Category: self reblog

vietnamwarera: Ho Chi Minh Basics Date of Birth: 19 May 1890Date…


Ho Chi Minh


Date of Birth: 19 May 1890
Date of Death: 2 Sep 1969
Occupation during Vietnam War: Prime Minister (1945-1955)/President (1945-1969)

Significance/Contribution to the War

Spending much of his life away from Vietnam proved to be the foundation for Ho Chi Minh’s education. He learned about Western culture and politics, and embraced communism while abroad. In France, he cemented his belief that anticolonial nationalism and socioeconomic revolution were inseparable. To break free from colonial rulers, it was necessary for the native people to establish socioeconomic standards that did not rely upon those of the European nations that for so long lorded over them.

Upon returning to Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh led the Viet Minh independence movement beginning in 1941, first against Japanese occupation (and the Vichy French collaborators) and then against the French following the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam on 2 Sep 1945. For this he is regarded as the father of his country.

As opposed to the First Indochina War, Ho Chi Minh was not as active in policy during the Vietnam War. His failing health had much to do with this.

Other Notes

  • 1920 – Founded the French Communist Party
  • Organized the Thanh Nien Cach Menh Dong Chi Hoi (Revolutionary Youth League) to advocate and campaign for Vietnamese indepedence
  • 1930 – Helped to organize the Indochinese Communist Party
  • 1941 – Founded the Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Moi (League for Vietnamese Independence), or Viet Minh
  • Worked with the Allied powers against the Japanese during WWII
  • The name Ho Chi Minh is a pseudonym meaning “He Who Enlightens”. He was born Nguyen Sinh Cung and went by a number of other names as well.


Disagreement among scholars still exists around a few aspects of Ho Chi Minh’s life and beliefs. The main controversy is whether communism was a means to an end for him in which nationalism truly was the foundation for his actions, or whether nationalism was a convenient line. Another point of contention is the extent to which he was involved in the planning of the 1968 General Offensive-General Uprising (otherwise known as the Tet Offensive). 


Additional Reading

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April 30, 1975: The Fall of Saigon


On this day in 1975, the last Americans left Vietnamese soil and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA or PAVN – People’s Army of Vietnam) rolled into Saigon.

In Summary:
Though the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973 and soon thereafter US troops withdrew from South Vietnam (officially Republic of Vietnam, RVN), Americans remained in the embassy with a small force of US Marines to guard them. There were also civilian contractors still in the nation. Military and financial aid was still being given to the government of South Vietnam, but economic pressures in the United States soon pressured the government to drastically reduce that aid.

As early as December 1974, an evacuation plan for Americans in Vietnam was being overhauled in preparation for departure. Events in the early months of 1975 greatly reduced the amount of time officials had to work with. Many Americans on the ground in Vietnam felt an obligation to evacuate the Vietnamese civilians who had supported them, knowing they faced imprisonment or death if left behind. However the RVN government made things difficult at first, requiring all draft eligible males to stay behind (among other things).

Commercial and military aircraft began evacuating Americans and Vietnamese civilians, along with boats. The last to leave did so aboard helicopters. At home, Americans saw Vietnam on their televisions once again with conflicting emotions. On the one hand, the struggle was truly over, but on the other hand, the United States had lost thousands of men in a lost cause.


Further Reading:

And be sure to check vietnamwarera’s #Fall of Saigon

vietnamwarera: Operation Rolling Thunder Dates: 2MAR1965 -…


Operation Rolling Thunder

Dates: 2MAR1965 – 31OCT1968

Area of Operations: Targets in North Vietnam (Democratic Republic of Vietnam)

Allied Units: Elements of the US Air Force, US Navy, US Marine Corps

Allied Casualties: Specific numbers unavailable, but KIA, WIA, MIA, POW all number in the hundreds

Enemy Units: NVA

Enemy Casualties: Specific numbers unavailable, though number of killed estimated upwards of 52,000

Objective: To interrupt the flow of supplies from north to south; to bring the DRV (North Vietnam) to the negotiation table.

Significance/Notes: Longest bombing campaign in US history. 990 aircraft were lost during the nearly 1,000,000 sorties flown.
     Largely unsuccessful due to a number of factors. The first is that civilian government officials in Washington, DC (with President Johnson at the forefront) had too much control over bombing targets and how to carry out missions. President Johnson wanted to avoid provoking Russia or China to join in the war, and so often limited actions of the military men carrying out the bombing runs. Additionally, there were many halts to the bombing meant to give the North Vietnamese a chance to come negotiate. This greatly reduced effectiveness. Second, the agrarian nature of the country made it less susceptible to the bombing of industrial centers (a tactic used with much success in WWII).


Other Links:

Do you have any archives of racism between white and black American soldiers? While black and white soldiers were fighting in Vietnam, America was in the midst of the civil rights movement, so I’m wondering how much of the racial conflict was carried over to the front lines. Perhaps they united in being racist toward the Vietnamese at the time, but I’m not so sure. Vietnam war movies don’t usually depict these conflicts, so I’m curious.

Funny you should ask, as I’m writing a paper this semester that focuses largely on the issue of racism in the military during the Vietnam era. It’s a very good question you ask, because you’re right in saying that popular culture does not offer any meaningful insight.

Yes, there was widespread racial tension in the military during the Vietnam War.

As the Civil Rights movement at home continued while American involvement in Vietnam drastically increased, these racial tensions grew. There seems to have been less racial incidents among combat troops while in the field, presumably because it benefited all parties to get along well. In the rear, however, there were numerous incidents. By 1968, the military was beginning to realize these tensions existed and were not going away.

Systematic, or institutional, racism also heavily affected African Americans. They were more susceptible to being drafted. They were less likely to access technical fields in the military due to poorer education, and therefore more heavily concentrated in combat units, and therefore had high casualty numbers. There was a lack of promotions for black soldiers. The military justice system was also a great source of this institutional racism. (See Westheider)

“United in being racist toward the Vietnamese” is an interesting thought. You might have heard the quote from Muhammad Ali: “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.” While it’s debated if he ever said this, the sentiment nonetheless rang true with many African Americans at the time. Their fight was at home, for their own rights and freedom, not against another brown-skinned man who had (and still was) experiencing oppression under the white man.

Books on the subject:

vietnamwarera:USN nurse at her desk aboard the USS Repose, 1968.


USN nurse at her desk aboard the USS Repose, 1968.

“Tonight, back in more familiar surroundings in New York, we’d like to sum up our findings in…”

“Tonight, back in more familiar surroundings in New York, we’d like to sum up our findings in Vietnam, an analysis that must be speculative, personal, subjective. Who won and who lost in the great Tet offensive against the cities? I’m not sure. The Viet Cong did not win by a knockout, but neither did we. The referees of history may make it a draw. Another standoff may be coming in the big battles expected south of the Demilitarized Zone. Khe Sanh could well fall, with a terrible loss in American lives, prestige and morale, and this is a tragedy of our stubbornness there; but the bastion no longer is a key to the rest of the northern regions, and it is doubtful that the American forces can be defeated across the breadth of the DMZ with any substantial loss of ground. Another standoff. On the political front, past performance gives no confidence that the Vietnamese government can cope with its problems, now compounded by the attack on the cities. It may not fall, it may hold on, but it probably won’t show the dynamic qualities demanded of this young nation. Another standoff.
         We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. They may be right, that Hanoi’s winter-spring offensive has been forced by the Communist realization that they could not win the longer war of attrition, and that the Communists hope that any success in the offensive will improve their position for eventual negotiations. It would improve their position, and it would also require our realization, that we should have had all along, that any negotiations must be that – negotiations, not the dictation of peace terms. For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. This summer’s almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation; and for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to invasion of the North, the use of nuclear weapons, or the mere commitment of one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred thousand more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster.
         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. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
         This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.”

Walter Cronkite in a broadcast on 27 February 1968 (via vietnamwarera)

vietnamwarera:US Marine in Hue holding an XM16E1 and with a…


US Marine in Hue holding an XM16E1 and with a handgun on his hip, 4 February 1968.

vietnamwarera: Battle of Saigon Dates: 31 Jan 1968 – 31 Mar…

Americans viewed through the hole blasted in the US Embassy wall.

American military and civilian members outside the US Embassy.

A large section of rubble is all that remained in this one block square area of Saigon on Feb. 5, 1968, after fierce Tet Offensive fighting. (AP Photo/Johner)

First Lt. Gary D. Jackson of Dayton, Ohio, carries a wounded South Vietnamese Ranger to an ambulance Feb. 6, 1968… Cholon, Saigon (AP Photo/Dang Van Phuoc)

ARVN Rangers defending Saigon


Battle of Saigon

Dates: 31 Jan 1968 – 31 Mar 1968

Area of Operation: Saigon Circle – The capital and the two nearby major US and ARVN bases of Long Binh and Bien Hoa

Allied Units: ARVN, 5th Ranger Group; VNMC; US Army

Allied Casualties: Unknown

Enemy Units: NVA 7th Division; VC

Enemy Casualties: Unknown

Objectives: The plan for the Saigon area called for eight main objectives.

  • Capture  and neutralize key government command, control, and communication centers
  • Go Vap artillery and tank depots
  • Neutralize Tan Son Nhut Air Base and the MACV center located there
  • Seize Cholon district
  • Destroy Newport Bridge
  • Bien Hoa targets: Bien Hoa Air Base and ARVN III  Corps headquarters
  • Long Binh targets: Logistics depot an US II Field Force headquarters
  • Block any attempt at reinforcement, particularly any made by the USA 25th Infantry Division from Cu Chi along Highway 1, and those of the USA 1st Infantry Division from Lai Khe along Highway 13

Significance/Notes: There was a deep psychological impact of an attack on the US Embassy in the capital of South Vietnam on American citizens at home. Though the Viet Cong sappers who attacked the embassy breached the wall, they were killed before they could enter the building. However, the fact that they had managed even that much was startling to the public, who were hearing from the president and Gen. Westmoreland that the US and her allies were winning the war.

Lt Gen Weyand, commander of II Field Force (corps-level organization), is attributed with having “turned the battle before it even started” due to his interpretation of signals in the Saigon area. Before the attacks on Tet, there were only 14 battalions inside the Saigon Circle. However the lack of contact in certain areas (mostly along the border with Cambodia) and an increase in enemy radio traffic around Saigon led him to request more units be pulled into the area in a 10 Jan 1968 meeting with Westmoreland. As such, there were 27 battalions in the area when attacks began, nearly double what originally would have been present.

Other notes:

  • It wasn’t until 7 March that the Cholon district was cleared. However there was sporadic fighting throughout Saigon for the rest of the month. 
  • The famous photograph of police chief Major Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a VC prisoner in the street, taken by Eddie Adams, occurred on 1 February.
  • Defense of the city had been turned over to the ARVN in December 1967, with support from American artillery units.


Further Reading:

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vietnamwarera: “I’m not a tourist, I live here,” written on the…


“I’m not a tourist, I live here,” written on the helmet of a US Marine at Khe Sanh, 1968.

vietnamwarera:A Viet Cong suspected of involvement in the group…


A Viet Cong suspected of involvement in the group that breached the US Embassy walls is escorted by American military police, 31 January 1968.