Veterans Day is tomorrow, and for this Veterans Day, I am highligthing those who served in Vietnam.
Of the total 3,403,000 deployed to Southeast Asia between 1958 and 1975, 47,434 were killed in action and another 10,786 died for other reasons in-theater. Non-mortal hospitalized wounded were 153,303. (https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/fs_americas_wars.pdf).
Following are some additional statistics along with a collection of old home movies taken in Vietnam during 1969-70.
1st Lt. Tom Butt at Phu Cuong Float Bridge, 1969
For films of Vietnam 1969-70 by Tom Butt, see:
- Tom Butt, Vietnam 1969-70, HHC 159th Engineer Group, 20th Engineer Brigade
- Mission to Ham Tan, Vietnam 1969
- Construction of Corduroy Road, MSR Zinc, Vietnam 1969
- Saigon from the Rooftop1969
- The Streets of Saigon 1969
- Mission to Vung Tau, Vietnam 1969
- Party for Children of Mama Sans, Long Binh, Vietnam 1969
- Vietnam from Above 1969
- Phu Cuong Float Bridge, Vietnam 1969
- Changing of Command, 159th Engr. Gp., Vietnam 1969
- R&R in Sydney, New Year 1970
For films of the long trip home, 1970, see:
For my personal story of military service, see “Before and After Vietnam, Military Experiences of Thomas K. (Tom) Butt.”
The United States left Vietnam in 1973, and the conflict ended in 1975. Here are some statistics that put Vietnam in perspective:
THOSE WHO SERVED
- Of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam, 2,140,835 are estimated to be alive today, (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/science/how-many-vietnam-veterans-are-still-alive.html) with the youngest American Vietnam veteran's age approximated to be 60 years old.
- 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era (August 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975).
- 8,744,000 GIs were on active duty during the American phase of the war (Aug 5, 1964-March 28, 1973).
- 2,709,918 Americans served in Vietnam, this number represents 9.7% of their generation.
- 3,403,100 (Including 514,300 offshore) personnel served in the broader Southeast Asia Theater(Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flight crews based in Thailand, and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters).
- 2,594,000 personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam (Jan. 1, 1965 - March 28, 1973). Another 50,000 men served in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964.
- Of the 2.6 million, between 1-1.6 million (40-60%) either fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly exposed to enemy attack.
- 7,484 women (6,250 or 83.5% were nurses) served in Vietnam.
- Peak troop strength in Vietnam: 543,482 (April 30, 1968).
1st Lt. Tom Butt in downtown Saigon in front of City Hall,1969
- The first American to die in Vietnam was James Davis, in 1958. He was with the 509th Radio Research Station. Davis Station in Saigon was named for him.
- The last American soldier killed in the Vietnam War was Kelton Rena Turner, an 18-year old Marine. He was killed in action on May 15, 1975, two weeks after the evacuation of Saigon, in what became known as the Mayaguez incident. Others list Gary L. Hall, Joseph N. Hargrove and Danny G. Marshall as the last to die in Vietnam. These three US Marines Corps veterans were mistakenly left behind on Koh Tang Island during the Mayaguez incident. They were last seen together but unfortunately to date, their fate is unknown. They are located on panel 1W, lines 130 - 131. The last pilot casualty in the country of Vietnam occurred during the Embassy evacuation in Saigon, William C. Nystal and Michael J. Shea both died on the helicopter on April 30, 1975 approaching the USS Hancock in the China Sea (both are located at 1W, 124). The last pilot killed in the Vietnam war was Air Force helicopter pilot Second Lieutenant Richard Vandegeer who was killed on Koh Tang Island, Cambodia. This occurred during the Mayaguez incident when his helicopter crashed on May 15, 1975. It is considered the last combat action of the Vietnam War. Hostile deaths: 47,378
- Non-hostile deaths: 10,800
- Total: 58,202 (Includes men formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez casualties). Men who have subsequently died of wounds account for the changing total.
- 8 nurses died -- 1 was KIA.
- 61% of the men killed were 21 or younger.
- 11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old.
- Of those killed, 17,539 were married.
- Average age of men killed: 23.1 years
- Total Deaths: 23.11 years
- Enlisted: 50,274; 22.37 years
- Officers: 6,598; 28.43 years
- Warrants: 1,276; 24.73 years
- E1: 525; 20.34 years
- Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old.
- The oldest man killed was 62 years old.
- Highest state death rate: West Virginia - 84.1% (national average 58.9% for every 100,000 males in 1970).
- Wounded: 303,704 -- 153,329 hospitalized + 150,375 injured requiring no hospital care.
- Severely disabled: 75,000, -- 23,214: 100% disabled; 5,283 lost limbs; 1,081 sustained multiple amputations.
- Amputation or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WWII and 70% higher than Korea.
- Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4% compared to 5.7% in WWII.
- Missing in Action: 2,338 POWs: 766 (114 died in captivity)
- As of January 15, 2014, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for, from the Vietnam War.
1st Lt. Tom Butt at Long Binh,1969
DRAFTEES VS. VOLUNTEERS:
- 25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees. (66% of U.S. armed forces members were drafted during WWII).
- Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam.
- Reservists killed: 5,977
- National Guard: 6,140 served: 101 died.
- Total draftees (1965 - 73): 1,728,344.
- Actually served in Vietnam: 38% Marine Corps Draft: 42,633.
- Last man drafted: June 30, 1973.
1st Lt. Tom Butt, Long Binh, 1969
RACE AND ETHNIC BACKGROUND:
- 88.4% of the men who actually served in Vietnam were Caucasian; 10.6% (275,000) were black; 1% belonged to other races.
- 86.3% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (includes Hispanics);
- 12.5% (7,241) were black;
- 1.2% belonged to other races.
- 170,000 Hispanics served in Vietnam; 3,070 (5.2% of total) died there.
- 70% of enlisted men killed were of North-west European descent.
- 86.8% of the men who were killed as a result of hostile action were Caucasian; 12.1% (5,711) were black; 1.1% belonged to other races.
- 14.6% (1,530) of non-combat deaths were among blacks.
- 34% of blacks who enlisted volunteered for the combat arms.
- Overall, blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam at a time when the percentage of blacks of military age was 13.5% of the total population.
- Religion of Dead: Protestant -- 64.4%; Catholic -- 28.9%; other/none -- 6.7%
- Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the same
non-vet age groups.
- Vietnam veterans' personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent.
- 76% of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle/working class backgrounds.
- Three-fourths had family incomes above the poverty level; 50% were from middle income backgrounds.
- Some 23% of Vietnam vets had fathers with professional, managerial or technical occupations.
- 79% of the men who served in Vietnam had a high school education or better when they entered the military service.
- 63% of Korean War vets and only 45% of WWII vets had completed high school upon separation.
- Deaths by region per 100,000 of population: South -- 31%, West --29.9%; Midwest -- 28.4%; Northeast -- 23.5%.
DRUG USAGE & CRIME
- There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group. (Source: Veterans Administration Study)
- Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison - only one-half of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for
- 85% of Vietnam Veterans made successful transitions to civilian life.
- 97% of Vietnam-era veterans were honorably discharged.
- 91% of actual Vietnam War veterans and 90% of those who saw heavy combat are proud to have served their country.
- 74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome.
- 87% of the public now holds Vietnam veterans in high esteem.
HHC 159th Engineer Group,1969, Long Binh, 1st Lt. Tom Butt 5th from left, top row