Vietnam War Summary
The Vietnam War was a war fought between 1964 and 1975 on the ground in South Vietnam and bordering areas of Cambodia and Laos, and in bombing runs over North Vietnam.
Fighting on one side was a coalition of forces including the United States, the Republic of Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea.
Fighting on the other side was a coalition of forces including the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the National Liberation Front, a communist-led South Vietnamese guerrilla movement.
The USSR provided military aid to the North Vietnamese and to the NLF, but was not one of the military combatants.
The war was part of a larger regional conflict involving the neighboring countries of Cambodia and Laos, known as the Second Indochina War. In Vietnam, this conflict is known as the American War
In many ways the Vietnam War was a direct successor to the French Indochina War, which is sometimes referred to as the First Indochina War, when the French fought to maintain control of their colony in Indochina against an independence movement led by Communist Party leader Ho Chi Minh.
Citing progress in peace negotiations, On January 15, 1973 President Nixon ordered a suspension of offensive action in North Vietnam which was later followed by the unilateral withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam. The Paris Peace Accords were later signed on January 27, 1973 which officially ended US involvement in the Vietnam conflict.
The peace agreements signed at the Paris Peace Accords did not last for very long. In early 1975 the North invaded the South and quickly consolidated the country under its control. Saigon fell on April 30, 1975. North Vietnam united North and South Vietnam on July 2, 1976 to form the “Socialist Republic of Vietnam”. Hundreds of supporters of the South Vietnamese government were executed, thousands more were imprisioned. Saigon was immediately re-named to “Ho Chi Minh City”, in honor of the former president of North Vietnam. Communist rule continues in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the present day.
FACTS ON VIETNAM WAR
Vietnam War Facts
While many aspects about the Vietnam War are debatable, the facts and figures of the war have a voice of their own and are indisputable.
On these pages we list some of the commonly accepted facts about the Vietnam War.
58,148 Americans were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.59 million who served.
The average age of those killed in Vietnam was 23.11 years.
50,274 were enlisted, average age 22.37.
The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year, thanks to the mobility of the helicopter.
After Vietnam the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand managed to stay free of communism. The Indonesians expelled the Soviets in 1966.
During the Vietnam War the national debt increased by $146 billion (1967-1973). Adjusted for inflation, the debt in 1992 dollars was $500 billion.
6,598 were officers, average age 28.43.
91 percent of Vietnam veterans say they are glad they served.
74 percent said they would serve again even knowing the outcome.
1,276 were warrant officers (NCOs), average age 24.73 years.
11,465 were less than 20 years old.
From 1957 to 1973 the National Liberation Front assassinated 36,725 South Vietnamese and abducted 58,499. Death squads focused on leaders that included school teachers and minor officials.
The number of North Vietnamese killed was approximately 500,000 to 600,000. Casualties: 15 million.
One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty. Although the percentage who died is similar to other wars, amputations or crippling wounds were 300 percent higher than in World War II. 75,000 Vietnam veterans are severely disabled.
The Tet ’68 offensive was a major defeat for the VC and the NVA.
Two-thirds of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers, two-thirds who served in World War II were draftees.
Vietnam War Memorial
Located in Washington, DC, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial recognizes and honors the men and women who served in one of America’s most divisive wars. The memorial grew out of a need to heal the nation’s wounds as America struggled to reconcile different moral and political points of view.
In fact, the memorial was conceived and designed to make no political statement whatsoever about the war. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a place where everyone, regardless of opinion, can come together and remember and honor those who served. By doing so, the memorial has paved the way towards reconciliation and healing, a process that continues today.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial accomplishes these goals through the three components that comprise the memorial: the Wall of names, the Three Servicemen Statue and Flagpole, and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial serves as a testament to the sacrifice of American military personnel during one of this nation’s least popular wars. The purpose of the memorial is to separate the issue of the sacrifices of the veterans from the U.S. policy in the war, thereby creating a venue for reconciliation.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial consists of three main elements. The Wall, the first part of the memorial to be erected, was dedicated November 13, 1982. Today 58,226 names are inscribed on the wall. The wall includes the names of deceased and missing. The goal of the memorial was to allow all people to reflect on the price of war and to honor those who served.
Some initial reaction to the Wall included opinions that it did not appropriately honor the veterans of Vietnam. As result of this debate a compromise was reached and in the fall of 1984, the Three Servicemen Statue, by Fredrick Hart, was placed near the wall. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial rounds out the memorial. Designed by Glenna Goodacre, the statue honors all women who served in Vietnam. The Women’s Memorial was dedicated Veterans Day, 1993.
Jan Scruggs survived the Vietnam War, many of his comrades did not. In 1969, he served a tour of duty (one year) in Vietnam where he was wounded and decorated for bravery. In 1979, he and his wife saw a movie about the Vietnam War called the “Deer Hunter.” This conjured up memories of perilous days in Vietnam.
He once said of his service in Vietnam, “The bitterness I feel when I remember carrying the lifeless bodies of close friends through the mire of Vietnam will probably never subside. I still wonder if anything can be found to bring any purpose to all the suffering and death.” Scruggs struggled for a year in Vietnam to escape the clutches of death. He now found himself committed to a different struggle, to enshrine the memory of those who fought and died in Vietnam.
In late 1979, Scruggs met with a group of Vietnam veterans in Washington, D.C. He expressed his belief that ordinary American citizens would donate money to build a memorial to those who fought and died in Vietnam. Some veterans thought it foolish or naïve of Jan to hold such a belief. He would persevere.
Jan Scruggs and a group of fellow veterans formed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF). The objective of the group was to create a tangible tribute to those Americans who served in the Vietnam War. The tribute would take the form of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.