Vietnam War

The Vietnam War began following World War II as the Viet Minh, a movement imbued with nationalism and communist philosophy led by Ho Chi Minh, sought to gain the country’s independence from French colonial rule. French involvement in the Vietnam War ended in 1954 following the disastrous defeat at Dien Bien Phu. However, the United States became increasingly embroiled in the effort to prop up the pro-Western government of South Vietnam in its continuing fight with the communist North and its insurgency, the Viet Cong. U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War escalated steadily during the 1960s, but eventually American military personnel were withdrawn in 1973. In April 1975, communist forces occupied the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, unifying the country and ending the Vietnam War.

Corporal Alvin York of the U.S. 82nd Division received the Medal of Honor for cutting down a large group of Germans at close-quarters with his Colt M1911 during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

Vietnam War

The Colt 1911

By Christopher Miskimon

Petty Officer R. J. Thomas, a U.S. Navy SEAL, wound up in deep trouble one day in 1969. Read more

The heavily armed and highly maneuverable subsonic MiG-17 challenged U.S. strike aircraft in the skies over North Vietnam.

Vietnam War

Weapons: The Soviet MiG-17 in Vietnam

By William F. Floyd, Jr.

The American pilots did not see the North Vietnamese Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 fighter jets approaching their strike aircraft as they zeroed in on Than Hoa Bridge on April 3, 1965. Read more

A U.S. airman belonging to a security squadron trains with an M-79. Although most commonly associated with the Vietnam War, the sturdy grenade launcher also saw action in the 1982 Falklands War and is still in the inventory of many armed forces around the globe.

Vietnam War

The M79 Grenade Launcher

By Blaine Taylor

I fired the M79 grenade launcher in advanced infantry training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in 1965, and had one on the back seat of my machine-gun jeep during my tour of duty in South Vietnam in 1966-1967 as a member of the U.S. Read more

Vietnam War

The Raven Forward Air Controllers

By William E. Welsh

Raven forward air controller Charles Edwin Engle usually took his Cessna 0-1 “Bird Dog” up to an altitude of 12,000 feet over northern Laos to await the arrival of a flight of inbound A-1E Skyraiders from Thailand. Read more

U.S. helicopters not only transported South Vietnamese troops to firebases inside Laos, but also carried them to Tchepone when the armored column stalled on Route 9. The March 6 air assault by elements of the South Vietnamese 1st Infantry Division was the largest helicopter assault of the war.

Vietnam War

Mauled in Laos

By John Walker

The South Vietnamese rangers huddled in their trenches and bunkers at landing zone Ranger North throughout the day of February 19, 1971, as mortar shells crashed inside the perimeter. Read more

Vietnam War

Outnumbered Green Berets Defend Camp Nam Dong

By William E. Welsh

Special Forces Team A-726 had been out on patrol far from the unit’s camp at Nam Dong on the night of Friday, July 3, 1964, when radiomen back at the A team camp received an ominous warning from the field. Read more

For both the Marine defenders and their North Vietnamese adversaries, the military base at Khe Sanh was the center of a deadly serious chess match between two determined commanders.

Vietnam War

The Marines and North Vietnamese at Khe Sanh


by John Walker

In early 1967, the thinly populated, rugged, and mountainous Khe Sanh plateau lay in the northwest corner of South Vietnam, bordered by Laos to the west and the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and North Vietnam to the north. Read more