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Vietnam War Notes
South East Asia
History of Vietnam • In Vietnam it is possible to measure time by invasions. Long before the Americans, before the Japanese, before the French even, there were the Chinese.
Chinese Rule in Vietnam • 208 B. C. – 1428 A. D. The Chinese ruled Vietnam for more than 1, 000 years. • Tried to fight off the Chinese rule – this led to a warrior tradition that would plague invaders for centuries.
French Occupation • 1627 – 1941 • Officially became a French colony in 1857. • Turned Vietnam into a moneymaking venture – forcing the people of Vietnam to live under slave-like conditions.
Dogs who look like their owners
Life, Liberty and Ho Chi Minh • During WWII the Japanese replaced the French in Vietnam. • Ho Chi Minh believed the chaos of World War II was the perfect time for Vietnam to finally win their independence. • He and the Vietnamese people helped the Western Allies fight off the Japanese there. • In return, the British and Americans would help the Vietnamese gain independence. • A month after Japan surrendered to the Allies, Ho announced Vietnam’s independence.
Who Were the Vietminh? • Vietnamese nationalists led by Ho Chi Minh. • Goal: Overthrow colonial rule • Communist – could relate with their 2, 000 year long struggle to throw off colonial rule.
Who Were the Viet Cong? • Also known as VC • Lived in South Vietnam and were loyal to the communists in the North. • Fought against while they lived amongst American troops.
Independence Denied Again… • French troops entered Vietnam in 1945. • Ho appealed to the United States for help. • By now the Chinese and Soviets were supplying the Vietminh with weapons. • The U. S. , committed to stopping the spread of Communism, backed the French. • French Defeat: 1954 – Vietminh surrounded 15, 000 French troops – the French were defeated and agreed to leave Vietnam for good.
American Involvement • The Americans feared the establishment of a Communist Vietnam and picked up where the French left off. • A peace accord temporarily divided Vietnam in half, promising elections in 1954. • North was led by Ho • South was led by American backed Ngo Dinh Diem
• Fictional character Forrest Gump was based on a real Vietnam veteran named Nike Gump, famous for starting a successful running shoe company after the war. TRUE or FALSE
• In the mid-60 s this group wrote a letter to the Defense Department, volunteering to serve as a “gorilla unit” in Vietnam, but only if they were not subject to military supervision. That group was… a. b. c. d. e. the Veterans of Foreign Wars the Young Americans for Freedom the Hell’s Angels Alcoholics Anonymous the Silent Majority
U. S. Involvement • Mid 1940 s – 1975 • Longest war in American history • Only war the U. S. has lost. • To prevent Communism from spreading in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. (Domino theory)
Costs of the War • • 57, 000+ American lives 4 million Vietnamese lives
• “Democratic” leader of South Vietnam • JKF supported him until his actions became very “undemocratic” • Alienated the Vietnamese people • Ruthless dictator – arrested thousands and condemned many to death.
In Protest of Diem’s Rule
Kennedy’s Role in Vietnam • Took a strong stance against communism • Sent 1, 000 advisors to Vietnam • “allowed” Diem to be assassinated
Johnson’s Role in Vietnam • “Vietnam is the biggest damn mess I ever saw. ” • He had doubts about fighting but was under great pressure to become more involved there. • He didn’t want to appear “soft” on communism and feared being impeached.
The Gulf of Tonkin Incident • Summer of 1964 (pulled the U. S. into the war) • U. S. was conducting covert operations in the Vietnamese region • They were fired up by North Vietnamese forces and they returned the fire.
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution • Johnson sent a preplanned resolution to Congress that gave the President the right to send troops into Vietnam without an official declaration of war. • This resolution greatly extended the powers of the president. • The U. S. attacked the North Vietnamese again as they were anticipating an attack.
Johnson Escalates the War • Conducted air raids on North Vietnam • 1965 – 200, 000 combat troops • 1966 sent 200, 000 more combat troops • By 1967 500, 000 troops in Vietnam
War Deaths • U. S. Military Deaths: 58, 152 • North Vietnamese & Viet Cong Military Deaths: 855, 000 • South Vietnamese Military Deaths: 185, 000
Ho Chi Minh Quote • "If ever the tiger pauses, the elephant will impale him on his mighty tusks. But the tiger will never pause and the Elephant will die of exhaustion".
War Casualties • Total Vietnamese Wounded (Civilian and Military): 4, 000 • South Vietnamese Civilians Killed or Wounded: 1, 435, 000 • South Vietnamese Civilians Made Refugees: 10, 270, 000
More War Stats… • Percentage of U. S. Combat Soldiers Under the Age of 21: 64% • Number of U. S. MIAs: 2, 583 • Tons of Explosives Dropped on Vietnam: 7, 600, 000 • Acres of Land Defoliated in Vietnam: 39. 000
Hardship and Disillusionment on the Warfront
Guerilla Warfare • New fighting techniques were used by the Vietnamese – took American troops by surprise. • Avoided direct confrontations and instead used hit-and-run maneuvers. • U. S. troops were ambushed from tunnels and bunkers; booby traps, mines, punji sticks, etc… • Vietnamese forces were equipped with a fighting spirit – they were willing to do ANYTHING to win.
• Bombing of Viet Cong structures along a canal in South Vietnam. 1965
• The tunnel system, built over 25 years starting in the 1940 s, let the Viet Minh and, later, the Viet Cong, control a huge rural area. It was an underground city with living areas, kitchens, storage, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers. In places, it was several stories deep and housed up to 10, 000 people who virtually lived underground for years. . getting married, giving birth, going to school. They only came out at night to furtively tend their crops.
More Traps • http: //fliiby. com/file/133530/0 gj 4 jsjag 9. html
Note the row of rocks on top of bridge beam at the foot of the bridge. This is typical of the warning signs used by the VC/NVA to warn of their mining activities. http: //www. diggerhistory. info/pages-weapons/mines 04. htm
• This particular device would be buried and covered over with loose materials then placed on trails to await it's victim. An unwitting soldier would then step into the hidden bucket and become severely injured and trapped by the slightly downward pointing spikes that would prevent easy extraction of the foot. To add to it's potency, the spikes in the bucket would be dipped in human waste to inflict further injury upon the victim through exposure to infection.
• Wet going - Marine Private First Class J. L. Collins keeps a battery pack dry as he wades through a muddy hole while on a search mission with "I" Company, 3 rd Battalion, 5 th Marine Regiment, 12 miles southwest of Da. Nang Vietnam.
• Two pet monkeys are brought together in a carefully coordinated marriage ceremony to the delight of all on the base. • Charlie, an Army monkey and Victoria, an Air Force monkey are soon to be Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Fink with the blessings of two presiding Colonels. Victoria was flown in especially for the occasion and the two newlyweds sealed the deal with paw prints on a certificate of marriage. • Charlie and Victoria soon become local celebrities and many troops would often pay them a visit on their way through the base.
• A moment in the operating room of a field medical aid station is captured and depicts the skill and urgency of surgeons working on wounded troops as they arrive from the front lines of the Vietnam War. • Post surgery, this patient would be transferred to a rear army hospital for ongoing care.
• Officers are shown here during a regular relief exercise in 1966. • Large amounts of essential supplies would be trucked in to a village and distributed to the population in a single day. • Children of the village would follow the US team members in hopes of receiving a treat.
Friend or Enemy? • “The enemy in our area of operations is a farmer by day and VC by night. ” • “the enemy is all around you. ” • “You never knew who was the enemy and who was the friend. Here’s a woman of twenty-two or twenty-three. She is pregnant, and she tells an interrogator that her husband works in Da Nang and isn’t Viet Cong. But she watches your men walk down a trail and get killed or wounded in a booby trap. She knows the booby trap is there, but she doesn’t warn them…The enemy was all around you. ”
Growing Disillusionment • Beginning: soldiers felt they were fighting for a good cause – to stop communism. • Later: Some weren’t sure why they were there.
Vietnamese People’s War • Ho Chi Minh made this struggle a part of their long struggle against colonialism. • He was able to rally support from both North and South Vietnamese. • Communist Sacrifices: at least 500, 000 troops died – there was always a new supply of recruits to take their place. – They were willing to fight as long as it would take – 5 -10 -20 years if needed.
“(The Communist Party) built in us a great patriotic feeling. Our national heroes had loved freedom and were ready to sacrifice everything for it. That feeling was instilled into us, into our bones…There wasn’t a single schoolboy who didn’t have total confidence in the Party’s leadership and credibility. I wanted to do anything I could to save the people in (South Vietnam). ”
Ho Chi Minh Trail • A series of complex paths and roads running from North to South Vietnam. • Used to transport supplies. • Hidden by the thick bush of the jungle.
• A long line of communist porters carry supplies along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Napalm • Napalm: jelly-like chemical mixture that burned whatever it touched. • A Vietnamese villager recalled the horrifying scene after the U. S. bombing of Dai Lai: “When we got (to the village) it was so awful that we were in a state of shock. The village had been hit by napalm. More than half of it was burned. Hundreds of people were dead and many others were burned terribly but still alive. Some children were burned over half of their bodies and were screaming and crying for their mothers. I saw one small child’s body in a bunker that was still glowing. The body looked like a blackened pig. I was so scared I couldn’t move. ”
Vietnamese Civilians Suffer
• This is Nguyen Thi Lop – a Viet Cong officer who was shot by Saigon’s police chief. The man who snapped this picture won a Pulitzer Prize. If it wasn’t for this picture his wife would have never known what happened to him, he would have simply disappeared.
Soldier with Vietcong Family A soldier on an offensive north of Bong Son, kneels beside the bedraggled mother and children of a suspected Vietcong family, huddled at the edge of a field. Vietnam, 1966.
Search and Destroy • U. S. military raid on South Vietnamese villages, intended to root out villagers with ties to the Vietcong. • Often resulted in the destruction of the village. • “Zippo Raids”
• Photograph of a Viet Cong Base Camp Being Destroyed
American Support for the War Diminishes
Anti-War Demonstrations • Protests began as soon as bombings began in 1965. • Used many of the same techniques of Civil Rights protestors. • March on DC – 1965: 20, 000 participated in protest for peace. • By late 1967 – anti-war demonstrations were a daily occurrence. • Massive marches (50, 000+) occurred in major cities.
Anti-War Chants • “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today? ” • “Peace” • “War is a Dirty Word”
Why Was the War Unpopular? 1. Escalation of the war led to greater American casualties. 2. Many Americans were uncertain as to why the U. S. was fighting in Vietnam. It wasn’t our war. 3. The Living Room War: Horrifying images on TV and other media – pictures of “noncombatants” being killed or injured as well as U. S. soldiers.
Resistance to the Draft • 1966 – Rise in casualties and the disillusionment about war led to a rise in resistance to the draft. • Some burned their draft cards • 500, 000 men went into hiding or fled the country in an attempt to avoid the draft • 15 million applied for and received draft deferments.
Fighting a Losing Battle
1968 - Watershed Year • Tet Offensive • Johnson’s Decision Not to Run for Reelection • MLK’s Assassination • Robert Kennedy’s Assassination • Violence at the Democratic National Convention • Students Seize Columbia University
The War Reaches Its Height • 1968 – U. S. government kept assuring Americans that the fighting in Vietnam would soon wind down. • As casualties rose, Americans began to doubt them. • 35, 000 U. S. soldiers had been killed since the start of the war.
Tet Offensive • Temporary Truce: U. S. and Vietnam agreed to a temporary truce during the celebration of Tet (Vietnamese New Year) • January 31, 1968: 70, 000 communist soldiers launched a surprise attack on South Vietnam – Surged 100 cities including Saigan • Eventually the U. S. defeated the communist forces but the attack left a negative attitude about the war in the hearts and minds of the American public.
Johnson’s Choices • Johnson had three choices regarding the war: 1. Escalate involvement 2. Continue the present course 3. Withdraw U. S. troops into the cities where they would suffer fewer casualties. – Johnson decided to stay the present course – he didn’t feel that escalation of the war would help the U. S. win.
Johnson Leaves Office • Some saw LBJ’s approach to the war as “Too Little, Too Late” • LBJ’s approval rating was at a low of 36%. • He announced that he would not seek a second term in office.
Violence Escalates at Home and Abroad
1968 Presidential Election • Democratic Candidate: Robert Kennedy was assassinated before the election. • Hubert Humphrey was elected to replace him. • Violence broke out at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago – riots began and police beat protestors. • Republican Candidate: Richard Nixon was elected president.
My Lai Massacre • March 16, 1968 • 30 American soldiers stormed the My Lai village and fired on defenseless villagers killing 200+ women, children and old men. • One soldier recalled: “Just outside the village there was this big pile of bodies of Vietnamese dead. This really tiny kid – he had only a shirt on, nothing else-he came over to the pile and held the hand of one of the dead. One of the GIs behind me dropped to a kneeling position thirty meters from this kid and killed him with a single shot. ”
Nixon’s Policy of “Peace With Honor” • Nixon didn’t want to be the first U. S. president to lose a war. • He vowed to bring about an “honorable peace”. • Vietnamization – pulling U. S. troops out of Vietnam and transferring the responsibility for the war to the South Vietnamese.
U. S. Bombings in Cambodia • Nixon was publicly promising peace while he was authorizing increased military action in Cambodia. • U. S. dropped 100, 000 tons of explosives on Cambodia – they denied the bombings when they were revealed in the New York Times. • On April 30, Nixon announced that the U. S. had invaded Cambodia (after promising ten days earlier that he would withdraw 150, 000 troops). • Why? – to help a group of Cambodian leaders who were attempting to remove Vietnamese Communists from Cambodia.
Protests Erupt • In response to the invasion, students held hundreds of protests around the country – some of them ending in violence.
Kent State • May 4, 1970 • In response to protestors attacking the ROTC building on the Ohio State University campus; Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on a protest at Kent State. • Four students were killed.
Listen… • Listen to the broadcast about the Kent State Massacre and the Song by Crosby, Stills and Nash and answer the questions on your paper.
The U. S. Pulls Out and the Vietnam War Ends
Peace Talks Falter • Talks between U. S. and North Vietnam held in Paris were not going anywhere. • They became more strained when Ho Chi Minh died in 1969. • Finally on January 27, 1973 a cease-fire was declared after five years of negotiations.
Listen Again… • Listen to President Nixon’s speech declaring the end of the Vietnam War. • Answer the questions on your paper. http: //news. bbc. co. uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/23/newsid_2506 000/2506549. stm
U. S. Forces Leave Vietnam • March 29, 1973 – the last U. S. combat troops left the capital of Saigan. • North Vietnam released the remaining American POWs. • The U. S. stopped bombing Cambodia.
Fighting Resumes in Vietnam • North and South Vietnam soon violated the Paris Agreement and resumed fighting. • U. S. did not get involved other than giving billions of dollars in aid to South Vietnam. • April 30, 1975 – South Vietnam surrendered to North Vietnam and the war was over. • Vietnam had fallen to communism.
POWs • http: //www. intheshadowo ftheblade. com/video. html • Mike Mc. Grath spent five years and nine months as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was captured after a failed reconnaissance mission sent his aircraft to the ground. His captors transported him to the Hanoi Hilton where he endured a life of isolation, torture and misery. The beatings were frequent and the living conditions deplorable. As the war came to an end, Mike and other prisoners who survived were released. The images etched in Mike Mc. Grath’s memory from his time spent in Hanoi were put to paper and published in the book Prisoner of War: Six Years in Hanoi. The following drawings and excerpts are from that book. http: //lcweb 2. loc. gov/powhome. html
• On June 30, 1967, I took off from the deck of the aircraft carrier U. S. S. Constellation, CVA-64, on my 178 th mission, an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. After bombing a small pontoon bridge, I picked out a second target. "Busy Bee rolling in, " I said, as my wingman circled to watch my run. Suddenly there was a muffled explosion. My controls went slack as my A 4 -C Skyhawk began to roll uncontrollably. I could see the earth rising to meet me. Instinctively I pulled my ejection handle. The quick decision saved my life, but almost immediately after I landed on the ground, Vietnamese farmers and local militia jumped on me. One man held a rusty knife to my throat, while the others savagely ripped and cut away my clothing. It seemed as though they had never seen a zipper; they cut the zippers away instead of using them to remove my flight clothing. One man, in his haste to rip off my boots, managed to hyper-extend my left knee six times. Every time I screamed in pain, the rusty knife would be jabbed harder into my throat.
• Within ten hours of my capture, I was en route to Hanoi. At a pontoon bridge, I was taken out of a truck and jammed into a narrow ditch. The soldiers who were guarding the bridge took turns to see who could hit my face the hardest. After the contest, they tried to force dog dung through my teeth, bounced rocks off my chest, jabbed me with their gun barrels, and bounced the back of my head off the rocks that lay in the bottom of the ditch. • I said my final prayers that night, because I was sure I would not reach Hanoi alive.
• • • Immediately after my arrival in Hanoi, I was taken to the New Guy Village, a section of the Hanoi Hilton, where new arrivals were tortured and interrogated. I was denied medical treatment because I would not give any information other than my name, rank, serial number and date of birth - the only information required by international law. I was delirious with pain. I was suffering from a badly dislocated and fractured left arm, two fractured vertebrae and a fractured left knee. The Vietnamese dislocated both my right shoulder and right elbow in the manner shown in the drawing. I wished I could die! When the Vietnamese threatened to shoot me, I begged them to do it, Their answer was, "No, you are a criminal. You haven't suffered enough. "
• • • Some men were tied to their beds, sometimes for weeks at a time. Here, I have drawn a picture showing the handcuffs being worn in front, but the usual position was with the wrists handcuffed behind the back. A man would live this way day and night , without sleep or rest. He could not lie down because his weight would cinch the already tightened cuffs even tighter, nor could he turn sideways. The cuffs were taken off twice a day for meals. If the cuffs had been too tight, the fingers would be swollen and of little use in picking up a spoon or a cup. Hopefully, a man could perform his bodily functions while the cuffs were momentarily removed at mealtimes. If not, he lived in his own mess.
• • • Many men were handcuffed or tied to a stool as a means of slow torture. The POW sat in one position, day and night. Each time he would fall over, the guards would sit him upright. He was not allowed to sleep or rest. Exhaustion and pain take their toll. When the POW agreed to cooperate with his captors and acquiesced to their demands, he would be removed. Here, I have pictured a guard named "Mouse, " who liked to throw buckets of cold water on a man on cold winter nights. Some men, in heroic efforts to resist the "V, " remained seated for 15 to 20 days. One man made a super-human effort to resist. He lasted 33 days on the stool before giving in!
• Here, I tried to depict the "Vietnamese rope trick. " The arms are repeatedly cinched up until the elbows are forced together. Sometimes at this point the "hell cuffs" are applied. The "hell cuffs" are handcuffs which are put on the upper arms and pinched as tightly as possible onto the arms, cutting off the circulation. The resulting pain is extreme. If the prisoner has not broken down by this time, his arms are rotated until shoulders dislocate. Words could never adequately describe the pain, or the thoughts that go through a man's mind at a time like this.