In the history of the last century there were many military conflicts. Two world wars were singled out, but others left notable traces in the development of countries and regions. Since 1957, civil war broke out in South Vietnam. It evolved into a full-scale US military invasion in 1964-1965. In the war, joined and North Vietnam, which supported the socialist states, led by China and the USSR.
In 1964-1972 it was the war in Vietnam that became the most important topic in the life of American society. This is not surprising, given the 58,000 soldiers killed in faraway Asia. In Vietnam itself, more than 1.3 million local military and 2 million civilians were killed. The war served as the impetus for the emergence of anti-war sentiments, a hippy movement appeared. America faced problems of mass desertion and “Vietnamese syndrome.”
Despite the fact that the war was widely covered in the press, many myths were written about it. Some were created not even by historians, but by the participants in the fighting. Rumors were replicated 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.
According to this myth, the American authorities have thrown into battle all the “greenish” unprepared soldiers. In fact, the average age of the infantry in Vietnam was 22.8 years. Earlier, 20 years, no one, regardless of social status, could not be enlisted in the army. You can compare the average age of a soldier of the Second World War – 26 years.
Most veterans of Vietnam joined the army on conscription.
More than two thirds of the soldiers serving in Vietnam were volunteers. But for World War II, the same ratio was for conscripts. For comparison, in the First World War there were 60% of them, and in the Korean War it was already 27%. Among those killed in Vietnam, 70% were volunteers.
During the war in Vietnam, a disproportionate number of blacks were killed.
Of the dead American soldiers in that war, 86% had white skin, one in eight was African American. Only 1.2% of the dead belonged to other races.
The Vietnam War was as intense as World War II.
During the Second World War, a regular infantryman in this region saw only 40 days of fighting in four years. But in Vietnam the average infantryman fought 240 days per year. This became possible, thanks to the mobility of helicopters.
In Viet Nam, Black Syphilis spread.
During the fighting, the sexless indifference of soldiers led to an outbreak of venereal diseases. Against this background, a legend about Black Syphilis appeared. Soldiers said that he was transferred from local prostitutes and did not give in to treatment. It was believed that military doctors simply secretly sent the patients to a remote island, a colony or a floating hospital. There, the soldiers died. The families of the dead were reported missing the American without a trace. Some said that the mysterious island was near Okinawa, others stationed it in the Philippines, and still others – on the island of Kon-Son, where the prison was “Tiger cells.” In this case, the myth in different expositions always called the same number of victims – one and a half thousand people. I must say that the doctors themselves did not hurry to expose this statement. After all, walking the myth helped keep the soldiers from unprotected contacts with prostitutes. Documentary evidence of the same legend was not found.
Numerous white Americans fought on the side of the Viet Cong.
Americans shared the rumor that their former colleagues who had become deserters were fighting for the enemy. At the same time, the traitor was necessarily described as cunning and brave, and on his body there was some important state award. It was rumored that the defectors in the megaphone urged the Americans to surrender. In fact, only one case of a soldier’s transition to the side of the Vietcong has been officially registered. The traitor was a private Marine Bobby Garwood.I must say that such a myth was walking around the army during the Philippine-American war in 1899-1901. Another version of this myth was that there were numerous European volunteers (Russian, French) fighting for the Vietnamese, or mercenaries.
The Vietnamese tortured prisoners.
American soldiers believed that their opponents mocked the bodies of prisoners. They talked about the cut off genitals, thrust into the victim’s mouth, about the heads on the road stones. Psychiatrists often came across stories of soldiers with post-traumatic stress, who talked about torture. However, eyewitnesses of those events did not see anything like this. Although American prisoners of war were actually held in harsh conditions, torture was used only in exceptional cases. To Viet Cong operative information was not needed – it was generously shared by the civilian population. Prisoners also had to live under tight control on a sparse diet. At the same time, the conditions for the Vietnamese themselves were not much better. In the movie “The Deer Hunter” it is shown how the captives were forced to play Russian roulette, but such evidence was not documented.
In their vagina Vietnamese prostitutes put the blade from the razor.
This myth even survived the war. It was said that the agents of the Vietcong were pretending to be prostitutes, and then put blades into their genitals and traumatized trusting American soldiers. And while those, bleeding to death, rolled on the ground, the women slipped away. The source of this myth is the Japanese legends about ninja women who allegedly put into their vaginas cylinders with poison poisoned thorns. The man who risked copulation with them immediately died.
Vietcongs fired American helicopters from crossbows.
Americans believed that their opponents of bamboo, ropes and plates learned to make powerful crossbows. This unusual weapon fired helicopters and low-flying aircraft. It was said that one pilot was even killed by a shot from such a crossbow, that often the planes of the plane were pierced. Rumors painted a training camp for Vietnamese, in which they fired on the model of the aircraft, sliding on a rope. Naturally, in reality this has never been, in view of the ineffectiveness of such weapons.
During the Vietnam War, Americans lost a lot of helicopters.
Statistics show that the army lost an average of 18,000 sorties on an average. For conditions of intensive combat operations, this indicator is simply unique in its effectiveness.
In the soldiers’ coffins, gangsters were transported heroin.
Mafiosi Frank Lucas told how he transported heroin from Southeast Asia in the coffins of the dead soldiers. This episode even entered the film “Gangster”. In fact, heroin was transported, but not in this way. He was hiding in furniture. This was stated by the supplier Lucas, who caught him in a lie, and drug agent Charles Lutz, who conducted an investigation of a high-profile case.
Soviet special forces stole from the Americans a helicopter.
Quite a lot is written about how Soviet military saboteurs came into direct contact with the Americans. However, the authors of this story immediately stipulate that this official information can not be found. The loudest story concerned a raid on the Flying Joe camp in May 1968. The creators of the myth say that 9 Soviet special forces attacked a secret helicopter US base, hijacking the “Super Cobra”. That’s just such a base in American sources has never been, like the history of helicopter hijacking. History was overgrown with legends, the number of destroyed equipment grew, as did the killed guards.
In Vietnam, many Russian celebrities fought.
The traveler F.Konyukhov, the writer V.Ledenev, the stuntman V.Zharikov, told about his participation in that conflict at different times. For the first mention of Vietnam was a PR. The Belarusian writer Ledenev even published stories about a special operation in Vietnam.But these stories were immediately criticized by veterans and specialists because of low detail and numerous inconsistencies.
The USSR contained American prisoners of war, brought from Vietnam.
This myth appeared, thanks to the interview of former KGB general O. Kalugin. But he himself did not see the prisoners, but refers to the testimony of certain third parties. Needless to say, documentary evidence of this was not found.
American technology was thoroughly studied by Soviet techniques.
Military and civilian officials, test pilots and aircraft designers do not hide the fact that the captured planes A-6, F-4, F-5, F-111 and their separate parts were carefully studied in the USSR.
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 nations intervened, making it something of a rehearsal for the Third World War. Southerners united with Americans, Australians, New Zealander and Asians (Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Philippines). The Chinese side and the North Koreans helped the Communist side.
Ho Chi Minh and General Wo Nguyen Zyap led the forces of the Communists.
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 showed that the accepted point of view about leaders is erroneous. Ho Chi Minh was an impotent figure who opposed a total war with the south and the Americans. Yes, and General Vo Nguyen Zyap, famous during the war with France, was also on the verge of real power. In fact, the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Le Duan and his “right hand”, Le Duc Tho, led the North Vietnam. This couple and made the basic decisions, pushing the country on a military way of the conflict resolution.
The struggle was fought only in South Vietnam.
Many people think that military operations were conducted only in the south of the country. But the North Vietnamese troops invaded both the territory of Laos and Cambodia, from there attacked the enemies. These countries also survived the bombing, which affects today. For every inhabitant of Laos had a ton of explosives. Cambodia had a little better – it was beaten several times by the Americans and the South Vietnamese. The country was dropped 3.5 times more bombs than Japan during the Second World War.
America in Vietnam has not lost a single battle.
This myth appeared thanks to Colonel Harry Summers, who at a meeting with his Vietnamese counterparts said that they had never defeated the Americans. But the opponent objected that even if this is so, it does not matter anymore. In fact, it is naive to think that in the series of battles the Americans did not give up and did not retreat. The Communists scored several significant victories, the most vivid was the battle for the Rippord base. From this defeat, the Americans could not recover for several years.
The Vietnam War was mostly partisan.
At the beginning of the war, South Vietnam and their allies fought with Viet Cong in the jungle. But with the development of the war more and more forces of the northerners went to the front. The war from the partisan revolution turned into a full-fledged series of battles with the use of tanks and artillery. The Easter offensive of 1972 became the largest land operation, beginning with the Korean War. Losses of the parties were tens of thousands of soldiers, while the northerners lost 500-700 more tanks.
Kennedy wanted to lead America out of this war.
Kennedy has spawned hundreds of myths about himself, one of which concerns Vietnam. It is said that the president fought to keep America from this war. In fact, when Kennedy came to power, his country was already involved in the fighting. And he himself saw the way to solve the problem with the help of weapons. On September 2, 1963, the politician declared that it would be absolutely wrong to leave Vietnam, because then the Communists will control the entire South-East Asia. They will take Burma and India.
The American media negatively covered that conflict.
Many believe that the Americans lost not on the battlefield, but at home, because of the negative coverage of events by journalists. It was the media that did everything to lower the morale of the recruits and soldiers. In fact, in those years the press was the conductor of American politics. In 1968, there was a massacre in Songmi. American soldiers killed defenseless citizens and raped women. But the press chose not to fan this matter. The media served the state, satisfying the needs of Americans and their goals. News of the atrocities of soldiers came only from small alternative sources. And after that massacre, the veterans wrote to various newspapers, asking them to cover those events. But no one dared to inflate the scandal. Only in a year and a half the small newspaper published that horrible story, and even then, because it was in friendship with the reporter Seymour Hersh. US troops were based in the jungle.
In fact, 75% of US troops permanently lived on bases. They were made as small islands of the Motherland. Here, many amenities have been recreated, present in the US. And while someone had to fight in the jungle with saboteurs of the Vietcong, most of the soldiers could only injure themselves from sports simulators. Parties were also popular in Saigon.
During the war, Soviet aircraft showed complete superiority over the American ones.
On the MiG-17 and its Chinese version J-4/5, the Vietnamese shot down 13 F-4s, another pair were shot down by J-6 (MiG-19 version). 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 machine as a whole was defeated. But it is necessary to take into account that the Phantom solved the tasks unusual for him. So you can not talk about complete superiority, especially since the Americans simply possessed a superior number of machines, which allowed them to successfully resist more maneuverable MiGs.