Grunt: A Pictorial Report on the US Infantry's Gear and Life During the Vietnam War
"TITTER YE NOT"
My girlfriend has accused
me of being obsessed
with Vietnam war films.
I told her that was a
negatory and if she didn't
like it her parents house
is only 15 clicks north-
I went to a meeting for
Vietnam war veterans the
what a bunch of drug
addicts. They wouldn't
shut up about Charlie.
During the Vietnam war,
a Lieutenant asked a
Marine why he was falling back during a really fierce battle.
"Didn't you hear me say
that we're outnumbered
4 to 1? "
The Marine replied,
"I got my four Sir."
Theres an ARMY guy and
a Marine in the bathroom
taking a leak, The Army
guy zips up and starts to leave,
The marine shouts stop
"You know, in the Marines
they teach us to wash our
hands AFTER WE PEE."
The Army guy SAYS...
" In the Army they teach
us not to pee on our
N-n-n 19 Paul Hardcastle
U.S. infantrymen from the 1st Cavalry Division jump from a 'Huey'.
Accidental napalm bombing
9 year old Pham Thi Kim Phuc
South Vietnam June 8, 1972.
Nineteen "19" is a song by British musician Paul Hardcastle
released as the first single from his self-titled third studio album
Paul Hardcastle (1985).
The song has a strong anti-war message focusing on America's
involvement in the Vietnam War and the effect it had on the soldiers
who served. The track was notable for early use of sampled and
processed speech, in particular a synthesized stutter effect used on
the words 'nineteen' and 'destruction'. It also includes various non-
speech, re-dubbed sampling, such as crowd noise and a military
"19" features sampled narration (by Peter Thomas ), out-of-context
interview dialogue ("I wasn't really sure what was going on") and
news reports from Vietnam Requiem the ABC television
documentary about the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by
Vietnam veterans. In 2009, the song placed at 73 on VH1's 100
Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s.
"19" had huge international success in the charts; it went to No. 1
in the UK (for five weeks), a number of other countries world wide,
and yet only met with muted reception in the US Pop Charts.
Despite this, the single had great success in the Dance and Club
charts, where it went to number 1. "19" became the top-selling
single in 13 countries. This was helped by the fact that versions of
the song, spoken by well-known local news anchors, were recorded in French, Spanish, German
and Japanese. The song received the Ivor Novello award for Best-selling single of 1985. The
song's English-language release came in three different 12" versions - "Extended Version",
"Destruction Mix" and "The Final Story", each with an alternative cover design.
Hardcastle was inspired to create the song after watching Vietnam Requiem, and comparing his
own life at 19 to those of the soldiers featured:
"what struck me was how young the soldiers were: the documentary said their average age was 19. I was out having fun in pubs and clubs when I was 19, not being shoved into jungles and shot at."
The title "19" comes from the documentary's claim that the average age of an American combat soldier in the war was 19, as compared to World War II's 26. This claim has since been disputed. Undisputed statistics do not exist, although Southeast Asia Combat Area Casualties Current File (CACCF), the source for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, shows a large number of deaths (38%) were ages 19 or 20. According to the same source, 23 is the average age at time of death (or time of declaration of death). The song also comments that while the tour of duty was longer during World War II, soldiers in Vietnam were subjected to hostile fire almost every day.
Musically, the song was inspired by electro, particularly Afrika Bambaataa, although Hardcastle also "added a bit of jazz and a nice melody", and beyond the sampling of the documentary narration, the song incorporated pieces of interviews with soldiers. The song's pivotal hook:
the repetitive ""N-n-n-n-nineteen", was chosen due to the limitations of the early sampling technology used. The E-mu Emulator could only sample for two seconds, so the hook was based around "the only bit of the narrative that made sense in two seconds." Hardcastle wasn't optimistic about the song's chances in the charts. His previous two singles for independent labels had failed to make it into the UK's Top 40 and the musical policy at Radio 1 was felt to be unsupportive of dance music. News interest in the song helped, with the 10th Anniversary of the End of the Vietnam War seeing Hardcastle interviewed by Alastair Stewart of ITN.
Tony Blackburn, then breakfast DJ for Radio London was an early supporter of the song and it quickly reached number 1 in the UK and around the world. Hardcastle produced different mixes of the song to help maintain interest in it. Although the song did not climb as high in the United States chart, Hardcastle claims "it outsold everybody else for three weeks solid, it only reached number 15, because back then the chart was based on airplay as well as sales." The song was held back in the US by some radio stations refusing to play it, that the song took an anti-American stance, something Hardcastle denies, noting "I had tons of letters from Vietnam vets thanking me for doing something for them."
The success of "19" meant that Hardcastle's manager Simon Fuller, who had recently left Chrysalis Records to set up on his own label, was able to use the funds to continue his business. He named the business 19 Management in acknowledgement of its great
significance to Fuller. Fuller went on to become the most successful British music manager of all time. He was behind the success of the Spice Girls and the talent show
American Idol. Hardcastle has continued his connections to 19 Entertainment and in 2009 created the sound for
the end card used at the end of 19's shows.
The song's reliance on sampling also caused problems with legal clearance. Ken Grunbaum recalled in 2012 that "there were no precedents for something like this. We ended up having to pay royalties to the narrator, Peter Thomas."
After the song's unexpected, rapid climb to the top of the UK Singles chart, Chrysalis asked directors Jonas McCord and Bill Couterie to rush a video into production. Due to the lack of a band able to perform the song, the video was primarily composed of clips from the Vietnam Requiem documentary, edited together by Ken Grunbaum. The first version of the video included footage from the television networks NBC and ABC, including a newscast by ABC anchorman Frank Reynolds. After it was aired on MTV in the US, NBC and ABC objected to the "bad taste" of using the serious clips in a "trivial" form of "propaganda." McCord and Couterie were forced to produce a new cut incorporating public domain footage, but ABC permitted Reynolds' audio to remain. Couterie asserted at the time that the television networks opposed the video because it involved rock music:
What is the difference between the words in our song and the 7 o'clock news? The only difference is rock'n'roll. And why did they love the documentary and hate the video so much? Every word in the song is from the film, and there was never any argument with the facts. The only difference is the music.
TOP 10 VIETNAM MOVIES
The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indo china War, and also known in Vietnam as Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was a Cold War-era proxy war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from the 1st of November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on the 30th of April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War (1946–54) and was fought between
North Vietnam—supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies—and the government of South Vietnam—supported by the United States, Philippines and other anti-communist allies. The Viet Cong (also known as the National Liberation Front, or NLF), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The People's Army of Vietnam (also known as the North Vietnamese Army) engaged in a more conventional
war, at times committing large units to battle.
As the war continued, the part of the Viet Cong in the fighting decreased as the role of the NVA grew. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery, and air strikes. In the course of the war, the U.S. conducted a large scale strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam, and over time the North Vietnamese airspace became most heavily
defended in the world.
The U.S. government viewed its involvement in the war as a way to prevent a Communist takeover of South Vietnam. This was part of a wider containment policy, with the stated aim of stopping the spread of communism. The North Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong were fighting to reunify Vietnam under communist rule. They viewed the conflict as a colonial war, initially against forces from France and then America, and later against South Vietnam.
Beginning in 1950, American military advisers arrived in what was then
French Indochina. U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s, with troop levels tripling in 1961 and again in 1962. U.S. involvement escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a U.S. destroyer clashed with several North Vietnamese fast attack crafts, which was followed by the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave the U.S. president authorization to increase U.S. military presence. Regular U.S. combat units were deployed beginning in 1965. Operations crossed international borders:
bordering area of Laos and Cambodia were heavily bombed by U.S. forces as American involvement in the war peaked in 1968, the same year that the communist side launched the Tet Offensive. The Tet Offensive failed in its goal of over throwing the South Vietnamese government but became the turning point in the war, as it persuaded a large segment of the United States population that its government's claims of progress toward winning the war were illusory despite many years of massive U.S. military aid to South Vietnam.
Gradual withdrawal of U.S. ground forces began as part of "Vietnamization", which aimed to end American involvement in the war while transferring the task of fighting the Communists to the South Vietnamese themselves. Despite the Paris Peace Accord, which was signed by all parties in January 1973, the fighting continued. In the U.S. and the Western world, a large anti Vietnam War
movement developed as part of a larger counter culture.The war changed the dynamics between the Eastern and Western Blocs,
and altered North-South relations.
Direct U.S. military involvement ended on the 15th of August 1973. The capture of Saigon by the North Vietnamese Army in April 1975 marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year. The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities. Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from 800,000 to 3.1 million. Some 200,000–300,000 Cambodians, 20,000–200,000 Laotians, and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict.
At the time Lyndon B. Johnson took over the presidency after the death of Kennedy, he had not been heavily involved with policy toward Vietnam, Presidential aide Jack Valenti recalls, "Vietnam at the time was no bigger than a man's fist on the horizon. We
hardly discussed it because it was not worth discussing."
Upon becoming president, however, Johnson immediately had to focus on Vietnam:
on the 24th of November 1963, he said, "the battle against communism must be joined with strength and determination." The pledge came at a time when the situation in South Vietnam was deteriorating, especially in places like the Mekong Delta, because of the recent coup against Diệm.
The military revolutionary council, meeting in lieu of a strong South Vietnamese leader, was made up of 12 members headed by General Dương Văn Minh—whom Stanley Karnow, a journalist on the ground, later recalled as "a model of lethargy." Lodge, frustrated by the end of the year, cabled home about Minh: "Will he be strong enough to get on top of things?" His regime was overthrown in January 1964 by General Nguyễn Khánh. However, there was persistent instability in the military as several coups—not all successful—occurred in a short space of time.
On the 2nd of August 1964, the USS Maddox, on an intelligence mission along North Vietnam's coast, allegedly fired upon and damaged several torpedo boats that had been stalking it in the Gulf of Tonkin. A second attack was reported two days later on the
USS Turner Joy and Maddox in the same area. The circumstances of the attack were murky. Lyndon Johnson commented to Under secretary of State George Ball that "those sailors out there may have been shooting at flying fish."
The second attack led to retaliatory air strikes, prompted Congress to approve the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on the 7th of August 1964, signed by Johnson, and gave the president power to conduct military operations in Southeast Asia without declaring war. Although Congressmen at the time denied that this was a full-scale war declaration, the Tonkin Resolution allowed the president unilateral power to launch a full-scale war if the president deemed it necessary. In the same month, Johnson pledged that he was
not "… committing American boys to fighting a war that I think ought to be fought by the boys of Asia to help protect their own land."
An undated NSA publication declassified in 2005, however, revealed that there was no attack on the 4th of August. It had already been called into question long before this. "Gulf of Tonkin incident", writes Louise Gerdes, "is an often-cited example of the way in which Johnson misled the American people to gain support for his foreign policy in Vietnam." George C. Herring argues, however, that McNamara and the Pentagon "did not knowingly lie about the alleged attacks, but they were obviously in a mood to retaliate
and they seem to have selected from the evidence available to them those parts that confirmed what they wanted to believe."
"From a strength of approximately 5,000 at the start of 1959 the Viet Cong's ranks grew to about 100,000 at the end of 1964…Between 1961 and 1964 the Army's strength rose from about 850,000 to nearly a million men." The numbers for U.S. troops deployed to Vietnam during the same period were quite different; 2,000 in 1961, rising rapidly to 16,500 in 1964. By early 1965, 7,559 South Vietnamese hamlets had been destroyed by the Viet Cong.
Agent Orange (also known as “Rainbow Herbicides”).
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The National Security Council recommended a three-
stage escalation of the bombing of North Vietnam. On the
2nd of March 1965, following an attack on a U.S. Marine
barracks at Pleiku, Operation Flaming Dart (initiated when
Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin was on a state visit to
North Vietnam), Operation Rolling Thunder and Operation
Arc Light commenced. The bombing campaign, which
ultimately lasted three years, was intended to force North
Vietnam to cease its support for the Viet Cong by
threatening to destroy North Vietnam's air defenses and
industrial infrastructure. It was also aimed at bolstering
the morale of the South Vietnamese. Between March
1965 and November 1968, "Rolling Thunder" deluged the
north with a million tons of missiles, rockets and bombs.
Bombing was not restricted to North Vietnam. Other aerial
campaigns, such as Operation Commando Hunt,
targeted different parts of the Viet Cong and NVA
infrastructure. These included the Ho Chi Minh trail supply
route, which ran through Laos and Cambodia. The
objective of stopping North Vietnam and the Viet Cong
was never reached. As one officer noted, "This is a
political war and it calls for discriminate killing. The best weapon… would be a knife… The worst is an airplane. "The Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force Curtis LeMay, however, had long advocated saturation bombing in Vietnam and wrote of the communists that "we're going to bomb them back into the Stone Age".
After several attacks upon them, it was decided that U.S. Air Force bases needed more protection as the South Vietnamese
military seemed incapable of providing security. On the 8th of March 1965, 3,500 U.S. Marines were dispatched to South Vietnam. This marked the beginning of the American ground war. U.S. public opinion over overwhelmingly supported the deployment.
In a statement similar to that made to the French almost two decades earlier, Ho Chi Minh warned that if the Americans "want to make war for twenty years then we shall make war for twenty years. If they want to make peace, we shall make peace and invite them to afternoon tea." As former First Deputy Foreign Minister Tran Quang Co has noted, the primary goal of the war was to reunify Vietnam and secure its independence. Some have argued that the policy of North Vietnam was not to topple other non-communist governments in South East Asia. However, the Pentagon Papers warned of "a dangerous period of Vietnamese expansionism….
Laos and Cambodia would have been easy pickings for such a Vietnam….Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, and even Indonesia, could have been next."
The Marines' initial assignment was defensive. The first deployment of 3,500 in March 1965 was increased to nearly 200,000 by December. The U.S. military had long been schooled in offensive warfare. Regardless of political policies, U.S. commanders were institutionally and psychologically unsuited to a defensive mission. In December 1964, ARVN forces had suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Bình Giã, in a battle that both sides viewed as a watershed moment . Previously, communist forces had utilized hit-
and-run guerrilla tactics. However, at Binh Gia, they had defeated a strong ARVN force in a conventional battle. Tellingly, South Vietnamese forces were again defeated in June 1965 at the Battle of Đồng Xoài.
Desertion rates were increasing, and morale plummeted. General William Westmoreland informed Admiral U. S. Grant Sharp Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific forces, that the situation was critical. He said, "I am convinced that U.S. troops with their energy, mobility, and firepower can successfully take the fight to the NLF [National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam a.k.a. the Viet Cong]." With this recommendation, Westmoreland was advocating an aggressive departure from America's defensive posture and the sidelining of the South Vietnamese. By ignoring ARVN units, the U.S. commitment became open-ended. Westmoreland outlined a three-point plan to win the war:
Phase 1. Commitment of U.S. (and other free world) forces necessary to halt the losing trend by the end of 1965.
Phase 2. U.S. and allied forces mount major offensive actions to seize the initiative to destroy guerrilla and organized enemy forces. This phase would end when the enemy had been worn down, thrown on the defensive, and driven back from major populated areas.
Phase 3. If the enemy persisted, a period of twelve to eighteen months following Phase 2 would be required for the final destruction of enemy forces remaining in remote base areas.
The plan was approved by Johnson and marked a profound departure from the previous administration's insistence that the
government of South Vietnam was responsible for defeating the guerrillas. Westmoreland predicted victory by the end of 1967.
Johnson did not, however, communicate this change in strategy to the media. Instead he emphasized continuity. The change in U.S. policy depended on matching Westmoreland and the Viet Cong in a contest of attrition and morale. The opponents were locked in a cycle of escalation. The idea that the government of South Vietnam could manage its own affairs was shelved.
Sky full of Huey choppers
The one-year tour of duty of American soldiers deprived units of experienced leadership. As one observer noted "we were not in Vietnam
for 10 years, but for one year 10 times." As a result, training programs were shortened.
South Vietnam was inundated with manufactured goods. As Stanley Karnow writes, "the main PX [Post Exchange], located in the Saigon suburb of
Cholon, was only slightly smaller than the New York Bloomingdale's…" The American buildup transformed the economy and had a profound effect on South Vietnamese society. A huge surge in corruption was witnessed.
Washington encouraged its SEATO allies to contribute troops. Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines all agreed to send troops. Major allies, however, notably NATO nations Canada and the United Kingdom, declined Washington's troop requests. The U.S. and its allies mounted complex operations, such as operations Masher, Attleboro, Cedar Falls, and Junction City. However, the communist insurgents remained elusive and demonstrated great tactical flexibility.
The Johnson administration employed a "policy of minimum candor" in its dealings with the media. Military information officers sought to manage media coverage by emphasizing stories that portrayed progress in the war. Over time, this policy damaged the public trust in official pronouncements. As the media's coverage of the war and that of the Pentagon diverged, a so called credibility
In late 1967 the Communists lured American forces into the hinterlands at Đắk Tô and at the Marine Khe Sanh combat base in
Quảng Trị Province where the United States was more than willing to fight because it could unleash its massive firepower
unimpeded by civilians. However, on the 31st of January 1968, the NVA and the Viet Cong broke the truce that traditionally
accompanied the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday by launching the largest battle of the war, the Tet Offensive, in the hope of sparking a national uprising. Over 100 cities were attacked by over 85,000 enemy troops including assaults on General Westmoreland's headquarters and the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.
Although the U.S. and South Vietnamese forces were initially shocked by the scale of the urban offensive, they responded quickly and effectively, decimating the ranks of the Viet Cong. In the former capital city of Huế, the combined NVA and Viet Cong troops captured the Imperial Citadel and much of the city and massacred over 3,000 unarmed Huế civilians. In the following Battle of Huế American forces employed massive firepower that left 80 percent of the city in ruins. Further north, at Quảng Trị City, members of the 1st Cavalry Division and 1st ARVN Infantry Division killed more than 900 NVA and Vietcong troops in and around the city. In Saigon, 1,000 NLF fighters fought off 11,000 U.S. and ARVN troops for three weeks.
Across South Vietnam, 1,100 Americans and other allied troops, 2,100 ARVN, 14,000 civilians, and 32,000 NVA and Vietcong lay dead.
But the Tet Offensive had another, unintended consequence. General Westmoreland had become the public face of the war. He was featured on the cover of Time magazine three times and was named 1965's Man of the Year. Time described him as "the sinewy personification of the American fighting man… (who) directed the historic buildup, drew up the battle plans, and infused the… men under him with his own idealistic view of U.S. aims and responsibilities." Six weeks after the Tet Offensive began, "public approval of his overall performance dropped from 48 percent to 36 percent–and, more dramatically, endorsement for his handling of the war fell from 40 percent to 26 percent."
In November 1967 Westmoreland spear headed a public relations drive for the Johnson administration to bolster flagging public
support. In a speech before the National Press Club he said a point in the war had been reached "where the end comes into view." Thus, the public was shocked and confused when Westmoreland's predictions were trumped by Tet. The American media, which
had until then been largely supportive of U.S. efforts, turned on the Johnson administration for what had become an increasing credibility gap.
Although the Tet Offensive was a significant victory for allied forces, in
terms of casualties and control of territory, it was a sound defeat when
evaluated from the point of view of strategic consequences:
it became a
turning point in America's involvement in the Vietnam War because it had
a profound impact on domestic support for the conflict. Despite the
military failure for the Communist forces, the Tet Offensive became a
political victory for them and ended the career of president Lyndon B.
Johnson, who declined to run for re-election as his approval rating
slumped from 48 to 36 percent.
As James Witz noted, Tet "contradicted the claims of progress… made
by the Johnson administration and the military." The offensive constituted
an intelligence failure on the scale of Pearl Harbor. Journalist Peter
Arnett, in a disputed article, quoted an officer he refused to identify,
saying of Bến Tre (laid to rubble by U.S. attacks) that "it became
necessary to destroy the village in order to save it".
Walter Cronkite said in an editorial, "To say that we are closer to victory
today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have
been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion." Following Cronkite's editorial report, President Lyndon Johnson is reported to have said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."
Westmoreland became Chief of Staff of the Army in March 1968, just as all resistance was finally subdued. The move was
technically a promotion. However, his position had become untenable because of the offensive and because his request for 200,000 additional troops had been leaked to the media. Westmoreland was succeeded by his deputy Creighton Abrams, a commander
less inclined to public media pronouncements.
On 10 May 1968, despite low expectations, peace talks began between the United States and North Vietnam in Paris. Negotiations stagnated for five months, until Johnson gave orders to halt the bombing of North Vietnam.
As historian Robert Dallek writes, "Lyndon Johnson's escalation of the war in Vietnam divided Americans into warring camps…
cost 30,000 American lives by the time he left office, and destroyed Johnson's presidency…" His refusal to send more U.S. troops to Vietnam was seen as Johnson's admission that the war was lost. It can be seen that the refusal was a tacit admission that the war could not be won by escalation, at least not at a cost acceptable to the American people. As Secretary of Defense Robert
McNamara noted, "the dangerous illusion of victory by the United States was therefore dead."
Vietnam was a major political issue during the United States presidential election in 1968. The election was won by Republican party candidate Richard Nixon. U.S. President Richard Nixon began troop withdrawals in 1969. His plan, called the Nixon Doctrine, was
to build up the ARVN, so that they could take over the defense of South Vietnam. The policy became known as "Vietnamization".
American napalm bombing of the jungle in order to
force the North Vietnamese back.
Nixon said in 1970 in an announcement, "I am tonight announcing plans for the withdrawal of an additional 150,000 American troops to be completed during the spring of next year. This will bring a total reduction of 265,500 men in our armed forces in Vietnam below the level that existed when we took office 15 months ago."
On the 10th of October 1969, Nixon ordered a squadron of 18 B-52s loaded with nuclear weapons to race to the border of Soviet airspace to convince the Soviet Union, in accord with the madman theory, that he was capable of anything to end the Vietnam War.
Nixon also pursued negotiations. Theater commander Creighton Abrams shifted to smaller operations, aimed at communist logistics, with better use of firepower and more cooperation with the ARVN. Nixon also began to pursue détente with the Soviet Union and rapprochement with China. This policy helped to decrease global tensions. Détente led to nuclear arms reduction on the part of
both superpowers. But Nixon was disappointed that China and the Soviet Union continued to supply the North Vietnamese with aid. In September 1969, Ho Chi Minh died at age seventy-nine.
The anti-war movement was gaining strength in the United States. Nixon appealed to the "silent majority" of Americans who he said supported the war without showing it in public. But revelations of the My Lai Massacre, in which a U.S. Army platoon raped and killed civilians, and the 1969 "Green Beret Affair" where eight Special Forces soldiers, including the 5th Special Forces Group Commander, were arrested for the murder of a suspected double agent provoked national and international outrage.
Beginning in 1970, American troops were withdrawn from border areas where most of the fighting took place, and instead
redeployed along the coast and interior, which is one reason why casualties in 1970 were less than half of 1969's totals. In 1970, Prince Sihanouk was deposed by his pro-American prime minister Lon Nol. North Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1970 at the request of Khmer Rouge deputy leader Nuon Chea. U.S. and ARVN forces launched an invasion into Cambodia to attack NVA and Viet Cong bases.
This invasion sparked nationwide U.S. protests as Nixon had promised to deescalate the American involvement. Four students were
killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State University during a protest in Ohio, which provoked further public outrage in the United States. The reaction to the incident by the Nixon administration was seen as callous and indifferent, providing additional impetus for the anti-war movement. The U.S. Air Force continued to heavily bomb Cambodia in support of the Cambodian government as part of
Operation Freedom Deal.
In 1971 the Pentagon Papers were leaked to The New York Times. The top-secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, commissioned by the Department of Defense, detailed a long series of public deceptions on the part of the U.S. government. The
Supreme Court ruled that its publication was legal.
In 1971 Australia and New Zealand withdrew their soldiers. The U.S. troop count was further reduced to 196,700, with a deadline to remove another 45,000 troops by February 1972. As peace protests spread across the United States, disillusionment and ill-discipline grew in the ranks including increased drug use, "fragging" (the act of murdering the commander of a fighting unit) and desertions.
Vietnamization was again tested by the Easter Offensive of 1972, a massive conventional NVA invasion of South Vietnam. The
NVA and Viet Cong quickly overran the northern provinces and in coordination with other forces attacked from Cambodia,
threatening to cut the country in half. U.S. troop withdrawals continued. But American air-power came to the rescue with Operation Linebacker, and the offensive was halted. However, it became clear that without American air-power South Vietnam could not
survive. The last remaining American ground troops were withdrawn by the end of March 1973; U.S. naval and air forces remained
in the Gulf of Tonkin, as well as Thailand and Guam.
The war was the central issue of the 1972 U.S. presidential election. Nixon's opponent, George McGovern, campaigned on a platform of withdrawal from Vietnam. Nixon's National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, continued secret negotiations with North Vietnam's Lê Đức Thọ. In October 1972, they reached an agreement.
However, South Vietnamese president Thieu demanded massive changes to the peace accord. When North Vietnam went public with the agreement's details, the Nixon administration claimed that the North was attempting to embarrass the president. The negotiations became deadlocked. Hanoi demanded new changes.
Operation Linebacker II, December 1972
To show his support for South Vietnam and force Hanoi back
to the negotiating table, Nixon ordered Operation Linebacker
II, a massive bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong on the 18th–
29th of December 1972. The offensive destroyed much of
the remaining economic and industrial capacity of North
Vietnam. Simultaneously Nixon pressured Thieu to accept
the terms of the agreement, threatening to conclude a
bilateral peace deal and cut off American aid.
Nearly a third of the American population were strongly
against the war. It is possible to specify certain groups who
led the anti-war movement and the reasons why. Many
young people protested because they were the ones being
drafted while others were against the war because the anti-
war movement grew increasingly popular among the counter
culture and drug culture in American society and its music.
Some advocates within the peace movement advocated a
unilateral withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam. One
reason given for the withdrawal is that it would contribute to a lessening of tensions in the region and thus less human bloodshed. Early opposition to U.S. involvement in Vietnam drew its inspiration from the Geneva Conference of 1954. American support of Diệm in refusing elections was seen as thwarting the very democracy that America claimed to be supporting. John F. Kennedy, while
Senator, opposed involvement in Vietnam.
High-profile opposition to the Vietnam War turned to street protests in an effort to turn U.S. political opinion. On the 15th of October 1969, the Vietnam Moratorium attracted millions of Americans. Riots broke out at the 1968 Democratic National Convention during protests against the war. After explosive news reports of American military abuses, such as the 1968 My Lai Massacre, brought new attention and support to the anti-war movement, some veterans joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The fatal shooting of four students at Kent State University in 1970 led to nationwide university protests. Anti-war protests ended with the final withdrawal of troops after the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973. South Vietnam was left to defend itself alone when the fighting resumed. Many South Vietnamese subsequently fled to the United States.
Schlesinger announced early in the morning of the 29th April 1975 the evacuation from Saigon by helicopter of the last U.S. diplomatic, military, and civilian personnel. Frequent Wind was arguably the largest helicopter evacuation in history. It began on the 29th of April, in an atmosphere of desperation, as hysterical crowds of Vietnamese vied for limited space. Martin pleaded with Washington to dispatch $700 million in emergency aid to bolster the regime and help it mobilize fresh military reserves. But
American public opinion had soured on this conflict.
In the United States, South Vietnam was perceived as doomed. President Gerald Ford had given a televised speech on the 23rd of April, declaring an end to the Vietnam War and all U.S. aid. Frequent Wind continued around the clock, as North Vietnamese tanks breached defenses on the outskirts of Saigon. In the early morning hours of the 30th of April, the last U.S. Marines evacuated the embassy by helicopter, as civilians swamped the perimeter and poured into the grounds. Many of them had been employed by the Americans and were left to their fate.
On the 30th of April 1975, NVA troops entered the city of Saigon and quickly overcame all resistance, capturing key buildings and installations. A tank from the 324th Division crashed through the gates of the Independence Palace at 11:30 am local time and the Viet Cong flag was raised above it. President Dương Văn Minh, who had succeeded Huong two days earlier, surrendered.
A large number of war crimes took place during the Vietnam War. War crimes were committed by both sides during the conflict and included rape, massacres of civilians, bombings of civilian targets, terrorism, the widespread use of torture and the murder of
prisoners of war. Additional common crimes included theft, arson, and the destruction of property not warranted by military necessity.
In 1971 the later U.S. presidential candidate, John Kerry, testified before the U.S. Senate and stated that over 150 U.S. veterans testified during the Winter Soldier Investigation and described war crimes committed in South east Asia:
"They told the stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off the ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."