Vietnam War

By Jenna Roggenkamp and Kelsey Outram

#1 Definitions

  • Cold War- state of political and military tension between nations
  • Containment- keeping Communism from spreading
  • DMZ- demilitarized zone
  • Domino Theory- if one country becomes Communist, the neighboring countries will too
  • Draft- enrollment for the armed forces
  • General William Westmoreland- US Army General during Vietnam War
  • Ho Chi Minh- North Vietnam Communist leader
  • My Lai Massacre- mass murder of hundreds of Southern Vietnamese
  • National Liberation Front- political organization in South Vietnam
  • Ngo Dinh Diem- South Vietnam Non-Communist leader
  • Pentagon Papers- secret papers written by the government, exposed untold military plans
  • Tet Offensive- an offensive by Vietcong and North Vietnam against South Vietnam and the US in 1968
  • Viet Cong- Communist-led army and guerrilla force that fought South Vietnam and the US
  • Vietnamization- allow for withdrawal of US troops, gave South Vietnamese government responsibility for carrying out the war

#2 Pathways to War, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident

The resolution stated that increased US involvement in the Vietnam War was approved to prevent any further aggression.

President Johnson and Nixon relied on this as the legal basis for their military involvement and policies in Vietnam.

#3 Creating Context

  • July 1950 - The United States pledges $15 million worth of military aid to France to help them fight in Vietnam
  • October 26, 1955 - South Vietnam declares itself the Republic of Vietnam, with newly elected Ngo Dinh Diem as president
  • December 20, 1960 - The Viet Cong is established in South Vietnam
  • August 2 and 4, 1964 - The Gulf of Tonkin Incident
  • August 7, 1964 - In response to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, the U.S. Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
  • March 8, 1965 - The first U.S. combat troops arrive in Vietnam.
  • March 16, 1968 - U.S. soldiers kill hundreds of Vietnamese civilians in the town of My Lai
  • July 1969 - President Nixon orders the first of many U.S. troop withdrawals from Vietnam
  • June 13, 1971 - Portions of the Pentagon Papers are published in The New York Times.
  • March 29, 1973 - The last U.S. troops are withdrawn from Vietnam

#4 In Their Own Words

Kelsey: Ralph E. Gragg was sent to the war. His opinion on it was that "we need to fight it, and win it." He arrived in 1665 and stayed a year. He was stationed in Cam Rahn Bay and was mainly in construction building roads and aircraft. He was never involved in combat.

Jenna: Freddie Lee Jones was sent to Vietnam in 1964. He was Utility Chief and he worked as an electrician and water maintenance. He would also check camp freezers to ensure food was cold. Jones recalls that he lost eight of his good friends during the wartime, and would often drink beer to cope. Jones account shows how intense and dangerous the war really was.

#5 Protest Music

  1. "Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag"- Country Joe Mcdonald and The Fish
  2. "Masters of War"- Bob Dylan
  3. "Eve of Destruction" Barry McGuire
  4. "Universal Soldier"- Buffy Sainte- Marie
  5. "It Better End Soon"- Chicago
  6. "The Times They Are A Changin'"- Bob Dylan
  7. "Draft Dodger Rag"- Phil Ochs
  8. "Where Have All The Flowers Gone"- Kingston Trio
  9. "Blowin' in the Wind"- Peter, Paul and Mary
  10. "Get Together"- The Youngbloods

#6 Heroes or Villains at My Lai?

  • Hugh Thompson was an Army helicopter pilot who rescued Vietnamese civilians during the My Lai massacre. In my opinion, he was a hero because he tried to save many of the Vietnamese because it was the right thing to do, even though he was on the other side. He was defying his own country but it was because it was the morally right thing to do.
  • William Calley was the man who led the invasion of My Lai and was later branded "America's worst war criminal." In my opinion, Calley is a villain because he led one of the worst invasions in war history. He killed hundreds of innocent farmers, mothers, and children. He deserves his title as worst war criminal.