Fighting in Vietnam

General Conditions

  1. Nearly 3 million U.S. Soldiers served in Vietnam.
  2. Conditions were unlike any U.S. soldiers had ever seen as they battled elephant grass, rain storms, bugs, and constant guerilla warfare.
  3. The Vietcong were familiear with the swamps and jungles, and they had the support of much of the South Vietnamese population.
Vietcong soldiers crossing the jungle.

The Ground War

  1. Guerrilla Warfare tactics were used by the Vietcong.
  2. The Vietcong had elaborate underground tunnels and various booby traps.
  3. Booby traps posed constant hazards for American soldiers.
    1. Land mine - and explosive device planted in the ground.
    2. Punji Trap - a camouflaged pit filled with razor-sharp stakes that were sometimes poisoned.
Vietcong punji trappunji_trap.jpg

The Air War

  1. The United States used B-52 Bombers to launch drop thousands of tons of explosives over large areas and smash roads and bridges.
    1. Saturation Bombing - The U.S. practice of dropping massive amounts of explosives over Vietnam in an attempt to destroy key roads and bridges.
    2. Fragmentation Bombs - Bombs used in air raids that threw pieces of their thick metal casing in all directions when they exploded.
    3. Napalm - Jelly like substance used in bombing raids that burned continually and uncontrollably.
  2. The United States also used chemical weapons against the Vietnamese.
    1. Agent Orange - Herbicide dropped on dense jungle. By killing the leaves and thick undergrowth, the herbicide exposed Vietcong hiding places. Agent orange also killed crops and it was later discovered that Agen Oranged caused health problems in livestock, civilians, and soldiers.
Napalm Explosionnapalm_001.jpg

Ho Chi Minh Trail

  1. The Ho Chi Minh Trail was a supply route that passed through Laos and Cambodia.
    1. The Ho Chi Minh Trail allowed the Vietcong to gain strength by gaining troops and supplies from North Vietnam.


The Ho Chi Minh Trail.

1968: The Tet Offensive

  1. The Tet Offensive was a major offensive launched by the North Vietnamese and Vietcong in 1968
    1. The Tet Offensive included surprise attacks on major cities, towns, and American military bases throughout South Vietnam.
    2. The Communist forces were extremely brutal during the Tet Offensive as they slaughtered anyone they labeled an enemy, including minor officials, teachers, and doctors.
  2. Althrough the Tet Offensive was turned back, it was a major psychological victory for the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong and a major psychological setback for the U.S.
  3. The Tet Offensive was the turning point in the Vietnam War because it illustrated that the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong were capable of launching a major offensive.
  4. As images from the Tet Offensive made their way to American televisions, both President Johnson and the war effort lost popularity and support.