Navy Corpsman Vernon Wike attends a wounded marine Willam Roldan during the battle for Hill 881N in April 1967.
Wike is seen listening for the heart beat, and cries out in frustration,
when he realizes that his buddy has died. The pictures were taken by Catherine Leroy,
a young freelance photographer.











A North Vietnamese soldier
lies dead with the family
photos that he brought
with him to the battlefield
in Central Viet Nam.



According to quite a few senior Pentagon officers and policy makers in the US government, the Vietnam War was lost in the living rooms of America not on the battlefield - i.e. a continous stream of news reports eroded American public support for the war in Viet Nam. 

Even though the role of reporters may be vastly exagerated in many selv serving memoirs of the major players, it is true that public opinion in the US and elsewehere played a significant role in ending the war.

Here I have collected some famous pictures from key events of the 'American War', often called the most photographed war in history.

In June 1963 the first buddhist monk burned himself alive in Saigon in protest against the war. South Vietnam's de-facto first lady Madame Nhu created an uproar in the US, when she dismissed the horrendous event as a ' propaganda barbecue'.

Madame Nhu was married with president Diem's brother Ngo Dinh Nhu, who was murdered in October 1963 along with the president in a military coup staged by a group of disgruntled generals. The generals later claimed that their actions had been condoned by the American ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge and the CIA station chief in Saigon.



A surprise attack 21 January 1968 on the huge American base Khe Sanh in the Central Higlands. The attack involves thousands of regular North Vietnamese soldiers. Senior American officers fear that General Vo Nguyen Giap is trying to stage a new 'Dien Bien Phu' - the battle that ended French colonialism in 1954.
The attack lasts for days, but is only a decoy to divert US attention from the preparation of the Tet Offensive.


The Saigon police chief  Nguyen Ngoc Loan executes a captured guerrilla in Saigon during the Tet Offensive in February 1968. The picture was taken by a Vietnamese stringer for the Associated Press, and had a huge impact on public opinion.








A Marine throwing a grenade as the American troops launch the counter attack in Hué during the Tet Offensive.

5.000 civilians were killed during 18 days of ferocious fighting.






19 years was the average age of US
combat soldiers in Viet Nam.  60 %
of the soldiers killed were below 21 years.



Children in Tay Ninh running from a napalm attack by South Vietnamese Air Force in 1972.

9 year old Kim Phuc (center) was so badly burned that no one expected her to survive. Her life was saved by an American burn specialist in Saigon. Kim Phuc now lives in Canada. 





Lieutenant Colonel Robert L Stirm is met by his family at a military base in California in April 1973 on his return from 5 years of captivity in Ha Noi. Almost 800 American pilots were shot down and captured during the bombing raids over North Vietnam.

Click here to visit 'Hanoi Hilton'the war prison i Ha noi.



30 April 1975: The First North Vietnamese tank crashes through the gates of the Presidential Palace in Saigon. The war is over.

58.148 Americans were killed in Viet Nam. Their names are listed on this memorial wall in Washington D.C.



thomasbopedersen © 2009