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Oklahomans and the Vietnam War

Battle in Vietnam

Although America was very well known as a military superpower, the National Liberation Front(NLF) proved to be tough opposition through the use of guerrilla warfare. The Communist Vietnamese in the North used young individuals who were not prepared to fight against experienced American soldiers and were only given basic, minimal training. They became known as the Vietcong. The Vietcong were armed with weapons given by other communist powers, the Soviet Union and China, to use against American forces in the South. They acquired weapons through the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a series of strategic trails located in the mountains and forest that was important tactical system for North Vietnam. Hiding was a key element for North Vietnam's combat approach, which included hidden bases. Members of the Vietcong would hide among innocent civilians, which made detecting the enemy difficult. Homemade booby traps caused many American deaths. About one hundred Americans died per week from these guerrilla methods.

The Air Force was a fundamental component of US forces fighting in Vietnam. They provided air support as well as air evacuations for troops in trouble. In February 1965 President Lyndon Johnson called for Operation Rolling Thunder, which involved the bombing of North Vietnam military bases, civilian villages, and eventually the essential Ho Chi Minh Trail. American airplanes would use a chemical named Agent Orange to remove the vast amount of forest in Vietnam, but the powerful herbicide would cause serious health issues for those who were exposed to it. Another popular weapon used by the Americans was the napalm bomb, a slow-burning chemical that caused extreme damage to the environment as well as painful deaths. Tactics for American soldiers on the ground included search and destroy missions to find Vietcong forces and led to zippo raids, which destroyed many villages and hurt many civilians in the process.

American planes protecting South Vietnam soldiers (image courtesy of CNN).4

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The Draft
Battle in Vietnam
The Antiwar Movement
Support and Protest at home
Veterans return home