The Vietnam war also known as the second Indochina war and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America was a conflict that occured in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1st November 1955 until 30th April 1975. The war officially ended when Saigon which is the capital of South Vietnam was captured by the (PAVN) which is the Peoples army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. also known as the Viet Cong. This historical outcome created a transition period that ultimately reunified Vietnam under the leadership of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.The north Vietamese army was supported by the Soviet Union , China and other communist allies, Where as the South Vietnamese army was supported by the United States, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and other anti communist allies.
Antiwar protesters raising there voices.
Many people died in the Vietnamese war and the conflict was considered a humilation for the american forces. South Vietnam had losses of between 195.000 to 430.000 civilians, There was 254,256 to 313.000 estimated dead military personnel and about 1,170.000 wounded individuals. The United States suffered losses of 58.220 soldiers and another 303,644 wounded, South Korea had losses of 5,099 including 10,962 injured imdividuals. Australia had losses of 521 and 3,129 wounded. Thailand lost 351 people and suffered 1,358 injured people, New Zealand suffered 37 dead and 187 wounded, Taiwan had 25 dead , The Phillipines had 9 dead and 64 wounded, The total military deaths south vietnam had is estimated at between 318,568 to 377,311 deaths and total wounded stands at 1,340,000 or more injured in battle. North Vietnam and the Viet Cong suffered 65,000 civilian deaths and 849,018 military dead including another 600,000 or more wounded people. China received 1,100 deaths and 4,200 wounded, North Korea had 14 dead, Total military deaths for this side is 850,132 and 604,200 wounded.
Jan Rose Kasmire, confronts National Guard troops during Vietnam War protest outside the Pentagon on October of 1967.
A U.S. Marine in Vietnam featuring a Magen David on his helmet, 1968
South Vietnam suffered the most civilian casualties much higher than North Vietnam received, But North Vietnam suffered the highest military death rates at at least three times more than South Vietnam, South Vietnam received at least seven times more civilian deaths than North Vietnam a rather sad figure considering they were not fighting in a war,The United states suffered greatly in the conflict losing nearly 60,000 soldiers which is substantially higher than any other allie force fighting on either side, A study by the British Medical journey came up with a figure relating to all deaths in the two vietnam wars that started in 1955 and ended in 1975 being 3,091,000 war deaths. It is difficult to put an accurate figure on the total amount of dead civilians and soldiers but this could be considered a good estimate, There are still 1,626 service members who are missing in action to this day, These prisoners could well be dead or have disappeared in unknown circumstances.
John S. McCain III is escorted by Lt. Cmdr. Jay Coupe Jr., public relations officer, to Hanoi’s Gia Lam Airport after the POW was released
Agent Orange is a chemical Herbicide like a weed killer that was used in the Vietnam war, It's use was to defoliate and destroy crops and fields plantation so that the enemy could not grow food, This would help the allies as the enemy would starve become weak with no food to eat and it would remove the enemies ability to be concealed or hidden.Base perimeters were also sprayed as these were sensitive areas and would help the occupants fight back if they were ambushed or attacked, Agent Orange was widely used by the US army as part of its herbicidal warfare programme, This chemical was used extensively between 1961 to 1971 and has caused long and lasting health problems for many who were exposed to the chemical, The government of Vietnam has stated that as many as 3 million people have suffered illnesses from Agent Orange but many more could become ill as over 4 million vietnamese have been exposed to the harmful chemical,
Agent Orange being sprayed over foliage in North Vietnam.
The devastating aftermath of Agent Orange.
The Red Cross of Vietnam have stated that over 1 million people are disabled or have serious health problems which is directly linked to Agent Orange, The united states government has challenged these figures as being unreliable, The chemical is capable of damaging genes that results in deformities among the offspring of those exposed, Victims can also develop life threatening cancers Leaukemias and Hodgkin's Lymphoma and various other disease. In Vietnam over 3,100,000 hectares or 31,000km or 11,969 miles of forest were defoliated, This chemical has damaged animals and other life forms that lived in the forests and fields reducing numbers and diversity by hundreds, The dioxin TCDD is a major contaminant and ingredient of Agent Orange, TCDD is the most toxic of the dioxin chain, A dioxin is a environmentally persistent organic pollutant or (POPS) for short, POPS are resistant to environmental degradation through chemical biological and photolytic processes. Unfortunately TCDD can enter the body through physical contact or ingestion, TCDD can easily accumalate in the food chain, TCDD attaches to a protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, When TCDD binds to AHR the protein moves to the nucleus where it influences gene expression, Genes are the makeup of a human being so if they are altered in some unnatural way this can cause deformities and other life long problems in animals. During the Vietnam war it was estimated that the United States between 1962 and 1971 had sprayed 75,700.000 liters of tactical use chemicals including Agent Orange, Sadly peasants and other civilians paid the price for this spraying as it stopped them from growing food for there families and it forcrd these people to flee to US dominated cities but it deprived the guerillas of their rural support base. Agent Orange was normally sprayed form helicopters or from low flying C-123 Provider aircraft, These airplanes would be fitted with sprayers and MC-1 Hourglass pump systems, Tanks would have capacities of 3.800 liters, But trucks boats were also used to spray the harmful chemicals. Operation Ranch hand was the name given to a spraying mission that was staged over many weeks months.
The Red Cross during the Vietnam War.
Red Cross Donut Dollies Vietnam
An Operation Ranch Hand Team
Over 6,542 spraying missions were recorded by the U,S Air Force, By 1971 12% of the total area of South Vietnam had been sprayed that had an average concentration that was 13 times stronger than the recommended U.S Department of Agriculture application rate for domestic use. 10 Million hectares of agricultural land was ultimately destroyed by the chemicals in South Vietnam, TCDD concentration levels in soil and water were 100's of times greater than the levels considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. American pilots were told that the spraying missions were to destroy food that was going to guerilla groups and it was proactive and right to spray but in reality the food being grown was not for guerilla groups at all but for South Vietnamese familes and local civilian population,
An example in Quang Ngai province 86% of the crop lands were squeduled to be destroyed in 1970 alone, Obviously this action contributed greately to widespread famine leaving hundreds of thousands of people malnourished starving and dying. Many different chemicals were used for spraying they were all in the bracket of "The Rainbow herbicides", Agent Blue was another chemical that was used to destroy grass, Rice, bamboo, banana and any other narrow leaf plants, Agent Blue has the ability to dry out plant life and can destroy an entire paddie field even though rice was one of the harder plants to kill off. The american forces were having a hard time in the deep jungle terrains as they were not used to those kind of surroundings, Unlike the North Vietnames who used the terrain to there advantage, By destroying the plantations leaves grasses and food plants it helped to give the allies an edge.
Nearly 20 million gallons of Agent Blue were sprayed in the war resulting in the destruction of 500.000 acres of dead unusable and bare ground what a waste. Agent white and Agent Blue were still considered the least effective chemicals even after this result. While in Vietnam soldiers were told that the chemicals were completely harmless and were told not to worry, But after the war veterans had returned home the problems started to take effect as ill health had set in and in some cases children were being born with deformities or the mother was having miscarrages, The vets complained that these effects were directly linked to there exposure of the rainbow herbicides that inclued the more harmful Agent orange, Vetrans began to file claims in 1977 to the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability payments for health care as in America you have to pay for your mediacal treatment which can go into the many thousands of pounds even in 1977. But there claims for compensation were denied unless they could prove the condition began when they were in Vietnam or within one year of discharge, Even though the chemicals could take years for any symptons this ruling was very unfair, To qualify for some kind of compensation veterans would have to of served on or near the perimeters of military bases in Thailand during the Vietnam era where herbicides were tested and stored outside of Vietnam, By April of 1993 only 486 victims had received any money from a veterans compensation file of 39,419 soldiers who had been exposed, Once a forest region had been destroyed by these chemicals it was virtually impossible or completely unlikely that that forest could regrow, About 17.8% or 3,100,000 hectares of the total forested area of Vietnam were sprayed during the war this has seriously harmed the environment and it disrupted the ecological equilibrium.The food chain has been seriously harmed as fish and animals eat from the contaminated areas, Even today Dioxins from Agent Orange have persisted and are still causing environmental harm, The U.S. army certainly never thought about the long term damage and effects these harmful chemicals cause.But the U.S. government is taking action to decontaminate large areas of soil in Vietnam, In a major clean up the United States and Vietnam are looking at Bien Hoa in the southern province of Dong Nai which is a hotspot for dioxin and Phu Cat airport in the central province of Bing Dinh say's U.S. ambassador to Vietnam David Shear. The U.S. government has already provided $41 million to the project which will reduce the contamination level in 73,000 cubic meters of soil by late 2016, 45.000 cubic meters has already been cleaned and an equal amount began in October of 2016 but there is still an awful lot left to do.
Destruction and decontamination of the chemical dioxins requires it to be heated to at least 1000 c and this makes the operation process very energy intensive.
In 2005 the U.S. Census Bureau reported there were 8.2 million Vietnam veterans who were still in the country, 2.59 million of them being reported to have served "in country",
The Vietnam war was the last American conflict that constituted conscription which is a compulsory enlistment of people into national service. Conscription is controversial for a range of reasons including conscientious objection which is when an individual has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service and duties, This can be based on there grounds of freedom of thought or religion. But many of these objectors over history have been executed imprisoned or otherwise penalised because there decision conflicts with their society's legal system and government.The first recorded instane of a conscientious objector was back in 295, Maximillanus was conscripted into the Roman army but told the Proconsul in Numidia that because of his religious convictions he could not serve in the military. Maximillanus was consequentially executed for this belief and was later canonized as Saint Maximilian.
Unlike the second world war when soldiers returning home were greeted with cheering crowds and welcomed back as heroes army service men and woman returning from Vietnam met a very different scenario. They returned to discover the united states had been torn apart by debate over the Vietnam war, There were no victory parades or home coming rallies, Instead they returned to a society that did not seem to care about them and some citizens had only anger and distrust for there fellow neighbours.Many returning men and women had great difficulties reajusting to american life, They brought back mental health problems drug addictions and physical injuries to name a few, There were many people that opposed the Vietnam war because of all the terrible mistakes the government had made in operations and attack, These people should of saved there anger and frustrations for the ameriacn government the ones that pulled the strings but they did not provide a clear distinction between the men and woman that fought in the war and the government that organised the whole thing, They labelled american soldiers as killers and ignorant dupes even though they had no choice because of conscription. In some rare instances returning Veterans would be spat on and called baby killers and other discusting comments by anti war demonstrators, These stories only increased the resentment veterans had against the anti war movement.So returning veterans came home to a scramble of political views while they were completely ignored to the point that they did not even exist.People were uncomfortable around them and had no interest in there war stories, These men and woman needed support and understanding which they did not receive, Withdrawal suspicion and indifference were some of the traits put upon returning veterans,
A casualty of the Vietnam War.
The Anti War Movement, Conscientious Objectors
Vietnam War Protest.
A protest against the Vietnam War moves through Cathedral Square, Christchurch, 1971.
Throwing medals back onto the Capitol steps as part of the Dewey Canyon III protests.
John Kerry was a Vietnam vet who later became a U.S. senator, He explained that he was flying from San Francisco to New York after being just a week out of the jungle as he puts it, He fell asleep on the aircraft but after waking from a nightmare yelling he noticed all the passengers had moved away from him like he was a contagion, They did not understand or were ignorant of the facts of Agent orange and the other herbicides that were sprayed, Because of these indifferences and lack of understanding many war veterans kept there stories and experience to themselves and only talked with other likewise war veterans who had also experienced the horrors of the Vietnam war, If only people would of showed a more caring attitude towards the war veterans and could ask how are you, what was it like over there, and can we help you in any way would you like to come over for a barbecue or a chat something like that. In most cases anti war protestors had never set foot in Vietnam let alone serve as a soldier in the war, How can they protest me have they any idea what is was like over there or how I felt or what horrific images and sights I had to experience while fighting the enemy, The majority of men and woman that served in Vietnam came from working class and poor backgrounds where as the war protestors were mainly college students who came from middle or upper class families, This seens like a class war while using the war to address the subject, Also men and woman who postponed there conscription or deferments were mainly rich and well educated, These types of people were favoured much higher than the poorer students who had to work through college on a part time basis, To qualify for a deferment students must remain in college full time and could even pursue advanced degrees following graduation simply because they could afford to do so, But this was not available to people who studied part time a very unfair system indeed.So someones social standing determines whether you qualify for deferment what an awful political decision to implement. So while these poorer soldiers were being shot at and suffering in a hot jungle environment the richer upper class students were frolicking on campus enjoying sex drugs and rock n roll and then getting the credentials for a high paid job. I can certainly see the indifference here it is quite shocking that this happened to be blunt.Not all veterans had a bad life after returning from the war, Some rebuilt there lives successfully by having families finishing there education and holding down good paid jobs, When a soldier was returned home it would normally take just 2 days, In a normal war situation it should take a couple of weeks to give the soldier time to reajust to civilian life, This made it much harder for soldiers to make sense of the danger and misery they experienced in Vietnam, The wounded returning were sometimes crippled and had paralysis or both, Many had serious drug problems as Heroin opium and marijuana was cheap to purchase in Vietnam and some would of taken these powerful drugs to help them cope with the situation and to have a sort of escape mechanism, The majority of soldiers were young and when they returned home they did not have access to private health care because of there working class and poor backgrounds, They had to rely on the U.S. government for rehabilitation and treatment. Unfortunately the government agency charged the war veterans they were called the Veterans Administration (VA) but did not do a very good job, Many of the VA hospitals were dirty understaffed and lacked the skills to provide the care and service war veterans needed.
U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, walks to the Senate chamber in the U.S. Capitol, December 2012.
Army privates (L-R) Dennis Mora, James Johnson, and David Samas announce their refusal to participate in the Vietnam War in 1966.
On November 30, 1965, about 20,000 marchers protested in Washington against American involvement in the Vietnam War.
American soldier snorting Cocaine.
The U.S. government at first denied that war veterans health problems had anything to do with there service in Vietnam, Many war veterans had developed deep mental and psychological problems while in active service these include depression, guilt flashbacks, nightmares mood swings angry outbursts and anxiety and paranoia, Doctors eventually gave this condition a name called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrom (PTSD) and it was recognised as a real psychological illness, Studies have shown that at least 800.000 Vietnam veterans suffered from this illness and others had milder forms of PTSD, Sadley some experts believe that at least 58.000 war veterans committed suicide due to there PTSS problems as help was not available at the time, This figure is nearly as great as all who perished in the war zones, Because the U.S. government had spent such vast amounts of money on supporting and organising the war there was very little money to help returning men and women, The government only offered these people $200 dollars a month which is a very low amount and many struggled to make ends meet. 250.000 war vets found it difficult to obtain employment once they had returned to there home towns and cities, Most of them had missed out on gaining a degree or qualification and many turned to crime to support there needs, In fact 25% of those returning men and women were arrested within 10 years for crimes mainly for drugs.Some veterans felt proud to off served there country while others had deep regret about the death and destruction the war had caused to the Vietnamese people. They felt it was meaningless and they had sacrificed a large portion of there lives and had lost so much this could only create depression and other PTSD symptons.Black African American Vietnam vets were particularly affected by doubts of their military service, Black leaders had opposed the Vietnam war from the very beginning, They felt the war took the countries attention away from the civil rights movements and social programmes designed to benefit the poor, Black people would say there was no reason for a black man to be there in Vietnam in a war zone.Some Vietnam vets became active in the anti war movements and were highly respected for what they had to say and were the most effective, VVAW was setup in 1971 and is short for Vietnam Veterans Against the WAR, This movement became one of the most important anti war movements.But things have changed in the 1980's the views of American started to change, They began to realise that these people were just doing there job that they had orders and none of it was really there fault, Many people now have sympathy empathy and gratitude towards them, They began to receive recognition for there war efforts and are now considered national heroes by many.The American prisoners of war were men that were captured by the North Vietnames soldiers they were called (POWs) Most of the POWS that were captured were pilots that were shot down while flying over North Vietnam on bombing missions, The NVA held many POWS in several prison camps, They would be tortured and starved as a way to force a confession out of them and to sign a confession or make a statement against the U.S. government, This was to favour communists and the North Vietanamese way of living, Everyone was greatly concerned about the POWs more so than returning veterans it was one thing that supporters and opponents could agree on, When POWs were released they were trated to a heroes welcome and would be televised on national television, 591 men were freed in early 1973. The veterans group sued the manufacturers that made Agent Orange and in 1984 they received an out of court settlement for $180 million dollars from the chemical companies. The U.S. government in 1985 also invested $1 billion dollars for the research into the health effects of the chemical agents.
Samuel Robert Johnson Born October 11th 1930 was a POW prisoner for Seven years at the Hanoi Hilton which was a nickname for Alcatraz.
Brig. Gen. Robinson Risner, a Korean War ace and Vietnam POW, passed away at the age of 88.
One aspect of the Vietnam war that may of been overlooked is the female soldiers that served, Women that enterted service were not expected to serve alongside there male counterparts, They in most cases carried out other important tasks like preparing food and administering first aid, The woman were exempt from the conscription registrar but many chose to join up anyway as volunteers, In all over 7500 women went to Vietnam for the cause, There jobs ranged from medical personnel to and nurses amongst other things and it was often the womam that attended to injured soldiers,They also suffured from PTSD just like the men and a study called "the Health of Vietnam Era Womens Study which was started in 2016 aims to estimate how prevalent PTSD symptons are in womem, Ranging from depression anxiety and other mental problems the study aims to improve the outcomes and treatments for veterans today.Woman aoldiers were not authorised to fight on the battle line but were in some cases just as close as the men bravely working in dangerous situations and environments, Many of these woman served in combat situations and zones but were not recognised for doing so.The Vietnam veterans memorial wall has a list of woman who served there country with honor but sadly lost there lives. Here is a small list but there are many more.
1st Lt. Sharon Ann Lane
2nd Lt Pamela Dorothy Donavan
Col. Annie Ruth Graham
Mary Theres Klinker
2nd LT. Carol Anne Elizabeth Drazba
2nd LT. Elizabeth Ann Jones
Eleanor Grace Alexander
1st LT. Hedwig Diane Orlowski
In the peak year of 1969, 110 young women operated 17 SRAO units in Vietnam
The Washington Monument in the background serves as a sentinel to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ...
Any war is a terrible atrocity any which way you look at it, The disturbing images of the dead and wounded bring back the horrors of that moment in time, The American forces would of been frustrated at first but more than this some became angry and when anger sets in operations may get out of hand. Many of there friends died by mines and even today these dangerous explosives exist as so many were buried at the time, Landmines were a leading cause of American casualties. In 1965 65-70% of US Marine corps casualties were the direct result of mines and booby traps. But American mines also caused extensive casualties and amputees among the Vietnamese civilian population as well. Mines are not guaranteed to kill the intended enemy and can stay live for many many years, Unfortunately innocent civilians stepped on some and this took many lives in the Vietnam war. Even today landmines are taking lives in Vietnam, Over 105.000 civilians have perished from 1975 to 2007 due to buried bombs and mines, The Vietnamese government estimates that 15% of the total surface area of the country is contaminated by unexploded ordnance, Quang Tri which is situated on the war time division between what was North and South Vietnam the contamination is closer to 84%. As most of the area is farming and indigenous people and families survive by growing food there the war for them has not finished, They did nothing to start the Vietnam war nor knew little about what the fighting was about but are suffering on a daily basis because of it's powerful long lasting effects. Because people that live in Quang Tri are poor some are endangering there lives by harvesting unexploded mines for there metal casing, This metal can be sold as scrap for 25.000 Vietnamese dong or about $1 for each one they collect. A lot of these scrap metal collectors are dying as it is no easy task to extract a buried mine but the $1 a metal casing is extremely attractive to the poor communities and families, Le Van Tra is the technical operations coordinator for the Mines Advisory Group (MAG)in Quang Tri, Le Van has been working with the group for at least 13 years now. His job is to investigate unexploded bombs that have been located by the community liason team, and he works out how to make them safe, Before he joined the group he was also trawling the forest and beaches of Quang Tri hunting down the mines foe there metal casing value, He was untrained and had little to know knowledge on the technicalities of an unexploded mine, This activity is illegal and lethal but many still risk there lives for the small amount of money they receive. Mines are extremely powerful and if one exploded the explosion would level a 150 meter radius and shrapnel would fly out extending the killing range to 350 meters. 12 year old Duong Ba Tien wants to show the MAG team one of the bombs he found, The bomb is located near to where he grazes his families water buffalo, His father has warned Duong not to go near the device, A 13 year old boy was killed in An My by an unexploded bomb 10 years ago as he played in his garden, Nguyen was another victim the explosion blew his hands off 34 years ago but the mines group has cleared his 500sq meter piece of land. An organisation called "Roots of Piece" has planted pepper trees for Nguyen to provide him and his family with a livelyhood so that he can support his family. Nguyen has a wife and two children but amazingly he say's that he has no grievance against the American veterans who left the consequences to the Vietnames people he is just grateful that he has his land and that it is now safe for his family and himself to work.
Young North Vietnamese military women learn how to set booby traps.
3 years old children stand next to a cluster of unexploded bombs that were dropped on Vietnam but did not explode. 270 Million bombs were dropped from 1963 to 1974 by the U.S. Army.
Duong Ba Tien with the unexploded bomb he found while tending his family's water buffalo in Quang Tri province, central Vietnam. Photograph: Simon Cordall
To complicate things furthur the Viet cong regularly blended in with civilians to give them a cover, They killed many american and other nationalities by ambush and booby traps, Millions of innocent civilians were caught up in this foul war and many died because of it.
A well known case is that of the My Lai massacre in which about 347 to 504 innocent men woman infants and children were shot to death by the American forces, This tragedy happened on 16th March 1968, U.S. army soldiers from Company C 1st Battalion 20th Infantry regiment, 11th Brigade and the 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division slaughtered these unarmed civilians in an atrocity of unbelievable horror. Some of the victims were gang raped and and there bodies mutilated, Twenty six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses but only Lieutenant William Calley Junior who was a platoon leader in C company was convicted, He was found guilty of killing 22 villagers and given a life sentence but served only three and a half years under house arrest.The massacre took place in two Hamlets of Son My village in Quang Ngai Province, These hamlets were marked on the U.S. Army topographic maps as My Lai and My Khe.
ALPHA COMPANY 4 / 3 11TH LIGHT INFANTRY BRIGADE
The U.S. army had a slang term for the hamlets and sub hamlets in that vicinity they were called Pinkville, Later the massacre was referred to as the Pinkville Massacre, When the U.S. army started it's investigation into the atrocity it was changed to Massacre at Songmy by the media covering the story. But today the massacre is referred to as the My Lai massacre. The massacre caused global outrage when the details became known to the public in November of 1969, Three U.S. service men who were caught up at My Lai tried in vain to stop the killing and rescue the hiding victims were shunned and even denounced as traitors by several U.S. congressmen, Mendel Rivers was one of these accusers who was chairman of the House Armed Services Committe, It took 30 years for these three men to be recognised as heroes and were decorated, One was posthumously awarded for his role in shielding innocent unarmed civilians in a war zone. Five teams of men had arrived in South Vietnam in December of 1967, They were Charlie Company, 1sy Battalion, 20thInfantry regiment, 11th Brigade and 23rd Infantry division. Three months had passed without any direct contact from the North Vietnamese forces, but by mid March 28 casualties had been killed or maimed by booby traps and mines. During the Tet offensive of 1968 attacks had been carried out by the (NLF) OR NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT, The NLF is the Viet Cong. The 48th NLF battalion was assumed to have retreated into the village of Son My in Quang Ngai Province, The U.S. army believed that the enemy were hiding in the small hamlets and being shielded by the civilians that lived there. The U.S. military wanted to regain the strategic advantage and by attacking this NLF group would give the american forces a strangle hold grip on that area.Task Force Barker a battalion sized unit of 11th brigade was chosen for this mission. This unit was formed in 1968 and consisted of three rifle companies of the 11th brigade and included Company C from the 20th Infantry led by Lieutenant Colonel Frank A Barker. In February of 1968 Task Force Barker had attempted to secure Son My with limited success, Colnel Oran K Henderson who was the 11th Brigade commander urged his men to go into Son My aggresively locate the enemy and finish them for good basically give them hell. Frank A Barker having heard this may of been influenced by Hendersons agressive stance, He orders his 1st battalion men to burn the houses, Kill the livestock, destroy food supplies, and destroy the wells. Captain Ernest Medina briefed his soldiers on the eve of the attack, He told them that nearly all the civilians would have left for a market by 7.00 and that any that remained would be the NLF or sympathizers of the NLF. Medina also said to kill all guerilla groups combatants and suspects as testified by several platoon leaders. Medina also instructed his forces to kill woman and children and all animal and to pollute the wells, Those present at the briefing have given different accounts, Medina also said They're all VC now, so go get em, A question was put to the captain "Who is the enemy" a soldier ask's, Median replies Anybody that is running away from us or appeared to be the enemy, If you see a man running shoot him, And if you see a woman running with a rifle shoot her as well,
AMERICAL 23rd Infantry Division
Vietnam War Parade of a North Vietnamese infantry unit in Hanoi December 1964
Oran K Henderson - 1920-1998
Captain Ernest Medina Trial 28th July 1971-10-Court Marshall in Atlanta.
Charlie company was to enter Son My spearheaded by 1st Platoon, They were ordered to engage the enemy and flush them out. Two other companies from Task Force Barker were ordered to secure the area and provide support if needed, The area was designated a fire free zone, This allows the forces to deploy artillery and bombs onto populated areas. It was Saturday 16th March at 7.30 in the morning, 100 soldiers from Charlie Company led by Captain Ernest Median executed a short artillery barrage then landed in helicopter gunships at Son My, They stepped onto rice paddies irrigation ditches dikes and dirt roads. The soldiers were not attacked when they landed but several gunships attacked a small vicinity near My Lai and retrieved one weapon from the area, 1st platoon led by 2nd Lieutenant William Calley and 2nd platoon led by 2nd lieutenant Stephen Brooks entered the hamlet of Tu Cung in line formation at 8.00. The 3rd platoon led by 2nd lieutenant Jeffrey U Lacross and captain medinas command post remained outside, As the 2 platoons approached they started to shoot at people who were in rice fields and in the brush. Villagers were preparing for a market day and at first sight were calm and did not panic or run away, These people were herded into the hamlet's commons, The shooting started without warning said Harry Stanley a machine gunner from Charlie Company as he gave evidence at the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division. Stanlet said he first saw a member of the 1st platoon strike a Vietnamese man with his bayonet. This same trooper then pushed another villager into a well and then threw a grenade down into it, He then said he saw about 15 to 20 people mainly woman and children kneeling around a temple and burning incense, These people were crying and praying at the same time, They were all killed by shots to the head, Most of the killings occured in the Southern part of Tu Cong, which is a sub hamlet of Xom Lang, 700 people lived here. This area was highlited by the U.S. on there military maps, 70 to 80 villagers were rounded up in Xom Lang by 1st Platoon. They were then led to an irrigation ditch to the east of the settlement. Lieutenant Calley gave repeated orders to kill them, he was also firing his gun at this time it would of been very noisy and quite disturbing, PFC Paul Meadlo testified that he released several magazines from his M16 weapon. He can remeber woman screaming and crying saying No VC as they tried in vain to shield there children from the bullets, He had orders and at the time he could only believe that they were the enemy, there simply was no time now to think and reajust to the situation, Meadlo recalls shooting at woman who were cradling babies and he thought at the time that these woman were all booby trapped with grenades were going to attack at any time, Meadlo also fired his weapon in My Lai accompanied by Lietenant Calley, They fired there weapons side by side in a show of power.
American military helicopters in flight during the My Lai massacre on Mar. 16, 1968
Lieutenant William L. Calley, Jr., during his court-martial at Fort Benning,
PFC Mauro, PFC Carter, and SP4 Widmer (Carter shot himself in the foot with a .45 pistol during the My Lai Massacre)
PFC Dennis Konti was a witness for the prosecution, He explained in court, A lot of woman had thrown themselves on top of the children to protect them, The children were alive at first but they stood up if they could and then as they did so Calley began to shoot at them. The security sweep carried out by 1st platoon caused many deaths and several members of 1st platoon testified to this happening, Livestock was shot at too. PFC Michael Bernhardt entered the hamlet of Xom Lang as testified as soon as he arrived the massacre was well under way, He said there were soldiers setting fire to hootches which are thatched huts, As the people ran out they were shot dead by the soldiers, They also gathered people into groups and shot them dead, He also witnessed a soldier fire a M79 grenane launcher into a group of people but mainly it was machine gun fire that killed the people. There was no resistance he said and we only saw three captured weapons, He never saw not a single millitary aged male in the entire place, There was no casualties it was a bloodbath, This type of behaviour is reminisent of Nazi germany when the jews were exterminated and these soldiers had orders from the top.Another group of between 20 and 50 individuals were also massacred on a dirt road South of Xom Land say's eyewitness Ronald Haeberle's. Liuetenant Calley observed his men firing into a ditch at people and then he joined in with an M16. A helicopter then landed on the other side of the ditch and a pilot asked Calley ig fe could provide any medical assistance to the wounded civilians in My Lai, Calley replied that he only had an hand grenade as the only available means for there evacuation. Around 11.00 Captain Medina radioed for cease fire and the first platoon took a lunch break. Members of 2nd Platoon killed at least 70 people as they swept through the northern half of My Lai and Binh Tay. The platoon suffered one fatality and seven injured by mines and booby traps. 3rd Platoon were ordered to deal with any remaining resistance, They also rounded up 10 people and shot them to death. Since Charlie company had not met any enemy resistance at My Lai and did not request backup, Bravo Company, 4th B attalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of TF Barker was transported by air between 08:15 and 08:30 3km 2 mile away. It attacked the subhamlet of My Hoi. between 60 and 155 people including women and children were killed.
Bravo company and Charlie company the next day burned more huts and also mistreated vietnamese detainees, Even though some soldiers did not participate in any of the crimes they neither protested or complained later to there superiors. This will be because of a code of honor and trust and if they did tell they would upset there comrades and best to keep quiet and get out of there.It has been written that some soldiers raped and assaulted countless women and young girls as expressed by William Thomas Allison a professor of Military history at Georgia Southern University. Why did this happen you may ask surely the orders were not to rape and assault only to kill does that justify these soldiers a right to do these terrible acts of human depravity. Warrant officer Hugh Thompson Jr was a helicopter pilot from Company B Aero Scouts 123rd Aviation Battalion Americal division. He was flying his gunship over the village of Son My, when he spotted many dead and wounded civilians. He was providing close air support for ground forces, The crew immediately made several attempts to radio for help. He landed the helicopter near a ditch and noticed it was full of bodies and some were still moving. Thompson asked a sergeant he encountered there called David Mitchell of 1st Platoon if he could help in getting the people out of the ditch. Mitchell replied "that he would help them out of there misery" Thompson was shocked and confused by this and spoke with 2nd Lt Calley who said, I am just following orders, Thompson went back to his gunship and took off, As he did so he saw Mitchell firing his weapon into the ditch. Thompson and his crew also witnessed an unarmed women being kicked at and shot at Point Blank Range by Captain Medina. Medina later said he thought the woman was holding a hand grenade. Thompson then saw a group of civilians consisting of women and children and old men who were stationary at a bunker being approached by ground personnel. Thompson landed his helicopter and told his crew that if the soldiers shot at the Vietnamese while he was trying to get them out of the bunker that they were authorized to engage there weapons and open fire on the soldiers.Thompson later testified he spoke with Stephen Brooks of 2nd Platoon and told him that there was women and children inside the bunker, He asked the Lt if he could help to get them out. Brooks reply was "The only way to get them out is with a hand grenade" Thompson then instructed Brooks " Just hold your men right where they are and I'll get the kids out. Thompson discovered around 16 individuals inside who he coaxed out and led them to the helicopter, He stood with these people while they were flown out in two groups. While flying back to My Lai Thompson and his crew members noticed several large groups of bodies, He spotted some movement in the ditch so landed close by. One of the crew members Glenn Andreotta went over to the ditch and returned with a bloodied but otherwise unharmed small child who was flown to safety. They thought the child was a boy but later on it was found that the child was infact a four year old girl.
SYND 21 11 69 US ARMY SARGEANT MICHAEL BERNHARDT GIVES HIS ACCOUNT OF US TROOPS KILLING VIETNAMESE V
M14 rifle | Traditional Vietnam M14 Sniper Rifles
Soldiers from the 3rd Platoon, 1st Force Recon Company holding a Ho Chi Minh poster. Vietnam War Vietnam.
Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson Jr
David Mitchell 1st Platoon.
Thompson reported his experience to Major Frederic W. Watke using terms as murder and needles and unnecessary killings, Thompsons statements were also confirmed by other helicopter pilots and air crew members. For Thompsons actions at My Lai he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and his crew members Glenn Andreotta and Lawrence Colburn were awarded Bronze Star medals, Glenn Andreotta unfortunately was awarded his medal posthumously as he was killed in action in Vietnam on 8th April 1968, As the DFC citation included a fabricated account of rescuing a young girl from My Lai from intense fire Thompson threw his medal away. He was there he knew what happened why did the U.S.Army fabricate a story as part of his award. Were they really 100% on his side or did they believe he got in the way somehow, Maybe they awarded him this DFC to keep the peace with millions of people who are totally discusted by this massacre,
But later on Thompson was awarded The Purple Heart for other services he carried out in Vietnam. In 1988 the crew members awards were replaced with "The Soldiers Medal" This medal is the highest any soldier can receive for bravery not involving direct conflict with the enemy.
The medal citations state, they were for heroism above and beyond the call of duty while saving the lives of at least 10 Vietnamese civilians during the unlawful massacre of non-combatants by American forces at My Lai. Thompson initially refused the medal as the U.S.Army wanted to award him it quietly without the public intervention. He demanded that he and his crew be awarded in the public eye, These veterans have also contacted the survivors of My Lai to talk about there experiences and to apologise for the actions of his battalion.
A VIETNAM WAR PERIOD AMERICAN DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
Glenn Andreotta is on the Right,
Because of this huge mistake by U.S.forces similar attacks and sweeps on similar villages that were planned in the coming days and weeks were called off. Concerned senior American officers cancelled similar planned operations by Task Force Barker in Quang Ngai Province.
At first Colonel Henderson issued a letter of commendation to Captain Medina on 27th March 1968, The following day 28th March the commander of Task Force Barker submitted a combat action report for the 16th March operation, He wrote that My Lai was a success with 128 Viet cong Partisans killed, The American Division commander Major General S W Koster sent a congratulatory message to Company C General William C Westmoreland who was head of Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). The commander also congratulated Company C 1st Battalion 20th Infantry for "Outstanding Action" saying that they had dealt the enemy a heavy blow!.
The Major later reversed his thoughts by writing in his memoirs, It was the conscious massacre of defenceless Babies children Mothers and Old men in a kind of diabolical slow motion nightmare that went on for the better part of a day, With a cold blooded break for lunch.
Major General Samuel W Koster.
Major General William C. Westmoreland, Camp Evans,
The end of the Vietnam war was marked by the Fall of Saigon which was the capital of South Vietnam, It was captured by the (PAVN) Peoples Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong or National Liberation Front of South Vietnam on 30th April 1975. This day marked the end of the war and the start of a transition period to the formal reunification of Vietnam under the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The (PAVN) under the command of General Van Tien Dung began their final attack on Saigon on April 29th 1975.The army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces commanded by General Nguyen Van Toan suffered a heavy artillery bombardment. This bombardment at the San Son Nhat Airport killed the last two American soldiers to die in Vietnam. They were Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge. By the afternoon of the next day the PAVN had occupied the important points of the city and had raised a flag over the South Vietnamese presidential palace, The city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the late North Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh.
The capture of the city was preceded by Operation Frequent Wind, Which was the evacuation of nearly all American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, Tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians were also evacuated for safety as they were associated with the Southern regime, This operation was the largest such helicopter evacuation in History. The cities population declined drastically due to the evacuations and the communist laws that were imposed.7000 people were evacuated from Saigon under intense pressure. On April 3rd President Gerald Ford announced "Operation Babylift" the aim was to evacuate 2000 orphans from the country, One of the Lockhead C5 Galaxy aeroplanes involved in the evacuations crashed killing 155 passengers and crew this accident seriously reduced the morale of the American soldiers and staff.Operation Babylift did successfully evacuate 2500 orphans A new plan was initialised called "Operation New Life" this resulted in the evacuation of over 110,000 Vietnamese refugees. South Vietnamese did not all use the evacuation points to get out of Saigon, Some used alternative methods including under the table payments for passports, seagoing escape methods and exit visas, Unfortunately scrupilous people took advantage of the situation and prices for these services tripled in some cases.Many lost there properties or sold at a knock down price or abandoned them completely. American Visas had an enormous value.
South Vietnamese evacuate by helicopter from Saigon.
Wreckage and flames of the Lockhead C5 Galaxy aeroplane after crashing killing 155 people. 80 children perished.