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Interesting Facts on the Vietnam War

Updated on November 22, 2016
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Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

Interesting facts on the Vietnam War: Burning building.  Over the ten year war, Operation Ranch Hand sprayed around eleven million gallons of Agent Orange on the South Vietnamese landscape.
Interesting facts on the Vietnam War: Burning building. Over the ten year war, Operation Ranch Hand sprayed around eleven million gallons of Agent Orange on the South Vietnamese landscape. | Source

Over the decades since the conflict ended, the Vietnam War has become an integral part of American cultural history, featuring in numerous movies, books, songs, and television documentaries.

Although, the war was a resounding military defeat for the USA and caused a great deal of political turmoil and personal trauma in the US, some historians argue that it succeeded in helping to prevent the spread of communism in the Indochina Peninsula.

Here are some interesting facts on the Vietnam War:

  • The Vietnam War began on 1 November 1955 and ended with the fall of Saigon 30 April 1975, lasting 19 and 1/2 years.
  • From the end of the 19th Century up until the 1940s Vietnam had been a French colony and formed part of French Indochina.

  • Most of the conflict took place in Vietnam, but later the fighting spilled over into neighboring Laos and Cambodia in the early 1970s.

American Casualties

The U.S. military suffered more than

47,000 personnel killed in action

11,000 noncombat deaths

More than 150,000 wounded

10,000 missing

  • The conflict took place during the Cold War, the global struggle for supremacy between two superpowers, the USA and the Soviet Union. It was essentially a war between communist and anti-communist forces. The USA was concerned that if the whole of Vietnam became communist, it would spread to other countries in the region - this idea was known as the “Domino Effect” - and the war for the US was about preventing this from happening.

Young American soldier in the Vietnam War.  There is a myth that the average age of US soldiers killed in Vietnam was 19 years of age, but the true figure is actually 22.  Still young, but not teenage.
Young American soldier in the Vietnam War. There is a myth that the average age of US soldiers killed in Vietnam was 19 years of age, but the true figure is actually 22. Still young, but not teenage. | Source
  • The Communist North Vietnamese forces were supported by the Viet Cong in South Vietnam, the People's Republic of China, and the Soviet Union. The anti-Communist forces consisted of Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the USA, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Laos.

Quotes About The Vietnam War

"No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now." Richard M. Nixon

"The Vietnam War was like a wound that would never heal." Ed Sanders

"I thought the Vietnam war was an utter, unmitigated disaster, so it was very hard for me to say anything good about it." George McGovern

  • The leader of the North Vietnamese was called Ho Chi Minh. He led the independence movement from 1941 onwards, established Communist rule in 1945, and although he offically stepped down from power in 1965, he remained a figurehead throughout the war.
  • North Vietnam and its allies had around 500,000 fighters. The forces of South Vietnam and its allies peaked at approximately 1,830,000 in 1968.

  • More than 3 million people died in total. The U.S alone suffered 58,220 deaths in action. North Vietnam plus the Viet Cong had 1,100,000 soldiers and up to 2,000,000 civilians killed.
  • The average age of Americans that died was just over 23 years. 11,465 of the personnel who were killed were under the age of 20.

Non-US Casualties

Apart from the USA, many other countries suffered casualties in the war:

South Vietnam had 300,000 soldiers killed, and as many as 3,000,000 civilians.

North Vietnam and Viet Cong suffered 1,100,000 soldiers killed, and 2,000,000 civilian deaths.

More than 200,000 Cambodia civilians died.

Laos experience around 30,000 dead.

South Korea - 5,099 dead.

China suffered 1,446 dead.

Thailand lost 1,351 people.

Australia had 521 dead.

New Zealand suffered 37 deaths.

Soviet Union lost 16 people.

  • 12,000 American helicopters saw action in the conflict.
  • Between 1962 and 1971, the US sprayed a herbicide called Agent Orange over large areas of forest in an attempt to reduce hit and run attacks by pro-communist forces, causing 400,000 people to be killed or injured, and 500,000 children to be born with birth defects.

  • The conflict was also financially costly. Between 1965 and 1975, the US spent $111 billion on the war.
  • President Nixon started reducing troop numbers in 1969, as massive anti-war demonstrations and protests took place in the US, with the public bitterly divided over the conflict.

More Quotes About The Vietnam War

"The Vietnam War required us to emphasize the national interest rather than abstract principles. What President Nixon and I tried to do was unnatural. And that is why we didn't make it." Henry A. Kissinger

"I got my head bashed in at a demonstration against the Vietnam War. Police were losing control because they were up against a world they really didn't understand." Terry Gilliam

  • A cease-fire to end the war was signed in Paris in 1973, but it didn’t hold and hostilities broke out again.
  • North Vietnam's victory in 1975 meant that the war had ended for good.

Richard Nixon with Elvis Presley in 1970.  Nixon played a politically controversial role in the Vietnam War.  Elvis served in the army between 1958 and 1960. He spent most of his time in Germany, and never went to the developing Vietnam conflict.
Richard Nixon with Elvis Presley in 1970. Nixon played a politically controversial role in the Vietnam War. Elvis served in the army between 1958 and 1960. He spent most of his time in Germany, and never went to the developing Vietnam conflict. | Source

© 2014 Paul Goodman

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    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 26 hours ago from Houston, TX USA

      Let people resolve not to kill or harm another person.

      Thou shalt not kill, harm or torture.

      If there is violence, move out of the way.

      Do Not run to trouble.

      Love one another and help them.

      We are all of One Body.

    • profile image

      annoymous 34 hours ago

      this website didn't teach me anything you seem like a nice man so I would make your facts short and easy but apart from that it was ok I would rate it a 5 out of 10

    • profile image

      Boomer Music Man 15 months ago

      Very interesting facts about the Vietnam war. Superb writing. Kudos.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Wonderful layout. Visually the facts were really easy to peruse.

      Great job.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I am in Hanoi now and staying right beside the Hoa Lo prison. I know of Vietnamese families who have lost loved ones. I asked one of them how it felt then, and she just said they had to do what they had to do. The Americans still look for the missing. I just takes to the ones doing this work. They have had not much success recently. It is sad. Thanks for doing this hub. Well done!

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Very good hub. Korea was the same way, then there is Iraq and Afghanistan. It is better for individuals and the nation to refuse to go to combat overseas. The US needs to learn to stay out of trouble, not run to trouble. Teach your children to walk away from a fight.

    • Hooks and Needles profile image

      Hooks and Needles 2 years ago

      One of my cousin's died in that war. He was 19 or 20 at the time. What a shame. Many more young men I knew came home with wounds or mental problems or both. What a shame and what a waste.

    • biblicaliving profile image

      biblicaliving 2 years ago from U.S.A.

      I know several Vietnam Veterans. One of them hated the place and volunteered for permanent guard duty. Another Vet (a Marine) loved it and actually signed up for a second tour. Yet two other Vet's that I know have died from medical complications due to agent orange exposure. Sadly enough, the Vietnam conflict's true cost will never be known, nor appreciated.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Congratulations on HOTD! This is a very interesting and informative hub. I remember the war years but the statistics of the war I did not remember. You have done an excellent comprehensive look at this sad time in our history. I just read or heard recently that there are still 1600 soldiers unaccounted for from the war and are still considered MIA's. Amazing. This is still a sore spot in our national history. How sad!

    • profile image

      Janice Horner 2 years ago

      This was really interesting. I remember the war well. I reside in the UK. I lived near an American air base, RAF Chicksands in Shefford, Bedfordshire. There was a young couple called Suzanne and Art who many of us come acquainted with. I remember Suzanne, mentioning that Art was going to Vietnam, and I wondered if he ever came back. Many like you say lost their lives, it must have been a horrendous time for families whose loved ones were out there.

      Brilliant hub, voted up, and congratulations on your article being put has hub of the day.

    • mySuccess8 profile image

      mySuccess8 2 years ago

      You have picked some of the most interesting facts on one of the top biggest and bloodiest wars in history, the Vietnam War. This is well-supported by a good selection of great videos. Congrats on Hub of the Day!

    • TheFisherMan531 profile image

      TheFisherMan531 2 years ago from Los Angeles County

      Congrats on getting Hub of the day!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 3 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      One interesting fact is that while New Zealand sent troops the government of New Zealand told the US in the early sixties that it was a war they believed the US couldn't win