Vietnam War History And Timeline

The longest conflict with United States involvement was never really a war at all, being undeclared. History of Vietnam War from the 50s until 1975.

What remains today of the long and bloody Vietnam conflict is over fifty thousand names upon a wall in Washington, D.C. and many residual problems for veterans and their families. Names of the dead and missing after America's multi-year hell in southeast Asia are engraved on "The Wall" and it is a place of remembrance and of healing for some.

Also remaining is much pain and suffering for the more than a million veterans who fought this conflict as well as their families. There is no closure and often no healing from the psychological damage inflicted. It was the longest war fought in history by American troops and war had never even been formally declared. Nearly sixty thousand Americans died before it ended in 1975.

When and how did it all begin? Vietnam was divided into North and South in mid 1954. The southern, anti-communist region became known as The Republic of Vietnam. The capitol of the communist region was called Hanoi. In 1960, Hanoi began what was called the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, more commonly known as the Viet Cong.

Military aid to South Vietnam was greatly increased in 1961 when John F. Kennedy became the United States president. He also gave more economic aid to the region. In 1962, a military assistance command was set up in Saigon, the capital of the South Vietnam region, and by 1963, over fifteen thousand United States military personnel were stationed in South Vietnam.

There was a North Vietnamese attack on a United States patrol boat in 1964 and the U.S. responded with air strikes. By this time, Lyndon B. Johnson was serving as president after the assassination of Kennedy.

Although there was turmoil in Vietnam for many years prior, the first U.S. ground troops arrived in March of 1965 with a mission of protecting the airfield at Da Nang. Two months later, Johnson sent in an Airborne division to protect an American air base. By this time, fifty thousand American service people were in the region. By the end of 1965, the number of troops involved in the area was nearly 175,000. Attacks by the Viet Cong were becoming more frequent.



The communist North Vietnamese troops began heavy attacks of areas in the south in 1968. In what was called The Tet Offensive, many towns and cities in South Vietnam were attacked early in the year, including the capital city of Saigon. One of the goals of this offensive was to weaken the resolve of the United States in its involvement and belief in the South Vietnamese government.

Also by 1968, America had committed nearly half a million additional troops to Vietnam. In March, the heaviest air and ground attack of the war was launched against North Vietnam. By the middle of this year, heavy combat was once again occurring with the North trying to get into Saigon once again.

The year 1969 found heavy fighting continuing. By this time, the United States was trying to create military forces for South Vietnam that were self sustaining. Only then could U. S. troops begin pulling out of the region.

The war began spreading into Cambodia in 1970. By this time period, anti-war and anti-government demonstrations were at an all time high in the United States.

A cease-fire was reached in 1973 between North and South Vietnam, the United States, and the Viet Cong. It was also in 1973 that funds to aid the war effort were halted by Congress.

By 1975, Gerald Ford was the new United States President after Richard Nixon's resignation. Without funding, and with the American populace as well as Congress totally tired of the conflict, American troops were not ordered to help stop an offensive on Saigon early in 1975, and it fell to Communism in late April of that year.

The price paid by America for a war that had never been formally declared was tremendously high. Nearly sixty thousand troops were killed, mostly with gunfire incidents, but an unusually high percentage of the deaths were caused by things like mines and booby traps that the Viet Cong were fund of using. One particularly often used trap was called a punji stick where sharp pieces of bamboo were set into pits to stab the feet of the enemy.

Another price that veterans of Vietnam continue to suffer is the effects of a herbicide that was used in the jungles and called Agent Orange. After the war ended, many veterans were getting sick with symptoms of unknown origin. It was finally diagnosed as "Agent Orange Syndrome" and the effects are still taking a deadly toll on the affected veterans. The exposure to Agent Orange has been found to cause cancer in some cases.

Does that end the list of sufferings caused by the war in the years following its ending? No. There is also Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This often occurs after a traumatic event in one's life and symptoms might include feeling as if the event is happening again, nightmares, and anxiety/fright when things happen without warning. Sufferers maybe not be able to become close to others emotionally, and trust is usually difficult. Anger management problems could be present as well as insomnia and sometimes survivor guilt.

It was long and it was controversial, but the high price paid by veterans of this war, and later by their families will continue to take a toll physically and emotionally for generations.

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