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Notes on the 20th Century

by Michael H. Burchett




The Vietnam Conflict: Facts and Figures

A Chronology:

1950 -- President Truman provides U.S. aid to French military in Indochina; 35 American advisers sent to Vietnam.

1954 -- Geneva Conference on Indochina. | President Eisenhower pledges aid to South Vietnam.

1961 -- President Kennedy increases number of military advisers to South Vietnam.

1964 -- American and North Vietnamese forces clash in the Gulf of Tonkin. | Congress grants president Johnson authority to "take all necessary steps to repel armed attacks against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression" (Gulf of Tonkin Resolution).

1968 -- Tet offensive. | Johnson orders bombing halt, providing basis for negotiations.

1969 -- Paris peace talks begin in earnest. | President Nixon calls for "Vietnamization" of the war, orders staged withdrawal of American troops.

1970 -- U.S. troops enter Cambodia to destroy North Vietnamese supply bases.

1971 -- Secret peace negotiations with North Vietnamese begun by presidential adviser Henry Kissinger.

1972 -- Last U.S. combat troops leave South Vietnam. | Christmas bombing of Hanoi/Haiphong.

1973 -- Truce agreement signed in Paris, cease-fire in Vietnam. | Last U.S. military personnel leave South Vietnam. U.S. prisoners of war released.

1975 -- Fall of Saigon. | Evacuation of American Embassy.


The Contending Parties:

The Allies

South Vietnam

United States

South Korea


New Zealand



The Communists

North Vietnam

National Liberation Front (Vietcong)

B-52s bomb North Vietnamese targets near the

Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), September 1968


South Vietnam military

Other Allied forces

North Vietnam/Vietcong














Battle of Khe Sanh, 1968

At the Height of the War, 1968-69:

American troops: 543,000

South Vietnamese troops: 819,200

Allied troops: 1,593,300

Communist forces: 810,000 (in South Vietnam: 250,000)

American ground attacks (battalion or larger): 1,100/year

American air attacks: 400,000/year

Bombs dropped: 1.2 million tons/year

U.S. expenditures for bombing: $14 billion/year

Military defoliation: 1,195,500 acres/year

Military crop destruction: 220,000 acres/year

Americans killed in action: 20,000/year

Communists killed in action: 200,000/year

Refugees generated: 585,000/year

Civilian casualties: 130,000/month

(L) Protesters burn draft cards in Central Park, 1967 ; (R) President Lyndon Johnson announces that he will not run for re-election, 1968

(All photos on this page are from Multieducator)

The American Commitment:

Americans who served: 3,300,000

Americans killed: 57,605

Americans wounded: 303,700

Americans taken prisoner: 766

Americans who died in captivity: 114

Americans declared missing (1965-75): 5,011


American aid to South Vietnam (1955-75): $24 billion

Direct American expenditures for the conflict: $165 billion


The Evacuation, April 1975:

Americans evacuated: 1,373

Vietnamese evacuated: 5,595

Value of U.S. military equipment seized by the Communists: $1 billion


The Aftermath:

Military and civilian dead (all forces): 1,313,000

Disabled U.S. Vietnam veterans: 519,000

Americans awarded Medal of Honor (as of 3/81): 237

Land defoliated: 5.2 million acres

Indochinese refugees generated: 9,000,000

Indochinese refugees resettled in the U.S. (4/79): 220,000


All figures are estimated.

Note: Because of the nature of the Vietnam War and its aftermath, definitive statistics on all aspects of the war are difficult to obtain. The figures cited above, many of them approximate, have been reviewed with appropriate government agencies.

Vietnam War Bibliography


Notes on the 20th Century is produced by Jefferson's Terraplane
This page is updated monthly: visit here again for more essays, quizzes, quotes, and other information on twentieth-century America.

Feedback is encouraged:

Copyright 1999 Michael H. Burchett


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Number 11: "The "Progressive" Origins of the War on Drugs, Part II

Number 10: Origins of American Racial and Ethnic Slurs

Number 9: Technology -- the Inventors

Number 8: Postwar Prosperity and the Birth of Mass Culture, Part II

Number 7: Pop Culture Quiz, Postwar Prosperity & the Birth of Mass Culture, Part I

Number 6: Black History Quiz, Message from the Publisher

Number 5: Pearl Harbor

Number 4: "The "Progressive" Origins of the War on Drugs, Part I

Number 3: "The Vietnam Conflict: Facts and Figures

Number 2: "The Celebration of Independence Day: A Southern Perspective"

Number 1: "The Birth of FM Radio"


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