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Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was America’s longest and most controversial war. The Vietnam War was the longest war in which the US took part in and lasted from 157 to 175. 58,000 Americans were killed and it cost America about 150 billion dollars to cover the cost of the war. The North Vietnamese aided rebels who opposed the government of the south. Due to the fact that the North Vietnamese were a communist the Americans felt threatened. The United States thought they could easily defeat the North Vietnamese due to their superior weaponry and training, but they were mistaken. The North Vietnamese used guerilla warfare tactics, which gave them the advantage and leveled the playing field.

In 1857 the French sent troops into Indo-China to protect missionaries. Eventually the French colonized Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In 1 Ho Chi Minh was inspired to create a communist organization to fight for freedom. During World War II Germany occupied France so they were no longer able to protect their colonies. With help of U.S. weapons and Minh tried to resist being taken over by the Japanese. When Japan surrendered to the US Minh seized the opportunity to control the government. On September , 145 the Democratic Republic of Vietnam declared its independence. US officials supported Minh because at the time they believed the Japanese were more of a threat.

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In what some call the “First” Vietnam War the French attempted to regain control of their old colony. On September , 145 the French landed troops on Vietnam. Relying on guerilla warfare Minh used stealth and surprise to gain advantages. Seven and a half years later Minh finally brought the French to their knees. US officials believed in a domino theory. The US was convinced communism was a monolithic evil inspired by the Soviet Union. According to the theory unless Asian countries received US help they would fall under communism. Communist Chine recognized Ho Chi Minh and as a result Vietnam selected China as one of its allies.

The United States tried to find a way of defeating North Vietnam without sending troops. They first tried to send supplies, planes, tanks, and guns, to South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem. When that was unsuccessful President Kennedy sent 15,000 “Special Forces” to help teach Diem’s army how to fight Minh’s rebels.

The draft system was one of the most controversial aspects of the war. Every man in the US was required to register for the draft when he turned 18. For the first few years deferments were available to married men, students, and those with health problems. Some burned their draft cards or fled to Canada while others sought out doctors who would grant them a medical excuse. 8%of the men who served in Vietnam were African American even thought African Americans only made up 10% of the population.

American troops had the most modern technology available. They were armed with fully automatic M-16 rifles. US transport plans were armed with machine guns that fired 18,000 rounds per minute. The US also had helicopters, fighter planes, and huge B-5 bombers to patrol the skies. In the water they had destroyers, tankers, and patrol boats. US troops received some luxuries to make them feel more comfortable. They were given medicine, surgical equipment, canned and packaged food, boots, jungle fatigues, toothpaste, shaving kits, movie projectors, air conditioners, tape decks, and live entertainers.

Tet is the Vietnamese New Years on January 0. During this time in the year of 168 the North and South called a seize fire for Tet. The North decided that this would be a perfect time for a surprise attack. Viet Cong soldiers went to the US headquarters in Saigo and started shooting. The Viet Cong captured Hue, a major city. 10,000 Marines fought for their lives in Khe Sanh. Corporal James Hebron recalled the battle; “the ground shaking underneath you-and you bouncing into the air, trenches would shake.” After a long battle the Marines held the city of Khe Sanh. The Americans suffered 4,00 deaths and 16,000 wounded while the North Vietnamese, Viet Cong, suffered 45,000 deaths and 100,000 wounded.

A misconception that many people have about the Vietnam War is that all the soldiers used drugs. A 16 study showed that only % of US soldiers were using marijuana. Heroin use spread within a small group of soldiers. A soldier could get a dose of heroin for - dollars. During the long war the North Vietnamese captured many American soldiers as POW’s. Most POW’s were Navy or Airforce pilot’s shot down over enemy territory. POW’s were supposed to only reveal their name, rank, military serial number, and date of birth but interrogators tried to get out vital information about American plans. Those who refused to tell were tortured or placed in solitary confinement. Air Force Major Konrad W. Trautman descries a common torture, “they wold tie both elbows together behind the back, the they would put their feet on your shoulder blades and then pull your arms.”

While War raged on in Vietnam on the home front many people disagreed with the US for sending troops into Vietnam. A war of words developed between pro-war hawks and anti-war doves. Fathers whose sons dodged the draft disowned their sons. Early in 168 America was tearing apart, violence about civil rights and anti-war. In April of 168 when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated riots in black communities began to break out. Soldiers who fought side by side began to rethink things. College students were especially opposed to the draft. Student’s opposition to the draft increased when Johnson made college students with low grade first to be eligible. One of the more famous incidents was at Kent St. University in May of 170. Allison Krause and others were killed while protesting the war, 11 others were injured. The Vietnam War was one of the most controversial wars of all time and although many disagree with the US’s reasons for going to war that can not bring back the thousands that were killed in this long, bloody war.

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