This is the third and last in my series on the American veterans who fought and died. Today we think about the men and women who served in Vietnam. The bravery, discouragement, and aftermath of the war is related in some of the stories in my new book shown at right.
Some facts about the Americans who were sent to this war:
- The Vietnam War was a long, costly armed conflict that pitted the communist regime of North Vietnam and its southern allies, known as the Viet Cong, against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The purpose was to stop communist aggression. It started on or about November 1, 1955 and lasted until April 30, 1975, which is roughly 20 years.
- This divisive war, increasingly unpopular at home, ended with the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973 and the unification of Vietnam under Communist control two years later.
- More than 3 million people, including 58,000 Americans, were killed in the war. (credit History.com)
Many Vietnam vets are still living on our American streets today suffering from the mental anguish of the war. Others have lingering diseases from agent-orange that was used in battles.
Some Americans left for Canada to escape going to Vietnam and they too must live with that decision. The rejection many felt as they finally returned home to the U.S. after the war was a cause of great discouragement. Others fought with honor, whether in the medical corp or flying the helicopters to rescue the injured. The ground troops crawled into holes to find the Viet Cong and often carried their fellow soldiers and marines through the hot jungles. It was a brutal and long 20 years.
The Day Saigon fell to the Communists: There was the final day when the last American helicopter left Vietnam. My doctor was fortunate enough to leave as a child, but the desperation of those Vietnamese left behind was a terrible thing.
“The North Vietnamese Communists closed in on the South Vietnamese city of Saigon. The U.S. desperately evacuated the last remaining Americans on April 29, 1975. But the city fell to the North Vietnamese on this Day, 41 years ago, April 30, 1975…The people were to wait for the code signal, which was the playing of the song “White Christmas.” On the morning of April 29, the strains of the Bing Crosby classic signaled that those leaving had to get to designated landing zones…President Ford ordered an immediate evacuation of American civilians and Vietnamese refugees as the NVA closed in. US Marines and Air Force conducted an airlift of more than 1,000 Americans and over 7,000 refugees over an 18 hour period. They called it Operation Frequent Wind…Thousands upon thousands of South Vietnamese people tried to get on the helicopters as they left. Many had to be pushed down in order to take off. Fear and panic had gripped the people, who knew full well what would happen as the Communist NVA took over the country. Tens of thousands of Vietnamese people stormed the gates of the US Embassy, desperately crying out for help…Vietnamese veterans, many of whom have terrifying memories of the war, remember another airlift called Operation Babylift.” (The first plane crashed. Out of the more than 300 people on board, the death toll included 78 children and about 50 adults, including Air Force personnel. More than 170 survived…..Read this amazing story from this link: Operation Babylift. )
The pictures shown on the video below may be a family member. A Vietnam veteran may recognize himself. If so, he will certainly remember his blood, sweat and tears. Some pictures are not easy to see and the hardship for all is undeniable. Read carefully the words under each picture as they represent men and women of great valor.