Stunning Pictures From The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War still haunts the collective American psyche. And it's images still fascinates the rest of the world. But for different reasons. America learnt to its discomfiture that a group of highly motivated people can defeat the most technological advanced army in the world. And the world learnt that shorn of the heroic sheen of the beacon of freedom that American wore post-WW2, when it came to its self interest it used terrible weapons against innocent women and children. My Lai tarnished America irrevocably.

Saigon, June 11, 1963 Buddhist monk Quang Duc burned himself in protest against the persecution of Buddhists by the Government of South Vietnam. (AP Photo/Malcolm Browne)

 January 9, 1964 a soldier of the Army of South Vietnam stabs a farmer, assuming that he was lying on the movements of the Viet Cong - North Vietnamese soldiers. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)

March 1964. A Vietnamese man with a the body of his dead child asks for help from rather disinterested South Vietnamese soldiers

Hovering U.S. Army helicopters pour machine gun fire into a tree line to cover the advance of South Vietnamese ground troops in an attack on a Viet Cong camp 18 miles north of Tay Ninh, northwest of Saigon near the Cambodian border, in Vietnam on March 1965. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)


The Gulf of Tonkin Incident was the two naval skirmishes between North Vietnam’s torpedo boats and the United States Navy destroyers. It took place in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin on August 2 and August 4, 1964. On August 2, 1964, while conducting intelligence-collecting operations in hostile waters off the coast of North Vietnam, the US destroyer USS Maddox was attacked by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats of the 135th Torpedo Squadron.

As the North Vietnamese boats approached, shooting 50mm shells as they bore down on the USS Maddox, the Amercian crew fired three warning shots, but the torpedo boats continued to advance. The Maddox then opened fire on the approaching boats with torpedoes being fired by both the North Vietnamese and the US ships. As the North Vietnamese boats were heavily damaged, they returned to shore. Only one shell had hit the US destroyer.

On August 4, 1964, two US destroyers were again attacked in the middle of the Gulf of Tonkin. Radar images on the C Turner Joy indicated that they were being approached by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Both the Maddox and the C Turner Joy fired repeatedly into the stormy night. Later that day the commander of the ships said that he was not certain of this second torpedos attack, but the next day he told Secretary of Defence Robert S McNamara that he was definitely sure that they had been attacked.

When he was notified of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, President Lyndon B Johnson decided that he needed the support of Congress in order to act. On August 4, he had lunch with the National Security Council to discuss the situation in Vietnam. He was given approval for a proposed air strike, which was carried out the next day. The President announced the action on television as strategic North Vietnamese targets were destroyed including a petroleum storage unit in the town of Vinh.

The outcome of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident was the passage by Congress of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted President Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by communist aggression. Congress passed the resolution with the understanding that it would be consulted if the war escalated and particularly if ground troops were to be used in South Vietnam.

A BOMB BLAST: March 30, 1965. The scene immediately after a bomb attack on the American embassy in Saigon. Many Vietnamese and two Americans died.

An unknown American soldier

September 25, 1965. A raid to find Viet Cong in the jungle area Ben Cat, South Vietnam. (AP Photo/Henri Huet)

 November 27, 1965 A Vietnamese orderly  covers his nose, so as not to feel the stench, as he passes  bodies of American and Vietnamese soldiers killed in battle with the Vietcong in the Michelin rubber plantation, about 45 miles northeast of Saigon

 January 1, 1966 Women and children hide in a ditch to save themselves from the intense bombardment by the Viet Cong, at Bao Trai, about 20 miles west of Saigon. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)

  July 15, 1966 An American  CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter, downed by enemy ground forces during Operation Hastings south of the demilitarized zone between North and South Vietnam, The helicopter crashed and exploded on a hill, killing one crew member and 12 Marines. Three crew members escaped with severe burns,. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)

 A young Marine private waits on the beach during the Marine landing, Da Nang, Vietnam, August 3, 1965.

 A napalm strike erupts in a fireball near U.S. troops on patrol in South Vietnam in 1966 during the Vietnam War. (AP Photo)

 June 15, 1967 American soldiers peer out of the trench to evade Viet Cong snipers during fighting in the north-east of Saigon. (AP Photo/Henri Huet)

 1966. Near the Cambodian border. A dead American soldier is lifted onto a helicopter hovering above

June 1967. Medic James Callahan tries desperately to save a badly injured soldier during a battle north of Saigon.

1966 U.S. Army helicopters supporting ground forces, at a base fifty miles north-east of Saigon. (AP Photo/Henri Huet)

 Jan. 23, 1967 A terrified VC prisoner awaiting interrogation unit of special forces A-109 Thuong Duc, 25 kilometers west from Da Nang, Vietnam. (AFP PHOTO/National Archives)

 A marine helps his wounded comrade to cover despite North Vietnamese fire during battle on May 15, 1967

BEFORE: South Vietnamese forces escort suspected Viet Cong officer Nguyen Van Lem (also known as Bay Lop) on a Saigon street Feb. 1, 1968, early in the Tet Offensive. (AP Photo/Eddie Adams

 DURING: 1 February 1968 the national police chief of South Vietnam, General Nguyen Ngoc Loan shooting  the enemy suspect in the head


The majority of Vietnam veterans think that overly negative television coverage helped turn the American public against the war and against the American troops deployed in Vietnam. The media is called the fourth estate for its capacity to form opinions, that is to say the power to shape patterns of thinking, feeling and reacting before certain circumstances, events and famous people.

Negative Impact of Media On The Vietnam War Outcome

Even trained military personnel sometimes have difficulties in withstanding the horrors of war. During the Vietnam War it was the first time that the horrors of an armed conflict entered the living rooms of Americans. For almost a decade in between school, work, and dinners, the American public could watch villages being destroyed, Vietnamese children burning to death, and American body bags being sent home. At the beginning the media coverage generally supported U.S involvement in the war, but television news dramatically changed its frame of the war after the Tet Offensive. Images of the U.S led massacre at My Lai dominated the television, yet the daily atrocities committed by North Vietnam and the Viet Cong rarely made the evening news. Thus, the anti-war movement at home gained increasing media attention while the U.S soldier was forgotten in Vietnam.

Coverage of the war and its resulting impact on public opinion has been debated for decades by many intelligent media scholars and journalists, yet they are not the most qualified individuals to do so: the veterans are. Journalists based in Saigon daily reported facts about battles, casualties, and the morale of the troops, yet only a soldier could grasp the true reality of war. The media distortions, due to television’s misrepresentations during the Vietnam War, led to the American defeat, not on the battlefield but on the political and social arena. 

AFTER: The victim falls dead on the ground and police chief calmly puts the gun back

June 8, 1972 bombs with a mixture of napalm and white phosphorous dropped dropped by South Vietnamese Skyraider bombers , explode in a village not far from the Cao Dai temple in the outskirts of Trang Bang.  In the foreground are Vietnamese soldiers and correspondents of several international news agencies.

Terrified burnt children run away from the scene

The South Vietnamese soldiers tend to the children

November 20, 1972 Unaware of the impending enemy attack a photographer captures an image of a South Vietnamese infantryman in the Hai Van, south of Hue. While the camera followed the explosion,  the soldier had no time to react.

 March 1975. A Vietnamese woman is evacuated from an area 235 miles north east of Saigon moments before the NVA/Viet Cong overran it

South Vietnamese marines line beaches and swim out to ships, fleeing from the northern port city of Da Nang on March 29, 1975 before its fall to the Viet Cong and north Vietnamese. This picture was taken as some marines successfully fled, abandoning scores of weapons, vehicles and even a helicopter. In the foreground, men on LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) prepare to throw rope to marines coming up on inner tubes. Only a fraction of the city's 100,000 defenders were evacuated before its fall. (AP Photo)

 North Vietnamese troops run across the tarmac of Tan Son Nhat air base in Saigon as smoke billows behind abandoned U.S. Air Force transport planes April 30, 1975. The taking of Saigon marked the fall of the U.S.-backed south and the end to a decade of fighting. (Vietnam News Agency/REUTERS)

April 29, 1975 Vietnamese people  trying to climb over the wall of the American Embassy in Saigon, hoping to get onto a helicopter, as the last Americans leave Vietnam. (AP Photo/Neal Ulevich)

 April 29, 1975 Staff of USS Blue Ridge push a helicopter from the deck of a ship at sea, to free up space for evacuation flights from Saigon.

 April 29, 1975 A Vietnamese woman with her three children sitting on the deck of an American amphibious assault ship during the evacuation from Saigon. (AP Photo)

 VICTORY FOR THE NVA: April 30, 1975. As the Americans left a North Vietnamese tank breaks through the gate of the presidential palace in Saigon.

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Quotes about war....

"War grows out of the desire of the individual to gain advantage at the expense of his fellow man."
--Napoleon Hill

"We have failed to grasp the fact that mankind is becoming a single unit, and that for a unit to fight against itself is suicide."
--Havelock Ellis

'Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed."
--Mao Tse-Tung (1893 - 1976)

"I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in."
--George McGovern

"The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."
--Joseph Stalin

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
--Voltaire, War

In war, truth is the first casualty.
-- Aeschylus

"The ability and inclination to use physical strength is no indication of bravery or tenacity to life. The greatest cowards are often the greatest bullies. Nothing is cheaper and more common than physical bravery."
--Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

"The victor will never be asked if he told the truth."
--Adolf Hitler

"To walk through the ruined cities of Germany is to feel an actual doubt about the continuity of civilization."
--George Orwell

"Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country."
--Bertrand Russell

Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself.
--Francis Meehan

Snippets From History

German Soldiers in Russia: Part 1

Hubert Menzel was a major in the General Operations Department of the OKH (the Oberkommando des Heers, the German Army headquarters), and for him the idea of invading the Soviet Union in 1941 had the smack of cold, clear logic to it: 'We knew that in two years' time, that is by the end of 1942, beginning of 1943, the English would be ready, the Americans would be ready, the Russians would be ready too, and then we would have to deal with all three of them at the same time.... We had to try to remove the greatest threat from the East.... At the time it seemed possible.'

Battle for Berlin, 1945

'We started to fire at the masses,' says one former German machine gunner. 'They weren't human beings for us. It was a wall of attacking beasts who were trying to kill us. You yourself were no longer human.'


Berlin after it fell to the Russians, 1945

"Vladlen Anchishkin, a Soviet battery commander on the 1st Ukrainian Front, sums up the horror of the whole event, when he tells how he took personal revenge on German soldiers: 'I can admit it now, I was in such a state, I was in such a frenzy. I said, 'Bring them here for an interrogation' and I had a knife, and I cut him. I cut a lot of them. I thought, 'You wanted to kill me, now it's your turn.'
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Dramatic Pictures: Battle For Stalingrad
"...Effective command no longer possible... further defense senseless. Collapse inevitable. Army requests immediate permission to surrender in order to save lives of remaining troops."
General Paulus' radio message to Hitler on January 24, 1943

"...Capitulation is impossible. The 6th Army will do its historic duty at Stalingrad until the last man, the last bullet..."

Hitler's response to General Friedrich Paulus' request to withdraw from the city


Points To Ponder....

The fall of France was shocking. It reduced France to virtually a non-player in the Second World War. The efforts of Charles de Gualle were more symbolic than material. But the martial instincts of the French must never be doubted. Under Napoleon they were a formidable military power. The French definitely have more iron in their blood then say, the Italians [I do not mean it in a derogatory sense. War never makes sense]


Bias Of Western Historians

Soviet resistance made possible a successful Allied invasion of France, and ensured the final Allied victory over Germany.

It can hardly be called mere 'resistance'! If it hadn't been for the Russians, Hitler would have made mincemeat of British forces in Africa and landed on British shores in no time. Hitler attacked Russia first because it had more land and resources than Britain. It is as simple as that.

Eastern Front: Bias Of Western Historians