Facts and Myths
After 40 +/- years, I, along with many others, feel the truth is long overdue. When Jack Evans (267th's Company Clerk 1967-1969) asked his Junior High School students, when the Vietnam War was, they thought it was before the First World War. When you ask most Americans who lost the Vietnam War, they'll answer the American military. Below are some "Facts" that the media and politicians conveniently overlooked. First are a couple of comments I found while researching for this page. Thank you, John Marshall (A Troop, 3/17th Air Calvary, Quan Loi - 1970-1971) and Mike Hodges (Rat Pack "38" 187th Assault Helicopter Company, 1970-1971). They can be found at: www.jelcwcm.com/vietnam/vnvet and www.187thahc.net respectively.
What is expressed below should be heard by all Vietnam Veterans and on every web page dealing with the Vietnam War. For far too long Vietnam Veterans have suffered in silent shame over the war. Labeled by the media as the only war America ever lost, it's about time the facts were brought to light. The reporters who sat in Saigon hotels and reported back to an American public (ignorant of what was really happening) that the U.S. forces were losing the war, are the ones the shame should fall on. The men I served with did their job and did it damn well. I am proud to say I'm a Vietnam Veteran, but it took me twenty years to express it. The Korean War has been labeled "The Forgotten War" maybe the Vietnam War should be called "Can't we just forget about it War" I for one am not ready to concede to that. Bruce Barcik
A Veteran, whether enlisted, drafted, on active duty, retired, National Guard or Reserve is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to the "United States of America" for the amount up to and including their life. This is about honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it. ~Unknown Author
It was interesting that the Vietnamese assumed all Americans were anti-communist. I guess they hadn't met any Ivy League professors. Nelson Demille (LT. Company D 1/8th Air Cav. - 1967 1968) or had been to Berkley! BLB
The United States Military did not lose the war in Vietnam. We were not allowed to win, but we did not lose.
The American fighting force left Vietnam in
1972. We did not leave because we were losing in Vietnam by any stretch of the
imagination. If we lost anything, it was the support of the United States
Government that sent us over there and the United States civilians who sat
securely at home in a "Free Country" cursing the American fighting
force, cursing the very people that would be the first to die to protect their
freedom and their right to act like morons. To all of you who hid out in
colleges or ran off to Canada, you will never understand what it means to be a
winner in the defense of our country, our freedoms, our way of life. You will
never know what true honor and courage is or understand why we offered our
lives for what we believed in.
We were not even in Vietnam in 1975, when the soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam threw down their weapons, stripped off their uniforms and ran from their duty.
Where were you in 1965 - 1972? I know where the true heroes of our country were.
It is not the President or Congress or the fat cat politicians who insure our freedom. It is the American fighting men and women who won your freedom to start with and who keep you free today.
Mike Hodges, Rat Pack "38" Thank you, Mike
For over thirty 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 is 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
As Americans support the men and women involved in the War on Terrorism, the mainstream media is 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 ago.
John Marshall, 3/17 Air Calvary Thank you, John
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 John 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.
Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old.
The oldest man killed was 62 years old.
As of January 15, 2004, there were still 1,875 American 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-veteran age group.
Vietnam veteran’s personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18%.
87% of Americans hold Vietnam veterans in high esteem.
There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam veterans and non-veterans of the same age group. (Veteran 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 count taken August 2000, the surviving U.S. Vietnam veteran population estimate is: 1,002,511. This is hard to believe, losing nearly 711,00 between 1995 and 2000. 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 claimed to be Vietnam veterans are not.
Department of Defense Vietnam War Services Index officially provided by the War Library originally reported with errors that 2,709,918 U.S. military personnel served in-country. Corrections and confirmations to this incorrect 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 Americans soldiers produced torrents of outrage from anti-war critics and the news media; while Communist atrocities were so common they hardly received 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 schoolteachers. ~Nixon Presidential Papers
Common Myths Dispelled
Myth: The common belief is that most Vietnam veterans were drafted.
Fact: Of all men who served in Vietnam two-thirds were volunteers. Two-thirds 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 They 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 amount to 12% 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 population 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
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.
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 19is 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: 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 who 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 who 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 Americans). 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 of 1962 would secure the border).
Myths: Kim Phuc, the little nine year old Vietnamese girl pictured running
naked from the napalm strike near Trang Bang on June 8th 1972, shown a million
times in the American media, was burned by Americans bombing Trang Bang.
Facts: 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 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 the 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.
Myths: 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, Berkley (renowned expert on the Vietnam War). This included Tet of 1968, which was a major military defeat for the VC and NVA.
The United States Did Not Lose The War In Vietnam, The South Vietnamese Did
The fall of Saigon happened April 30th, 1975, two years AFTER the American military left Vietnam. The last American troops departed in their entirety March 29th, 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 January 27th, 1973. It called for the release of U.S. prisoners, withdrawal of U.S. forces, limitations 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 Communist 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 deaths 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.
My thanks and that of all Vietnam veterans goes out to: Capt. Marshal Hanson, U.S.N. (Ret) and Capt. Scott Beaton, Statistical Source without whom this page would not be possible. Thank you for all your research.