Questions about the Vietnam War

Discussion in 'Post-War' started by Pisis, Jun 15, 2010.

  1. Pisis

    Pisis Active Member

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    I was wondering what was the structure of (mainly US) soldiers in the Vietnam War?
    I know there was a big number of volunteers - what does that exactly mean? I thought the service in Vietnam was obligatory, as you were drafted...

    I also came across some information saying that US soldiers were paid - here is the link WikiAnswers - How much were soldiers paid to fight in Vietnam

    Finally, I must say I was shocked to learn that a duty tour was one f-c-ing year! What that meant exactly? I assume the soldiers were not on the frontline for a year? Was there any subtour of days spending on the frontline, or was that pretty much individual?

    Thanks in advance for clearing this up for me!

    [​IMG]
     
  2. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    #2 ToughOmbre, Jun 15, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2010
    Pisis,

    Tours of duty were one (1) year.

    The soldier's/marine's MOS/unit/mission, would determine how much front line combat would be seen.

    As in most wars, the vast majority of servicemen did not see combat.

    The Viet Nam War war the only war in American history that the US Marines drafted men to fill their ranks.

    http://www.vietnam-war.info/facts/

    TO
     
  3. Pisis

    Pisis Active Member

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    Thank you, TO.
     
  4. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Very cool TO, I never knew that little factoid.
     
  5. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Nice shot of Aussie troops there Pisis.
     
  6. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    The war started out as American troops being used as 'advisors' for the South Vietnamese and steadily increased from there.
     
  7. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    #7 timshatz, Jun 16, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010
    TO, actually, towards the end of WW2, the Marines had to draft to fill ranks there too. Late 44 to 45. I know there were Marine draftees on Okinawa.

    Also, not all draftees went to Vietnam, but the majority did. The way the process worked, the military put out the number of guys they needed for that year and that number was broken down to various geographic units (State, County, Town, ect). If a given area was expected to put 100 guys in the military (in this case, Marine/Army exclusively) and 50 enlisted, then they only had to draft 50. If there were 1000 draft eligable guys in your area, then you only had to draft the top 15-20 or so birthdays to give you enough guys to cover the quota (expecting guys to fail the physical or be ineligable due to jail time or mental illness).

    Drafting was based on your birthday. Birthdays were picked by a lottery method. Also, you could get a deferement for any number of reasons, the most common being a student deferment. Your deferment was good only as long as you were a student (or whatever the deferment was for), when it ended, you were eligable for the draft. When drafted, you were in for 2 years, one year over in Vietnam (13 months for the Marines) and the rest (both training time before and ordinary military time after) was done back here in the States or on a US military bases somewhere else in the world. In some cases, You could end your military service early by extending your tour in Vietnam from 1 year to 18 months. Then, you would come home and get right out. Most people didn't do it.

    Most people who got draft notices, the vast majority, went. Draft dodging got a lot of attention but it wasn't anywhere near as common as Hollywood would have you believe. Things were not much different then than any other time. Running was not considered a good thing and most people didn't like the idea of being branded a draft dodger, no matter how the political considerations were presented.

    You could avoid service in Vietnam by doing time in the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard. While the Navy and Air Force were definitely in the Vietnam, it was more of an Infantry intensive war and they saw less of the front lines. Reserve and National Guard units did not go to Vietnam (as they had in Korea) as they were not activated unless it was a national emergency and Vietnam was not such a war. It was a case that actually ended up in court, the rulling being against the Military sending them to Vietnam. However, many, if not all, Reserve and Guard units had members that went on a voluntary basis or went into those units when they returned. There were also a considerable number of guys in the Reserves and National Guard who were there because they didn't want to get drafted. Especially with the National Guard, which were State sponsored and more political, who you knew was helpful if you wanted to avoid the draft but still do your military commitment.

    On the whole, most draftees ended up in Marine and Army units as the other services were filled with guys who didn't want to do time in the Army or Marines as Draftees. The composition of draftees to enlisted was about 50/50. Their actual performance difference (between a guy who enlisted to be there and those that were drafted) was not much different. Draftees tended to be about as good as those who enlisted.
     
  8. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    Cool info Timshatz!
     
  9. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    I stand corrected on that tim. Thanks.

    Remember that the lottery did not start until 1970. If I'm not mistaken the numbers for the first year were assigned in November or December 1969. There were lots of "Lottery parties" on my college campus to celebrate or grieve. I was #148.

    Prior to the lottery it was pretty much luck of the draw unless you had a deferment (school, health, sole surviving son, sole support etc.)

    TO
     
  10. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Good points I neglected TO, thanks for pointing it out.

    I remember seeing some over the top movie about the Vietnam War period where the characters are hanging around the dorms watching the drawing. One guy gets it and it's treated like a death sentence.

    But the whole movie was way too dramatic so I figured it was just crappy directing. There were a ton of movies in the late 70s, dealing with the Vietnam war, directed by people who really didn't know what they were talking about.
     
  11. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Lot of bad Viet Nam War movies tim. As a rule I don't watch them.

    Exception is "We Were Soldiers". Very accurate, very well done.

    TO
     
  12. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    I found the movie! And after reading the reviewers take on it, I was right. IT REALLY, REALLY STUNK!

    A Small Circle of Friends (1980)

    If anyone has time on their hands and wants to feel what it's like to be executed by a weird combination of boredom and hyperbole, watch this movie. If you make it to the end without shooting yourself, you can use it in your favor at Judgement day. Kind of Cosmic Brownie Points.
     
  13. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    That one year of tour for an infantryman meant he was most probably engaged in continuous combat for his tour. Even in WW2, it was rare for anyone (US forces) to actually have that happen.

    And you can thank the helicopters for making it happen.
     
  14. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Interesting stuff fellas! :thumbright:
     
  15. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    Voluntary enlistment in all the US armed forces was basically abolished in December 1942, on the idea that draft boards could best direct the most suitable men to the various services and specialities, rather than have volunteers gravitate toward whatever they perceived as safest, or most heroic and glorious, or whatever else. The Marines were then also placed under that system, though in practice also kept accepting volunteers (for exampe 17 yr olds, who were old enough to enlist but not yet subject to the draft). And a large number of men had volunteered prior to that. The draft as whole expanded later in the war as the US began to scrape the manpower barrel, but the incorporation of the Marines into the draft system was on this idea of better management of the personnel resources ratther than not enough volunteers for the Marines, per se.

    Joe
     
  16. Pisis

    Pisis Active Member

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    Thanks for the information, Tim and TO.

    I have that one prepared in my collection to watch. Saw "The Hamburger Hill" the other night. What do you think of that? A lil too gay and rambo-like for my taste...
     
  17. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    You're welcome Pisis!

    Haven't watched "Hamburger Hill" in a while. There certainly are worse Viet Nam War era movies.

    TO
     
  18. Pisis

    Pisis Active Member

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    Yup. One of my favorites is Coppola's Full Metal Jacket...
     
  19. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    One of the greatest fallacies of the Vietnam War was that the draft pulled mainly poor, non-white Americans to serve. If you look at the actual statistics, this is completely unfounded and false. Many would like to believe that mostly poor black Americans served as the majority of ground troops. While many African-Americans did serve, they were very much the minority. All served admirably.

    2/3 of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers. 2/3 of the men who served in World War II were drafted. Approximately 70% of those killed in 'Nam were volunteers.

    86% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasians, 12.5% were black, 1.2% were other races.

    Sociologists Charles C. Moskos and John Sibley Butler, in their recently published book "All That We Can Be," said they analyzed the claim that blacks were used like cannon fodder during Vietnam "and can report definitely that this charge is untrue.

    Black fatalities amounted to 12 percent of all Americans killed in Southeast Asia - a figure proportional to the number of blacks in the U.S. population at the time and slightly lower than the proportion of blacks in the Army at the close of the war."

    Servicemen who went to Vietnam from well-to-do areas had a slightly elevated risk of dying because they were more likely to be pilots or infantry officers.

    And I personally find this profound:

    Kim Phuc, the little nine year old Vietnamese girl running naked from the napalm strike near Trang Bang on 8 June 1972, was burned by Americans bombing Trang Bang. We all know that pic... she's tragically running naked with her arms in the air supposedly after a US napalm strike against her innocent villiage?

    No American had involvement in this incident near Trang Bang that burned Phan Thi Kim Phuc. The planes doing the bombing near the village were VNAF (Vietnam Air Force) and were being flown by Vietnamese pilots in support of South Vietnamese troops on the ground.

    The Vietnamese pilot who dropped the napalm in error is currently living in the United States. Even the AP photographer, Nick Ut, who took the picture was Vietnamese. The incident in the photo took place on the second day of a three day battle between the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) who occupied the village of Trang Bang and the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) who were trying to force the NVA out of the village.

    Recent reports in the news media that an American commander ordered the air strike that burned Kim Phuc are incorrect. There were no Americans involved in any capacity. "We (Americans) had nothing to do with controlling VNAF," according to Lieutenant General (Ret) James F. Hollingsworth, the Commanding General of TRAC at that time. Also, it has been incorrectly reported that two of Kim Phuc's brothers were killed in this incident. They were Kim's cousins not her brothers.
     
  20. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    All true Matt. The myths of the Viet Nam War are just that.......MYTHS.

    TO
     
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