Vietnam was the longest war in American history and the most unpopular American war of the 20th century. It resulted in nearly 60,000 American deaths and in an estimatedOverview of the Vietnam War
Vietnam was the longest war in American history and the most unpopular American war of the 20th century. It resulted in nearly 60,000 American deaths and in an estimated 2 million Vietnamese deaths. Even today, many Americans still ask whether the American effort in Vietnam was a sin, a blunder, a necessary war, or whether it was a noble cause, or an idealistic, if failed, effort to protect the South Vietnamese from totalitarian government.
Between 1945 and 1954, the Vietnamese waged an anti-colonial war against France, which received $2.6 billion in financial support from the United States. The French defeat at the Dien Bien Phu was followed by a peace conference in Geneva. As a result of the conference, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam received their independence, and Vietnam was temporarily divided between an anti-Communist South and a Communist North. In 1956, South Vietnam, with American backing, refused to hold unification elections. By 1958, Communist-led guerrillas, known as the Viet Cong, had begun to battle the South Vietnamese government.
To support the South's government, the United States sent in 2,000 military advisors--a number that grew to 16,300 in 1963. The military condition deteriorated, and by 1963, South Vietnam had lost the fertile Mekong Delta to the Viet Cong. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson escalated the war, commencing air strikes on North Vietnam and committing ground forces--which numbered 536,000 in 1968. The 1968 Tet Offensive by the North Vietnamese turned many Americans against the war.
The next president, Richard Nixon, advocated Vietnamization, withdrawing American troops and giving South Vietnam greater responsibility for fighting the war. In 1970, Nixon attempted to slow the flow of North Vietnamese soldiers and supplies into South Vietnam by sending American forces to destroy Communist supply bases in Cambodia. This act violated Cambodian neutrality and provoked antiwar protests on the nation's college campuses.
From 1968 to 1973, efforts were made to end the conflict through diplomacy. In January 1973, an agreement was reached; U.S. forces were withdrawn from Vietnam, and U.S. prisoners of war were released. In April 1975, South Vietnam surrendered to the North, and Vietnam was reunited.
1. The Vietnam War cost the United States 58,000 lives and 350,000 casualties. It also resulted in between one and two million Vietnamese deaths.
2. Congress enacted the War Powers Act in 1973, requiring the president to receive explicit Congressional approval before committing American forces overseas.... More
Criteria The Purple Heart may be awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the Armed Forces, has been wounded, kill... The Purple Heart may be awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the Armed Forces, has been wounded, killed, or who has died or may die of wounds received in armed combat or as a result of an act of international terrorism. MoreHide
Criteria The Air Medal may be awarded to individuals who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces, distinguish themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement, or by meritorious service while partic... The Air Medal may be awarded to individuals who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces, distinguish themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement, or by meritorious service while participating in aerial flight, but not of a degree that would justify an award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. MoreHide
Criteria The Vietnam Service Medal was awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who served at any time between July 4, 1965, and March 28, 1973, in Vietnam or its contiguous waters or airspa... The Vietnam Service Medal was awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who served at any time between July 4, 1965, and March 28, 1973, in Vietnam or its contiguous waters or airspace; or, for any period of service during the same time period in Thailand, Laos, or Cambodia or the air spaces thereover and in direct support of operations in Vietnam. MoreHide
Criteria The Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Colors) was authorized to be worn by units individually cited for service in military operations in support of the government of Sout... The Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Colors) was authorized to be worn by units individually cited for service in military operations in support of the government of South Vietnam. The actions cited are for the same services that would have resulted in the award of a Valorous Unit Citation by the Army or a Navy Unit Citation MoreHide
The unit citation of the Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal was awarded certain units by the Vietnamese government for meritorious service during the period 1 March 1961 to 28 March 1974.
Criteria This medal is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who: 1. Served for 6 months in South Vietnam during the period 1 Mar 61 and 28 Mar 73; or 2. Served outside the geographical l... This medal is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who: 1. Served for 6 months in South Vietnam during the period 1 Mar 61 and 28 Mar 73; or 2. Served outside the geographical limits of South Vietnam and contributed direct combat support to the RVN Armed Forces for an aggregate of six months. Only members of the Armed Forces of the United States who meet the criteria established for the AFEM (Vietnam) or Vietnam Service Medal during the period of service required are considered to have contributed direct combat support to the RVN Armed Forces; or 3. Did not complete the length of service required in item (1) or (2) above, but who, during wartime, were: a. Wounded by the enemy (in a military action); b. Captured by the enemy during action or in the line of duty, but later rescued or released; or c. Killed in action or in the line of duty; or 4. Were assigned in Vietnam on 28 Jan 73, and who served a minimum of 60 calendar days in Vietnam during the period 29 Jan 73 to 28 Mar 73. MoreHide
Description Operation Market Time was the United States Navy’s effort to stop troops and supplies from flowing by sea from North Vietnam to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was one of four Navy duties begOperation Market Time was the United States Navy’s effort to stop troops and supplies from flowing by sea from North Vietnam to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was one of four Navy duties begun after the Tonkin Gulf Incident, along with Operation Sea Dragon, Operation Sealords and naval gunfire support.
Seaplane tenders USS Currituck (AV-7), USS Pine Island (AV-12), and USS Salisbury Sound (AV-13) served as flagships for Market Time.
A VP-40 SP-5B Marlin on patrol in 1965.
An SP-2H Neptune of VP-1 flying over Vietnamese junks.
When a trawler was intercepted landing arms and ammunition at Vung Ro Bay in northern Khánh Hòa Province on 16 February 1965 it provided the first tangible evidence of the North Vietnamese supply operation. This became known as the Vung Ro Bay Incident.
North Vietnamese mine laying ships attempted to close the entrance to the bay but were turned back by U.S. Marine helicopters modified with anti-ship missiles launching daring close range attacks on the vessels, braving intense machine gun fire from North Vietnamese commandos on the decks of the ships.
P5M seaplane Patrol Squadrons, Navy destroyers, ocean minesweepers, PCFs (Swift boats) and United States Coast Guard cutters performed the operation. Also playing a key role in the interdictions were the Navy’s patrol gunboats (PGs). The PG was uniquely suited for the job because of its ability to go from standard diesel propulsion to gas turbine (jet engine) propulsion in a matter of a few minutes. The lightweight aluminum and fiberglass ships were not only fast but highly maneuverable because of their variable pitch propellers. Most of the ships operated in the coastal waters from the Cambodian border around the south tip of Vietnam up north to Dà Nẵng. Supply ships from the Service Force, such as oilers, would bring mail, movies, and fuel.
Of the many vessels involved in Operation Market Time, one of the more notable was the USCGC Point Welcome (WPB-82329) which, on 11 August 1966, was brought under fire by a number of United States Air Force aircraft. This incident of a "blue-on-blue" engagement killed two members of the cutter’s crew (one of whom was the commanding officer) and wounded nearly everyone on board.
Operation Market Time was established by the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff after the 1965 Vung Ro incident to blockade the vast South Vietnam coastline against North Vietnamese gun-running trawlers. The trawlers, usually 100-foot-long Chinese-built steel-hulled coastal freighters, could carry several tons of arms and ammunition in their hulls. Not flying a national ensign that would identify them, the ships would maneuver “innocently” out in the South China Sea, waiting for the cover of darkness to make high-speed runs to the South Vietnam coastline. If successful, the ships would off load their cargoes to waiting Viet Cong or North Vietnamese forces.
To stop these potential infiltrations, Market Time was set up as a coordinated effort of long range patrol aircraft for broad reconnaissance and tracking. These aircraft, initially SP-5 seaplanes, later P-2 and SP-2 Neptunes and P-3 Orions, were armed with Bullpup air-to-surface missiles and were therefore capable of engaging these craft directly. Under normal conditions, however U.S. and allied surface forces intercepted suspect ships that crossed inside South Vietnam’s 12-mile coastal boundary. On the aviation side, some of the patrol squadrons that were involved and flying from South Vietnam, Thailand, or Philippine bases were: VP-1, VP-2, VP-4, VP-6, VP-8, VP-16, VP-17, VP-22, VP-26, VP-28, VP-40, VP-42, VP-45, VP-46, VP-47,VP-48, VP-49 and VP-50.
A significant action of Market Time occurred on 1 March 1968, when the North Vietnamese attempted a coordinated infiltration of four gun-running trawlers. Two of the four trawlers were destroyed by allied ships in gun battles, one trawler crew detonated charges on board their vessel to avoid capture, and the fourth trawler turned tail and retreated at high speed into the South China Sea. LT Norm Cook, the patrol plane commander of a VP-17 P-2H Neptune patrol aircraft operating from Cam Ranh Bay, was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for discovering and following two of the four trawlers in the action.
Market Time, which operated day and night, fair weather and foul, for eight and a half years, succeeded in denying the North Vietnamese a means of delivering tons of war materials into South Vietnam by sea.... More
Criteria The National Defense Service Medal is awarded for honorable active service as a member of the Armed Forces during the Korean War, Vietnam War, the war against Iraq in the Persian Gulf, and for service... The National Defense Service Medal is awarded for honorable active service as a member of the Armed Forces during the Korean War, Vietnam War, the war against Iraq in the Persian Gulf, and for service during the current War on Terrorism. In addition, all members of the National Guard and Reserve who were part of the Selected Reserve in good standing between August 2, 1990, to November 30, 1995, are eligible for the National Defense Service Medal. In the case of Navy personnel, Midshipment attending the Naval Academy during the qualifying periods are eligible for this award, and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Midshipmen ae only eligible if they participated in a summer cruise that was in an area which qualified for a campaign medal. MoreHide