The Vietnam War

By Robbie Coens, Steven Arterbery, & Jason Hogle

Important Points of the Vietnam War

Overview

The Vietnam War was a long and expensive war between North Vietnam and its southern allies know as the Viet Cong, and Southern Vietnam and its prime allie, the United States. The war began in 1954, however tension started in the mid 1940’s after Ho Chi Minh came to power with his communist party, Viet Minh Party. Over 500,000 U.S. military men and women were involved in the Vietnam War, and 58,000 of them were killed. The total death toll was three million, many of which were innocent Vietnamese citizens. The war ended in 1975 when the communist forces seized control of Saigon, two years after the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
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Vietnamization

In 1969, U.S. President Richard Nixon took office an introduced a new strategy called vietnamization Through this strategy, President Nixon attempted to put an end to American involvement in the Vietnam War by training and strengthening South Vietnamese soldiers to be able to defend themselves from communist takeover. In 1973, the U.S. negotiated a treaty with Northern Vietnam and withdrew American troops. The vietnamization process was complete, but soon after in 1975, South Vietnam fell to communist forces.


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Agent Orange

Agent Orange was a powerful American mixture of chemical defoliants that was used by American forces to wipe out forest cover and to poison crops of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong Troops. This operation, codenamed Operation Ranch Hand, was an American defoliation operation that sprayed more than 19 million gallons of herbicides over 4.5 million acres of Vietnam land from 1961 to 1972. The most commonly used and effective herbicide mixtures contain the chemical dioxin which was later known to cause serious health issues such as tumors, birth defects, psychological symptoms, and cancer among the vietnam population and U.S. servicemen and their families.


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Women in the War

According to the Vietnam’s Women Memorial Foundation, although little official data exists about the Women Vietnam Veterans, they estimate that approximately 11,000 women were stationed in Vietnam during the war. 90 percent of the women served as military nurses, and others served as physicians, air traffic controllers, intelligence officers, clerks, and other positions in the U.S. Women’s Army Corps, U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Marines and Army Medical Specialist Corps. In addition to these women, other civilian women served in Vietnam on behalf of the Red Cross, United Service Organizations (USO), Catholic Relief Services, and other humanitarian organizations, as well as for various news organizations as foreign correspondents.


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Weapons in the Vietnam War

The U.S. used mainly U.S. manufactured weapons. While both the united states and the Vietnamese used the B-52 bomber. The U.S. used a variety of other weapons like toxic chemicals or herbicides. While the Vietnamese used booby traps using sharpened bamboo sticks or crossbows triggered by tripwires.
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Vietnam War Protests

The movement against the Vietnam War had begun small. At first only small groups of people had protested and marched against the war, but later had started to become nationally supported after 1965. In the next three years, groups of activists had various support throughout the nation, and peaked in early 1968, when victory for the U.S. was surely not in sight.


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My Lai Massacre

The most tragic and horrific event of the Vietnam war was committed when a company of American soldiers brutally killed the majority of the population of a South Vietnam hamlet known as My Lai in March of 1968. Although the exact numbers of how many were killed is unconfirmed, it is believed that as many as 500 people including, women, children, and elderly were slayed in the My Lai Massacre. Efforts were made by higher ranking U.S. Army officers to cover up the tragic event. They managed to keep it secret for a year until a soldier who had heard of the massacre sparked an international outrage that lead to an investigation into the matter. Of the 14 officers linked to the crimes at My Lai, only one was convicted. The extent of the cover up and brutality of the My Lai killings, helped to further exacerbate growing antiwar sentiment in the United States and further divide the nation over the continuing American presence in Vietnam.
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The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964 gave approval to the congress for expansion on the Vietnam War. Military planners developed attacks on Northern Vietnam later that spring, but President Lyndon B. Johnson and his advisors feared that expansion on the war would not be supported by the public. But by that summer rebel forces had controlled over half of South Vietnam, and Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee for president, criticized Johnson and his advisors by not taking the approach of expansion.


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Operation Rolling Thunder

A strategic bombing campaign where U.S. military aircraft attacked targets throughout North Vietnamese between 1965 and 1968. This put pressure on North Vietnam’s communist leaders to reduce their ability to continue fighting against U.S. supported South Vietnam governments. Operation rolling thunder was America’s first assault on North Vietnam and expanded involvement in the Vietnam War. Some believe this operation had a great effect on almost crippling North Vietnam’s ability to fight, while others believe the operation only had small effects.


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Tet Offensive

On january 31,1968 north vietnamese attacked more than 100 cities in southern vietnam. General Vo Nguyen Giap leader of PVAN tried to form a rebellion among south vietnamese to make the united states take away some of their support. The united states was able to hold off the attack but the news coverage of the attack frightened the public so the u.s. support diminished. So North vietnamese was victorious.
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The Battle of Khe Sanh

Beginning on January 21, 1968, the People’s Army of North Vietnam (PAVN) carried out a massive artillery bombardment on the U.S. Marine garrison in Khe Sahn, located in northwest Vietnam near the Laotian border. For 77 days, the U.S. Marines and their allies from South Vietnam fought off an intense siege of the garrison, in one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. With the U.S. and South Vietnam occupied in Khe Sanh, North Vietnam and Viet Cong forces were able to launch the Tet Offensive.
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People of the Vietnam War

Ho Chi Minh

Emerged in Vietnam history as an outspoken voice for Vietnam’s independence as a young man in France during WWI. After finding inspiration in the Bolshevik Revolution, he joined the Communist Party and traveled to the Soviet Union. He helped find the Indochinese Communist Party in 1930 and the League for the Independence of Vietnam, or Viet Minh, in 1941. Shortly after WWII, Viet Minh forces seized northern Vietnam, through the city of Hanoi, and declared Northern Vietnam a Democratic State of Vietnam with Ho as the president. Also know as “Uncle Ho”, he served in that position for 25 years, and became a symbol of Vietnam’s struggle for unification during a long, costly conflict with the strongly anti-Communist regime in South Vietnam and its powerful ally, the United States.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson was the 36 president after John F. Kennedy death. Upon taking office, Johnson, a Texan who had served in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate He introduced medicare and head start which helped education, civil rights, and health. But he was mainly know for the failure to lead the nation out of vietnam. He did not run for a second term.


William C. Westmoreland

William Westmoreland, a veteran of World War II and the Korean war, was chosen by President Lyndon B. Johnson to command the U.S. Military Assistance Command (MACV) in June 1964. Throughout the next four years, Westmoreland commanded much of U.S. Military strategy. As several years progressed, doubt of Westmoreland’s ability to make progress for the U.S. grew. President Lyndon B. Johnson had to even halt bombing attacks ordered by Westmoreland, and in June of 1968 was replaced. Westmoreland later fought off criticisms of his actions in war and became a vietnam veteran supporter.