10 Interesting Vietnam War Facts You Probably Didn't Know

The Vietnam war has a long and bloody history. However, a lot of facts and tidbits of information regarding this war never came to the light of the day owing to the extensive loss of life. Here are 10 facts that you probably did not know about the Vietnam War: 

1. President Kennedy wanted to get the US Army out of Vietnam 

Facts about Vietnam War
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President Kennedy did not know how to get the USA out of the Vietnam War. During his Presidency tenure, he and McNamara effectively sought after an approach to leave out Vietnam, while as yet keeping up their promise to a free South through financial and technical support. Kennedy needed all the US army forces out before the end of 1965. Kennedy's idea was to bring the North to heel by techniques such as bombing in key areas and restricted ground assaults, but never open fighting. Chronicles of discussions among Kennedy and McNamara can bear witness to this reality.

2. The US didn't lose the war on-ground 

However, the information that the US won every single battle is a myth. The Northern Vietnamese Army was neither lacking in patriotism nor in dedication, but they were sold cheap Chinese knockoff fire-arms. Outmanned and outgunned by the US army, they were almost always defeated, except in 1970 at the Support Fire Base Ripcord. 

3. The US troops preferred to use AK-47's over government issues M-16's 

The first generation of M-16 Rifles were issued during this period. The rifles malfunctioned very often and jammed and failed to fire in the middle of a gunfight. This caused the US Army to prefer the enemy's weapon of choice, the AK-47 over the M-16. The US soldiers would often pick up weapons from the Vietnamese soldiers they killed. Weapons, Artillery and other war paraphernelia can be still be seen at the war museums spread across Vietnam.

Read more about War Museums in Vietnam.

4. The war wasn't just between US and Vietnam 

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Australia and New Zealand also fought in the war. However, the largest contingency of anti-Communist forces came from South Korea. The Korean President wanted to get involved as early as 1954. More than 300,000 Korean troops would fight in Vietnam, inflicting more than 41,000 casualties, while massacring almost 5,000 Vietnamese civilians.

Read more about Wars in Vietnam

5. Most of the men that fought in Vietnam weren't drafted. They were volunteers 

More than three-quarters of the men who fought in Vietnam volunteered to join the military. Of the roughly 8.7 million troops who served in the military between 1965 and 1973, only 1.8 million were drafted. 2.7 million of those in the military fought in Vietnam at this time. Only 25% of that 2.7 million were drafted and only 30% of the combat deaths in the war were draftees. 

6. President Nixon ended the Vietnamese War, but invaded Cambodia first 

President Nixon's strategy involved a gradual reduction of US troops and bolstering of ARVN forces with modern technology, equipment and training to use it. His strategy also involved political support to Saigon. However, he authorized infringement into Cambodia and bombings in the country to keep the pressure on the North. This caused massive outrage and protests in the US. 

7. A lot of unconventional devices were engineered during the Vietnamese War  

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The Vietnam war was a time during which resources were scarce and the troops had to make use of anything and everything they could to save lives. During this time, superglue was used to control bleeding till the injured soldier could be given proper medical attention. Duct tape was used to repair damaged helicopter blades. Slinkys were used in the Vietnam War as mobile radio antennas. They would sling the Slinky over branches and extend the range of their radios.

8. The public was unaware of the true situation in Vietnam until the release of the Pentagon Papers 

The Pentagon papers were a set of documents that contained classified information on the progress and status of the war in Vietnam. They were released to The New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg, an employee at the Department of Defense, when he became convinced that the war was unwinnable. The release of the Pentagon Papers to the public caused massive outrage, particularly over the news that the Kennedy administration had helped coordinate the military coup of 1963 and the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem, as well as the reports that U.S. bombing of the North had done little to negatively impact North Korea's resolve. 

9. The use of Chemicals was a matter of controversy 

A controversial tool used during the Vietnam War was 'Agent Orange,' a defoliant designed to strip away forest cover used by enemy guerrilla troops. After the war, the chemical mixture was found to cause tumours, birth defects, and other maladies, which both returning U.S. soldiers and many Vietnamese suffered from. The effects of the chemical continue to persist even to this date. To this day, children in Vietnam are being born with horrific birth defects from the lingering effects of 'Agent Orange,' an herbicide used by the U.S. military to destroy forest cover used by Viet Cong forces. 

10. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident is only partially true 

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident is considered as the impetus for the heightening of American activity in Vietnam. It alludes to two occurrences in August 1964. On August 2, the destroyer USS Maddox was shelled by NVA torpedo vessels. The Maddox reacted by terminating more than 280 adjusts consequently. There was no official reaction from the Johnson Administration.
The tension built in any case, with individuals from the military, both all through uniform, inferring Johnson was a coward. On August fourth the second occurrence was said to have occurred, however, Secretary McNamara conceded in Errol Morris' 2003 narrative 'The Fog of War' that the second assault never happened. The Pentagon Papers even inferred the Maddox let go first to keep the Communists a specific separation away. So basically the US entered Vietnam since they wanted to.

The Vietnam war, just like every other war has had a lot of information kept under wraps. If you do some exploration, you will find so many unheard of facts that might fascinate you to an endless degree. So keep exploring!

This post was published by Sitara Kumbale

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