It’s the war that came to define a generation and one with controversial opinions which are still heard to this day. The Vietnam War has left us with more than just poignant imagery, it also throws up plenty of interesting facts if you know where to look.
America became involved in the Vietnam War as early as 1954, not 1965 as you’ll often heard said.
JFK’s initial plan was to end all U.S involvement by as early as 1965.
No U.S. unit ever surrendered on the ground.
The president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem was shot just 20 days before the assassination of John F Kennedy.
The Gulf of Tonkin Incident which sparked greater U.S. involvement on the ground never actually happened.
The standard issue M-16 jammed so often that U.S. troops widely began to favour the Soviet AK-47.
The idea that the U.S. never lost a battle is widely regarded as a myth.
American troops left for good on March 29, 1973.
South Korea, Australia and New Zealand all fought alongside the U.S.
Saigon fell just over 2 years later on April 30, 1975.
More than 1.8 million sorties were flown over Vietnam during the war.
The greatest single day attack from the North is known as the Tet Offensive, and ultimately only succeeded in gaining the North the upper hand in the media, not on the ground.
Just 1% of all U.S. fighter jet sorties ended in the pilots being shot down and captured.
Future U.S. presidential candidate John McCain was shot down and captured. He was held at the notorious Hanoi Hilton for 5 years.
7 million men fought, with only 25% of them being drafted. The rest were a combination of career soldiers and brave volunteers.
The war was not termed “un-winnable” by Walter Cronkite until as late as 1968.
The official estimate of the war dead is as many as 2 million civilians, and over 1 million Vietnamese fighters from North Vietnam and the Viet Cong. US defence records put the number of US military fatalities at 58,220, with an estimate of an additional 250,000 fatalities of South Vietnamese soldiers.
Do you know any interesting facts about the Vietnam War that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!