Vietnam War: Facts, Stats & Myths

Myth: Common belief is that most Vietnam veterans were drafted.
Fact: 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 Vietnam were volunteers.

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.

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23 thoughts on “Vietnam War: Facts, Stats & Myths”

  1. The one myth about the war that always ticked me off was that the combat in vietnam was not as intense as Korea or WW-2 . I was told often, early on, by some WW-2 and Korean vets “You guys have no idea what real combat is” Fact is that the average combat time for WW-2 vets was 40 days, in the south Pacific, not sure about Korea, the average combat time in vietnam was 240 days, thanks to “Choppers”. Does that make it more intense? Was not in WW-2 or Korea so i can’t say. Bill 0331 P.S. not even sure the exact amount I had in the field. seemed like a long time to me.

    1. I was raised in a small town just west of Nashville and remember going to the Legion with my Dad when I was a youngster. The stories I heard there were incredible and interesting. When I got back from Vietnam I could not wait to become a member and tell some of my own stories. It was not to be, I was shunned by the most of them. Not sure if i was even able to join at that point. Those guys are all gone now but If i could talk to them now I would tell them how much that affected me over the years. A year later i left that town and tried to move on only to find that that attitude was most everywhere. In todays world it is a different. Years later iwas finally able to tell my stories but in a different venue, “The VA”.

      1. I appreciate your comments now but when I came back from Vietnam I didn’t want to join nothing or even talk to anybody I just was isolated but thank you brother and God bless you made it home to

        1. Semper Fi Vernon ! I often wonder how differently things would have turned out if i could have talked about it then. Maybe not different at all but who knows. Right? Nick 0311

      2. Hey Brother Nick, Your story is similar to mine.could not wait to get home and go have a beer with my Dad at the Legion. It did not go the way I imagined. That’s all I will say. Paul S 0311

  2. Strange how the art of war is fought. I was just watching a civil war movie and both sides were in formation facing off at some distance and each side would artillery each other and one side would commence marching across an open field! Suffering massive casualties! Peace to all you warriors. Semper Fi.

    1. Kapena, It hasn’t change that much, we did the same thing in Vietnam on operation Hickory. 2/26 tried to cross the fire break as we called it. One day in May and couldn’t, I had been with F 2/26 a few weeks before but now was with H 2/9. We arrived at the south side where F 2/26 was, I saw some of the guys I had been with, they ask me where we were going I said tomorrow morning we are crossing to the north side, they smiled and said we tried that yesterday, good luck. Next day came we got on line and started across. Just before we got to the other side we laid down a base of fire, as we got into the tree line all hell broke loose. We were across. I remember smokes going off, and thought they can’t bring a Med chopper in here. Then I realized some guys that had smokes on them were hit. We moved up and dug in on the north side. The NVA had their artillery and we had ours, but we had Jets too. It’s all the same the dates and names change, it’s WAR. Murray 1371

  3. I think the official date for Vietnam era could be debated ,(1955 to 1975, 1959 to 1975, 1961 to 1975, 1964 to 1975) could probably go back even further. Harry

    1. To receive the “Vietnam Era Pin” you would have had to serve between 1955 and 75 , even if you were not in country at the time. Harry

      1. The”Vietnam Era Pin” is a participation trophy and blurs the distinction of the Vietnam Veteran from the Vietnam Era veteran.

        1. I agree 100%!! I received my pin at a ceremony at the VA hospital. Thought it to be a distinct award for in country vets, found out later that was for era vets, even the ones that were happy they did not have to go and called me “stupid for going” Do not mean to take away from anyones service, but a lot of the vets accepting the pin enlisted in the reserves to decrease their chance of having to go , and now are being rewarded? No bitterness here! Harry 1371

  4. …and no one mentions major battles won or lost by American forces. I believe in WWII it was at least six in the lost column. I’m unsure of Korea but my “baby-boomer” generation – that, according to WWII and Korean vets, couldn’t fight our way out of a wet paper bag – lost ZERO – NONE – NADA – ZIP.

    Ooh-rah! Hooah! Anchors Aweigh! Semper Fi!

  5. Of the 2.7 million who served in Vietnam, how many saw combat? I was told that those stationed in Saigon had to ware dress uniforms and could not carry a weapon because we didn’t want to look like occupiers of Vietnam.

    1. I am very proud of my CAR. I also had no one to tell stories to. Drove a semi for forty years for Yellow Freight System. Sometimes drove down the highway and all the sudden start crying. Sounds dumb right. After retiring things got worse. Finally went to the VA. I am an 0311 but became a R/O. Company Captain put me in for a Navy/MC Achievement with “V”. Pretty proud of that too. Semper Fi brother.

        1. Hey brother Nick. I was with Mike 3/1 all of 70. It was turned into a CUPP unit. Just one squad of us with one squad of PF’s. When they were around. We stayed on the edges of villages and ran 4 man patrols and ambushes both night and day. Got pretty interesting. Semper Fi.

  6. Our family is in our 4th consecutive generation of Marines since Korea. Just an observation: Korean conflict was 1950 till 27July1953 (one of my birthdays, hmm), 36,914 KIA; Vietnam, using 8Mar1965 when 3,500 Marines landed and engaged in action, 0ver 58,000 KIA in Vietnam. Obviously, the manpower commitment, the length of time, and advanced weaponry affected those numbers. Regardless, that’s a lot of American heroes. Semper Fi all!!

  7. I absolutely agree with Cpl James Kanavy. I am a Vietnam Era veteran, (71-91) never stepped foot in Vietnam. I would not wear a pin like that and sully the honor of those who served in country. I have met and been disgusted by some who claim to be a Vietnam Veteran and when asked what unit and where they were in Vietnam to find out the answer, “Oh, I was stateside but served during Vietnam.”

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