top of page

Grunt: A Pictorial Report on the US Infantry's Gear and Life During the Vietnam War







     My girlfriend has

     accused me of being               obsessed with Vietnam

     war films.


     I told her that was a

     negatory and if she

     didn't like it her parents             house is only 15 clicks





     I went to a meeting for

     Vietnam war veterans

     the other day;


     what a bunch of drug

     addicts. They wouldn't

     shut up about Charlie.




     During the Vietnam war,

     a Lieutenant asked a

     Marine why he was

     falling back during a

     really fierce battle.


     "Didn't you hear me say

     that we're outnumbered

     4 to 1? "


     The Marine replied,


     "I got my four Sir."



     Theres an ARMY guy

     and a Marine in the                   bathroom taking a leak,           

     The Army guy zips up

     and starts to leave,


     The marine shouts stop

     and says..


     "You know, in the

     Marines they teach us

     to wash our hands

      AFTER WE PEE."


     The Army guy SAYS...


     "In the Army they teach

     us not to pee on our




 N-n-n 19 Paul Hardcastle 




 U.S. infantrymen from the 

 1st  Cavalry Division jump 

 from a 'Huey'. 


vietnam huey and marines
U.S. infantrymen from the 1st Cavalry Division jump from a 'Huey' during the Vietnam War
Grunt: A Pictorial Report on the US Infantry's Gear and Life During the Vietnam War
N-N-N 19 Nineteen T-Shirt
iconic picture of civilians burned by an accidental napalm bombing flee. 9 year old Pham Thi Kim Phuc

 Accidental napalm bombing 

 9 year old Pham Thi Kim 

 Phuc South Vietnam 

 June 8, 1972. 


Nineteen "19" is a song by British musician  Paul Hardcastle 

released as the first single from his self-titled third studio album

Paul Hardcastle (1985).


The song has a strong  anti-war message  focusing on

America's involvement in the Vietnam War and the effect it had

on the soldiers who served. The track was notable for early use

of sampled and processed speech, in particular a synthesized

stutter effect used on the words 'nineteen' and 'destruction'. It

also includes various non-speech, re-dubbed sampling, such as

crowd noise and a military bugle call.


"19" features sampled narration (by  Peter Thomas ), out-of-

context interview dialogue ("I wasn't really sure what was going

on") and news reports from Vietnam Requiem the ABC

television documentary about the post-traumatic stress disorder

suffered by Vietnam veterans. In 2009, the song placed at 73

on VH1's 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s.


"19" had huge  international success  in the charts; it went to

No. 1 in the UK (for five weeks), a number of other countries

world wide, and yet only met with muted reception in the US

Pop Charts. Despite this, the single had great success in the

Dance and Club charts, where it went to number 1. "19"

became the top-selling single in 13 countries. This was helped

by the fact that versions of the song, spoken by well-known

local news anchors, were recorded in French, Spanish, German

and Japanese. The song received the Ivor Novello award for Best-selling single of 1985.

The song's English-language release came in three different 12 "versions - "Extended

Version", "Destruction Mix" and "The Final Story", each with an alternative cover design.


Hardcastle was inspired to create the song after watching Vietnam Requiem, and comparing

his own life at 19 to those of the soldiers featured:

                                                                              "what struck me was how young the soldiers were:

                                                                                                                                                    the documentary said their average age was 19. I was out having fun in pubs and clubs when I was 19, not being shoved into jungles and shot at."



The title "19" comes from the documentary's claim that the average age of an American combat soldier in the war was 19, as compared to World War II was 26. This claim has since been disputed. Undisputed statistics do not exist, although

Southeast Asia  Combat Area Casualties Current File  (CACCF), the source for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, shows a large number of deaths (38%) were ages 19 or 20. According to the same source, 23 is the average age at time of death (or time of declaration of death). The song also comments that while the tour of duty was longer during World War II, soldiers in Vietnam were subjected to hostile fire almost every day.

Musically, the song was inspired by electro, particularly  Afrika Bambaataa,  although Hardcastle also "added a bit of jazz

and a nice melody", and beyond the sampling of the documentary narration, the song incorporated pieces of interviews with soldiers. The song's pivotal hook:

                                                    the repetitive ""N-n-n-n-nineteen", was chosen due to the limitations of the early sampling technology used. The E-mu Emulator could only sample for two seconds, so the hook was based around "the only bit of the narrative that made sense in two seconds." Hardcastle wasn't optimistic about the song's chances in the charts. His previous two singles for independent labels had failed to make it into the UK's Top 40 and the musical policy at Radio 1 was felt to be unsupportive of dance music. News interest in the song helped, with the 10th Anniversary of the End of the Vietnam War

seeing Hardcastle interviewed by Alastair Stewart of ITN.

 Tony Blackburn,  then breakfast DJ for Radio London was an early supporter of the song and it quickly reached number 1 in the UK and around the world. Hardcastle produced different mixes of the song to help maintain interest in it. Although the song did not climb as high in the United States chart, Hardcastle claims "it outsold everybody else for three weeks solid, it only reached number 15, because back then the chart was based on airplay as well as sales." The song was held back in

the US by some radio stations refusing to play it, that the song took an anti-American stance, something Hardcastle denies, noting "I had tons of letters from Vietnam vets thanking me for doing something for them."


                                                                                                                  The success of "19" meant that Hardcastle's                                                                                                                                  manager  Simon Fuller,  who had recently left                                                                                                                                Chrysalis Records to set up on his own label, was                                                                                                                          able to use the funds to continue his business. He                                                                                                                        named the business 19 Management in                                                                                                                                         acknowledgement of its great significance to Fuller.                                                                                                                      Fuller went on to become the most successful British                                                                                                                    music manager of all time. He was behind the                                                                                                                                success of the Spice Girls and the talent show

                                                                                                                  American Idol. Hardcastle has continued his                                                                                                                                  connections to 19 Entertainment and in 2009                                                                                                                                created the sound for the end card used at the end

                                                                                                                  of 19's shows.


                                                                                                                  The song's reliance on  sampling  also caused                                                                                                                              problems with legal clearance. Ken Grunbaum                                                                                                                              recalled in 2012 that "there were no precedents for                                                                                                                        something like this. We ended up having to pay royalties to the narrator, Peter Thomas."


After the song's unexpected, rapid climb to the top of the UK Singles chart, Chrysalis asked directors Jonas McCord and Bill Couterie to rush a video into production. Due to the lack of a band able to perform the song, the video was primarily composed of clips from the Vietnam Requiem documentary, edited together by Ken Grunbaum. The first version of the video included footage from the television networks NBC and ABC, including a newscast by ABC anchor-man  Frank Reynolds.  After it was aired on MTV in the US, NBC and ABC objected to the "bad taste" of using the serious clips in a "trivial" form of "propaganda." McCord and Couterie were forced to produce a new cut incorporating public domain footage, but ABC permitted Reynolds' audio to remain. Couterie asserted at the time that the television networks opposed the video because it involved rock music:

                                What is the difference between the words in our song and the 7 o'clock news? The only difference is  rock'n'roll.  And why did they love the documentary and hate the video so much? Every word in the song is from the film,

and there was never any argument with the facts. The only difference is the music.

Sunset Marines Vietnam



The Vietnam War, also known as the  Second Indo china War,  and also known in Vietnam as Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was a Cold War-era proxy war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from the 1st of November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on the 30th of April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War (1946–54) and was fought between North Vietnam—supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies—and the government of South Vietnam—supported by the United States, Philippines and other anti-communist allies.


The Viet Cong (also known as the National Liberation Front, or NLF), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided

by the North, fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The People's Army of Vietnam (also known as the North Vietnamese Army) engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large units to battle.


As the war continued, the part of the Viet Cong in the fighting decreased as the role of the  NVA  grew. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery, and air strikes. In the course of the war, the U.S. conducted a large scale strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam, and over time the North Vietnamese airspace became most heavily defended in the world.


The U.S. government viewed its involvement in the war as a way to prevent a  Communist takeover of South Vietnam.  This                                                                                           was part of a wider containment policy, with the stated aim of                                                                                                       stopping the spread of communism. The North Vietnamese                                                                                                           government and the Viet Cong were fighting to reunify Vietnam                                                                                                     under communist rule. They viewed the conflict as a colonial war,                                                                                                 initially against forces from France and then America, and later                                                                                                     against South Vietnam.


                                                                                       Beginning in 1950, American military advisers arrived in what was                                                                                               then  French Indochina.  U.S. involvement escalated in the early                                                                                                   1960s, with troop levels tripling in 1961 and again in 1962. U.S.                                                                                                   involvement escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin                                                                                                     incident, in which a U.S. destroyer clashed with several North                                                                                                       Vietnamese fast attack crafts, which was followed by the Gulf of                                                                                                   Tonkin Resolution, which gave the U.S. president authorization to                                                                                                 increase U.S. military presence. Regular U.S. combat units were                                                                                                 deployed beginning in 1965. Operations crossed international                                                                                                       borders:

                                                                                                    bordering area of Laos and Cambodia were heavily                                                                                                         bombed by U.S. forces as American involvement in the war peaked                                                                                             in 1968, the same year that the communist side launched the Tet                                                                                                 Offensive. The Tet Offensive failed in its goal of over throwing the                                                                                                 South Vietnamese government but became the turning point in the                                                                                               war, as it persuaded a large segment of the United States                      population that its government's claims of progress toward winning the war were illusory despite many years of massive U.S. military aid to South Vietnam.


Gradual withdrawal of U.S. ground forces began as part of  "Vietnamization",  which aimed to end American involvement in the war while transferring the task of fighting the Communists to the South Vietnamese themselves. Despite the Paris Peace Accord, which was signed by all parties in January 1973, the fighting continued. In the U.S. and the Western world, a large

anti Vietnam War movement developed as part of a larger counter culture. The war changed the dynamics between the Eastern and Western Blocs, and altered North-South relations.


Direct U.S. military involvement ended on the 15th of August 1973.  The capture of Saigon  by the North Vietnamese Army in April 1975 marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year. The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities. Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from 800,000 to 3.1 million. Some 200,000–300,000 Cambodians, 20,000–200,000 Laotians, and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict.


At the time  Lyndon B. Johnson  took over the presidency after the death of Kennedy, he had not been heavily involved with policy toward Vietnam, Presidential aide Jack Valenti recalls, "Vietnam at the time was no bigger than a man's fist on the horizon. We hardly discussed it because it was not worth discussing."


Upon becoming president, however, Johnson immediately had to focus on Vietnam:

                                                                                                                                     on the 24th of November 1963, he said, "the battle against communism must be joined with strength and determination." The pledge came at a time when the situation in South Vietnam was deteriorating, especially in places like the  Mekong Delta,  because of the recent coup

against Diệm.


The military revolutionary council, meeting in lieu of a strong South Vietnamese leader, was made up of 12 members headed by General Dương Văn Minh—whom Stanley Karnow, a journalist on the ground, later recalled as "a model of lethargy." Lodge, frustrated by the end of the year, cabled home about Minh:

                                                                                                        "Will he be strong enough to get on top of things?" His regime was overthrown in January 1964 by General Nguyễn Khánh. However, there was persistent instability in the military as several coups—not all successful—occurred in a short space of time.


On the 2nd of August 1964, the  USS Maddox,  on an intelligence mission along North Vietnam's coast, allegedly fired upon and damaged several torpedo boats that had been stalking it in the Gulf of Tonkin. A second attack was reported two days

later on the USS Turner Joy and Maddox in the same area. The circumstances of the attack were murky. Lyndon Johnson commented to Under secretary of State George Ball that "those sailors out there may have been shooting at flying fish."


The second attack led to retaliatory air strikes, prompted Congress to approve the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on the 7th of August 1964, signed by Johnson, and gave the president power to conduct military operations in Southeast Asia without declaring war. Although Congressmen at the time denied that this was a full-scale war declaration, the  Tonkin Resolution  allowed the president unilateral power to launch a full-scale war if the president deemed it necessary. In the same month, Johnson pledged that he was not "… committing American boys to fighting a war that I think ought to be fought by the boys of Asia to help protect their own land."


An undated  NSA  publication declassified in 2005, however, revealed that there was no attack on the 4th of August. It had already been called into question long before this. "Gulf of Tonkin incident", writes Louise Gerdes, "is an often-cited example of the way in which Johnson misled the American people to gain support for his foreign policy in Vietnam." George C.

Herring argues, however, that McNamara and the Pentagon "did not knowingly lie about the alleged attacks, but they were obviously in a mood to retaliate and they seem to have selected from the evidence available to them those parts that confirmed what they wanted to believe."


"From a strength of approximately 5,000 at the start of 1959 the Viet Cong's ranks grew to about 100,000 at the end of 1964…Between 1961 and 1964 the Army's strength rose from about 850,000 to nearly a million men." The numbers for U.S. troops deployed to Vietnam during the same period were quite different; 2,000 in 1961, rising rapidly to 16,500 in 1964. By early 1965, 7,559 South Vietnamese hamlets had been destroyed by the  Viet Cong. 

Agent Orange. A range of colour-coded defoliants were used during defoliant missions also known as “Rainbow Herbicides”.

 Agent Orange (also known as “Rainbow Herbicides”). 


I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. I’m a great place for you to tell a story and let your users know a little more about you.


 The National Security Council  recommended a three

-stage escalation of the bombing of North Vietnam.

On the 2nd of March 1965, following an attack on a

U.S. Marine barracks at Pleiku, Operation Flaming

Dart (initiated when Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin

was on a state visit to North Vietnam), Operation

Rolling Thunder and Operation Arc Light commenced.

The bombing campaign, which ultimately lasted three

years, was intended to force North Vietnam to cease

its support for the Viet Cong by threatening to destroy

North Vietnam's air defenses and industrial

infrastructure. It was also aimed at bolstering the

morale of the South Vietnamese. Between March

1965 and November 1968, "Rolling Thunder" deluged

the north with a million tons of missiles, rockets and



Bombing was not restricted to North Vietnam. Other

aerial campaigns, such as  Operation Commando 

 Hunt,  targeted different parts of the Viet Cong and

NVA infrastructure. These included the Ho Chi Minh

trail supply route, which ran through Laos and

Cambodia. The objective of stopping North Vietnam

and the Viet Cong was never reached. As one officer noted, "This is a political war and it calls for discriminate killing. The best weaponwould be a knife… The worst is an airplane. "The Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force Curtis LeMay, however, had long advocated saturation bombing in Vietnam and wrote of the communists that "we're going to bomb them back into the Stone Age".


After several attacks upon them, it was decided that  U.S. Air Force  bases needed more protection as the South Vietnamese

military seemed incapable of providing security. On the 8th of March 1965, 3,500 U.S. Marines were dispatched to South Vietnam. This marked the beginning of the American ground war. U.S. public opinion over overwhelmingly supported the deployment.


In a statement similar to that made to the French almost two decades earlier,  Ho Chi Minh  warned that if the Americans "want to make war for twenty years then we shall make war for twenty years. If they want to make peace, we shall make peace and invite them to afternoon tea." As former First Deputy Foreign Minister Tran Quang Co has noted, the primary goal of the war was to reunify Vietnam and secure its independence. Some have argued that the policy of North Vietnam was not to topple other non-communist governments in South East Asia. However, the Pentagon Papers warned of "a dangerous period of Vietnamese expansionism…. Laos and Cambodia would have been easy pickings for such a Vietnam….Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, and even Indonesia, could have been next."


The Marines' initial assignment was defensive. The first deployment of 3,500 in March 1965 was increased to nearly 200,000 by December. The U.S. military had long been schooled in offensive warfare. Regardless of political policies, U.S. commanders were institutionally and psychologically unsuited to a defensive mission. In December 1964, ARVN forces had suffered heavy losses at  the Battle of Bình Giã,  in a battle that both sides viewed as a watershed moment. Previously, communist forces had utilized hit-and-run guerrilla tactics. However, at Binh Gia, they had defeated a strong ARVN force in a conventional battle. Tellingly, South Vietnamese forces were again defeated in June 1965 at the Battle of Đồng Xoài.


Desertion rates were increasing, and morale plummeted.  General William Westmoreland  informed Admiral U. S. Grant Sharp Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific forces, that the situation was critical. He said, "I am convinced that U.S. troops with their energy, mobility, and firepower can successfully take the fight to the NLF [National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam a.k.a. the Viet Cong]." With this recommendation, Westmoreland was advocating an aggressive departure from America's defensive posture and the side lining of the South Vietnamese. By ignoring ARVN units, the U.S. commitment became open-ended. Westmoreland outlined a three-point plan to win the war:


  •   Phase 1. Commitment of U.S. (and other free world) forces necessary to halt the losing trend by the end of 1965.


  •   Phase 2. U.S. and allied forces mount major offensive actions to seize the initiative to destroy guerrilla and                organized enemy forces. This phase would end when the enemy had been worn down, thrown on the defensive,      and driven back from major populated areas.


  •   Phase 3. If the enemy persisted, a period of twelve to eighteen months following Phase 2 would be required for        the final destruction of enemy forces remaining in remote base areas.


The plan was approved by Johnson and marked a profound departure from the previous administration's insistence that the

government of South Vietnam was responsible for defeating the guerrillas. Westmoreland predicted victory by the end of 1967.

Johnson did not, however, communicate this change in strategy to the media. Instead he emphasized continuity. The change in U.S. policy depended on matching Westmoreland and the Viet Cong in a contest of attrition and morale. The opponents were locked in a  cycle of escalation.  The idea that the government of South Vietnam could manage its own affairs was shelved.

 Sky full of Huey choppers 



photo shopped hueys vietnam

                                                                                     The one-year tour of duty of American soldiers deprived units of                                                                                                    experienced leadership. As one observer noted "we were not in                                                                                                   Vietnam for 10 years, but for one year 10 times." As a result, training                                                                                           programs were shortened.


                                                                                     South Vietnam was inundated with manufactured goods. As Stanley                                                                                             Karnow writes, "the main PX [Post Exchange], located in the Saigon                                                                                           suburb of Cholon, was only slightly smaller than the  New York                                                                                                       Bloomingdale's…"                                                                                                

                                                                                     The American build up transformed the economy and had a profound                                                                                           effect on South Vietnamese society. A huge surge in corruption was                                                                                             witnessed.


                                                                                     Washington encouraged its  SEATO  allies to contribute troops.                                                                                                     Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines all                                                                                       agreed to send troops. Major allies, however, notably NATO nations                                                                                             Canada and the United Kingdom, declined Washington's troop              requests. The U.S. and its allies mounted complex operations, such as operations Masher, Attleboro, Cedar Falls, and Junction City. However, the communist insurgents remained elusive and demonstrated great tactical flexibility.


The Johnson administration employed a "policy of minimum  candor"  in its dealings with the media. Military information officers sought to manage media coverage by emphasizing stories that portrayed progress in the war. Over time, this policy damaged the public trust in official pronouncements. As the media's coverage of the war and that of the Pentagon diverged, a so called credibility gap developed.


In late 1967 the Communists lured American forces into the hinterlands at Đắk Tô and at the Marine Khe Sanh combat base in Quảng Trị Province where the United States was more than willing to fight because it could unleash its massive firepower

unimpeded by civilians. However, on the 31st of January 1968, the NVA and the Viet Cong broke the truce that traditionally

accompanied the Tết  (Lunar New Year) holiday by launching the largest battle of the war, the  Tet Offensive,  in the hope of sparking a national uprising. Over 100 cities were attacked by over 85,000 enemy troops including assaults on General Westmoreland's headquarters and the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.


Although the U.S. and South Vietnamese forces were initially shocked by the scale of the urban offensive, they responded quickly and effectively, decimating the ranks of the Viet Cong. In the former capital city of Huế, the combined NVA and Viet Cong troops captured the Imperial Citadel and much of the city and massacred over 3,000 unarmed Huế civilians. In the following Battle of Huế American forces employed massive firepower that left 80 percent of the city in ruins. Further north, at Quảng Trị City, members of the  1st Cavalry Division  and 1st ARVN Infantry Division killed more than 900 NVA and Vietcong troops in and around the city. In Saigon, 1,000 NLF fighters fought off 11,000 U.S. and ARVN troops for three weeks.


Across South Vietnam, 1,100 Americans and other allied troops, 2,100 ARVN, 14,000 civilians, and 32,000 NVA and Vietcong lay dead.


But the Tet Offensive had another, unintended consequence. General Westmoreland had become the public face of the war. He was featured on the cover of  Time magazine  three times and was named 1965's Man of the Year. Time described him as "the sinewy personification of the American fighting man… (who) directed the historic buildup, drew up the battle plans, and infused the… men under him with his own idealistic view of U.S. aims and responsibilities." Six weeks after the Tet Offensive began, "public approval of his overall performance dropped from 48 percent to 36 percent–and, more dramatically, endorsement for his handling of the war fell from 40 percent to 26 percent."


In November 1967 Westmoreland spear headed a public relations drive for the Johnson administration to bolster flagging public support. In a speech before the  National Press Club  he said a point in the war had been reached "where the end comes into view." Thus, the public was shocked and confused when Westmoreland's predictions were trumped by Tet. The American media, which had until then been largely supportive of U.S. efforts, turned on the Johnson administration for what had become an increasing credibility gap.

American napalm bombing of the jungle in order to force the North Vietnamese back.


Although the Tet Offensive was a significant victory for allied forces,

in terms of casualties and control of territory, it was a sound defeat

when evaluated from the point of view of strategic


                        it became a turning point in America's involvement in

the Vietnam War because it had a profound impact on domestic

support for the conflict. Despite the military failure for the

 Communist forces,  the Tet Offensive became a political victory for

them and ended the career of president Lyndon B. Johnson, who

declined to run for re-election as his approval rating slumped from

48 to 36 percent. As James Witz noted, Tet "contradicted the claims

of progress… made by the Johnson administration and the military."

The offensive constituted an intelligence failure on the scale of

 Pearl Harbor. 


Journalist Peter Arnett, in a disputed article, quoted an officer he

refused to identify, saying of Bến Tre (laid to rubble by U.S. attacks)

that "it became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it".


 Walter Cronkite  said in an editorial, "To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism.

To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion." Following Cronkite's editorial report, President Lyndon Johnson is reported to have said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."


Westmoreland became Chief of Staff of the Army in March 1968, just as all resistance was finally subdued. The move was

technically a promotion. However, his position had become untenable because of the offensive and because his request for 200,000 additional troops had been leaked to the media. Westmoreland was succeeded by his deputy  Creighton Abrams,  a commander less inclined to public media pronouncements.


On 10 May 1968, despite low expectations,  peace talks  began between the United States and North Vietnam in Paris. Negotiations stagnated for five months, until Johnson gave orders to halt the bombing of North Vietnam.


As historian  Robert Dallek  writes, "Lyndon Johnson's escalation of the war in Vietnam divided Americans into warring

camps… cost 30,000 American lives by the time he left office, and destroyed Johnson's presidency…" His refusal to send

more U.S. troops to Vietnam was seen as Johnson's admission that the war was lost. It can be seen that the refusal was a

tacit admission that the war could not be won by escalation, at least not at a cost acceptable to the American people. As Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara noted, "the dangerous illusion of victory by the United States was therefore dead."


Vietnam was a major political issue during the United States presidential election in 1968. The election was won by

Republican party candidate  Richard Nixon.  U.S. President Richard Nixon began troop withdrawals in 1969. His plan, called

the Nixon Doctrine, was to build up the ARVN, so that they could take over the defense of South Vietnam. The policy became known as "Vietnamization".

 American napalm bombing of the jungle in 

 order to force the North Vietnamese back. 



Nixon said in 1970 in an announcement, "I am tonight announcing plans for the  withdrawal  of an additional 150,000 American troops to be completed during the spring of next year. This will bring a total reduction of 265,500 men in our armed forces in Vietnam below the level that existed when we took office 15 months ago."


On the 10th of October 1969, Nixon ordered a squadron of 18 B-52s loaded with nuclear weapons to race to the border of Soviet airspace to convince the Soviet Union, in accord with the  madman theory,  that he was capable of anything to end the Vietnam War.


Nixon also pursued negotiations. Theatre commander Creighton Abrams shifted to smaller operations, aimed at communist logistics, with better use of firepower and more cooperation with the ARVN. Nixon also began to pursue détente with the Soviet Union and rapprochement with China. This policy helped to decrease global tensions.  Détente  led to nuclear arms reduction on the part of both superpowers. But Nixon was disappointed that China and the Soviet Union continued to supply the North Vietnamese with aid. In September 1969, Ho Chi Minh died at age seventy-nine.


The anti-war movement was gaining strength in the United States. Nixon appealed to the "silent majority" of Americans who he said supported the war without showing it in public. But revelations of the  My Lai Massacre,  in which a U.S. Army

platoon raped and killed civilians, and the 1969 "Green Beret Affair" where eight Special Forces soldiers, including the 5th Special Forces Group Commander, were arrested for the murder of a suspected double agent provoked national and international outrage.


Beginning in 1970, American troops were withdrawn from border areas where most of the fighting took place, and instead

redeployed along the coast and interior, which is one reason why casualties in 1970 were less than half of 1969's totals. In 1970,  Prince Sihanouk  was deposed by his pro-American prime minister Lon Nol. North Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1970 at the request of Khmer Rouge deputy leader Nuon Chea. U.S. and ARVN forces launched an invasion into Cambodia

to attack NVA and Viet Cong bases.


This invasion sparked nationwide U.S. protests as Nixon had promised to deescalate the American involvement. Four students were killed by  National Guardsmen  at Kent State University during a protest in Ohio, which provoked further public outrage in the United States. The reaction to the incident by the Nixon administration was seen as callous and indifferent, providing additional impetus for the anti-war movement. The U.S. Air Force continued to heavily bomb Cambodia in support of the Cambodian government as part of Operation Freedom Deal.










In 1971 the  Pentagon Papers  were leaked to The New York Times. The top-secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, commissioned by the Department of Defence, detailed a long series of public deceptions on the part of the U.S. government. The Supreme Court ruled that its publication was legal.


In 1971 Australia and New Zealand withdrew their soldiers. The U.S. troop count was further reduced to 196,700, with a deadline to remove another 45,000 troops by February 1972. As peace protests spread across the United States, disillusionment and ill-discipline grew in the ranks including increased drug use,  "fragging"  (the act of murdering the commander of a fighting unit) and desertions.


 Vietnamization  was again tested by the Easter Offensive of 1972, a massive conventional NVA invasion of South Vietnam. The NVA and Viet Cong quickly overran the northern provinces and in coordination with other forces attacked from Cambodia, threatening to cut the country in half. U.S. troop withdrawals continued. But American air-power came to the rescue with Operation Line-backer, and the offensive was halted. However, it became clear that without American air-power South Vietnam could not survive. The last remaining American ground troops were withdrawn by the end of March 1973; U.S. naval and air forces remained in the Gulf of Tonkin, as well as Thailand and Guam.


The war was the central issue of the 1972 U.S. presidential election. Nixon's opponent,  George McGovern,  campaigned on a platform of withdrawal from Vietnam. Nixon's National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, continued secret negotiations with North Vietnam's Lê Đức Thọ. In October 1972, they reached an agreement.


However, South Vietnamese president Thieu demanded massive changes to the peace accord. When North Vietnam went public with the agreement's details, the Nixon administration claimed that the North was attempting to embarrass the president. The negotiations became deadlocked.  Hanoi  demanded new changes.

Operation Linebacker II, December 1972 B-52 Bomber vietnam

 Operation Linebacker II, December 1972 



To show his support for South Vietnam and force Hanoi

back to the negotiating table, Nixon ordered Operation

Line-backer II, a massive bombing of Hanoi and

Haiphong on the 18th–29th of December 1972. The

offensive destroyed much of the remaining economic

and industrial capacity of North Vietnam. Simultaneously

Nixon pressured  Thieu  to accept the terms of the

agreement, threatening to conclude a bilateral peace

deal and cut off American aid.


Nearly a third of the American population were strongly

against the war. It is possible to specify certain groups

who led the  anti-war movement  and the reasons why.

Many young people protested because they were the

ones being drafted while others were against the war

because the anti-war movement grew increasingly

popular among the counter culture and drug culture in

American society and its music.


Some advocates within the peace movement advocated a unilateral withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam. One reason given for the withdrawal is that it would contribute to a lessening of tensions in the region and thus less human bloodshed. Early opposition to U.S. involvement in Vietnam drew its inspiration from the  Geneva Conference of 1954.  American

support of Diệm in refusing elections was seen as thwarting the very democracy that America claimed to be supporting.

John F. Kennedy, the Senator, opposed involvement in Vietnam.


High-profile opposition to the Vietnam War turned to street protests in an effort to turn U.S. political opinion. On the 15th of October 1969, the  Vietnam Moratorium  attracted millions of Americans. Riots broke out at the 1968 Democratic National Convention during protests against the war. After explosive news reports of American military abuses, such as the 1968 My Lai Massacre, brought new attention and support to the anti-war movement, some veterans joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The fatal shooting of four students at Kent State University in 1970 led to nationwide university protests. Anti-war protests ended with the final withdrawal of troops after the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973. South Vietnam was left to defend itself alone when the fighting resumed. Many South Vietnamese subsequently fled to the United States.


Schlesinger announced early in the morning of the 29th April 1975 the evacuation from Saigon by helicopter of the last U.S. diplomatic, military, and civilian personnel.  Frequent Wind  was arguably the largest helicopter evacuation in history. It

began on the 29th of April, in an atmosphere of desperation, as hysterical crowds of Vietnamese vied for limited space. Martin pleaded with Washington to dispatch $700 million in emergency aid to bolster the regime and help it mobilize fresh military reserves. But American public opinion had soured on this conflict.


In the United States, South Vietnam was perceived as doomed.  President Gerald Ford  had given a televised speech on the 23rd of April, declaring an end to the Vietnam War and all U.S. aid. Frequent Wind continued around the clock, as North Vietnamese tanks breached defenses on the outskirts of Saigon. In the early morning hours of the 30th of April, the last U.S. Marines evacuated the embassy by helicopter, as civilians swamped the perimeter and poured into the grounds. Many of them had been employed by the Americans and were left to their fate.


On the 30th of April 1975, NVA troops entered the city of Saigon and quickly overcame all resistance, capturing key buildings and installations. A tank from the 324th Division crashed through the gates of the Independence Palace at 11:30 am local time and the  Viet Cong flag  was raised above it. President Dương Văn Minh, who had succeeded Huong two days earlier, surrendered.


A large number of war crimes took place during the Vietnam War.  War crimes  were committed by both sides during the conflict and included rape, massacres of civilians, bombings of civilian targets, terrorism, the widespread use of torture and the murder of prisoners of war. Additional common crimes included theft, arson, and the destruction of property not warranted by military necessity.


In 1971 the later U.S. presidential candidate,  John Kerry,  testified before the U.S. Senate and stated that over 150 U.S. veterans testified during the Winter Soldier Investigation and described war crimes committed in South east Asia:

                                                                                                                                                                         "They told the stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off the ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."

                                                                                                —John Kerry testifying before the U.S. Senate in 1971

One of the more darkly labeled rallying signs, this poster compares President Nixon to Hitler, substituting a swastika for the 'x' in Nixon's name.
vietnam protesters confronting military police with flowers
A Viet Cong prisoner captured in 1967 by the U.S. Army awaits interrogation. He has been placed in a stress position by tying a board between his arms.
Marines move through a landing zone, December 1969 still flying the us flag
Vietnam War 1954 1975
Vietnam Murder
War Is HELL Vietnam
US Military Stars and Stripes
vietnam montage of us military pictures
Anti War Protest Buddist Monk

 The material on this site does not necessarily reflect the views of What If? Tees. 

 The Images and Text are not meant to offend but to Promote Positive Open Debate and Free Speech. 

 The material on this site does not reflect the views of What If? Tees. 

 The Images and Text are not meant to offend but to Promote Positive Open Debate and Free Speech. 

bottom of page