Skip to comments.Vietnam...Facts vs. Fiction
Posted on 01/03/2006 7:53:08 AM PST by RVN Airplane Driver
For over 30 years I -- like many Vietnam veterans -- seldom spoke of Vietnam, except with other veterans, when training soldiers, and in public speeches. These past five years I have joined the hundreds of thousands who believe it is high time the truth be told about the Vietnam War and the people who served there. It's time the American people learn that the United States military did not lose the War, and that a surprisingly high number of people who claim to have served there, in fact DID NOT.
As Americans support the men and women involved in the War on Terrorism, the mainstream media are once again working tirelessly to undermine their efforts and force a psychological loss or stalemate for the United States. We cannot stand by and let the media do to today's warriors what they did to us 35 years a go.
Below are some assembled some facts most readers will find interesting. It isn't a long read, but it will -- I guarantee -- teach you some things you did not know about the Vietnam War and those who served, fought, or died there. Please share it with those with whom you communicate. Vietnam War Facts: Facts, Statistics, Fake Warrior Numbers, and Myths Dispelled
9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975. 2,709,918 Americans served in uniform in Vietnam Vietnam Veterans represented 9.7% of their generation. 240 men were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War The first man to die in Vietnam was James Davis, in 1958. He was with the 509th Radio Research Station. Davis Station in Saigon was named for him. 58,148 were killed in Vietnam 75,000 were severely disabled 23,214 were 100% disabled 5,283 lost limbs 1,081 sustained multiple amputations Of those killed, 61% were younger than 21
11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old Of those killed, 17,539 were married Average age of men killed: 23.1 years Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old. The oldest man killed was 62 years old. As of January 15, 2 004, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War 97% of Vietnam Veterans were honorably discharged 91% of Vietnam Veterans say they are glad they served 74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the same non-vet age groups. Vietnam veterans' personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent. 87% of Americans hold Vietnam Veterans in high esteem. There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group (Source: Veterans Administration Study) Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison - only one-half of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for crimes. 85% of Vietnam Veterans made successful transitions to civilian life. Interesting Census Stats and "Been There" Wanabees:
1,713,823 of those who served in Vietnam were still alive as of August, 1995 (census figures). 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 vets are not. The Department of Defense Vietnam War Service Index officially provided by The War Library originally reported with errors that 2,709,918 U.S. military personnel as having served in-country. Corrections and confirmations to this errored index resulted in the addition of 358 U.S. military personnel confirmed to have served in Vietnam but not originally listed by the Department of Defense. (All names are currently on file and accessible 24/7/365).
Isolated atrocities committed by American Soldiers produced torrents of outrage from anti-war critics and the news media while Communist atrocities were so common that they received hardly any media mention 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 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 school teachers. - Nixon Presidential Papers Common Myths Dispelled: Myth: Common Belief is that most Vietnam veterans were drafted. Fact: 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 in Vietnam were volunteers.
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. Fact: 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 veterans' group.
Myth: Common belief is that a disproportionate number of blacks were killed in the Vietnam War. Fact: 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: Common belief is that the war was fought largely by the poor and uneducated. Fact: 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) Deaths Average Age Total: 58,148 23.11 years Enlisted: 50,274 22.37 years Officers: 6,598 28.43 years Warrants: 1,276 24.73 years E1 525 20.34 years 11B MOS: 18,465 22.55 years
Myth: The common belief is the average age of an infantryman fighting in Vietnam was 19. Fact: Assuming KIAs 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 Common belief is that the domino theory was proved false. Fact: 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.
Myth: The common belief is that the fighting in Vietnam was not as intense as in World War II. Fact: 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. 58,148 were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.7 million who served. Although the percent that 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).
Myth: Kim Phuc, the little nine year old Vietnamese girl running naked from the napalm strike near Trang Bang on 8 June 1972.....shown a million times on American television....was burned by Americans bombing Trang Bang. Fact: 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. Fact: 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. General Westmoreland quoting Douglas Pike, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley a major military defeat for the VC and NVA.
THE UNITED STATES DID NOT LOSE THE WAR IN VIETNAM, THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE DID. Read on........
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 peaceful reunification. 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 Vietnam. Thanks for the perceived loss and the countless assassinations and torture visited upon Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians goes mainly to the American media and their undying support-by-misrepresentation of the anti-War movement in the United States. As 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 Wellington, 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 Offensive famous.
Please give all credit and research to:
Capt. Marshal Hanson, U.S.N.R (Ret.) Capt. Scott Beaton, Statistical Source
It's been way too long that we VN Vets have been taking it on the chin for the lies and half truths spread my too many!
my to many = by too many
Some things never change. Those who drag us into war are never to blame. It's always the fault of those who didn't support it 110%.
There MUST be a correct record for this information before the veterans are gone. It is only fair.
Good find. We Vietnam veterans were the best we had.
You probably need to take your attitude somewhere else today...I didn't post it for your unfounded drivel.
"Fact: The first combat troops sent to Vietnam were under democrat President JFK."
Well, Ike did send advisors. Supposedly he told Priapus from KBunkport not to get more involved.
I attended the "Vietnam and the Iraq War" presentation given at the University of Chicago Law School by Professor Geoffrey Stone 20 January 2005. As a veteran of the Vietnam War from August of 1969 to January of 1971, serving as an infantry squad leader in a mechanized infantry company, and with another unit as a tank commander on an M48A3 tank; I was keenly interested in the form that the lecture might take. After a cursory reading of Professor Stone's curriculum vitae, I suspected that Professor Stone's take on the South East Asian conflict might indicate a general disapproval of the United States war effort. My suspicions were proven correct. The lecture was an attempt to paint the American war effort in Vietnam as misguided at best and an imperialistic effort to establish SE Asian capitalistic hegemony at worst. The antiwar left was portrayed as being noble and idealistic rather than populated by a hard core that actively hoped and worked for a US defeat, the US government as destructive of basic civil liberties in its attempt to monitor their activities, and the North Vietnamese and Vietcong as nationalists who wished to preserve their unique culture against an imperialistic onslaught. He described the South Vietnamese government in terms that were heedless of the South Vietnamese governments struggle to survive a relentlessly ruthless Communist assault while he stated the South Vietnamese government was engaged in an unwarranted assault on human rights. He neglected to mention ANY of the numerous genocidal atrocities of the Vietcong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA). He described the Tet Offensive as a surprise for the United States in which 1100 American soldiers died and 2300 ARVN soldiers, and not much more about it.
I challenged Professor Stone on the following. The reason that the United States opposed nationwide elections that were to be held in accordance with the 1954 Geneva accords was due to the murder and intimidation campaigns carried out by Ho Chi Minh. This fact is in Professor R. J. Runnel's book Death by Government, in which he cites a low estimate of 15,000 and a high figure of 500,000 people in the murder by quota campaign directed by the North Vietnamese Communist Party Politburo that would have made the election a corrupt mockery. This campaign stipulated that 5% of the people living in each village and hamlet had to be liquidated, preferably those identified as members of the "ruling class." All told says Runnel, between 1953 and 1956 it is likely that the Communists killed 195,000 to 865,000 North Vietnamese. These were non combatant men, women, and children, and hardly represent evidence of the moral high ground claimed by many in the antiwar movement. In 1956, high Communist official Nguyen Manh Tuong admitted that "while destroying the landowning class, we condemned numberless old people and children to a horrible death." The same genocidal pattern became the Communists standard operating procedure in the South too. This was unequivocally demonstrated by the Hue Massacre, which the press did a great deal to downplay in its reporting of the Tet Offensive of 1968.
I pointed out that the National Liberation Front was the creation of the North Vietnamese Third Party Congress of September 1960, completely directed from North Vietnam. I pointed out that the Tet Offensive of 1968 was a disastrous military defeat for the North Vietnamese and that the VC were almost wiped out by the fighting, and that it took the NVA until 1971 to reestablish a presence using North Vietnamese troops as local guerrillas. I pointed out how the North Vietnam military senior commanders repeatedly said that they counted on the U.S. antiwar movement to give them the confidence to persevere in the face of their staggering battlefield personnel losses and defeats. I pointed out the antiwar movement prevented the feckless President Lyndon Johnson from granting General Westmoreland's request to enter Laos and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail or end his policies of publicly announced gradualist escalation. The North Vietnamese knew cutting this trail would severely damage their ability to prosecute the war. Since the North Vietnamese could continue to use the Ho Chi Minh Trail lifeline, the war was needlessly prolonged for the U.S. and contributed significantly to the collapse of South Vietnam. The casualties sustained by the NVA and VC were horrendous, (1.5 million dead) and accorded well with Gen. Ngyuen Giaps publicly professed disdain for the lives of individuals sacrificed for the greater cause of Communist victory. They were as thoroughly beaten as a military force can be given the absence of an invasion and occupation of their nation. The Soviets and Chinese recognized this, and they put pressure on their North Vietnamese allies to accept this reality and settle up at the Paris peace talks. Hanoi's party newspaper Nhan Dan angrily denounced the Chinese and Soviets for "throwing a life bouy to a drowning pirate" and for being "mired on the dark and muddy road of unprincipled compromise."
To this day the anti-war movement as a whole refuses to acknowledge its part in the deaths of millions in Laos and Cambodia and in the subsequent exodus from South East Asia as people fled Communism, nor the imprisonment of thousands in Communist re-education camps and gulags.
When he tried to say that United States should have known it could not put down a local popular insurgency, I pointed out that the final victorious North Vietnamese offensive was a multidivisional, combined arms effort lavishly equipped with Soviet and Chinese supplied tanks, self-propelled artillery, and aircraft. I pointed out to him that it was the type of blitzkrieg that Panzer General Heinz Guederian would have easily recognized. I said how I didn't recall seeing any barefoot, pajama-clad guerrillas jumping out of those tanks in the newsreel footage that showed them crashing through the gates of the presidential palace in Saigon. This spectacle was prompted by the pusillanimous withdrawal of Congressional support for the South Vietnamese government in the wake of the Watergate scandal, which particularly undermined this aspect of President Nixons foreign policy. It should be noted that a similar Communist offensive in the spring of 1972 was smashed, largely by US air power; with relatively few US ground troops in place. At the Paris Accords in 1973, the Soviet Union had agreed to reduce aid in offensive arms to North Vietnam in exchange for trade concessions from the US, effectively ending North Vietnams hopes for a military victory in the south. With the return of cold war hostilities in the wake of the Yom Kippur war after Congress revoked the Soviet's MFN trading status, the Reds poured money and offensive military equiptment into North Vietnam. South Vietnam would still be a viable nation today were it not for this nation's refusal to live up to it's treaty obligations to the South Vietnamese.
There were legions of half-truths and omissions that this professor spoke to in his extremely biased lecture. When I asked him why he left out so much that was favorable to the American effort in Vietnam, he airily dismissed my argument as being just another perspective, but tellingly he did not disagree with the essential truth of what I said.
Professor Stone struck me as just another liberal masquerading as an enlightened academic.
He was totally unable to relate how the situation in Iraq is comparable to the situation in Vietnam, so I volunteered a comparison for him. A seditious near traitorous core of anti-war protesters is trying to undermine U.S. efforts there with half-truths, lies, and distortions. I said that in that respect, the war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam are very similar. A significant difference is that thus far the current anti-war movement has not succeeded in manifesting contempt for the American military on the part of the general U.S. public as it did in the Vietnam era.
When I was in Vietnam, I recall many discussions with my fellow soldiers about the course of the war in Vietnam and their feelings about it. Many, if not most felt that "We Gotta Get Outta this Place," to cite a popular song of the time by Eric Burden and the Animals, but for the most part they felt we should do it by fighting the war in a manner calculated to win it. I do not recall anyone ever saying that they felt the North Vietnamese could possibly defeat us on the battlefield, but to a man they were mystified by the U.S. Governments refusal to fight in a manner that would assure military victory. Even though there was much resentment for the antiwar movement, and some (resentment) toward career professional soldiers, I never saw anyone who did not do his basic duty and many did FAR MORE THAN THAT as a soldier. Nineteen of my friends have their names on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington DC. They deserve to have the full truth told about the effort for which they gave their young lives. The U.S. public is not well served by half-truths and lies by omission about such a significant period in our history, particularly with their relevance toward our present fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bookmarked. One of the hallmarks of Liberalism is their belief in a whole host of urban legends. New Media has the power to debunk them. Not just that, but we debunk ourselves as well.. Facts are facts.
And they let you speak? I'd expect liberals to be unable to contain themselves when confronted with that much truth.
Did anyone's head actually explode?
(BTW, I'm copying your note to disk for future reference. Dern good work. And thanks for serving.)
I was impressed by the fact that in order to display the plate on my car, the state required I submit my DD 214 as proof of "in-country" service, not just "Vietnam era" service.
Although I respect military service in any form, I have heard the stories of veterans (such as Sen. Tom Harkin) who have claimed combat duty to polish their image or impress the gullible. Shame on them.
Anyway, I was so pleased with the care taken by Pennsylvania to make sure of the veteran's status before issuing the plate, that I provided my DD214 and now proudly display the new license plate on my car.
It has been a pleasant experience for me, as many total strangers have waved to me, given a thumbs up, or on occasion taken the time to stop and say a few words.
I hope all states that have a similar program are as serious as Pennsylvania about getting it right.
If any guilt attaches to anyone because of the war in Vietnam, it is Lyndon Johnson directly and Robert McNamara indirectly.
Johnson for putting American troops into a conflict that he did believe in. McNamara for devising and approving rules of engagement that were as stupid and he is vain.
Thank you to the Americans who served in Vietnam. These brave warriors performed an important mission in our battle against Communism.
Sorry. I was merely responding to the unfounded drivel in the article you posted. The American media is to blame for "the countless assassinations and torture visited upon Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians"? Come on.
Thank you for the great information as well as for your service.
That's essentially my point. Johnson certainly bears more blame than the media.
bump for later
You kicked his ass, figuratively speaking. Thank you from a 1st Air Cav vet, central highlands 67-68.
I did learn something.
Thanks for the post. Ping
Neat! That should weed out almost all the fakers and frauds. I've never seen Viet Nam plates in Virginia ... we have Pearl Harbour Survivor plates here, DMV requires official documentation of having been assigned to PH on 07DEC41. Not sure what the documentation required is; the only fellow I knew who qualified is dead.
If you can see around the curvature of the Earth, my thumb is up.
Patrol Squadron ONE, US Navy
Welcome home and thank you for your service!
The Vietnam war is still going on. It's outcome will depend on the outcome to the WOT. If we win, they'll drop communism in the north (as it exists less and less southward).
If we lose, it won't matter anymore.
Great book, pabianice.
You sound like a sniveling little coward who would need to be "dragged into war" no matter what the threat to America and our way of life was.
But if blame for a war the U.S. partook in has to be assigned to the President who sent the troops, then you need to blame your liberal Presidents JFK and LBJ for Vietnam. Eisenhower gave the OK to send a few hundred military advisors to Vietnam, but no combat troops or U.S. equipment. JKF decided to send U.S. combat troops to Vietnam to the number of 10 thousand. LBJ eventually increased the number to 500 thousand troops in Vietnam. The war ended prematurely under Richard M. Nixon, due to extreme pressure from the liberals and their media friends.
Great information guys. Thanks to you both for your past service and continued courage.
You deserve alot of credit, but maybe your paper deserves some as well.They could have just shrugged you off, but it sounds like maybe they didn't.
I had a link years ago to a database of veterans, and of course lost it since. Anyone have a good link?
Remember being surprised how many McCarthy's there were with my first name. I was the only 6511 though........
August 67-May 69...Yeah, I extended.
I served two tours of combat duty in Vietnam in the navy. On Rivermud 26B and on Budweiser, if you ever heard the call signs.
BTT. Facts won't deter a true believer, and the antiwar types believe only what makes them comfortable. I had an exchange with one of them over the holidays in which I said that Iraq didn't sink Kerry in the last election, Vietnam did. I'd pay money to have captured the look of utter incomprehension on his face...
Whatever. If you want to hurl insults, be my guest. You certainly won't be the first. But if you want to make the case that America and our way of life was threatened by North Vietnam, then perhaps you should start a new thread.
That's what I said in post #27.
I have waged this battle for truth about the war, seeming alone, for decades. The initial reaction from my audiences has been, "You can't be serious!". After the facts are laid out, universally I hear, "Why didn't we know that?"
The bottom line is: Never trust a journalist to write history!!
Great post! The news media never was nor never will be the friend of veterans and the military. Let's always elect and support only those who understand the price of Freedom.