From the first U.S. troops arrived in 1965 to the last ones withdrew from Vietnam in 1973, the United States went through one of the most turbulent eras in its history. Within eight-short years, the war in Vietnam not only affected the U.S. militarily but also changed its politics and shaped its society in a way that never happened before. Let’s take a look back on the U.S. involvement in Vietnam in that eight-year period through this photo-story:
On March 8, 1965, the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, about 3,500-strong, landed on a beach near Da Nang. They were the first U.S. troops arrived in South Vietnam. The leathernecks in the photo were part of the first 3,500 arrivals. This event historically marked a new stage of American intervention in Vietnam as they shifted from advisory to combatant role. (Bettmann/CORBIS)
1966: War Birds
During the Vietnam War, the United States utilized military helicopters more than ever before. With its great mobility, helicopters could not only insert infantry deeply in enemy’s territories, but also evacuate wounded soldiers quickly to safer areas. Therefore, military helicopters in general and Huey in particular played a vital role in U.S. tactics in Vietnam. The photo taken in January 1966 shows some Hueys providing support for U.S. ground troops fly into a staging area northeast of Saigon. (AP Photo/Henri Huet, File)
Death is cruel but unavoidable in any war. As the Vietnam War escalated, the US casualties increased dramatically. In 1967, the war took away 11,363 American lives, nearly twice the death tolled in 1966 and six times the number of deaths in 1965. The above photo captured the death of an American soldier on the devastating battlefield of Vietnam (Catherine Leroy/1967).
1968: Tet Offensive
1968 was the bloodiest and most intense year of the Vietnam War as the Viet Cong and NVA conducted a shocking military campaign during the Vietnamese New Year known as Tet Offensive. More than 100 towns and cities throughout South Vietnam were surprisingly attacked by 80,000 Viet Cong in the morning of January 31. After the initial chaos, the U.S. and South Vietnamese armies quickly regrouped and fought back against the enemy. Fierce battles took place all over South Vietnam.
The above photo was captured in the battle of Hue – one of the bloodiest and longest battles in the Vietnam War showing a group of U.S. soldiers heading toward the Noon Gate trying to recapture the citadel which had been seized by the Viet Cong forces. After a month of fighting, on February 29, 1968, the Imperial Palace was retaken and the Viet Cong’s flag was torn down.
Albeit a military failure, Tet Offensive was indeed a major political and psychological victory for the North communists as it turned American public’s opinion against the war.