Many guide and travel books suggest that it is not appropriate to talk about the war, and that Vietnamese people don't like to talk about it. I found that not to be the case. As an amateur military historian, and of a mature age that remembers the war, I found many that enjoyed talking about it, and in most cases, actually started the conversation with... "How many tours of duty did you do?", or "Where did you serve over here?".

But anyway, it is an issue I have where the Vietnamese officially call the war, "The American War", while the westerners call it "The Vietnam War". Depending on which way you wish to view it, the situation should either be called "The Vietnamese Fight for Independence", or "The Long War of Vietnam".

There is so much misinformation, incorrect perceptions and forgotten facts, that the real story of that war has become so very clouded. The conflict is not that merely of the 1960's into the early 70's, but centuries earlier in the 1400's when China invaded repeatedly. Interesting fact, when Khubla Khan invaded Vietnam, he got his butt well and truly kicked!
Japan invaded and conquered Vietnam in World War Two. After their defeat, Ho Chi Minh and his Viet Minh fighters took the opportunity to attempt to oust the French colonization that began much earlier  in the 1850's. France finally pulled out in the late 1950's after also getting their butts kicked.

A division was made of the country, making it North and South at the 17th parralell. This was only a brief peace after continual invasion and wars for over 500 years.

A full on war began in the early 1960's and while I do not know if it is completely factual as the cause, there were massacres of Vietnamese people in the south, by the southern governement that opposed Ho Chi Minh and communism. Some sources say this is what caused "Uncle Ho" to move his military efforts south of the 17th parallel to engage in  a war that would leave many thousands of people dead.

I have heard so many and read on several websites that this war in the 1960's was the westerners holding back the push from China. Not so. Vietnam was allied to Russia and not China, to the extent that China invaded Vietnam after America and the allies had left in the 1970's.

I have a real "bug bear" with Vietnamese calling it "The American War", in consideration that also in that war in alliance against Ho Chi Minh and his pro communist armies were military forces from New Zealand, Phillipines, South Korea and my home country of Australia. More than 500 Australians lost there lives in Vietnam during that war, so how the title of American War is appropriate just loses it's shine.

While the North finally took over southern Vietnam. the deaths did not stop there. Here we are more than 40 years later, and people are still killed or maimed by unexploded ordinances, mostly in the form of mines and cluster bombs dropped by U.S. aircraft. Not being hand placed, their individual locations are not known. This is not like an old mine field you can merely fence off. In 2007, construction work at a high school at Vung Tau uncovered an anti-tank mine less than  a metre below the surface. Farmers and other persons doing their daily toil in the soil are still at very real risk of losing an arm, a leg or their lives.

Then there is Agent Orange. As a young fellow, we used it to spray weeds on the farm. In agricultural use it was called 245T and 24D. My father and I would dilute a tea cup full into 40 gallons of water to kill weeds, while during the war in Vietnam, it was aerial sprayed at only 50% dilution across the jungles and farm lands.  Water specimens taken from wells today are still containing this powerful residual defoliant as much as 200 times higher than accepted safe levels. While the US Governement state there is no link between Agent Orange, cancer and birth defects and thus refuse to pay compensation,  a visit to Vietnam and reading the unbiased repoirts will sway your opinion otherwise.

Something to think about..... this current generation of young Vietnamese people is the first since the 1400's not to have lived during a war within it's own country.
Some internet sources on land mines in Vietnam today.....
QUOTE - It is estimated that between three-hundred fifty-thousand and eight-hundred thousand tons of unexploded ordnance and persistent landmines affect all provinces in Vietnam to various degrees.
QUOTE - Since 1975, 4 million bombs and landmines have been removed. But the Viet Nam Veterans of America Foundation estimates that more than 20 percent of Viet Nam still is contaminated by landmines and UXO.
Since the end of the U.S. war with Viet Nam in 1974, more than 38,000 people have been killed from contact with these, and another 64,000 people have been injured. Sixty-one provinces and cities still have landmines or UXO, and an average of 1,000 people are killed each year because of landmines or UXO.


Some internet sources on Agent Orange.......
QUOTE - Vietnam estimates more than one million of its people have been exposed to Agent Orange, used from 1962 to 1971 to strip trees and plants and deny communist fighters forest cover and food. It says the product caused tens of thousands of birth defects and other diseases.,8599,214153,00.html
QUOTE - Unable to sit up by herself, Trang is one of dozens of malformed babies born in Bien Hoa, where birth defects occur three to four times more often than in other parts of the country, according to a leading Vietnamese researcher. The prime suspect is Agent Orange, the chemical defoliant sprayed for nine years by U.S. warplanes over southern Vietnam.
QUOTE - More than one million former soldiers and civilians in Vietnam are suffering from the effects from Agent Orange
QUOTE - Agent Orange was a 50-50 mix of two chemicals, known conventionally as 2,4,D and 2,4,5,T. The combined product was mixed with kerosene or diesel fuel and dispersed by aircraft, vehicle, and hand spraying. An estimated 19 million gallons of Agent Orange were used in South Vietnam during the war.

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