Army Nurse Joan Furey (03:27)
Watching a film about nurses in WWII made Furey realize women could be courageous. She joined the military after a friend was killed in Tet and was assigned to the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku; she recalls treating the wounded.
War and Opposition (04:38)
President Nixon, who promised to end the war with honor, knew military victory was impossible, but believed Hanoi leadership would agree to talk peace in Paris. He widened the war and reignited opposition on college campuses. Rock music provided anthems for the American counter culture.
Prisoners of War (04:24)
Nixon demanded all U.S. prisoners be released and a strict accounting of those missing in action before American troops would withdraw; Hanoi insisted the prisoners were war criminals. Sybil Stockdale formed the National League of Families of Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. The Saigon government held approximately 40,000 Viet Cong and NVA prisoners, and 200,000 South Vietnamese civilians.
American Military Commitment (02:23)
James Gilliam cites rules of tunnel warfare and recalls strangling a man. By April 1969, 543,482 American men and women were in Vietnam, thousands were stationed near borders, and nearly 41,000 had died.
Battle of Hamburger Hill (04:01)
The battle on Hill 937 caught the attention of the American public. American troops withdrew after they had taken the hill, sparking controversy. "Life" magazine published images of Americans who had died in one week; military commanders used kill ratios to measure success.
Nixon's advisers warned South Vietnam could not withstand the Viet Cong and NVA without the help of American troops, but Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird said the war would be Vietnamized; American troops would withdraw. Nixon met with President Nguyen Van Thieu on Midway Island.
South Vietnamese Army (05:43)
American soldiers left South Vietnam as weapons and supplies arrived. A.R.V.N. forces increased but corruption deteriorated their effectiveness; many A.R.V.N. fought well but were overlooked by Americans. Tom Vallely was a Marine Corps radio operator who fought in Quang Nam Province.
Woodstock and Minorities in Vietnam (06:56)
Approximately half a million Americans gathered on a dairy farm in New York for a music festival. Black soldiers were treated differently from their white counterparts behind the lines. An estimated 170,000 Hispanic soldiers served in Vietnam; Juan Ramirez learned of his family's antiwar activity while in Vietnam.
Patrick Paulsen jokes about draft laws. Vincent Okamoto recalls the reasons he was told Americans were in Vietnam and the mindset of grunts. The number of murders or attempted murders by enlisted men of their superiors increased in the summer of 1969.
Peace Talks (04:18)
Henry Kissinger began secret talks with the North Vietnamese. Ho Chi Minh died September 2, 1969; Le Duan addressed the National Assembly. Robert Frishman and Douglas Hegdahl gave a press conference about their time as POWs.
Medics and Corpsmen (02:50)
Wayne Smith's unit was ambushed on his first patrol; he vowed to make a difference. Navy Corpsmen and medics accompanied infantry units; nearly 2,000 died. Smith reflects on killing.
Antiwar Movement (10:52)
Activists prepared a peaceful moratorium; Nixon canceled draft calls for November and December and instituted a lottery system. The Weathermen staged "four days of rage" in Chicago. The national moratorium on October 15th was the largest outpouring of public dissent; Nixon asked the American public for patience and support.
Quang Ngai Province (04:31)
Jan Howard's son was killed in Vietnam; she refused to protest against the war. Quang Ngai was hard hit during the war; Tim O'Brien recalls the people and his platoon's lack of purpose. Mines and bobby traps were the greatest threats to soldiers.
Life of a Soldier (03:12)
Bao Ninh was drafted into the NVA at the age of 17; he and his fellow soldiers feared American fire power. Ninh describes the soldier experience as miserable; the NVA had to forage for food.
My Lai Massacre (06:15)
O'Brien's unit was sent to "Pinkville." The story of the massacre broke on November 12, 1969. In March 1968, members of the Americal Division murdered 407 villagers; another company murdered 97 more villagers a mile or so away.
Response to My Lai (03:51)
Military command was notified about the murders but did not act; Nixon wanted those who reported the slaughter investigated. Gen. William Peers was eventually assigned to investigate; the Army indicted 25 officers and men.
Opposition to War (08:18)
James Willbanks explains his response to protestors; demonstrators gathered at the capital, New York, and San Francisco on November 15, 1969. Soldiers in Pleiku refused to eat Thanksgiving dinner. John Musgrave reflects on being a veteran, the peace movement, and suicidal thoughts.
Draft Evasion (03:56)
Jack Todd underwent Marine officer training, but was forced to drop out; he received a draft notice from the Army and was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington. Todd could not file for conscientious objector status and decided to flee to Canada; he eventually gained citizenship.
Nixon's First Year (07:48)
Hal Kushner thought about his family while imprisoned. In February 1970, Kissinger began new secret negotiations with Le Duc Tho; violence by revolutionaries tarnished the antiwar cause. Nixon sent 30,000 troops into Cambodia in April 1970, reigniting the antiwar movement.
War Protests End in Death (09:26)
Ohio National Guardsmen fired on students at Kent State University, killing four. Over 4 million college students demonstrated against the war and the shootings; state police fired on a dormitory in Mississippi. O'Brien, Bill Ehrhart, and Musgrave reflect on joining the antiwar movement.
Credits: The History of the World (April 1969-May 1970) (03:07)
Credits: The History of the World (April 1969-May 1970)
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