There have been many military conflicts in the history of the last century. North Vietnam also entered the war, which was supported by the socialist states led by China and the USSR.
In 1964-1972, it was the Vietnam War that became the most important topic in the life of American society. In Vietnam itself, more than 1.3 million local soldiers and 2 million civilians were killed. The war served as an impetus for the emergence of anti-war sentiment, the hippie movement appeared. America faced the problems of mass desertion and the "Vietnamese Syndrome".
Despite the fact that the war was widely covered in the press, there were many myths about it. Some were created not even by historians, but by the combatants themselves. Rumors were circulated not only by American, but also by our compatriots. Some of these misconceptions will be debunked in our article.
The average age of an American infantryman was 19 years old. According to this myth, the American authorities threw completely "greenmouth" unprepared soldiers into battle. In fact, the average age of infantry in Vietnam was 22.8 years. Before 20 years, no one, regardless of social status, could be enrolled in the army. For comparison, the average age of a WWII soldier is 26 years old.
Most of Vietnam's veterans have joined the conscript army. More than two-thirds of the soldiers serving in Vietnam were volunteers. But for the Second World War, the same ratio was for conscripts. For comparison, in the First World War there were 60%, and in the Korean War it was already 27%. Among those killed in Vietnam, 70% were volunteers.
During the Vietnam War, a disproportionate number of blacks were killed. Of the American soldiers killed in that war, 86% were white-skinned, and one in eight was African American. Only 1.2% of those killed were of other races.
The Vietnam War was as intense as the Second World War. During World War II, the average foot soldier in the region saw just 40 days of fighting in four years. But in Vietnam, the average infantryman fought 240 days annually. This became possible thanks to the mobility of helicopters.
Black Syphilis has spread in Vietnam. During the fighting, the sexual promiscuity of the soldiers led to an outbreak of venereal diseases. Against this background, the legend of Black Syphilis appeared. The soldiers said that he was passed on from local prostitutes and did not respond to treatment. It was believed that military doctors simply secretly transported patients to a remote island, a colony or a floating hospital. There the soldiers died. The families of the victims were informed about the disappearance of the American without a trace. Some said that the mysterious island was located near Okinawa, others located it in the Philippines, and still others - on the island of Kon-Son, where the prison "Tiger Cages" was located. At the same time, the myth in different statements always called the same number of victims - one and a half thousand people. I must say that the doctors themselves were in no hurry to expose this statement. After all, the circulation of the myth helped to keep soldiers from unprotected contact with prostitutes. No documentary evidence was found for the legend.
Numerous white Americans fought on the Viet Cong side. The Americans shared a rumor that their former colleagues, who became deserters, were fighting for the enemy. At the same time, the traitor was necessarily described as cunning and brave, and on his body was some kind of important state award. It was rumored that megaphone defectors urged Americans to surrender. In fact, there is only one officially registered case of a soldier going over to the side of the Viet Cong. Private Bobby Garwood, a Marine, became a traitor. I must say that such a myth was walking through the army during the Philippine-American War in 1899-1901. Another version of this myth said about numerous European volunteers (Russians, French), or mercenaries fighting for the Vietnamese.
Vietnamese tortured prisoners. American soldiers believed that their opponents mocked the bodies of prisoners. They talked about the severed genitals thrust into the victim's mouth, about the heads on the road stones. Psychiatrists have often come across stories of post-traumatic stress soldiers reporting torture. However, eyewitnesses of those events did not see anything like this. And although American prisoners of war were actually held in harsh conditions, torture was used only in exceptional cases. The Viet Cong did not need operational information - it was generously shared by the civilian population. The prisoners had to live under tight control on a meager diet. At the same time, the conditions of the Vietnamese themselves were not much better. The film "Deer Hunter" shows how prisoners were forced to play Russian roulette, but such evidence was not documented.
Vietnamese prostitutes put razor blades in their vaginas. This myth even survived the war. It was said that Viet Cong agents pretended to be prostitutes and then inserted blades into their genitals and injured gullible American soldiers. And while those, bleeding, rolled on the ground, the women slipped away. The source of this myth is the Japanese legends of female ninja who allegedly placed cylinders with poisonous thorns in their vaginas. Those who risked copulating with them immediately died.
Viet Cong fired crossbows at American helicopters. The Americans believed that their opponents learned how to make powerful crossbows from bamboo, ropes and plates. Helicopters and low-flying aircraft were fired from this unusual weapon. It was said that one pilot was even killed by a shot from such a crossbow that often the plane of the plane was pierced. Rumors drew a Vietnamese training camp in which they fired at a mock plane sliding along a rope. Naturally, in reality this has never happened, due to the ineffectiveness of such a weapon.
During the Vietnam War, the Americans lost many helicopters. Statistics show that the army lost on average one combat vehicle in 18,000 sorties. For conditions of intense hostilities, this indicator is simply unique in its effectiveness.
Gangsters were transporting heroin in soldiers' coffins. Mafioso Frank Lucas told how from Southeast Asia he transported heroin in the coffins of dead soldiers. This episode was even included in the movie "Gangster". In fact, heroin was transported, but not in this way. They hid him in furniture. This was stated by the supplier of Lucas, who caught him in a lie, and the agent for the fight against drugs, Charles Lutz, who was investigating the high-profile case.
Soviet special forces hijacked a helicopter from the Americans. Quite a lot is written about how Soviet military saboteurs came into direct contact with the Americans. However, the authors of this story immediately make a reservation that there is no official information about this. The loudest story involved the May 1968 raid on the Flying Joe camp. The creators of the myth claim that 9 Soviet special forces attacked a secret American helicopter base, hijacking the Super Cobra from there. But there has never been such a base in American sources, as well as the history of the hijacking of the helicopter. History was overgrown with legends, the number of destroyed equipment grew, as did the killed guards.
Many Russian celebrities fought in Vietnam. The traveler F. Konyukhov, the writer V. Ledenev, the stuntman V. Zharikov told about their participation in that conflict at different times. For the first, the mention of Vietnam was PR. The Belarusian writer Ledenev even published stories about a special operation in Vietnam. But these stories were immediately criticized by veterans and experts due to low detail and numerous inconsistencies.
The USSR held American prisoners of war brought from Vietnam. This myth appeared thanks to an interview with the former KGB general O. Kalugin. But he himself did not see the prisoners, but refers to the testimony of some third parties. Needless to say, no documentary evidence was found for this.
American technology was carefully studied by Soviet technicians. Military and civilian officials, test pilots and aircraft designers do not hide the fact that in the USSR the captured A-6, F-4, F-5, F-111 aircraft and their individual parts were carefully studied.
The war was fought between America and Vietnam. Numerous films show how Americans fight the communists. In fact, the main battles were fought between the armies of South and North Vietnam. In the midst of the war, some other peoples also intervened, making it something of a rehearsal for the Third World War. Southerners have teamed up with Americans, Australians, New Zealanders and Asians (Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines). The Chinese and North Koreans helped the communist side.
Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap led the communist forces. Gradually, the Iron Curtain falls, and we learn more and more about the secrets of Communist China and the behavior of the party during the war. Recently published documents have shown that the accepted view of leaders is flawed. Ho Chi Minh turned out to be a powerless figure who opposed an all-out war with the South and the Americans. And General Vo Nguyen Giap, who became famous during the war with France, was also on the sidelines of real power. In fact, North Vietnam was led by the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Le Duan and his "right hand", Le Duc Tho. This couple made the main decisions, pushing the country to a military path to resolve the conflict.
The fight was fought only in South Vietnam. Many people think that the fighting was only in the south of the country. But the North Vietnamese troops also invaded the territory of Laos and Cambodia, from there they attacked the enemies. These countries also survived the bombing, which affects today. For every Laotian, there was a ton of explosives. Cambodia had a little better - it was fought off several times by the Americans and the South Vietnamese. 3.5 times more bombs were dropped on the country than on Japan during World War II.
America in Vietnam has not lost a single battle. This myth appeared thanks to Colonel Harry Summers, who, at a meeting with his Vietnamese colleagues, said that they had never defeated the Americans. But the opponent objected that even if this is so, it no longer matters. In fact, it is naive to think that in a series of battles the Americans did not surrender and did not retreat. The communists won several significant victories, the most striking was the battle for the Ripcord base. The Americans could not recover from this defeat for several years.
The Vietnam War was mostly guerrilla. At the start of the war, South Vietnam and their allies fought the Viet Cong in the jungle. But with the development of the war, more and more forces of the northerners were sent to the front. The war turned from a partisan war into a full-fledged series of battles using tanks and artillery. The 1972 Easter Offensive was the largest ground operation since the Korean War. The losses of the sides amounted to tens of thousands of soldiers, while the northerners lost another 500-700 tanks.
Kennedy wanted to get America out of this war. Kennedy gave birth to hundreds of myths about himself, one of which concerns Vietnam. The president is said to have fought to keep America out of this war. In fact, when Kennedy came to power, his country was already involved in hostilities. And he himself saw the way to solve the problem with the help of weapons. On September 2, 1963, the politician said that it would be completely wrong to leave Vietnam, because then the communists would control the whole of Southeast Asia. They will take over Burma and India.
The American media reported negatively on the conflict. Many believe that the Americans lost not on the battlefield, but in their homeland, due to the negative coverage of events by journalists. It was the media that did everything to lower the morale of conscripts and soldiers. In fact, in those years the press was the vehicle for American politics. In 1968 there was a massacre in Songmi. American soldiers killed defenseless civilians and raped women. But the press chose not to inflate the case. The media served the state by serving the needs of Americans and their goals. The news of the atrocities of the soldiers came only from small alternative sources. And after that massacre, veterans wrote to various newspapers, asking them to cover those events. But no one dared to stir up a scandal. Only a year and a half later, a small newspaper published that terrible story, and even then, because it was on friendly terms with the speaker Seymour Hersh.
American troops were based in the jungle. In fact, 75% of American troops were permanently based in bases. They were made like small islands of the Motherland. Many of the amenities that are present in the United States have been recreated here. And while someone had to fight in the jungle with Viet Cong saboteurs, most of the soldiers could only get hurt from sports equipment. Parties in Saigon were also popular.
During the war, Soviet aircraft showed complete superiority over American ones. On the MiG-17 and its Chinese version J-4/5, the Vietnamese shot down 13 F-4s, a couple more shot down the J-6 (a variation of the MiG-19). But the Americans on their Phantoms shot down 57 MiG-17 in its various variations, 5 MiG-19 and 54 MiG-21. If we compare directly the newest F-4 and MiG-21, then the American car as a whole was defeated. But it should be borne in mind that "Phantom" was solving tasks unusual for it. So there is still no need to talk about complete superiority, especially since the Americans simply had a superior number of machines, which made it possible to successfully resist more maneuverable MiGs.