The rapidly disappearing cohort of Americans
that endured the Great
Depression and then fought World War II is
receiving quite a send-off from
the leading lights of the so-called '60s
Tom Brokaw has published two oral histories
of "The Greatest
Generation" that feature ordinary people
doing their duty and suggest that
such conduct was historically unique.
Chris Matthews of "Hardball" is fond of
writing columns praising the Navy
service of his father while castigating his
own baby boomer generation for its
alleged softness and lack of struggle.
William Bennett gave a startlingly
condescending speech at the Naval
Academy a few years ago comparing the
heroism of the "D-Day Generation"
to the drugs-and-sex nihilism of the
And Steven Spielberg, in promoting his film
Saving Private Ryan, was
careful to justify his portrayals of
soldiers in action based on the supposedly
unique nature of World War II.
An irony is at work here. Lest we forget,
the World War II generation now
being lionized also brought us the Vietnam
War, a conflict which today's most
conspicuous voices by and large opposed,
and in which few of them served. The "best
and brightest" of the Vietnam age
group once made headlines by castigating
their parents for bringing about
the war in which they would not fight, which
has become the war they refuse
Pundits back then invented a term for this
animus: the "generation gap."
Long, plaintive articles and even books were
written examining its
manifestations. Campus leaders, who claimed
precocious wisdom through
the magical process of reading a few
controversial books, urged fellow
baby boomers not to trust anyone over 30.
Their elders who had survived the
Depression and fought the largest war in
history were looked down upon as
shallow, materialistic, and out of touch.
Those of us who grew up on the other side of
the picket line from that
era's counterculture can't help but feel a
little leery of this sudden gush of
appreciation for our elders from the leading
the old counterculture. Then and now, the
national conversation has
proceeded from the dubious assumption that
those who came of age during
Vietnam are a unified generation in the same
sense as their parents were,
and thus are capable of being spoken for
through these fickle elites.
In truth, the "Vietnam generation" is a
misnomer. Those who came of age
during that war are permanently divided by
different reactions to a whole
range of counter-cultural agendas, and
nothing divides them more deeply
than the personal ramifications of the war
The sizable portion of the Vietnam age group
who declined to support the
counter-cultural agenda, and especially the
men and women who opted to
serve in the military during the Vietnam
War, are quite different from their
peers who for decades have claimed to speak
In fact, they are much like the World War II
generation itself. For them,
Woodstock was a side show, college
protestors were spoiled brats who would
have benefited from having to work a few
jobs in order to pay their tuition,
and Vietnam represented not an intellectual
exercise in draft avoidance or
protest marches but a battlefield that was
just as brutal as those their fathers
faced in World War II and Korea.
Few who served during Vietnam ever
complained of a generation gap.
The men who fought World War II were their
heroes and role models. They
honored their fathers' service by emulating
it, and largely agreed with their
fathers' wisdom in attempting to stop
Communism's reach in Southeast
Asia. The most accurate poll of their
attitudes (Harris, 1980) showed that 91
percent were glad they'd served their
country, 74 percent enjoyed their time
in the service, and 89 percent agreed with
the statement that "our troops
were asked to fight in a war which our
political leaders in Washington
would not let them win." And most
importantly, the castigation they received
upon returning home was not from the World
War II generation, but from the
very elites in their age group who
supposedly spoke for them.
Nine million men served in the military
during the Vietnam war, three
million of whom went to the Vietnam theater.
Contrary to popular mythology,
two-thirds of these were volunteers, and 73
percent of those who died were
volunteers. While some attention has been
paid recently to the plight of our
prisoners of war, most of whom were pilots,
there has been little recognition of
how brutal the war was for those who fought
it on the ground.
Dropped onto the enemy's terrain 12,000
miles away from home,
America's citizen-soldiers performed with a
tenacity and quality that may
never be truly understood. Those who believe
the war was fought
incompetently on a tactical level should
consider Hanoi's recent admission
that 1.4 million of its soldiers died on the
battlefield, compared to 58,000 total
U.S. dead. Those who believe that it was a "dirty
little war" where the bombs did all
the work might contemplate that it was the
most costly war the U.S. Marine
Corps has ever fought -- five times as many
dead as World War I, three times
as many dead as in Korea, and more total
killed and wounded than in all of
World War II. Significantly, these sacrifices were
being made at a time the United States
was deeply divided over our effort in
Vietnam. The baby-boom generation
had cracked apart along class lines as
America's young men were making
difficult, life-or-death choices about
The better academic institutions became
focal points for vitriolic protest
against the war, with few of their graduates
going into the military. Harvard
College, which had lost 691 alumni in World
War II, lost a total of 12 men in
Vietnam from the classes of 1962 through
1972 combined. Those classes at
Princeton lost six, at MIT two. The media
turned ever-more hostile. And
frequently the reward for a young man's
having gone through the trauma of
combat was to be greeted by his peers with
studied indifference or outright
What is a hero? My heroes are the young men
who faced the issues of
war and possible death, and then weighed
those concerns against obligations
to their country. Citizen-soldiers who
interrupted their personal and
professional lives at their most formative
stage, in the timeless phrase of the
Confederate Memorial in Arlington National
Cemetery, "not for fame or
reward, not for place or for rank, but in
simple obedience to duty, as they
understood it." Who suffered loneliness,
disease, and wounds with an often
contagious illnesses. And who deserve a far
better place in history than that
now offered them by the so-called spokesmen
of our so-called generation.
Mr. Brokaw, Mr. Matthews, Mr. Bennett, Mr.
Spielberg, meet my Marines.
1969 was an odd year to be in Vietnam.
Second only to 1968 in terms of
American casualties, it was the year made
famous by Hamburger Hill, as well
as the gut-wrenching Life cover story
showing the pictures of 242 Americans
who had been killed in one average week of
Back home, it was the year of Woodstock, and
of numerous antiwar rallies
that culminated in the Moratorium march on
Washington. The My Lai
massacre hit the papers and was seized upon
by the antiwar movement as
the emblematic moment of the war.
Lyndon Johnson left Washington in utter
humiliation. Richard Nixon
entered the scene, destined for an even
In the An Hoa Basin southwest of DaNang, the
Fifth Marine Regiment was
in its third year of continuous combat
operations. Combat is an unpredictable
and inexact environment, but we were
well-led. As a rifle platoon and
company commander, I served under a
succession of three regimental
commanders who had cut their teeth in World
War II, and four different
battalion commanders, three of whom had seen
combat in Korea. The
company commanders were typically captains
second combat tour in Vietnam, or young
first lieutenants like myself who
were given companies after
many months of "bush time" as platoon
commanders in the Basin's tough and
The Basin was one of the most heavily
contested areas in Vietnam, its
torn, cratered earth offering every sort of
wartime possibility. In the
mountains just to the west, not far from the
Ho Chi Minh Trail, the North
Vietnamese Army operated an infantry
division from an area called Base Area
112. In the valleys of the Basin, main-force
Viet Cong battalions whose ranks
were 80 percent North Vietnamese Army
regulars moved against the
Americans every day. Local Viet Cong units
sniped and harassed. Ridge lines
and paddy dikes were laced with
sophisticated booby traps of every size,
a hand grenade to a 250-pound bomb. The
villages sat in the rice paddies
and tree lines like individual fortresses,
crisscrossed with trenches and spider
holes, their homes sporting bunkers capable
of surviving direct hits from
large-caliber artillery shells.
The Viet Cong infrastructure was intricate
and permeating. Except for the
old and the very young,
villagers who did not side with the
Communists had either been killed or
driven out to the government-controlled
enclaves near DaNang.
In the rifle companies we spent the endless
months patrolling ridge lines
and villages and mountains, far away from
any notion of tents, barbed wire,
hot food, or electricity. Luxuries were
limited to what would fit inside one 's
pack, which after a few "humps" usually
boiled down to letter-writing material,
towel, soap, toothbrush, poncho liner, and a
small transistor radio.
We moved through the boiling heat with 60
pounds of weapons and gear,
causing a typical Marine to drop 20 percent
of his body weight while in the
bush. When we stopped we dug chest-deep
fighting holes and slit trenches
for toilets. We slept on the ground under
makeshift poncho hootches, and
when it rained we usually took our hootches
down because wet ponchos
shined under illumination flares, making
great targets. Sleep itself was fitful,
never more than an hour or two at a stretch
for months at a time as we mixed
daytime patrolling with nighttime ambushes,
listening posts, foxhole duty, and
Ringworm, hookworm, malaria, and dysentery
were common, as was
trench foot when the monsoons came. Respite
was rotating back to the
mud-filled regimental combat base at An Hoa
for four or five days, where
rocket and mortar attacks were frequent and
our troops manned defensive
bunkers at night. Which makes it kind of
hard to get excited about tales of
Woodstock, or camping at the Vineyard during
summer break. We had been
told while in training that Marine officers
in the rifle companies had an 85
percent probability of being killed or
wounded, and the experience of "Dying
Delta," as our company was known, bore that
Of the officers in the bush when I arrived,
our company commander was
wounded, the weapons platoon commander was
wounded, the first platoon
commander was killed, the second platoon
commander was wounded twice,
and I, commanding the third platoon, was
The enlisted troops in the rifle platoons
fared no better. Two of my
original three squad leaders were killed,
the third shot in the stomach. My
platoon sergeant was severely wounded, as
was my right guide. By the time I
left my platoon I had gone through six radio
operators, five of them casualties.
These figures were hardly unique; in fact,
they were typical. Many other units
-- for instance, those who fought the hill
battles around Khe Sanh, or were
with the famed Walking Dead of the Ninth
Marine Regiment, or were in the
battle for Hue City or at Dai Do -- had it
When I remember those days and the very
young men who spent them
with me, I am continually amazed, for these
were mostly recent civilians barely
out of high school, called up from the
cities and the farms to do their year in
Hell and then return. Visions haunt me every
day, not of the nightmares of
war but of the steady consistency with which
my Marines faced their
responsibilities, and of how
uncomplaining most of them were in the face
of constant danger. The salty,
battle-hardened 20-year-olds teaching green
19-year-olds the intricate
lessons of that hostile battlefield. The
unerring skill of
the young squad leaders as we moved through
unfamiliar villages and
weed-choked trails in the black of night.
The quick certainty with which they moved
when coming under enemy fire.
Their sudden tenderness when a fellow Marine
was wounded and needed
help. Their willingness to risk their lives
to save other Marines in peril. To this
day it stuns me that their own countrymen
have so completely missed the
story of their service, lost in the bitter
confusion of the war itself.
Like every military unit throughout history
we had occasional laggards,
cowards, and complainers. But in the
aggregate these Marines were the
finest people I have ever been around. It
has been my privilege to keep up
with many of them over the years since we
all came home. One finds in them
very little bitterness about the war in
which they fought.
The most common regret, almost to a man, is
that they were not able to
do more -- for each other and for the people
they came to help. It would be
redundant to say that I would trust my life
to these men. Because I already
have, in more ways than I can ever recount.
I am alive today because of their
quiet, unaffected heroism. Such valor
epitomizes the conduct of Americans at
war from the first days of our existence.
That the boomer elites can canonize
this sort of conduct in our fathers'
generation while ignoring it in our own is
more than simple oversight. It is a
conscious, continuing travesty.
Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary
of the Navy
under President Ronald Reagan
BACK THE HANDS OF TIME by TYRONE DAVIS
event in American history is more misunderstood than
the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is
misremembered now. Rarely have so many people
been so wrong about so much. Never have the
consequences of their misunderstanding been so
The Vietnam War has been the subject of thousands of
newspaper and magazine articles, hundreds of books,
and scores of movies and television documentaries.
The great majority of these efforts have erroneously
portrayed many myths about the Vietnam War as being
Myth: Most American soldiers were addicted to drugs,
guilt-ridden about their role in the war, and
deliberately used cruel and inhumane tactics.
The facts are:
91% of Vietnam Veterans say they are glad they
74% said they would serve again even knowing the
There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam
Veterans and non veterans of the same age group
(from a Veterans Administration study)
Isolated atrocities committed by American soldiers
produced torrents of outrage from antiwar critics
and the news media while Communist atrocities were
so common that they received hardly any attention at
all. The United States sought to minimize and
prevent attacks on civilians while North Vietnam
made attacks on civilians a centerpiece of its
strategy. Americans who deliberately killed
civilians received prison sentences while Communists
who did so received commendations. From 1957 to
1973, the National Liberation Front assassinated
36,725 South Vietnamese and abducted another 58,499.
The death squads focused on leaders at the village
level and on anyone who improved the lives of the
peasants such as medical personnel, social workers,
and schoolteachers. Atrocities - every war has
atrocities. War is brutal and not fair. Innocent
people get killed.
Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison -
only 1/2 of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have
been jailed for crimes.
97% were discharged under honorable conditions; the
same percentage of honorable discharges as ten years
prior to Vietnam.
85% of Vietnam Veterans made a successful transition
to civilian life.
Vietnam veterans' personal income exceeds that of
our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent.
Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than
our non-vet age group.
87% of the American people hold Vietnam Vets in high
Myth: Most Vietnam veterans were drafted.
2/3 of the men who served in Vietnam were
volunteers. 2/3 of the men who served in World War
II were drafted. Approximately 70% of those killed
Myth: The media have reported that suicides among
Vietnam veterans range from 50,000 to 100,000 - 6 to
11 times the non-Vietnam veteran population.
Mortality studies show that 9,000 is a better
estimate. "The CDC Vietnam Experience Study
Mortality Assessment showed that during the first 5
years after discharge, deaths from suicide were 1.7
times more likely among Vietnam veterans than
non-Vietnam veterans. After that initial
post-service period, Vietnam veterans were no more
likely to die from suicide than non-Vietnam
veterans. In fact, after the 5-year post-service
period, the rate of suicides is less in the Vietnam
Myth: A disproportionate number of blacks were
killed in the Vietnam War.
86% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasians,
12.5% were black, 1.2% were other races.
Sociologists Charles C. Moskos and John Sibley
Butler, in their recently published book "All That
We Can Be," said they analyzed the claim that blacks
were used like cannon fodder during Vietnam "and can
report definitely that this charge is untrue. Black
fatalities amounted to 12 percent of all Americans
killed in Southeast Asia - a figure proportional to
the number of blacks in the U.S. population at the
time and slightly lower than the proportion of
blacks in the Army at the close of the war.
Myth: The war was fought largely by the poor and
Servicemen who went to Vietnam from well-to-do areas
had a slightly elevated risk of dying because they
were more likely to be pilots or infantry officers.
Vietnam Veterans were the best-educated forces our
nation had ever sent into combat. 79% had a high
school education or better.
Here are statistics from the Combat Area
Casualty File (CACF) as of November 1993. The
CACF is the basis for the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial (The Wall):
Average age of 58,148 killed in Vietnam was
23.11 years. (Although 58,169 names are in the
Nov. 93 database, only 58,148 have both event
date and birth date. Event date is used instead
of declared dead date for some of those who were
listed as missing in action)
Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years
The oldest man killed was 62 years old.
11,465 KIA's were less than 20 years old.
Myth: The average age of an infantryman fighting
in Vietnam was 19.
Assuming KIA's accurately represented age
groups serving in Vietnam, the average age of an
infantryman (MOS 11B) serving in Vietnam to be
19 years old is a myth, it is actually 22. None
of the enlisted grades have an average age of
less than 20. The average man who fought in
World War II was 26 years of age.
Myth: The domino theory was proved false.
The domino theory was accurate. The ASEAN
(Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries,
Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and
Thailand stayed free of Communism because of the
U.S. commitment to Vietnam. The Indonesians threw
the Soviets out in 1966 because of America's
commitment in Vietnam. Without that commitment,
Communism would have swept all the way to the
Malacca Straits that is south of Singapore and of
great strategic importance to the free world. If you
ask people who live in these countries that won the
war in Vietnam, they have a different opinion from
the American news media. The Vietnam War was the
turning point for Communism.
Democracy Catching On - In the wake of the Cold War,
democracies are flourishing, with 179 of the world's
192 sovereign states (93%) now electing their
legislators, according to the Geneva-based
Inter-Parliamentary Union. In the last decade, 69
nations have held multi-party elections for the
first time in their histories. Three of the five
newest democracies are former Soviet republics:
Belarus (where elections were first held in November
1995), Armenia (July 1995) and Kyrgyzstan (February
1995). And two are in Africa: Tanzania (October
1995) and Guinea (June 1995)
Myth: The fighting in Vietnam was not as intense as
in World War II.
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.
One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam
was a casualty. 58,169 were killed and 304,000
wounded out of 2.59 million who served. Although the
percent 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.
MEDEVAC helicopters flew nearly 500,000 missions.
Over 900,000 patients were airlifted (nearly half
were American). The average time lapse between
wounding to hospitalization was less than one hour.
As a result, less than one percent of all Americans
wounded who survived the first 24 hours died.
The helicopter provided unprecedented mobility.
Without the helicopter it would have taken three
times as many troops to secure the 800 mile border
with Cambodia and Laos (the politicians thought the
Geneva Conventions of 1954 and the Geneva Accords or
1962 would secure the border)
Approximately 12,000 helicopters saw action in
Vietnam (all services).
Army UH-1's totaled 7,531,955 flight hours in
Vietnam between October 1966 and the end of 1975.
Army AH-1G's totaled 1,038,969 flight hours in
Myth: Air America, the airline operated by the CIA
in Southeast Asia, and its pilots were involved in
The 1990 unsuccessful movie "Air America" helped to
establish the myth of a connection between Air
America, the CIA, and the Laotian drug trade. The
movie and a book the movie was based on contend that
the CIA condoned a drug trade conducted by a Laotian
client; both agree that Air America provided the
essential transportation for the trade; and both
view the pilots with sympathetic understanding.
American-owned airlines never knowingly transported
opium in or out of Laos, nor did their American
pilots ever profit from its transport. Yet
undoubtedly every plane in Laos carried opium at
some time, unknown to the pilot and his superiors.
For more information see
Myth: The American military was running for their
lives during the fall of Saigon in April 1975.
The picture of a Huey helicopter-evacuating people
from the top of what was billed as being the U.S.
Embassy in Saigon during the last week of April 1975
during the fall of Saigon helped to establish this
This famous picture is the property of
Corbus-Bettman Archives. It was originally a UPI
photograph that was taken by an Englishman, Mr. Hugh
Here are some facts to clear up that poor job of
reporting by the news media.
Facts about the fall of Saigon:
It was a "civilian" (Air America) Huey not Army or
It was NOT the U.S. Embassy. The building is the
Pittman Apartments. The U.S. Embassy and its helipad
were much larger.
The evacuees were Vietnamese not American military.
The person that can be seen aiding the refugees is
Mr. O.B. Harnage. He was a CIA case officer and now
retired in Arizona.
Another famous picture.
Myth: Americans bombing Trang Bang burned Kim Phuc,
the little nine-year-old Vietnamese girl running
naked from the napalm strike near Trang Bang on 8
No American had involvement in this incident near
Trang Bang that burned Phan Thi Kim Phuc. The planes
doing the bombing near the village were VNAF
(Vietnam Air Force) and were being flown by
Vietnamese pilots in support of South Vietnamese
troops on the ground. The Vietnamese pilot who
dropped the napalm in error is currently living in
the United States. Even the AP photographer, Nick
Ut, who took the picture, was Vietnamese. The
incident in the photo took place on the second day
of a three-day battle between the North Vietnamese
Army (NVA) who occupied the village of Trang Bang
and the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) who
were trying to force the NVA out of the village.
Recent reports in the news media that an American
commander ordered the air strike that burned Kim
Phuc are incorrect. There were no Americans involved
in any capacity. "We (Americans) had nothing to do
with controlling VNAF," according to Lieutenant
General (Ret) James F. Hollingsworth, the Commanding
General of TRAC at that time. Also, it has been
incorrectly reported that two of Kim Phuc's brothers
were killed in this incident. They were Kim's
cousins not her brothers.
Myth: The United States lost the war in Vietnam.
The American military was not defeated in Vietnam.
The American military did not lose a battle of any
consequence. From a military standpoint, it was
almost an unprecedented performance. (Westmoreland
quoting Douglas Pike, a professor at the University
of California, Berkley a renowned expert on the
Vietnam War). This included Tet 68, which was a
major military defeat for the VC and NVA.
THE UNITED STATES DID NOT LOSE THE WAR IN VIETNAM,
THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE DID.
Facts about the end of the war:
The fall of Saigon happened 30 April 1975, two years
AFTER the American military left Vietnam. The last
American troops departed in their entirety 29 March
1973. How could we lose a war we had already stopped
fighting? We fought to an agreed stalemate. The
peace settlement was signed in Paris on 27 January
1973. It called for release of all U.S. prisoners,
withdrawal of U.S. forces, limitation of both sides'
forces inside South Vietnam and a commitment to
The 140,000 evacuees in April 1975 during the fall
of Saigon consisted almost entirely of civilians and
Vietnamese military, NOT American military running
for their lives.
There were almost twice as many casualties in
Southeast Asia (primarily Cambodia) the first two
years after the fall of Saigon in 1975 then there
were during the ten years the U.S. was involved in
Thanks for the perceived loss and the countless
assassinations and torture visited upon Vietnamese,
Laotians, and Cambodians goes mainly to the
and their undying support-by-misrepresentation of
the anti-War movement in the United States.
with much of the Vietnam War, the news media
misreported and misinterpreted the 1968 Tet
Offensive. It was reported as an overwhelming
success for the Communist forces and a decided
defeat for the U.S. forces. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite initial
victories by the Communists forces, the Tet
Offensive resulted in a major defeat of those
forces. General Vo Nguyen Giap, the designer of the
Tet Offensive, is considered by some as ranking with
Grant, Lee and MacArthur as a great commander.
Still, militarily, the Tet Offensive was a total
defeat of the Communist forces on all fronts. It
resulted in the death of some 45,000 NVA troops and
the complete, if not total destruction of the Viet
Cong elements in South Vietnam. The Organization of the Viet Cong Units in the South never recovered.
The Tet Offensive succeeded on only one front and
that was the News front and the political arena.
This was another example in the Vietnam War of an
inaccuracy becoming the perceived truth. However
inaccurately reported, the News Media made the Tet
As of August 1995 1,713,823 of those
who served in Vietnam were still alive. During that
same Census count, the number of Americans falsely
claiming to have served in-country was: 9,492,958.
As of the current Census taken during August, 2000,
the surviving U.S. Vietnam Veteran population
estimate is: 1,002,511. This is hard to believe,
losing nearly 711,000 between '95 and '00. That's
390 per day. During this Census count, the number of
Americans falsely claiming to have served in-country
is: 13,853,027. By this census, four out of five who
claim to be Vietnam veterans are not. SOURCES
[Nixon] No More Vietnams by Richard Nixon
[Parade Magazine] August 18, 1996 page 10.
[CACF] (Combat Area Casualty File) November 1993.
(The CACF is the basis for the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial, i.e. The Wall), Center for Electronic
Records, National Archives, Washington, DC
[All That We Can Be] All That We Can Be by Charles
C. Moskos and John Sibley Butler
[Westmoreland] Speech by General William C.
Westmoreland before the Third Annual Reunion of the
Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) at the
Washington, DC Hilton Hotel on July 5th, 1986
(reproduced in a Vietnam Helicopter Pilots
Association Historical Reference Directory Volume
[McCaffrey] Speech by Lt. Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey,
(reproduced in the Pentagram, June 4, 1993)
assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, to Vietnam veterans and visitors gathered at
"The Wall", Memorial Day 1993.
[Houk] Testimony by Dr. Houk, Oversight on
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 14
Estimated overall at 5,773,190.
2. Estimated dead 2,122,244.
3. Americans killed - 58,169 at an average age of 23.11
years - 304,000 wounded.
4. 11,465 killed were less than 20 years.
5. 1 in 10 Americans who served in Vietnam were
6. 75,000 Veterans were severely disabled.
7. Amputation and crippling wounds were 300% higher than
8. 51% of deaths and 16% of wounds were caused by small
arms fire. (World War II 32% - Korea 33%). The higher
rate in Vietnam was contributed to the high velocity
rapid-fire weapons such as the AK47 and captured M16s.
9. Fragments caused 36% of deaths and 65% of wounds from
10. 11% of deaths and 15% of wounds were caused by booby
traps and mines.
11. 2% of wounds were caused by punji stakes.
12. 2% of deaths and 2% of wounds were caused by other
13. There were 18 military hospitals scattered
14. Medevac helicopters flew nearly 500,000 missions.
15. 900,000 patients were airlifted, almost half being
16. Average time lapse from being wounded to
hospitalization was one hour.
17. Percentage of those seriously wounded who were saved
18. Percentage of wounded who died after arriving at
19. There were almost twice as many casualties in South
East Asia, primarily Cambodia, in the first two years
after the fall of Saigon in 1975 than there were during
the ten years the US was involved.
20. 1973 - US POWs in SE Asia 591, missing in action
1,380, unaccounted for 1,929.
US War Casualties 22.
Casualties - US versus NVA/VC
23. North Vietnamese military personnel and Vietcong
reported to have died in combat 1,100,000.
24. Estimated number of Vietnamese civilians killed in
the war 587,000.
25. Estimated number of Vietnamese civilians wounded in
the war 935,000.
26. Number of South Vietnamese military personnel killed
during the war 220,357.
27. Number of South Vietnamese military personnel
wounded during the war 499,000.
28. Number of South Vietnamese military personnel who
deserted between 1965 and 1972 840,000.
29. Number of US NCOs and US Officers killed by their
own troops 86.
30. Number of US NCOs and US Officers wounded by their
own troops 714.
31. Number of probable explosive-device assaults (fraging)
against officers by US servicemen 788.
The US flew 1,899,688 sorties and dropped 6,727,084 tons
bombs on Indo China, compared with the 2,700,00 tons of
bombs dropped on Germany during the Second World War.
2. US conducted 124,532 B52 missions, expending
2,633,035 tons of ordnance.
3. 18 B52s were lost to enemy action with 13 more lost
in collisions and accidents.
4. 3,750 Aircraft (Fixed Wing) were lost in Vietnam.
5. More than 8,000 US Airmen were killed.
6. Approx. 12,000 helicopters saw service in Vietnam
7. 4865 Helicopters were downed by Communist ground fire
at a cost of $250,000 each.
Aircraft Flown In Vietnam 9.
B52 Bomber Missions 10.US
Fighter-Bomber Missions - By Region 11.US
Helicopter Missions - By Year 12. Amount of the damage, in dollars, inflicted on
North Vietnam by US bombing raids $600,000,000.
13. Cost of US bombing raids on North Vietnam
3,500,000 acres of Vietnam was sprayed with 19 million
gallons of Defoliants, the effects that will last 100
Herbicides Used in Vietnam
Hobart served 3 times and fired a total of 42,475 rounds
in support of ground troops. HMAS Perth, 3 deployments,
firing 30,711 rounds, HMAS Brisbane, twice, firing
15,651 rounds and HMAS Vendetta once, firing 13,709
rounds of ordnance.
Infantry Combat Soldier
Average age of Infantry soldiers was 20 years.
2. Average age during World War 2 was 26 years.
3. The infantry soldier in the South Pacific in WW2 saw
about 40 days of combat in four years.
4. The American infantry soldier in Vietnam saw about
240 days of combat in 1 year.
352(US) Billion Dollars spent on the war.
2. 760,000 tons of supplies arrived each month.
3. 10 million field rations were consumed each month.
4. 71,000 tons of ammunition was expended each month.
5. 303 million liters of petroleum products were
consumed each month.
6. Engineers paved 33,450 hectares of airfields and
7. Engineers constructed 18,000 hectares of covered and
open storage facilities plus 14,150 cubic meters of
8. Engineers constructed 2,740 km of roads, built 4,600
meters of bridges and constructed 15 large fortified
9. Average number of artillery rounds expended in one
day by the US in Vietnam 10,000.
10. Cost per artillery round $100. Cost per day
11. Cost of one sortie for a B-52 bomber $30,000.
12. Amount of aid, in dollars, provided to North Vietnam
and the Vietcong by the Soviet Union and China
were 140,000 Vietnamese evacuees in April 1975.(The Fall
2. An estimated 10 million Vietnamese were refugees
being 55% of the population including 900,000 orphans.
3. Estimated number of Vietnamese civilians killed in
the war 587,000.
4. Estimated number of Vietnamese civilians wounded in
the war 935,000.
Wars End - Equipment Lost To Communist Forces
light and medium tanks.
2. 1,200 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC).
3. 80 small ships and landing craft.
4. 1,000 aircraft including 200 fighters and ground
5. 100 transport aircraft and 500 helicopters.
Source credits: Keith
White, Dept.of Defense, National Archives Sept. 2003 and