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VietNam Vet compared to WWII vet stats - 2/28/2007 4:15:44 AM   

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From Major General (Ret.) David R. Bockel
Director of Army Affairs, Reserve Officers Association

For over 30 years I, like many Vietnam veterans, seldom spoke of Vietnam, except with other veterans, when training soldiers, and in public speeches. These past five years, I have joined the hundreds of thousands who believe it is high time the truth be told about the Vietnam War and the people who served there. It's time the American people learn that the United States military did not lose the War, and that a surprisingly high number of people who claim to have served there, in fact, DID NOT. As Americans, we support the men and women involved in the War on Terrorism. Below are some assembled some facts most readers will find interesting.

Vietnam War Facts: Facts, Statistics, Fake Warrior Numbers, and Myths Dispelled:
9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975. 2,709,918 Americans served in uniform in Vietnam.
Vietnam Veterans represented 9.7% of their generation.
240 men were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.
The first man to die in Vietnam was James Davis, in 1958. He was with the 509th Radio Research Station. Davis Station in Saigon was named for him.
58,148 were killed in Vietnam.
75,000 were severely disabled.
23,214 were 100% disabled.
5,283 lost limbs.
1,081 sustained multiple amputations.
Of those killed, 61% were younger than 21.
11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old.
Of those killed, 17,539 were married.
Average age of men killed: 23.1 years.
Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old.
The oldest man killed was 62 years old.
As of January 15, 2004, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
97% of Vietnam Veterans were honorably discharged.
91% of Vietnam Veterans say they are glad they served.
74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome.
Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the same non-vet age groups.
Vietnam veterans' personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent.
87% of Americans hold Vietnam Veterans in high esteem.
There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group (Source: Veterans Administration Study).
Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison—only one-half of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for crimes.
85% of Vietnam Veterans made successful transitions to civilian life.

Interesting Census Stats and "Been There" Wanabees:
1,713,823 of those who served in Vietnam were still alive as of August 1995 (census figures).
During that same Census count, the number of Americans falsely claiming to have served in-country was: 9,492,958.

As of the current Census taken during August 2000, the surviving U.S. Vietnam Veteran population estimate is: 1,002,511. This is hard to believe—losing nearly 711,000 between '95 and '00. That's 390 per day. During this Census count, the number of Americans falsely claiming to have served in-country is: 13,853,027. By this census, FOUR OUT OF FIVE WHO CLAIM TO BE Vietnam vets are not. The Department of Defense Vietnam War Service Index officially provided by The War Library originally reported with errors 2,709,918 U.S. military personnel as having served in-country. Corrections and confirmations to this errored index resulted in the addition of 358 U.S. military personnel confirmed to have served in Vietnam but not originally listed by the Department of Defense (all names are currently on file and accessible 24/7/365).

Isolated atrocities committed by American Soldiers produced torrents of outrage from anti-war critics and the news media while Communist atrocities were so common that they received hardly any media mention at all. The United States sought to minimize and prevent attacks on civilians while North Vietnam made attacks on civilians a centerpiece of its strategy. Americans who deliberately killed civilians received prison sentences while Communists who did so received commendations. From 1957 to 1973, the National Liberation Front assassinated 36,725 Vietnamese and abducted another 58,499. The death squads focused on leaders at the village level and on anyone who improved the lives of the peasants such as medical personnel, social workers, and school teachers.

Nixon Presidential Papers—Common Myths Dispelled:
Myth: Common Belief is that most Vietnam veterans were drafted. Fact: 2/3 of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers. Two-thirds of the men who served in World War II were drafted. Approximately 70% of those killed in Vietnam were volunteers.
Myth: The media have reported that suicides among Vietnam veterans range from 50,000 to 100,000—6 to 11 times the non-Vietnam veteran population. Fact: Mortality studies show that 9,000 is a better estimate. "The CDC Vietnam Experience Study Mortality Assessment showed that during the first 5 years after discharge, deaths from suicide were 1.7 times more likely among Vietnam veterans than non-Vietnam veterans. After that initial post-service period, Vietnam veterans were no more likely to die from suicide than non-Vietnam veterans. In fact, after the 5-year post-service period, the rate of suicides is less in the Vietnam veterans' group.
Myth: Common belief is that a disproportionate number of blacks were killed in the Vietnam War. Fact: 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."
Myth: Common belief is that the war was fought largely by the poor and uneducated. Fact: 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. Vietnam Veterans were the best educated forces our nation had ever sent into combat. 79% had a high school education or better.

Statistics from the Combat Area Casualty File (CACF) as of November, 1993 [The CACF is the basis for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall)]:
Average age of 58,148 killed in Vietnam was 23.11 years. (Although 58,169 names are in the Nov. 93 database, only 58,148 have both event date and birth date. Event date is used instead of declared dead date for some of those who were listed as missing in action).
Deaths Average Age Total: 58,148 23.11 years; Enlisted: 50,274 22.37 years; Officers: 6,598 28.43 years; Warrants: 1,276 24.73 years; E1 525 20.34 years; 11B MOS (infantryman): 18,465 22.55 years
Myth: The common belief is the average age of an infantryman fighting in Vietnam was 19. Fact: Assuming KIAs accurately represented age groups serving in Vietnam, the average age of an infantryman (MOS 11B) serving in Vietnam to be 19 years old is a myth; it is actually 22. None of the enlisted grades have an average age of less than 20. The average man who fought in World War II was 26 years of age.
Myth: The Common belief is that the domino theory was proved false. Fact: The domino theory was accurate. The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries of Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand stayed free of Communism because of the U.S. commitment to Vietnam. The Indonesians threw the Soviets out in 1966 because of America's commitment in Vietnam. Without that commitment, Communism would have swept all the way to the Malacca Straits—that is south of Singapore and of great strategic importance to the free world. If you ask the people who live in these countries who won the war in Vietnam, they have a different opinion from the American news media. The Vietnam War was the turning point for Communism.
Myth: The common belief is that the fighting in Vietnam was not as intense as in World War II. Fact: The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year thanks to the mobility of the helicopter. About 13 out of every 100 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty. 58,148 were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.7 million who served. Although the percent that died is similar to other wars, amputations or crippling wounds were 300 percent higher than in World War II. 75,000 Vietnam veterans are severely disabled. MEDEVAC helicopters flew nearly 500,000 missions. Over 900,000 patients were airlifted (nearly half were American). The average time lapse between wounding to hospitalization was less than one hour. As a result, less than one percent of all Americans wounded, who survived the first 24 hours, died. The helicopter provided unprecedented mobility. Without the helicopter, it would have taken three times as many troops to secure the 800-mile border with Cambodia and Laos (the politicians thought the Geneva Conventions of 1954 and the Geneva Accords of 1962 would secure the border).
Myth: Kim Phuc, the little nine year old Vietnamese girl running naked from the napalm strike near Trang Bang on 8 June 1972, shown a million times on American television, was burned by Americans bombing Trang Bang. Fact: 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.
Myth: The United States lost the war in Vietnam. Fact: The American military was not defeated in Vietnam. The American military did not lose a battle of any consequence. From a military standpoint, it was almost an unprecedented performance. General Westmoreland, quoting Douglas Pike, a professor at the University of California, Berkley as a major military defeat for the VC and NVA:” THE UNITED STATES DID NOT LOSE THE WAR IN VIETNAM, THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE DID.” Read on: The fall of Saigon happened 30 April 1975, two years AFTER the American military left Vietnam. The last American troops departed in their entirety 29 March 1973. How could we lose a war we had already stopped fighting? We fought to an agreed stalemate. The peace settlement was signed in Paris on 27 January 1973. It called for release of all U.S. prisoners, withdrawal of U.S. forces, limitation of both sides' forces inside South Vietnam and a commitment to peaceful reunification. The 140,000 evacuees in April 1975 during the fall of Saigon consisted almost entirely of civilians and Vietnamese military, NOT American military running for their lives. There were almost twice as many casualties in Southeast Asia (primarily Cambodia) the first two years after the fall of Saigon in 1975 than there were during the ten years the U.S. was involved in Vietnam. Thanks for the perceived loss and the countless assassinations and torture visited upon Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians goes mainly to the American media and their undying support-by-misrepresentation of the anti-War movement in the United States. As with much of the Vietnam War, the news media misreported and misinterpreted the 1968 Tet Offensive. It was reported as an overwhelming success for the Communist forces and a decided defeat for the U.S. forces. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite initial victories by the Communist forces, the Tet Offensive resulted in a major defeat of those forces. General Vo Nguyen Giap, the designer of the Tet Offensive, is considered by some as ranking with Wellington, Grant, Lee and MacArthur as a great commander. Still, militarily, the Tet Offensive was a total defeat of the Communist forces on all fronts. It resulted in the death of some 45,000 NVA troops and the complete, if not total, destruction of the Viet Cong elements in South Vietnam. The Organization of the Viet Cong Units in the South never recovered. The Tet Offensive succeeded on only one front and that was the News front and the political arena. This was another example in the Vietnam War of an inaccuracy becoming the perceived truth. However, inaccurately reported, the News Media made the Tet Offensive famous.

All credit and research to: Capt. Marshal Hanson, U.S.N.R. (Ret.); Capt. Scott Beaton, Statistical Source.


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RE: VietNam Vet compared to WWII vet stats - 2/28/2007 5:12:34 AM   


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Some of the stats are misleading when presented this way. In Viet Nam 88% of combat infantrymen were draftees, and although draftees were a small percent of the total military in 1969, 68% of combat deaths were draftees.

And the above stats make it sound like the well to do were more likely to die overall. Again, misleading. People from a wealthy background who were over there were perhaps more likely to die, but they were also volunteers.  Wealthy youth who didnt want to serve got a college deferment, something not available to uneducated and poor youth. 

And while "only" 12% of the casualties were African American, African Americans at the time made up just 11% percent of the population, and were mostly from the South, where they suffered the indignities of Segregation. So while denied their human rights at home, they were set off to die at the normal rate. How is it that the country did not value them as equals at home, but found no problem in giving them an equal chance to die?

And finally..the initial claim that the U.S. military did not win the war.  This is semantics.  The U.S. military can not claim to have met its goals in SE Asia.  Was it hamstrung? Yes. Was it forced to fight by other peoples rules? Yes.  Those are reasons..but the conclusion that the US lost this conflict is really unarguable.

(in reply to m10bob)
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RE: VietNam Vet compared to WWII vet stats - 2/28/2007 5:36:49 AM   


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This thread should be taken to the Steakhouse. Any off topic thread this volatile should be over there, as David Heath has asked of us.



fair winds,

(in reply to Vetamur)
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RE: VietNam Vet compared to WWII vet stats - 2/28/2007 6:11:58 AM   

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Some interesting bits, a Grunt in 1 Marine Div doing his tour of Vietnam saw more combat than his ol man from 1 Marine Div in WW2, didnt do as many amphib assaults though..


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(in reply to bradfordkay)
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RE: VietNam Vet compared to WWII vet stats - 2/28/2007 7:23:05 AM   

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you can always edit it out.


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RE: VietNam Vet compared to WWII vet stats - 2/28/2007 9:52:47 AM   

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Man, that block of text was almost impossible to read. Paragraphs, anyone?


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RE: VietNam Vet compared to WWII vet stats - 2/28/2007 5:04:35 PM   
Yamato hugger


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I am a Vietnam era vet. That is to say that I never served in country. I did volunteer for it. That being said:

The unit I was assigned to in Nov 75 (just after the fall of Vietnam) was 80% black. In 76, during the infamous "tree cutting" incident in Korea Pres Ford alerted the entire military. I was assigned to Ft Benning at the time, and we were deployed to our "combat" area which was in Germany. Of the 39 people in the companies "advance party" 2 of us were white, 1 hispanic, and the rest were black, including my platoon leader. This was typical of every unit at Ft Benning, with the exception of the helicopter units (meaning the pilots, crew, and ground crew, not refering to airmobile infantry). Those units tended to be maybe slightly better than 50-50.

Having been there and seen it, I find some of those statistics hard to believe. As for 85% of the population supporting us: maybe as of 2000, but not in 1975, I can tell you that. The only people that would willingly support anyone or at least vocalize it in uniform that I saw was a vet.

(in reply to Terminus)
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RE: VietNam Vet compared to WWII vet stats - 2/28/2007 5:49:55 PM   

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Where's the comparison to WW2 vets?



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(in reply to Yamato hugger)
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RE: VietNam Vet compared to WWII vet stats - 2/28/2007 5:50:16 PM   


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I agree a lot of it is probably "spun"..and some it just..well.. I dont know how to put it. For example this sentence:

The first man to die in Vietnam was James Davis, in 1958. He was with the 509th Radio Research Station. Davis Station in Saigon was named for him.

The first man to die in Vietnam was not James Davis.  The first man to die in Vietnam was.. anyone? VIETNAMESE. Yes..they are people too. And among all the stats listed there..none were on that side.

I am not really going to comment much more than that. It wasnt my generation..although very indirectly Im alive because of the war (my father was illegally drafted.. met my mother while in the army..).

(in reply to Yamato hugger)
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RE: VietNam Vet compared to WWII vet stats - 2/28/2007 6:31:39 PM   

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58,148 were killed in Vietnam.

What were the Vietnamese? Subhumans? This sort of thing annoys me. Everyone on BOTH sides of that war was human with hopes, dreams, families who wanted them to come home etc. Forgetting that is the sort of thing which enables politicians to manoeuvre nations into going to war for insufficient reasons.


The Tet Offensive succeeded on only one front and that was the News front and the political arena.

. Whether or not America won every significant land battle during the war is not the point. The American politico-military ( in that order) establishment did not pull the majority of forces out of the country because of ground defeats. The troops left because the popularsupport for the war in America ebbed away. North Vietnam could NEVER hope to defeat a an American military which was supported by a public 100% committed to the prosecution of the war irrespective of cost. As such it struck at the social supports for the war and THIS arena proved to be the decisive one which forced America to leave its satellite to its fate. So to say the Tet offensive was a failure and then point to its success in what turned out to be the decisive arena is completely dunderheaded.


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.

Oh well that's OK then. So long as only her cousins burned to death we can ignore the horrific fact that civilians were injured and killed by a napalm attack. That one minor factual inaccuracy allows us to negate the reality of the pain, suffering and loss seen in that picture. F'ing BS!!!

And as to the points regarding Psychiatry. I'm a psychiatrist by trade and have a particular interest in PTSD and the military experience of shell shock/PTSD, have treated many soldiers suffering from PTSD following combat and have been published on this. Suffice it to say the "facts" furnished are absolutely misleading and skewed to the authors' agendas. A few examples:


There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group (Source: Veterans Administration Study).

A nice point but also one which is highly misleading. Here's why: drug usage implies CURRENT use of drugs. What about drug usage at points in the past? It is entirely possible to have had a problem with heroin, cocaine etc in the past and have that ruin a career, marriage etc etc but to no longer suffer from said addiction. Does this mean that whatever drove you to the problem in the past should be ignored? Obviously not. In addition the results of the study would ONLY be valid if it was not only an age-matched cohort but also a socio-economically matched cohort... something which isn't specified but WOULD have been trumpete in the VA study if it were age and socio-economically matched. Furthermore much depends on one's definition of drugs? It would be very easy to say that 40% of the population uses drugs occasionally or frequently and that the same number of vets use drugs and then draw the conclusion that being a veteran has no impact on drug usage HOWEVER what about the TYPES of drugs used? If most of the non-vets just smoke cannabis occasionally then that is likely to have far less impact on their lives than if the they are using cocaine or heroine occasionally. In addition they do not discuss the IMPACT of the drug usage on the person's life. One of the most important indicators of the severity of a problem is the IMPACT on the person's life. A stockbroker might have a $2000 a week cocaine habit but so do most of his age and socio-economically matched peer group so it isn't a huge problem as he is still holding down his job. A returning vet who has difficulty finding a job and develops a habit could quickly find himself homeless.

Again no-one can say that the study they refer to is definitely flawed but saying they are age-matched implies they are not age and socio-economically matched in academic research. If they were fully matched then this is what the study would have said.


Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison only one-half of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for crimes.

I have VA studies which show that this is not so. In particular they don't mention what cohort they are matching to... something which makes this statistic meaningless at best and misleading at worst.


85% of Vietnam Veterans made successful transitions to civilian life.

Define succesful? I read a study from the 80s which listed very much this % as the rate of succesful return to civilian life. It defined a succesful return to civilian life as being one in which the veteran could hold down a job. When they went back 15 years later and re-examined they found that:
1. The jobs many of the vets had received upon return were far below what would have been expected for an age and education-matched cohort.
2. There were far higher rates of alcohol dependence and misuse among the vets EVEN amongst those who WERE holding down jobs than among an age and socio-economically matched cohort.
3. Far higher rates of spousal abuse, marital disattisfaction and failure to be able to maintain a relationship among vets who had served in vietnam when compared to an age and socio-economically matched cohort.

In any case even if we accept their figure of 85% - something we would be fools to do - out of the 3 million men ( approx) who served in vietnam 15% = 450,000 who, even by these propagandists' results, did NOT succesfully transition to civilian life. What a toll that is.

I don't mind people re-examining the perceived history of past events and I wish the "facts" these guys spout were actually true as it would have resulted in far less suffering for Vietnam veterans but there is NO excuse for twisting facts and words in order to make a political point.

< Message edited by Nemo121 -- 2/28/2007 6:51:14 PM >

(in reply to Vetamur)
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RE: VietNam Vet compared to WWII vet stats - 2/28/2007 10:47:57 PM   


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Hi !

With all due respect to those people (of all involved parties), The Vietnam Conflict does not really belong here. Since my wife is from Cambodia and nearly lost her whole family there, I also have a opinion concerning this conflict and its aftermaths. But politically influenced statements (especially concerning currently ongoing conflicts) should not be discussed in this forum.


(in reply to m10bob)
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