was determined to stem the spread and expansion of Soviet influence, as in communism and, indeed, had it lost Vietnam, it would have effectively lost one of its very last strongholds in a region which had effectively surrendered to communism. 

The expansion of communism in East Asia immediately impinged upon the United States' international influence and, further expansion would be interpreted as a Soviet victory.  It was, thus, that the United States determined involvement.

Proceeding from the above, the reasons why the Vietnam War became a contentious and controversial issue are evident.  It was not only that the United States was sacrificing its men, its soldiers, for ideology but it was doing so in support of a regime which was not popular amongst its own citizens.  Indeed, by allying itself with Diem, the United States was allying itself with a brutal and corrupt dictator. 

To further exacerbate the issue of US involvement, the conflict was a civil war and, as a matter of fact, could even be identified as a war for the unification of a country which was partitioned on the orders of international actors.  The Vietnam War, in other words, represented overt American intervention in the affairs of a foreign country, in a distant continent and, accordingly, lacked public support.

In retrospect, the United States should not have involved itself in the Vietnam War.  It was a domestic conflict which, consequent to US intervention, was transformed into a proxy war between the United States and the Soviet Union.  It was a costly war and, significantly, a war from which the United States eventually had to withdraw with little to show for a decade of involvement.


Joseph McCarthy Vietnam war


Who would have thought that time that a country so far from Vietnam can be involved in the war happening to that country? Apparently, United States did. The sole purpose why did the US enter the Vietnam War during that time was simply to help put an end to Communism. Although some would prefer to have the Communist system, the masses do not agree to be controlled under such government structure.

At the same time, because it is natural for human to be greedy when given the chance, communism allows the leaders to be more affluent while the people works two times harder without receiving any incentive. This is what the Vietnamese were trying to have particularly during the 1950's up to 1960's. Since 1949, the people in United States started to fear the rapidly spreading Communism in developing countries like them.

The anti-communist senator in the state, Joseph McCarthy, led the people to hunt communists in United States. This was mainly because of the Red Scare influence. In other parts of the world, when the World War II ended, there were so many countries that started to become slaves of the Communist system including China and other regions in Asia as well. However, this became a trend which was scattered in different nations including Africa and Latin America.

This is when the involvement of US in Vietnam War was planned. The country felt that it must do something in order to restrain the spreading Communism around the globe. During the 1950, the U.N. allies of United States were already at war against Chinese and North

Korean forces that were pushing Communism in their respective countries. Because they were humiliated during the World War II, the French were also battling against the Vietnam at the same time. Apart from trying to regain their national pride, the French also fought Vietnam to maintain their country's colonial power as well.

Unlike Americans, they were not really fighting to put an end to communism. However, the French pulled out their troops when they realized that the bloodshed is not at all worth it. From then, United States decided that they would still continue the battle against the communists.

With the aid of the South Vietnamese, who apparently are capitalists, they increased the number of their troops. They had an all-out war and deployed as much as 540,000 troops. The involvement of US in Vietnam War actually lasted until 1975.


Ho Chi Minh Trail Vietnam


Four hundred government officials were assassinated in 1957 alone, and the violence gradually increased. While the terror was originally aimed at local government officials, it soon broadened to include other symbols of the status  such as school teachers, health workers, agricultural officials, etc. One estimate purports that by 1958, 20% of South Vietnam's village chiefs had been murdered by the insurgents.

What was sought was a method of completely destroying government control in South Vietnam's rural villages in order to be replaced by an NLF shadow government. Finally, in January 1959, under pressure from southern cadres who were being targeted by Diem's secret police, the north's Central Committee issued a secret resolution authorizing an "armed struggle."

This authorized the southern Viet Minh to begin large scale operations against the South Vietnamese military. In response, Diem enacted tough new anti-communist laws. However, North Vietnam supplied troops and supplies in earnest, and the infiltration of men and weapons from the north began along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.


Vietnamese Communists


In 1950, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and China recognized each other diplomatically. The Soviet Union quickly followed suit. U.S. President Harry S. Truman countered by recognizing the French puppet government of Vietnam. Washington feared that Hanoi was a pawn of Communist China and, by extension, Moscow.

This flew in the face of the long historical antipathy between the two nations, of which the U.S. seems to have been completely ignorant. As Doan Huynh commented,Vietnam a part of the Chinese expansionist game in Asia? For anyone who knows the history of Indochina, this is incomprehensible.Nevertheless, Chinese support was very important to the Viet Minh's success, and China largely supported the Vietnamese Communists through the end of the war.


On April 30, 1975, VPA troops overcame all resistance, quickly capturing key buildings and installations. A tank crashed through the gates of the Presidential Palace and at 11:30 a.m. local time with the NLF flag raised above it. Thieu's successor, President Duong Van Minh, attempted to surrender, but VPA Colonel Bui Quang Than informed him that he had nothing left to surrender. Minh then issued his last command, ordering all South Vietnamese troops to lay down their arms.

The Communists had attained their goal: they had toppled the Saigon regime. But the cost of victory was high. In the past decade alone, one Vietnamese in every ten had been a casualty of war. Nearly a million and a half killed, three million wounded. Vietnam had been a tormented land, and its ordeal was not over.


Saigon dead marines


The ARVN launched Operation Lam Son 719, aimed at cutting the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos. The offensive was a clear violation of Laotian neutrality,which neither side respected in any event. Laos had long been the scene of a Secret War. After meeting resistance, ARVN forces retreated in a confused rout. They fled along roads littered with their own dead.

When they ran out of fuel, soldiers abandoned their vehicles and attempted to barge their way on to American helicopters sent to evacuate the wounded. Many ARVN soldiers clung to helicopter skids in a desperate attempt to save themselves. U.S. aircraft had to destroy abandoned equipment, including tanks, to prevent them from falling into enemy hand.

Chaos, unrest, and panic ensued as hysterical South Vietnamese officials and civilians scrambled to leave Saigon. Martial law was declared. American helicopters began evacuating South Vietnamese, U.S. and foreign nationals from various parts of the city and from the U.S. embassy compound. Operation Frequent Wind had been delayed until the last possible moment, because of U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin's belief that Saigon could be held and that a political settlement could be reached. "Frequent Wind" was arguably the largest helicopter evacuation in history.

It began on April 29, in an atmosphere of desperation, as hysterical crowds of Vietnamese vied for limited seats. Martin pleaded with Washington to dispatch $700 million in emergency aid to bolster the regime and help it mobilize fresh military reserves. But American public opinion had long soured on this conflict halfway around the world. In the U.S., South Vietnam was perceived as doomed. President Gerald Ford gave a televised speech on April 23, declaring an end to the Vietnam War and all U.S. aid. "Frequent Wind" continued around the clock, as North Vietnamese tanks breached defences on the outskirts of Saigon. The song "White Christmas" was broadcast, as the final signal for withdrawal.

In the early morning hours of April 30, the last U.S. Marines evacuated the embassy by helicopter, as civilians swamped the perimeter and poured into the grounds. Many of them had been employed by the Americans and were left to their fate. The Vietnam War, which lasted from 1945-1975, was the longest conflict that the United States participated in.

The war cost the lives of almost 60,000 Americans and almost 2 million Vietnamese. The participation of the US in the said war resulted to the enactment of the War Power Acts of 1973, which required Congressional approval before the President can deploy US forces overseas. Here we will try to find the answer to the question: Why Did the US Enter the Vietnam War? The primary reason for the participation of the United States in the Vietnam War was to prevent the spread of communism in South Vietnam as part of their wide scale strategy of containment. Following the defeat of the French Armada, peace talks were held in Geneva resulting to the granting of independence to Laos and Cambodia and the division of Vietnam into North and South.

The spread of Communism was becoming evident in both local and international front. In the United States, majority of the 1950s saw Americans experiencing the so-called Red Scare, spearheaded by Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who was very much opposed to communism. Meanwhile, on the international scene, every country in Eastern Europe had started to embrace communism after the end of World War II. It began with China followed by countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. From there, the US began to implement the philosophy of containment as they felt that they were losing the Cold War.

With that in mind, the United States began sending its first batch of military advisers to assist France in its war against Communism in North Vietnam. Simultaneously, the United Nations and the US had launched operations against North Korean and Chinese forces in the Korean War. For France, their battle against North Korea was not to stop the spread of communism, like what the Americans did, but for the maintenance of colonial power and to re-establish their national pride after being humiliated during the Second World War.

When it became obvious to the French that any attempts to keep Indochina as a colony in the expense of blood was futile, France pulled out its troops in 1954. On the other hand, the United States saw the need for it to consolidate its forces in its desire to rid Vietnam of Communism. It intensified its efforts of sending increased amounts of war ammunitions and also bolstered its sending of military advisers in support of South Vietnam.

Slowly but surely, the Americans were dragged into an all-out shooting war. They even allowed military advisers to fire back on anyone who fired at them. In 1965, deployment of US troops commence and by April 1969, a total of 543,000 soldiers were dispatched in Vietnam. The United States became involved in the conflict until 1975, when the southern city of Saigon fell into the hands of the Communist North Vietnam. To this very day, the answers to the question why did the US enter the Vietnam War is still a puzzle and if the deployment of the US forces was justifiable.


One Vietnamese in every ten had been a casualty of war.


On April 30, 1975, VPA troops overcame all resistance, quickly capturing key buildings and installations. A tank crashed through the gates of the Presidential Palace and at 11:30 a.m. local time with the NLF flag raised above it. Thieu's successor, President Duong Van Minh, attempted to surrender, but VPA Colonel Bui Quang Than informed him that he had nothing left to surrender. Minh then issued his last command, ordering all South Vietnamese troops to lay down their arms. The Communists had attained their goal: they had toppled the Saigon regime.

But the cost of victory was high. In the past decade alone, one Vietnamese in every ten had been a casualty of war. Nearly a million and a half killed, three million wounded. Vietnam had been a tormented land, and its ordeal was not over. The anti-war movement was gaining strength in the United States. Nixon appealed to the "Silent Majority" of Americans to support the war. But revelations of the My Lai Massacre, in which U.S. forces went on a rampage and killed civilians, including women and children, provoked national and international outrage.


U.S. Navy's River Patrol Force


The concept of riverine forces was not new to Southeast Asia. During the Indochina War of 1946-54, French forces created the Dinassauts, which were combat organizations designed to operate in the hostile environment of Vietnam's waterways. These employed a variety of modified landing craft in the fire support and stop and search roles. When the first South Vietnamese Naval units were established in 1955, their River Assault Groups (RAGs) took over the equipment. By 1964, the RAGs possessed over 200 craft.

Prior to 1965, operations against the VC in the Mekong Delta were the responsibility of the South Vietnamese forces. However, from December 1965 onwards they transferred to the U.S. Navy's River Patrol Force (Task Force 116). One of the earliest operations mounted by the RPF was Game Warden, which deployed river patrol boats and experimental hovercraft to prevent the VC use of the waterways.

It was run parallel to Operation Market Time, which began in March 1965 by Task Force 71 (later 115), and was designed to cut off NVA seaborne infiltration. By mid-1966 it had become clear that more had to be done to challenge VC control of the delta and the coastal mangrove swamps of the Rung Sat Special Zone, southeast of Saigon.

Between August 1966 and November 1967, 17 million cubic tons of silt were dredged in order to create a base on the My Tho river for a new Mekong Delta Mobil Afloat Force (MDMAF). Along with the base, two self-propelled barracks ships (APDs) where added to the area to provide floating base facilities and accommodations for the grunts when they cam back from an operation. Each ship was usually moored no more than 30 miles from the zone of operations, and had berths for 800 men, with space for a further 600 at a tight squeeze. American attempts to control VC infiltration in the delta, saw the largest expansions to date of riverine forces when, in June of 1967, the Mobile Riverine Force became operational. Reviving a strategy used during the American Civil War, when Union Army forces operated Navy gunboats on the Ohio, Mississippi and other inland water-ways, US Army troops were given special training, including combat operations in the Rung Sat Special Zone and at the Coronado Navel Base in San Diego, California.

The MRF comprised a navel component (Task Force 117) harnessed to the 2d Brigade, 9th Infantry Division. This included the 3d and 4th Battalions, 47th Infantry; the 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry, and the 105mm howitzers of the 3d Battalion, 39th Artillery. The task force was often combined with units drawn form the South Vietnamese Marine Corps. The MRF were given with an array of landing craft and spawned a new type of weaponry made for taking on the VC in the Mekong. The MRF were provided with Armored Troop Carriers (ATCs) with steel slats to take the beef out of recoilless-rifle rounds; Monitors and Command Control Boats (CCBs) for co-coordinating assaults; not forgetting the trusty Swifts and River Patrol Boats (PRBs).

Add helicopter pads to some of the craft, and equip each and every one with a factory of weapons ranging from the 0.5in machine gun to the 40mm cannon and 81mm mortar, and you have one heck of a Brown Navy on your hands. The arrival of the Assault Support Patrol Boats (ASPB) added still more firepower to the MRF's inventory, and provided a razor sharp cutting edge during the ambushes, patrols, reconnaissance and escort missions. Then there was the Patrol Air Cushion Vehicle (PACV), known as the shark-mouthed raider and using the call-sign "Monster," these hovercraft could race across rice paddies and shallow swamps that were off-limits to other riverine craft.

Complete with a heavy-duty battalion of 105mm howitzers based on mobile barges, the MRF worked the waters of the delta. The operations usually followed the same pattern. The heavily armed ASPBs would take on the role of point as the column of boats cruised through the water, with minesweepers on both flanks. Next came the river assault squadron's naval commander in his CCB. A Monitor was usually the next boat in line, ready to unleash sustained firepower into the bushes on the river banks if any incoming was received.

Then came a force of three ATC's carrying the battalion's first company. The Coronado operations (I to XI) from June 1967 onwards, concentrated on Long An and Dinh Tuong Provinces in the Mekong, with special attention to the Rung Sat Special Zone. Initially, the VC attempt to stand and fight against the MRF hammer and anvil tactics, but the sheer scale of the MRF operations accounted for over 1000 VC during the last six months of 1967.

By the end of 1968, the objectives of Market Time, Game Warden and MRF along the coast and in the Mekong Delta had largely been achieved. However, now there was a new problem. Thwarted in the delta, the VC began to exploit a new infiltration route - across the Cambodian border. To counter this, Market Time, Game Warden and MRF units were welded into a combined force under the codename 'Sealords.' By Joelyn Pullano


Australian war poster


The Vietnam War was an American War, as many people believe. However, few people realized that it was a war that involved many countries including Australia. It was, in fact, the longest war that Australia was involved in. The main reason for the inclusion of Australia in this conflict was to check the advance of communism in Southeast Asia and Europe. After helping the British in the Malayan Emergency, Australian armed forces gained more than enough skills in jungle warfare. It was no surprise that the US seek the expertise of the Australians during this time. The initial team sent in to Vietnam numbered only about 30.

They were known then as "The Team". They were the best in jungle warfare the Australian armed forces could provide. This small contingent focused on helping Americans and allies hone their jungle warfare tactics. The year was 1962. However, at the end of 1964, this small number was increased to 100. This was the beginning of the escalation of number of Australian forces in Vietnam. After the United States determined that South Vietnam could no longer hold the surging North Vietnamese forces, war was escalated to the highest level, calling in more reinforcements from the mainland and from its allies.

As a show of full support to the US, the Australian Government dispatched the 1st RAR (Royal Australian Regiment) in the middle of the year of 1965. this force served alongside the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the Bien Hoa province. Subsequent deployments of all the nine battalions of RAR were done until 1971. Australian forces suffered its heaviest loss of life in August 1966 when a company of RAR was attacked by numerically superior Vietnamese forces during the night. At the height of the battle, the company was almost overrun by the enemy. Fortunately, the Vietnamese forces withdrew too soon after suffering very heavy losses.

At the conclusion of the battle, there were about 245 enemy dead in and around the perimeter. During the retreat, many more dead and wounded were carried off by the attackers. 18 Australians perished that night and 24 more were wounded. It was however, the deciding battle that gave Australians the upper hand in the province. During the famed Tet Offensive, Australian forces were proud to say that they handled their area of operation well, as compared to their American counterparts.

The Vietcong attack around Baria, where the bulk of the RAR was stationed, was effectively repulsed with few casualties. Unfortunately, just like the US, Australian's support for the countries war effort in Vietnam gradually waned after several years. The protracted war resulted to conscription, which was became unpopular in the subcontinent. Gradual withdrawal of forces was effected until November 1970, when the last RAR unit was withdrawn and was never replaced.

During the early years of the conflict, Vietnam War stories were great news in Australia, but as the war progressed and the mission to stop the spread of communism became blurry, general support of the country became the deciding factor to cease military operations. It was a war that Australia cannot be fully proud of, unlike the previous ones such as the 2 World Wars and the Korean War. By Harvey Russell


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