The Vietnam conflict was a costly measure for the US both in money and in loss of life. It began in 1954 and ended in 1975 with low estimates of deaths hitting 1.45 million people. Yet we still learn more about the conflict every day, helped by declassified photos such as these…
Loss of Limbs
Sadly, many civilians were involved in the acts of war, and limb loss was common. Leaving your home due to evacuation led many to live on the streets with few personal effects. Here we see a young civilian struggling to walk upright as he carries what little he can in his injured hand, showcasing the effects of war perfectly.
Even the Wildlife Was Affected
These soldiers appreciate the light relief offered by this furry little monkey during what must be a tense conflict. It’s likely that the monkey has chosen to perch on this fence as his habitat was destroyed – something all too common in the Vietnam war. It’s easy to forget that it’s not just humans that are affected by our fighting.
Hiding In The Long Grass
It’s essential to have your wits about you during conflict, and often the terrain will play its own role in battle. Long grasses and tall shrubbery are a great way of hiding from others, even if you’re carrying a sizeable gun. We think these soldiers have the right idea, but it’s sad to see such a natural landscape plagued by firearms.
Bringing in Reinforcements
Military choppers dropped American soldiers into hostile territory where they are more easily protected by the tough exterior of the vehicle and picked up the wounded soldiers on the way back. Despite Vietnam not having the technology that the US have, the US were defeated. Many say it was because the Americans underestimated their fighting tactics.
Another Role for the Hueys
The choppers were called Hueys and would often be utilized in the war. Soldiers would lay low on the floor in a prone position ready to fire as the helicopters would fly on to see if there were any pockets of enemy troops ahead. This tactic helped to counter against the sizeable number of US casualties.
A Great View
Here is another shot of the Hueys overhead. As they would be higher up than the soldiers, they would gain a better vantage point and be able to position the US soldiers strategically. The personnel in the helicopters would be able to see nearly all of the battlefield from their elevated position.
Bringing in Equipment
This shot shows a charge of Hueys being directed to safety in a US secured location. The helicopters themselves were essential to the US military during the Vietnam War and provided reinforcements, food, and equipment to aid the fight against the enemy forces.
Although finding water is often an issue in most US wars, here in Vietnam the soldiers didn’t have that problem due to heavy rainfall. The soldiers are holding their bottles under long leaves of the tree they’re standing under, which allows rainwater to flow down like a faucet.
The heavily armored and bulletproof tank obviously puts you at a huge advantage over your opponent, not least because of that huge gun sticking out of the front of it. They’re not the quickest of vehicles, which can hamper their effectiveness, but with firepower as effective as these we doubt it matters much.
The Gift of First Aid
This photo shows the real impact of war. A military medic is kneeling in the middle of a battlefield trying to revive one of the soldiers using CPR. As with all wars, thought should be spared for those who work in this role and deal with the atrocities they must deal with on a daily basis for the rest of their lives.
This image and so many like it show the main reason why wars should be considered carefully, and always as a very last resort. These Vietnamese natives are afraid and desperately hiding in muddied waters to avoid being seen by soldiers. War does not discriminate against you, whether you are young or old.
This photo was taken by a soldier Charlie Haughey, who was drafted into the US army in 1967. The shot shows one of the genuinely touching images to come out of the Vietnam War. His soldier comrade had just rescued this child before the image was shot. It’s nice to see that despite the bloodshed, the soldier didn’t lose his humanity.
It’s frightening to think that the smoke that is billowing out behind these soldiers is a result of grenades. Just one false step could be the difference between going home safely and going home in a coffin. It’s no surprise that often if these military men went home, they were doing so with a lifetime of PTSD.
Just because nightfall came didn’t mean that the battles stopped for the evening. Often military strategies were operated during the night, illuminated by lit flares along the way. The whole experience must have been terrifying for all involved. Imagine being on unfamiliar terrain in the dark knowing that others were out to kill you.
Far Too Young
We don’t know how old this soldier is, but from looking at him, he can’t be any older than 20 years old. You’ll see the cards on his helmet – the king and queen are there to remind him of his parents, and the ace represents him. A large number of soldiers in the Vietnam War were young people, making the whole affair even more tragic.
If soldiers didn’t have enough to battle with knowing that people were out there with the desire to kill them, the US troops also had to deal with extreme exhaustion and dehydration. It was one of the main causes of loss of US life. Unlike dying by gunfire, the death would be slow and painful, caused by a difficult terrain and cruel environment.
Proof that everything stops for Christmas, even war! These military men have written this note to provide light-hearted relief to anyone who reads it. We’re sure even the enemy soldiers would have got a little kick out of this too, although no word on whether they would have taken the US army on their word or not, though.
A Rare Find
This photo is one of the few that document the new recruits in Vietnam during the war. New soldiers were gathered daily to fight against the United States, and this often meant recruiting young people who had no real battle skills. Despite this, they did all they could to survive and defend their country.
Protesting Against The Man
Anti-Vietnam War protests broke out in many pockets of the US, as well as England and Australia too. The men in this photo are angered by the way the war effort was handled and believed those in power orchestrated the war unnecessarily. An example of those in power offering up those who are powerless without their permission.
Honoring A Fallen Friend
Poignant moments like this really hit home how devastating war can be. These military men have not only lost a colleague but a friend, too. On an occasion like this, there is little these broken soldiers can do apart from honor their friend and question their own mortality.
A Pop Of Color
It is rare to come across a color image during the Vietnam War, but in this case, it was a necessary addition. How else would you be able to see the red, white and blue flag in all its glory? Soldiers would carry the flag with them to motivate them and raise morale amongst troops.
This photo shows the love and dedication between each of the men in this photo. No man is left behind, regardless of injury, and each man would risk his own life for another. That sentiment runs through the military regardless of rank or social status. That mentality is what makes the US military one of the best in the world.
The Ravages of War
It is easy to hear of the effects war has left on a country, but to see it in all its destructive nature is something else. This once thriving village has been leveled to nothing but ash and rows of destroyed buildings. It’s devastating to think that these were once shops and homes of a whole community.
A Moment’s Respite
This US soldier has managed to find a moment away from the killing to chill out and meet with one of the young locals. He even appears to have found a beer, which is amazing given he’s in the middle of a war zone. Moments like these are ways of keeping even the most jaded of soldiers sane.
Time In The Trenches
In the trenches is where the soldier feels the push and pull of friendship and camaraderie the most, despite the huge danger they are in. This united group of soldiers appears to be looking pensively ahead, suggesting that trouble awaits them soon. It looks like some action is about to take place.
Showing Off The Heavy Goods
The vehicle, not the model! Although this guy seems to be posing like he’s out of a 60’s clothing catalog. The vehicle is called a ‘Charlie-plower,’ ‘Charlie’ being the term that the US troops used to call the Vietnamese soldiers. One thing’s for sure, you wouldn’t want to find yourself in front of this vehicle in a hurry.
Meeting The Local Wildlife
It’s not just the local people that you had to watch out for in the Vietnamese War, but the local wildlife too! This creature would look right at home in a horror movie. We have to applaud the soldier for his bravery in posing with this thing, but then again, he’s probably encountered much worse.
Taking Time To Look Good
Even in war, this young soldier has taken the time to ensure that he looks his best. He’s even decided against wearing a helmet, which is probably not the brightest idea he’s ever had in his life. Still, at least it shows a level of discipline that even war cannot extinguish.
A Posed Shot
Here is another young man making sure that he looks his best during military conflict. This posed shot was most likely taken for his family back home to show them that he’s safe and well and in relatively good health considering the level of exhaustion he likely experienced.
Another Shot For Home
Now how is that for a mustache? This US soldier posed for a photo sent home to his loved ones and manages to look somehow like a fashion model in the process. It’s crazy to think that if this young man survived (we’re hoping he did), then he would likely be someone’s father or even grandfather by now.
Not Good For Claustrophobics
We’ve never really considered this before, but how on earth would someone with claustrophobia get on in the military? This tank is just one of the many tight spaces soldiers are expected to climb into. We bet the space in the tank itself is tiny too. Not the kinda place you wanna be stuck with lots of other sweaty personnel.
Making A Friend
This soldier formed such a friendship with this cute little monkey that he was allowed to bring him back to base and look after him. He even found him his own cage. Pets like these give military soldiers something to care for in a situation which causes so much death and devastation. Looking after that monkey can only be a good thing for the psyche.
Showing His Dedication
It’s understandable to worry about what is going on at home when you’re in a foreign country with no way of getting back to your loved ones. This young man was hoping to give his fiance a not-so-subtle hint by positioning himself in front of this sign. He’s showing that he’s remained faithful, and is hoping she has too.
Showing Off His Guns
This young man wouldn’t look out of place on the cover of Rambo, with his military stance and cigarette in his mouth. And don’t get us started on that flat top!That gun looks incredibly heavy, but it looks like he’d have no trouble in holding it. Just check out the guns of his own!
Readying For Battle
This soldier is traveling across the gentle seas ready for battle with the Vietnamese army. This journey would have been experienced by most of the personnel being deployed to Vietnam, and the long journey would have given the soldiers a long time to reflect on what they are going to experience there. We bet nerves were high on this voyage.
Another Youngster In Action
Many soldiers that were recruited for Vietnam were signing up as soon as they finished high school, making the whole war an awful tragedy. This young man looks barely out of college himself, and we’re hoping he made it home safely to tell the tale of his experiences. So many didn’t.
An Unusual Jewelry Choice
This hippy had no choice but to serve in the military when he was called up in the draft, but that doesn’t mean he can’t voice his opinions on killing others. Around his neck, he wears a peace sign, something that he likely didn’t see much of in the long grasses of Vietnam.
What do you do to pass the time when you’re a hippy that got called up for the draft? Well, you carve your feelings into a bit of wood, that’s what. This hippy shows the war exactly what he thinks of it with his peace sign hand gesture. We can’t help but think that this protest wouldn’t have lasted long when faced with losing your life, though.
This unusual snap sees an American soldier and a Vietnamese soldier working together for their joint gain. It’s crazy that both of these people managed to find a way to work together despite their countries being unable to do so. Maybe the wrong people are in charge of sorting out world peace!
Finding It Hard To Cope
Where to start with this image? Is it the note from home pinned to the soldier’s chest that makes him hurt so much? Or has he just lost too many friends? This broken soldier can finally take no more and lets his tears fall. In situations like this, it is all you can do to keep sane.