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15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Vietnam War

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15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Vietnam War

People who say that the world was living in peace after World War II are not exactly right. Immediately after World War II, the Cold War began. It was a brutal clash of the Western world versus Communism, which took many innocent lives with it. However, this time the US and the Soviet Union understood that fighting on their own land is not good for anyone. So, instead of testing their guns in Europe or North America, those power countries decided to do it in random countries such as Vietnam, Korea, and Cuba.

In the 50’s, Communism broke out in East Asia like a plague, and the US could not let this happen. They decided that it was time to save Asia from the hammer and sickle. The first stop was Vietnam, where the local Communist party, with the help of China and the Soviet Union, was trying to take over the country. Little did the US know that enrolling into the Vietnam War in the late 50’s would become one of the most controversial decisions in country’s history. Over the span of 20 years of this war, the US lost a lot of Americans who bravely fought in the Vietnam War. However, there is always another side of the moon. Americans have killed many Vietnamese people, of whom a lot were just innocent civilians. Oh yes, it is impossible to find an innocent party when we are talking about war. So many crazy and disturbing things have happened in the Vietnam War. It is chilling how barbaric people became under the terrible and brutal conditions.

15. Agent Orange Caused 500,000 Birth Defects

In the early 60’s the US military was ahead of time. They had invented some very powerful weapons which they successfully used in the Vietnam War. Agent Orange was the most brutal and efficient.

Agent Orange was a powerful mixture of chemicals, and the US used to spray it all over Vietnam. From 1961 to 1972, the US military used 19 million gallons of this substance and contaminated over 4.5 million acres of land. Estimations show that only Agent Orange had killed and injured over 400,000 people, including fellow American soldiers. On top of that, contaminated people gave birth to over 500,000 babies with disabilities. Once again – many of those babies were Americans. Yup, the US military had to sacrifice some of their own for a better tomorrow. Also, only after the Vietnam War, the medics realized that Agent Orange had a lot of side effects, such as cancer, rashes, or tumors. But who cared about the side effects as long as the deadly weapon killed evil Communists?

14. Superstition Of The Ace Of Spades

A couple of soldiers heard that the Vietnamese were very superstitious about the ace of spades. According to the soldiers, this card meant death in Vietnamese culture. The US military decided that it was a good idea to print thousands of these cards and scatter them around the battlefield. This ritual grew up into something bigger, and many soldiers started leaving the ace of spades on the dead bodies of the Viet Cong and NVA soldiers. The US military claimed that it helped a lot to intimidate the enemy and boost the morale of their soldiers.

There is only one funny thing about it. The Vietnamese were not actually afraid of the ace of spades. This card meant nothing more to them than it did to the US soldiers. However, as the war gained momentum and the ace of spades was everywhere, the Vietnamese started to link it to the death. Fake it till you make it, right?

13. Americans Produced Recordings Of Ghostly Voices To Scare The Vietnamese

The US military made sure to use every single opponents’ weakness during the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese believed that if a person’s body stays unburied, his soul would forever wander around the Earth. The US military knew it. They produced recordings of ghostly voices and played it in the jungle during the night to scare the Vietnamese. Naturally, it worked just perfectly as many Viet Cong and NVA troops got terrified and went insane. I mean, they “understood” that their death would mean an eternal suffering for their soul without any place to go.

The US military called those recordings “Wandering Soul.” To be honest, it sounds like one of those souls or Blues albums of the 60’s or 70’s. I wonder how high it went up the charts in Vietnam. On a serious note, this was one of the best tricks that the US military pulled off during the Vietnam War. It was cheap and efficient.

12. Prisoner Of War Blinked Morse Code To Spread The Truth

Some soldiers are prepared to die over becoming a prisoner of war. I can only imagine how much pain those prisoners have to overcome. The Vietnam War was not an exception. All the US soldiers who were captured by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), had to suffer a lot of torture and pain. However, when the NVA soldiers captured Jeremiah Denton, a soldier of the US military, they made him say on camera that everything is alright and he lived under excellent conditions. Denton told all the lies to survive, but he also found a way, to tell the truth. He blinked the word “TORTURE” in Morse code to let the Americans know that the NVA is not nice to the prisoners of war at all. This man risked his life just to let the world know the truth. Jeremiah Denton survived the Vietnam War and became a U.S. Senator representing Alabama. His brave life ended in 2014 when Jeremiah died at the age of 89.

11. Navy SEALs Teams One And Two Had A 200:1 Kill/Death Ratio

King Leonidas and his army of 300 Spartans would be proud of United States’ military Navy SEALs teams one and two. Those two teams had a combined kill/death ratio of 200:1. Yes, it means that one man killed 200 enemies before he was taken down. It frightens me how much can a one man do if properly trained and with the right equipment. Of course, Navy SEALs had the best equipment of the time and tracking down sometimes poorly equipped Viet Cong, and NVA soldiers became an easy task. However, Navy SEALs’ troops were prepared to operate under any conditions and environment, their training took years to complete, and they were living killing machines. Navy SEALs teams one and two were America’s greatest assets in the Vietnam War, and they proved that war is not only about the numbers, but also about tactics and preparation.

10. 125,000 Americans Fled To Canada To Avoid Military Draft

The best way to make sure that you survive the war is not to participate in it. Naturally, a lot of people in the US were against the Vietnam War. They kept saying that this war is a pointless waste of valuable lives of innocent Americans. It is not a big surprise that those pacifists didn’t want to end up in the war. Sadly, the US military did not have the time to ask people about their views and drafted everyone who was young, healthy, and sane. That was the reason for massive Americans’ immigration to Canada. During the Vietnam War, 125,000 people fled to Canada just to avoid the draft. In the eyes of the US government, those people became fugitives. However, when President Carter came to the office, he granted amnesty to all the people who avoided the Vietnam War. Half of the Americans came back home immediately.

9. 240 Days Of War In 1 Year On Average

Only in movies war never stops, and enemies clash every day. In reality, most wars end after a couple of fights, and the rest of the time, soldiers are just sitting in their bases, waiting for new commands. For example, during World War I there were only 40 days of an actual war in four years. Yup, it was brutal when it happened, but for most of the time, the troops were just chilling in their trenches.

However, the story of the Vietnam War is a little different. This war was so tense that the troops were fighting for 240 days in a year on average. No one was ever safe, and soldiers rarely had a chance to rest and have their private time to readjust. The Vietnam War was just too brutal and fast for any truce. So, for the soldiers, the Vietnam War was much worse than World War II or any other wars in history.

8. M16 Was A One Big Failure

The Vietnam War was the first place where two most iconic assault rifles of the 20th century, the M16, and the AK-47, clashed in a war zone. Today, most Americans prefer the M16 while Russians believe that AK-47 is a better assault rifle. Of course, this is an endless discussion because both of those guns have their pros and cons.

However, during the Vietnam War, M16 sucked so bad that even the American soldiers preferred to use AK-47. M16 was still a new development at the time, and it had so many flaws that soldiers just couldn’t trust their lives to it. There were dozens of cases when the US troops were caught using AK-47. Soldiers explained that they took those guns from the dead bodies of the NVA victims. No one was ashamed to admit that the enemy’s firearm was a much better weapon for the war.

7. A US Task Force “Tiger Force” Cut The Ears Of Its Victims To Make Necklaces

There is no right or wrong side in the war as we can find tons of war crimes made by both sides in any given war. The Vietnam War was not an exception. The US task force “Tiger Force” was a platoon-sized unit of 45 paratroopers. Despite the fact that this unit was enormously helpful for the US, it was also an example of how cruel people get during a war. “Tiger Force” used to illegally torture and kill their prisoners, and slaughtered innocent Vietnamese villagers, including women and children. That is only the beginning of their crimes, though.

Those 45 paratroopers had a strange practice of cutting off the ears of their victims and making necklaces from them. They also collected the scalps of their victims. That is a sick thing to do, and everyone who did it should pay for it. However, the American Army decided not to pursue any prosecutions. Oh, I almost forgot, “Tiger Force” soldiers also raped, drugged, and killed an innocent woman, and also cut off the head of her baby. That is how insanity looks like, folks.

6. Vietnamese Call This War ‘The American War’

If you ever go to Vietnam and hear people talking about the American War, know that they are actually talking about the Vietnam War. Yes, people in Vietnam think that Americans had some unfinished business with the Communists, and Vietnam was unfortunate enough to become a huge field of some American game. You cannot blame the Vietnamese for thinking like that because there is a lot of truth in this idea. So, in Vietnam, it is the American War, and in the US it is the Vietnam War. Name it any way you want, but millions of people still died.

To be entirely accurate, the Vietnam War was never a war in the US as the Congress never declared it as a war. So, politically correct name for the Vietnam War is the Vietnam Conflict.

5. 8 American Women Died In The Vietnam War

After watching war movies and reading history books, a lot of people think that only men serve in wars. However, this is a little misleading because as time goes by, more and more women join the military as well. After all, we are living in liberal times, where people can do whatever they want despite their sex, race, or orientation. For example, over 7,500 American women enrolled in the Vietnam War to help fight Communism. Of course, most of them were war medics, but that job is as important as shooting at the enemies. Sadly, eight women did not survive the Vietnam War. They have died from the hands of the enemy, tragical conditions, and diseases.

As for today, the US government engraved the names of eight women, who passed away in the Vietnam War, on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It is a very noble act, which will ensure that we never forget that women are as brave and strong as men.

 

4. Soldiers Used Superglue To Stop The Bleeding

All the troops in the Vietnam War had to live under extremely terrible conditions. The temperature could rise as high as 120 degrees, the jungle was full of diseases, there was no hygiene whatsoever, and yeah… people were at war. Naturally, the wounds could not heal properly with all the heat outside. On top of that, it took a lot of time for a wounded soldier to get back to the medics. So, the US military started using superglue to stop the bleeding. I know that it sounds disgusting, but it was the only way for soldiers to survive the hell of Vietnam.

I imagine that it was also an excellent free advertisement for the producers of superglue. I mean, if it could stop the bleeding and save the lives of American war heroes, it could do anything. But seriously, the conditions in the Vietnam War were the worst compared to any other war in history.

3. Two-Thirds Of The Americans In The Vietnam War Were Volunteers

People volunteer to do a lot of strange things. I once volunteered for one family, taking care of their dogs. However, the Vietnam War is a whole new level. At the time of the war, it was so popular that a lot of Americans felt the need to join the military and help the US solve all the problems in Vietnam.

Yes, those numbers are definitely affected by propaganda which the US government used during the Vietnam War, but it is still impressive. The US military only had drafted one-third of all the Vietnam War soldiers. The rest decided that it is an excellent idea to forget all the comfort and peace, and join the living hell in Vietnam. It is hard not to respect such bravery. On top of that, 91 percent of Vietnam Veterans claimed that they were happy to serve the country. 74 percent said that they would do it again. I know that there’s a chance that the US government might have adjusted those numbers, but it is still great to see that most of the people are happy with their choices.

2. China Supported the NVA and Viet Cong

The NVA and Viet Cong were Communists who wanted to have the power over Vietnam. Naturally, the Communists from all over the world helped them reach their goals. For example, China gave so much military aid to the NVA and Viet Cong that it would have been enough to start a new war. The NVA received 1.92 million guns and 1 billion bullets. Oh yes, China basically carried the NVA on its shoulders. On top of that, China donated 15,000 automobiles, 560 tanks, and 164 planes just to make sure that Communism prevailed in Vietnam. Of course, the Soviet Union was also part of the war and donated military aid to local Communists from Vietnam. So, the NVA and Viet Cong were not as weak as you could have expected. They had all the new military equipment, so it is not a surprise at all that the Americans lost the Vietnam War. I am still shocked about how much money both sides wasted during the war. What was wrong with those people?

1. 1.3 To 3.9 Million People Died In The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was a deadly one. Historians fail to come up with an exact number of deaths, but it varies between 1.3 to 3.9 million people. At least 500,000 were innocent Vietnamese civilians, and Americans killed 52,000 to 182,000 of those half million innocent civilians. Yup, the numbers are mind-boggling and proof that the US troops were not angels as well.

58,300 Americans died during the Vietnam War, and 1,500 are still missing. However, the losses of the NVA and Viet Cong were a lot bigger. Specialists estimate that allies killed around one million Communists during the Vietnam War. All those numbers only represent how stupid and pointless the war was. How many people have to die before we realize that war is not the solution to the problem?

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