The Vietnam War was one of the most brutal and bloodiest battles in history. It began in 1955 and lasted for a treacherous 20 years. What started as a war between North And South Vietnam, then led to the involvement of America as a way to prevent communism in the north. They succeeded with the help of China and the Soviet Union.
Watch Your Head
Similarly to WWI and WWII, soldiers used a special technique to protect themselves when both armies were firing at each other. Here you can see how the soldiers dug trenches and took cover by hiding the dirt in their trench.
Although it seems that most of the fighting was done amid the jungle, there were in fact instances that both sides came in contact with each other. Most fighting was done by ambushing the other, but the Viet Cong went another route and decided to fight members of the South Vietnamese out in the open.
Dealing With The Terrain
American Soldiers severely struggled with the terrain. Navigating through the water, elbows deep, was a common problem that they faced, in addition to being open to attacks. Entering the jungle was a fearful and dreadful experience for the troops as they had to be extra alert and cautious at all times.
Salvaging What’s Left
Many planes were shot down during the war and those aircrafts were followed to their final landing spot. There, they were able to investigate the damage and try to save anything worthwhile. Pictured is a US navy plane close to Hanoi. It is believed that the pilot was ejected before the crash.
Enjoying What they Can
The U.S. troops serving in Vietnam were under constant pressure. Likewise, they had so many fears; the thought of being ambushed at any given moment, while also struggling with being so far from their homes. They couldn’t be serious all the time so to lighten the mood the U.S army would host recreational events on the bases.
They would even fly celebrities from America to make the soldiers feel a bit more at home. Here is an event that one of the most famous actresses of the ‘60s, Raquel Welch came to entertain soldiers by dancing and speaking with them.
It is not always about the strength of the opposing army, but it’s also important to consider the tactics that are used. The soldiers pictured are guarding some of the Viet Cong’s most prized weapons, poisoned bamboo sticks known as punji.
Being isolated in a jungle took a toll on many of the soldiers, leaving them exhausted, unhappy, and with a feeling of helplessness. While most were at their last straw and had given up hope, this soldier made light of the situation by playing with a puppy he found in the war zone.
Calling For Help
The terrain in the Vietnamese Jungle was almost impossible to break through, and there was no chance of relying on military vehicles to transport weaponry. Thus, they decide to recruit elephants to do the heavy lifting.
Search And Attack
American soldiers were strictly instructed to find and destroy Viet Song strongholds. They were sent into the jungle, and told to show no mercy once they found what they were looking for. Ultimately their mission was to destroy the homes of the people they found.
Capturing The Moment
Soldiers were not the only ones sent into the jungle in Vietnam. Also, photographers were given a mission to enter and document the obstacles the American soldiers were facing and to return with those images. This way, the Americans back home could understand and see how the conflict was unraveling and be proud of the soldiers who were protecting them.
Keeping It A Secret
Activists wanted to hide their identity for the sake of protection. They kept their lives private and didn’t want to get to know one other in the chance that they would be captured and interrogated. If they were ever caught by an enemy, they would have nothing reveal and thus be under no threat of torture.
The soldiers spent most of their time in terrible humidity, however, once in a while they could benefit from some rain. This allowed the troops to have a break from the exhausting heat and enjoy moments of refreshment.
Women Trying Out New Roles
Before the onset of the Vietnam War, fishing was a man’s role and this occurred in many communities across the country. Unfortunately, many lives were lost during the were and many men were either fighting or lost their lives for their country. In these types of situations, the women were given the responsibility to take on these roles and start catching fishing on their own.
Passing The Time
The days spent fighting in Vietnam dragged on for hours for these soldiers. It felt like forever, and they welcomed any way to pass the time. Even if it meant grabbing a guitar and getting together to sing a little Kumbaya. This photo is from Operation Yellowstone.
Women Get Involved
Throughout history, it isn’t just men who step up to fight for their country, but rather women too, who show up and fight for what they believe in. This woman here was a Viet Song guerrilla, a representative for many of the rebels during the conflict.
Medics and armed soldiers sometimes had to improvise during the war. Bullets could be shot from any angle and soldiers had to be well prepared with their closest cover. This soldier is taking cover from enemy attacks behind a wall in Tam Ky, the capital of the Quang Nam
For the troops, the days began to blend together and their positive outlooks began to fade. After going through the thick jungle for weeks on end, the soldiers began to lose hope. However, they were insistent to keeping their heads up, and this soldier brought in his positive spirit through his helmet decor.
Keeping Up The Hard Work
These soldiers practices day and night in the art of shooting down enemy aircraft. They did this by using moving targets and aiming their rifles in the sky to learn what to do when real things flying overhead. Airplanes can move as fast as lightning, so they had to be prepared and anticipate their movement.
Can’t Keep Up
Many of the villagers were not dressed properly to assist the people during the war. They could barely follow the soldiers fast enough. Pictured is just one of many elderly women, she wore traditional Vietnamese clothing and didn’t have any shoes, meaning she couldn’t keep pace with the marching soldiers.
Being stuck in a treacherous jungle for months was difficult for many soldiers based in Vietnam. With good reason, imagine being trapped in a place where you can barely breathe and so far away from your home. This could make any normal human being go crazy, or miss home to say the least. These soldiers did their best to make do with what they had, and unwind when they could, and even better when they had a package from home waiting for them.
No Way Out
One of the biggest struggles American troops faced was dealing with the dense jungle. Their enemies were surrounding every corner, stationed in trees and holes just waiting to ambush them. There were traps placed everywhere, and these soldiers had nowhere left to hide.
Remembering Loved Ones
Sometime people try to avoid one of the inevitable realities of war, which is death. But when two heavily armed sides are brutally fighting each other, it is likely that lives will be lost. Losing loved ones was a regular occurrence during the Vietnam War, but the pain and suffering of this result never got easier.
Restoring What’s Left
After 20 long years of devastating destruction, the war was over and Vietnam was ready to rebuild. This was in the hands of many orphaned youths, to bring life back to their country. All of the infrastructures was brought down and villages were burned to ash. Cities were abandoned and Vietnam was unrecognizable.
Getting To Work
To get Vietnam back on its feet, they were going to need heavy construction. During the last bits of the war, there were attempts at restoring certain areas. Here, the construction workers are devising a plan for how to fix a bomb-damaged bridge. They are wearing diving gear so they can get deep into the foundations of the structure.
At the end of the war, communities were ruined with one another and were able to rebuild their connections from pre-war. These elderly women went through 20 years of war together and were celebrating as they saw their country come back together. The war began in the ’50s and lasted until 1975.
Is It Really Over?
The war had technically ended but the fears were still very much present. The South Vietnamese soldiers were fearing for their lives and on the outskirts of the Saigon, the soldiers had to keep the identities as the enemy of the North Vietnamese Army. They even threw their military gear to the ground and ran in the hopes they could escape any punishment from the army.
The Children Have To Pay
Everyone suffers in war, but it’s possible that children even more so. During the entire Vietnam War around 80,000 children were injured or worse. Especially because toxic fumes circulated the air, lowering children’s survival rates.
By year ten of the Vietnam War, there was no clear image of its ending. Initially, the North as recruiting volunteers for their cause but as the war progressed they resorted to a mandatory system. All men were recruited and given a physical examination to see if they were suitable to fight.
Up In The Air
Upon entering the Jungle, the soldiers did not expect what they were about to face. It was possible that they would be sent on a search and destroy missions, specifically designed to hunt small villages and communities and bring them to the ground.
To win the war, South Vietnam and America needed to bring in soldiers with local knowledge. This image demonstrates an American soldier communicating with a small community who lived on a mountain, known as the Montagnard. By joining forces with minority groups, the troops were given an advantage because they would now have local knowledge at their fingertips.
Fleeing For Safety
Their properties were attacked and many families were forced out of their homes as fast as they could. Here a mother and her children are fleeing from a military zone, to avoid bombings occurring beside their home. They went through a deep river, and face any possible dangers that may come about.
The results of the war are often bloody and brutal. Many casualties and even deaths frequently occur. This Marine lying on the ground has been through horrific tragedy and is holding on for his life. This Marine sergeant disregards his safety and is trying to help his injured troop. Selfless instances like this occur every day in the war.
The Vietnam War, which began in the ’50s lasted well through the ’60s and the hippie movement was in full swing in America. Thus, many Americans opposed the war. However, the US military made an obligatory draft, which meant that anyone capable of fighting could be called whether they wanted to or not.
Capturing The Moment
This photo taken on May 1961 captures Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson in a meeting with Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem at Independence Palace, in Saigon, as part of his Goodwill Tour of Southeast Asia.
Deadly Air Strikes
In February 1963, Napalm airstrikes filled the air right above the Perfume River toward Hue in Vietnam. Napalm partially combusts the oxygen in the air, turning CO2 into CO and can be too deadly to heal.
No One Left Behind
Captured on August 5th, 1963; a South Vietnamese Marine, is severely wounded in a Viet Cong ambush but is comforted by a comrade in a sugar-cane field at Duc Hoa, nearly 12 miles from Saigon.
Reviewing Military Efforts
Before visiting South Vietnam to review how the U.S. Military is doing, President John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) meets with U.S. Secretary of Defense and U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Maxwell Taylor on September 24th, 1963.
Attack On Binh Gia
The Viet Cong sent its newly organized 9th division, to attack South Vietnamese forces in Binh Gia. The invasion lasted 4 days but was eventually intervened by U.S bombers in 1964.
Thousands of young Americans opposed the war and in order to get their point across, they decided to burn their drafting cards. This was a symbol of their lack of involvement and refusal to succumb to the U.S.’s decision to go to war. Taken in May 1964.
President Johnson is responsible for signing the House Joint Resolution 1145, also known as the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which expanded the president’s authority to increase U.S. involvement in the war between North and South Vietnam. Johnson was the first to use the resolution as the legal rectification for their military policies in Vietnam. August 7th, 1964. Later Nixon would as well.
Ho Chi Minh
In this photograph the United States troops are holding a photo of Ho Chi Minh, the organizer of the Indochinese communist party in 1930 and League for the Independence of Vietnam 1941. He also organized the Viet Cong in the late 1950’s.
Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” as an anti-Vietnam war and pro-social justice speech. It took place in Riverside Church in New York, New York, and followed several interviews and several other public speeches in which King came out against the war in Vietnam and the policies that created the war. April 4th, 1967
173rd Airborne Brigade
These Huey helicopters carrying troops of the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade receive assistance while trying to find safety land near Montagnard village of Plei Ho Drong. August 1965.
More Than Expected
The U.S. troops had enough on their plate, with constantly checking if they were about to be ambushed by the Viet Cong. But to add to it, they also had giant centipedes crawling around in the jungle too. They sure can’t catch a break!
U.S. Helicopters Come In
Unite States helicopters fly over and release machine-gun fire into the tree line to protect South Vietnamese ground troops who are on their way to attack a Viet Cong camp eighteen miles north of Tay Ninh. on March 1965.
This picture shows flag-draped coffins of eight American Servicemen who were killed in attacks on U.S. military installations in South Vietnam, on February 7. They were placed in a transport plane at Saigon on February 9th, 1965.