The Vietnam War

The longest war the United States was involved in

Introduction

The Vietnam War was very violent and destructive. It left most of Vietnam in pieces. There was an amount of over 3,000,000 casualties from both sides of the war.

The History Behind the Vietnam War

The first phase of the Vietnam war was actually in 1946. The Vietnamese wanted control over Vietnam which was ruled by France at that time. The Vietnamese finally defeated the French in 1954. Vietnam was then divided into two sides, the Communist North side and the non-Communist South side.

How the US got Involved

The US's help to France and later to South Vietnam was because of Cold War policy by President Harry S. Truman. Truman said that the US must help any country being challenged by Communism.

During the War

Ngo Dinh Diem, who opposed any Communists in his country, became president of South Vietnam in 1955. Diem's government never became wide-spread popular. especially in poor places where his officials didn't do much to ease the life of peasants.


From 1957-1959, he tried to eliminate the members of the Vietminh who were teaming up with other South Vietnamese to rebel against Diem's rule. Diem called these people the "Viet Cong" which meant Vietnamese Communists. These rebels were mostly trained by Communists.


Throughout 1957-1963, North Vietnam helped rebels who didn't like the South Vietnam government. By 1960, a lot more people started disliking the Diem government. The North threatened to overthrow the government with their 10,000 troops. Because of this, the US President John F. Kennedy expanded the army in 1971-1973, from 900 troops to over 16,000.


In 1964, US President Lyndon B. Johnson agreed to secret raids against the North. On August 2, 1964, after one of those raids, the North attacked the US destroyer Maddox. Johnson warned the North that another attack would bring big consequences. On August 4, there was another attack on the Maddox and the C. turner Joy. Johnson ordered immediately for air strikes against the North.


The US hoped that American firepower would make the enemy stop fighting. For the main airstrikes, the US used giant B-52 bombers and smaller planes. The American pilots used helicopters to look for the Viet Cong troops. They also carried the injured to hospitals and brought supplies. The United States depended mainly on the bombing of North Vietnam and “search and destroy” ground missions in South Vietnam.


By April 1969, the US militia in Vietnam reached over 543,000 troops. In July, the US started to withdraw their troops. The last of them left in 1973 after a cease-fire in January was arranged.


In April 1970, President Richard Nixon ordered US and the South's troops to raid military supply centers the North Vietnamese had set up in Cambodia. There was large amounts of weapons, the raid might have delayed a big enemy attack. Though, many Americans thought it was wrong and there were many protests on college and university campuses.


North Vietnam began a major takeover of South Vietnam in March 1972. Thus, Nixon began again the bombing of North Vietnam. He used American air-power against the unprotected enemy troops and tanks. There was also placing of bombs in the harbor of Haiphong. This helped in stopping the invasions, which was near Saigon by August 1972.


When the North Vietnamese troops invaded Saigon on April 30, 1975, the South's Capitol, the South was forced to surrender.

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Back at Home

During the war, the US was divided into what was called “hawks” and “doves”. The Hawks supported the war against Communism, but didn't like Lyndon B. Johnson's slow approach. The doves didn't like the US involvement in the war and protested.


Everyone was shocked when on May 4, 1970, the National Guard fired at a group of "dove" protestors at Kent State University in Ohio. Nine were wounded and the shots killed four people.

Vietnam Veteran Interview

After the War

The North helped rebels overthrow a US-backed government in Cambodia. North Vietnam brought together Vietnam. They set up a new government in Laos. There was 58,000 American military personnel who died in the Vietnam War, while 300,000 others were injured. The South's military losses were 224,000 killed and 1 million wounded. North Vietnam's losses included 1 million dead and 600,000 wounded.

Vietnam War Memorial at Night in Washinton D.C

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Sources:

Glossary

Casualties-"a person killed or injured in a war or accident."


Cold War-"The Cold War is the name given to the relationship that developed primarily between the USA and the USSR after World War II. The Cold War was to dominate international affairs for decades and many major crises occurred – the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Hungary and the Berlin Wall being just some."


Communism-"a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs."


Military Personnel-"Military personnel are members of the armed forces. Usually,personnel are divided into military branches roughly defined by certain circumstances of their deployment. Those who serve in a typical large land force are soldiers, making up an army."