When was the Vietnam War?
The commonly accepted dates for the Vietnam conflict are 1954 to 1975. Most of the military fighting occurred between 1957 and 1973. Because Congress never officially passed a vote to declare a war, the United States was never technically at war with North Vietnam.
Vietnam was divided as the result of a treaty ending the Korean War. According to the original provision, it was to be re-unified a couple of years later. However, Dwight D. Eisenhower helped the southern half of the country organize into a new nation. Anti-Communist South Vietnam, backed by the United States, engaged in a military confrontation with communist North Vietnam until 1973, when the United States withdrew its troops. Two years later, Vietnam re-unified under communist rule.
Where was the Vietnam War fought?
The Vietnam War took place within the region of Southeast Asia east of Thailand and south of China formerly known as Indochina, which is now comprised of the countries of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Most of the fighting occurred within the country that was then known as South Vietnam, but the conflict spilled over into the neighboring countries of Laos and Cambodia to the west. Aerial bombing raids were also conducted over the area that was, at the time of the fighting, a separate country called North Vietnam.
The Vietnam War is also known as the Second Indochina War in order to distinguish it from the previous war waged by the indigenous population against the French when the region was a French colony. The war with France ended in a defeat for the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in May of 1954 and the area is formerly known as Indochina became the independent countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Vietnam was partitioned at the 17th parallel by the accords of the 1954 Geneva Convention and became the two countries that were commonly referred to as North Vietnam and South Vietnam.
An organized communist insurgency against the then western-leaning government of South Vietnam brought the United States into the conflict. Troops from North Vietnam joined the fight in support of the insurgents, which led to increased U.S. military escalation and bombing raids over North Vietnam. North Vietnamese supply routes into the battle zones that crossed through Laos and Cambodia soon brought those regions into the conflict.
What was the purpose of the Vietnam War?
The Vietnam War was fought to determine which political regime would gain control of the country and reunify it after French occupation. France backed Emperor Bao Dai in South Vietnam, while the majority of Vietnamese citizens supported Ho Chi Minh in the northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam. After the French defeat of 1954, the resultant treaty proposed a 1956 nationwide election to unify Vietnam. Instead, President Ngo Dinh Diem enlisted U.S. support to oppose Ho Chi Minh’s Communist agenda.
The Vietnam War stemmed from a decades-long conflict that started with 19th-century French imperialism. Vietnam was under French administrative control when Japan invaded during World War II, spurring revolutionary forces under Ho Chi Minh’s leadership to launch a resistance movement against both opponents. Emperor Bao Dai gained control after Japan withdrew, causing the League for the Independence of Vietnam, or Viet Minh, to mobilize against the French-educated leader. Ho Chi Minh idealized the Communist principles of China and the Soviet Union, and he seized Hanoi as the center of his new regime.
With French support, Bao established Saigon as the capital of South Vietnam. However, France was never able to regain the northern territories of Vietnam, and Bao was eventually deposed by Ngo Dinh Diem. Despite the Viet Minh’s revolutionary goals, Ngo Dinh Diem’s corrupt rule and lack of popular support, the United States offered military and financial resources to South Vietnam to prevent the rise of another strong Communist regime.
The Vietnam War began as a civil conflict that pitted the North Vietnamese Communist government and the South Vietnamese Communist rebels known as the Viet Cong against the non-Communist South Vietnamese government. The plan was to overthrow the South Vietnamese government and unite Vietnam as a communist state.
Why did the United States get involved in Vietnam?
The United States got involved in Vietnam to prevent the spread of communism throughout Southeast Asia. The domino theory, prevalent in the U.S. government, posited that if Vietnam became communist, it would lead to communist conquests of surrounding countries; victory in Vietnam was crucial to stopping the communist expansion.
Involvement of the United States gradually grew from helping France with supplies and munitions to sending advisers to aid the South Vietnamese military. Under President Eisenhower, there were 900 U.S. advisers in South Vietnam. By the Kennedy presidency, the number of American military personnel had grown to 16,000.
The Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, when North Vietnamese gunboats allegedly fired upon U.S. destroyers, prompted Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, enabling President Johnson to expand U.S. involvement without a formal declaration of war. Operation Rolling Thunder followed and was a vast bombing campaign against North Vietnam. Soon after, the United States committed ground troops to protect Air Force bases. The U.S. sent its first wave of troops to Vietnam in March of 1965 and, by 1968, more than 540,000 troops were stationed throughout the area. The troops remained in the area until President Richard Nixon began ordering their withdrawal in 1969.
The United States became involved in military combat against the North Vietnamese in 1965. As part of a larger strategy to contain communism, the U.S. objective in Vietnam was to prevent a Communist takeover of South Vietnam. The objectives of the U.S. were never achieved, and the American public was disillusioned with what became the longest war in American history, as of 2014.
Direct U.S. military involvement in the war ended in August of 1973 with the passage of the Case-Church Amendment.
What happened during the Vietnam War?
The Vietnam War was fought in an attempt to stem the communist rule of Vietnam; it did not succeed in its objectives despite the massive loss of life for both South and North Vietnamese and the United States, who stepped in to try and prevent Communist rule in the region. The Vietnam War formerly held the title of the longest war in U.S. history until the war in Afghanistan. Despite military intervention by the U.S., the North Vietnamese was able to overtake the South Vietnamese and the Vietnam War ended.
What was the Tet Offensive?
The Tet Offensive was a major military assault on South Vietnam by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops during the Vietnam War in 1968. Both South Vietnam and U.S. military forces suffered massive casualties, and the assault had severely detrimental effects on civilian support for the war in the United States.
The Tet Offensive was intended to cause a debilitating and decisive blow to U.S. and South Vietnam forces in the hopes that the United States would withdraw from the war. It was also intended to stop or reduce damage caused by guerrilla attacks from South Vietnam forces.
During the offensive, over 70,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops simultaneously attacked highly populated areas in South Vietnam occupied by large numbers of U.S. military forces. The assault lasted through several phases, and resulted in heavy casualties on both sides, as the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese pushed into the U.S and South Vietnamese territory. Publicity of the attack was widespread, and led to a severe lack of support for the war from the U.S. mainland, due to the rampant violence and high death toll. Despite the United States and South Vietnamese eventually repelling the attacks, anti-war protests continued to rise in popularity.
It should also be noted that the North Vietnamese Army conducted summary executions and mass killings during their capture, occupation and later withdrawal from the city of Huế during the Tet Offensive, considered one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.
The Battle of Huế began on January 31, 1968, and lasted a total of 26 days. During the months and years that followed, dozens of mass graves were discovered in and around Huế. Victims were South Vietnamese POW’s, politicians, teachers, their families – including women, children, and infants and anyone else supporting the South Vietnamese Government. The estimated death toll was between 2,800 and 6,000 civilians and prisoners of war. The Republic of Vietnam released a list of 4,062 victims identified as having been either murdered or abducted. Victims were found bound, tortured, and sometimes buried alive. Many victims were also clubbed to death.
What were the protests against the Vietnam War?
The protests against the Vietnam War were a series of demonstrations against American involvement in the conflict between North and South Vietnam. Protests were initially peaceful and included sit-ins or teach-ins or marches, but they eventually erupted into violence.
Initially, disapproval of American involvement in Vietnam circulated primarily through academic circles in which American motivation for involvement was questioned. As American involvement continued, more people became disillusioned over the number of soldiers being killed or injured, and there was an increase in the number of troops dedicated to the cause. Americans began to see the situation as a war that could not be won.
The Vietnam war was the first conflict involving the United States that was widely covered by television media. Enough American households had televisions to affect American sentiment, particularly in regards to the violence occurring during the war. As the war progressed into its fourth year, a number of soldiers who had been wounded in Vietnam brought to light the poor treatment of injured veterans when they returned to American soil, which further drove protests against Vietnam. Government records reflecting initial fears about the United States government’s true motivations for involvement were made public in the early 1970s, becoming the final straw for the vast majority of Americans who still supported the war.
How many people died in the Vietnam War?
There were 1.4 million casualties during the Vietnam War. This number accounts for casualties on both sides of the conflict. Over 2 million soldiers of both sides were wounded in the war but not killed.
The United States deployed over 2.5 million soldiers to the Vietnam War and lost 58,220 of those soldiers. An additional 303,644 American soldiers were wounded during the war. The number of soldiers under 20 years old who were killed in action is 11,465. There were over 4 million civilian casualties on both sides during the war. Despite these figures, 74 percent of veterans say they would have served in the war again.
Other countries also suffered casualties in the Vietnam War: New Zealand lost about three dozen soldiers, Australia lost more than 500 soldiers and South Korea lost 3,000 troops in the war.
What are some popular Vietnam war stories?
Popular Vietnam war stories include the story of the Battle of Ia Drang and the story of Roy Benavidez risking his life to save his comrades in Cambodia. The book “We Were Soldiers Once…and Young: Ia Drang – The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam” is about the Battle of Ia Drang, while “Legend: The Incredible Story of Green Beret Sergeant Roy Benavidez’s Heroic Mission to Rescue a Special Forces Team Caught Behind Enemy Lines” is about Benavidez.
The Battle of Ia Drang occurred in November 1965. Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore and 450 of his men dropped out of helicopters to the Ia Drang Valley, where 2,000 soldiers in the North Vietnamese Army surrounded them. The brutal battle took place over four days, and during that time both sides found successful tactics. The U.S. Army was effective when it used its air support and artillery, whereas the North Vietnamese Army had success fighting at close range because the United States couldn’t use those advantages. Both sides considered the battle a success
Roy Benavidez’ story occurred on May 2, 1968, when he heard a 12-man Special Forces group request help over the radio, as about 1,000 North Vietnamese soldiers surrounded them. Benavidez got on a helicopter and jumped out with only his medical bag and a knife. Benavidez saved at least eight men during the experience, which he later called “six hours in hell.” He received 37 wounds from a combination of bullets, bayonets and shrapnel, and multiple doctors declared him dead afterwards. Unable to move, he spit on a doctor’s face to show that he was still alive and later recovered at a medical center. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions that day!
During the war, the U.S. military used a concentration of Agent Orange that was roughly 50 times stronger than that recommended by manufacturers for use in killing plants. This turned out to be problematic, because a chemical component of Agent Orange, dioxin, is a highly dangerous contaminant. Decades after the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam, the dioxin still affects American Soldiers and the Vietnamese people, causing cancers, birth defects, and other disabilities. Estimates by The Red Cross indicate that 3 million Vietnamese people have felt effects from the presence of dioxin in Agent Orange. There are no firm numbers of U.S. soldier disabilities, however, estimates are that about a third of those who served in-country are affected.
As of 2016, there were approximately 8,968,000 living era veterans who served during the Vietnam war. They are the largest group of veterans in the United States. Of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam, about 810,000 have since died, leaving roughly 1,750,000 Vietnam Vets alive today, with the youngest American Vietnam Veteran’s age approximated to be 60 years old. It is also estimated that about 141,000 Vietnam Era Veterans die every year – 35,000 of them being Vietnam Vets. The numbers are expected to rise significantly in the future as this group enters “Retirement and Old Age,” a period of time when many deaths normally occur from natural causes. However, disabilities caused by Agent Orange will cause many more of us to die before our time.
The internet continues to report that only 800,000 Vietnam Veterans remain alive in 2010. This myth was debunked by a report in the VVA Veteran Magazine in March 2011 which used information from the 2000 and 2010 government census reports to generate the numbers indicated in this article.
What were the consequences of the Vietnam War?
In addition to the untold consequences for military families due to the massive loss of 58,000 American lives during the conflict, the Vietnam War led to the end of the military draft in the United States, a reduction in the voting age to age 18, restriction of a sitting president’s ability to send military forces into combat, weakened and undermined morale among the U.S. military and caused damage to the American economy. In addition, the Vietnam War caused divisions in the Democratic Party and caused Americans to be suspicious of their government. Returning soldiers fared little better, with an estimated 700,000 Vietnam veterans suffering from the psychological after effects of war. The effects of Agent Orange also contributed to the death of thousands of U.S. soldiers who left this world way before their time. And yet others, remain disabled and continue to suffer today from those diseases attributed to the defoliant.
The impact on Vietnam was dramatic. The war caused the complete destruction of its infrastructure and thousands of its people were killed. Chemical warfare polluted much of its farmland. After the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam, the North Vietnamese began to massacre thousands of Vietnamese from the South. Vietnam had to go on to fight wars against both China and Cambodia before it secured its independence, and today it remains one of the world’s poorest nations.
Data obtained from Reference.com/Vietnam War/VVA Veteran March, 2011/Wikipedia (Massacre at Hue).
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