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Review: Volume 32 - Vietnam War

Review: Volume 32 - Vietnam War

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Commonly mistaken for the locally raised Viet Cong, the NVA was an entirely different force, conducting large-scale operations in a conventional war. Despite limited armour, artillery and air support, the NVA were an extremely politicized and professional force with strict control measures and leadership concepts. Gordon Rottman follows the fascinating life of the highly motivated infantryman from conscription and induction through training to real combat experiences. Covering the evolution of the forces from 1958 onwards, this book takes an in-depth look at the civilian and military lives of the soldiers, whilst accompanying artwork details the uniforms, weapons and equipment used by the NVA in their clash against America and her allies.

On April 16, 1972 at 15,000 feet in the skies near Hanoi, North Vietnam Major Dan Cherry first met Lieutenant Nguyen Hong My. In an intense five minute aerial battle Dan shot down the MiG-21 piloted by Hong My. Major Cherry returned safely to base. Lieutenant Hong My lived but was severely injured during the ejection. Both men returned to the cockpit to fly aerial combat again. Thirty-six years later Dan Cherry and Hong My met face to face in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam for the first time since that fateful day.

'Deer Hunter' Is Good Drama, But Bad History

I was in Saigon at noon April 30 four years ago, when the old order rolled over and died. The Americans were gone soon after dawn, the last of them dashing across the U.S. Embassy roof to a helicopter and kicking away Saigonese who grabbed at their boots. I watched the North Vietnamese forces move into the city, green-clad foot soldiers methodically navigating the streets clogged with slow-moving traffic. It was the last act of the longest running war of this century.

I am now discovering that increasing numbers of Americans believe that the last act of the war took place in a sinister back room somewhere in Saigon, where greedy Chinese gamblers were exhorting a glazed-eyed American GI to blow his head off. Had I as a working reporter missed such a vivid human-interest story on the last day of the war, I might have opted for a similar fate.

That particularly bloody version of the war's end comes in the Oscar-winning "The Deer Hunter." It's the story of three steelworkers whose primary activity seems to be drinking and hunting. Robert De Niro is deemed the most admirable member of the trio because he kills his deer with one clear shot. It is all in the best tradition of Hemingway machismo. Then they go off to Vietnam where they are captured and tortured by the Viet Cong who force them to compete against each other in a grisly game of Russian roulette.

When I first saw the movie at a screening last autumn, one of my liberal colleagues stamped out muttering "fascist trash" when sneering Viet Cong soldiers were depicted enthusiastically torturing American prisoners of war. While I was personally troubled by much of what I saw that night, the sheer power of the film's photographic imagery, particularly the agonizing torture scenes, stunned me into mute acceptance of Hollywood's divine right to drench us in fictional nightmares.

I comment today not to challenge those who have acclaimed "The Deer Hunter" and De Niro and who have packed theaters. What disturbs me is that audiences and critics seem to have found much more historical truth and significance than there really is in the saga. Instead of viewing "The Deer Hunter" as the spectacularly fevered pro-duct of an ambitious film director (Michael Cimino), well-schooled in the cinematic arts of blood-letting. they are interpreting his film as a deep historical truth, something on the order of the TV epic, The Holocaust's portrayal of the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

While Holocaust dealt with controversial fact, the attempted extermination of a whole race, "The Deer Hunter" deals in controversial fiction.

I have found that enthusiasts are genuinely hurt when I tell them that while Vietnam had all manners of violence, including self-immolating Buddhist monks, fire-bombings, rape, deception, and massacres like My Lai in its 20 years of war, there was not a single recorded case of Russian roulette, not in the voluminous files of the Associated Press anyway, or in my experience either. The central metaphor of the movie is simply a bloody lie. "The Deer Hunter" is no more a historically valid comment on the American experience in Vietnam than was "The Godfather" an accurate history of the typical Italian immigrant family.

But Cimino defends his creative rights. During the filming in Thailand, he told reporters: "War is war. Vietnam is no different from the Crusades. It's a question of survival, friendship and courage, and what happens to these things in people under stress." But they didn't play Russian roulette in the Crusades either.

Even more preposterous than using Russian roulette as his metaphor is the morally irresponsible way that Cimino casually telescopes the years of the Vietnam conflict into a convenient backdrop for his bizarre macho heroics. So is history laundered. Absent are the disillusion at home, the bitterness of those who served, the destruction of a country and any other factors that might lessen his epic theme.

Most upsetting is the callous disregard of the war's impact on the Vietnamese. While Cimino places the trauma of Americans at the center of his concern, his portrayal of the Vietnamese people as inhuman monsters, for whom life is cheap, perpetuates the racist stereotype that sustained much of America's involvement in Indochina.

The audience cares about the three Americans because they are shown to have families and friendships and feelings. When they are hurt, the audience hungers for vengeance. Yet It Is unnerving to sit in a movie theater in the United States in the last year of the l970s and hear young audiences, for whom the war is an all-but-forgotten memory, roar their approval as De Niro kills his Vietnamese tormentors. Yet no other feeling is possible, for Cimino presents every single Vietnamese as a cardboard caricature. They are not real people and are, therefore, easy to hate--and it is all too easy to applaud their murder.

Cimino's depiction of the Vietnamese mortally wounds the moral Integrity of "The Deer Hunter." Cimino seems to be saying: "Yes, war is hell, but especially for young, white Americans." "The Deer Hunter" is inescapably a movie about archetypes. When a director as self-conscious, indeed as pretentious, as Cimino puts those three young Americans on a 70 mm silver screen in living Color they stand for all Americans. The portrayal of the Vietnamese similarly involves archetypes. Unfortunately, it is a lie.

There are a few real moments. Helicopters bucked and strained against the pull of gravity. Refugees streamed in fearful confusion down oil-stained roads. Panicked crowds stormed the U.S. Embassy walls. But when Cimino inserts actual ABC News footage of the last hours of the war, he is bending esthetic license to its limit. Such use of actual film clips imparts a gloss of historical accuracy to the entire film. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In his artistic selfishness, Cimino seems oblivious to the nation's underlying anxiety about the Vietnam experience and its need for explanations. Rather than applauding his directorial cleverness, the New York audiences I observed were glorying in "The Deer Hunter," partly because of the simple, satisfying answers that it gave to the tough questions.

In "The Deer Hunter," the enemies in Vietnam are ugly, sadistic torturers, while the American boys are noble the Saigonese are greedy gamblers willing to bet on an American's blowing his brains out--they show no concern over the imminent collapse of their city. The movie was touted as being a major antiwar film, but it is packed with simplistic answers to some of our most enduring anxieties.

Some critics were harsh on "Coming Home" because they felt that the plot, which had housewife Jane Fonda bidding farewell to her gung-ho Marine husband as he went off to the war, and then having a love affair with paraplegic Voight while her husband was away, was just too much like soap opera. Historically speaking, "Coming Home" is an honest attempt to come to terms with one agonizing aspect of the war. And speaking personally, I would rather leave a theater with the suds of "Coming Home" in my mouth than the ashes of the "Deer Hunter."

(The review reprinted above is taken from Peter Arnett who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Vietnam in 1966. The article was originally written for the Los Angeles Times.)

Review: Volume 32 - Vietnam War - History

Subject: A-4E Skyhawks in the Vietnam war
Sheets supplied: 2
Scale: 1/32 reviewed here
Available from: Zotz Site where you can buy directly - Squadron, Sprue Brothers, Mid-Ten Hobbies , Stevens International , Hannants & Scott’s Model Workshop
1/72 US$30 + P&P / 1/32 US$30 + P&P

Eli from Zotz has sent us the new decal sheet for the A-4 Skyhawks of the Vietnam War in 1/32 scale. With the help of research from Thierry Laurent this sheet looks to be a great addition to your next build. A new set of decals featuring not done before schemes for these early scooters is much anticipated. so we will examine them pretty closely with comparisons to the original aircraft. (and some close relatives)

This decal set comes in he usual (more like always different) style of individually catering to each sheet with a different cover and artwork approach - the card cover sheet features the "hero" image and the small data placement sheets showing locations of the plethora of common warning and national markings as well as the colour guide.

Here is the sheet layout for both sheets - the main sheet with markings and the smaller one for unit and aircraft numbers that couldn't fit on the main sheet.

The lettering decal below
These four aircraft are from two units of the US Navy (VA-46 & VA-155) along with two aircraft from the USMC (VMA-211) there are some very well-known and just as highly anticipated aircraft depicted here. You get a coloured card sheet here with all of the aircraft and some interesting history surrounding each of these aircraft - there is some good light reading in there.
Below is the useful data placement page which neatly folds down from the coloured cover sheet. This sheet provides you with a stencil and national markings positions as well as a colour guide for these little jets..

Let’s look at the aircraft depicted here in this release - along with pictures of the real thing and the decals an how they compare..

The first Skyhawk depicted is the A-4E of the as yet to be politician John Sydney McCain III from VA-46 “Clansman”

Below is the long tartan strip which matches the patch up on the right hand side for that time-frame. Well done to Thierry for picking this correctly as there were many changes and well done to the people who rendered the decal to get it spot on as well. There are of course tartan decals for the tail as well.

This was the Skyhawk which was hit accidentally by a rocket from a parked jet which caused the massive fire on the USS Forrestal, many lives were lost and McCain barely escaped from the conflagration. This is an interesting choice as most decal makers would go for the aircraft McCain was shot down in. The "AA" Tail code is here on the decal as well and is the right size and shape in scale of this aircraft. "Forrestal" and the BU number are there in evidence on this sheet as is the white printed "416" to go on the red flaps.

The AA with a lightning flash is one decal and cleverly joined so that carrier film won't be visible

These images from other aircraft in VA-46 - show you close ups of detail "De-tail" (sorry) and the tanks with VA-46 on them

This aircraft is notable by the large 500 and the Silver Foxes tailcode of “NL” both large on the starboard wing. This kite – like all of the others here is finished in a Gloss gull grey uppersides/white undersides. Below is the aircraft in real life

The decal placement sheet showing the large "NL" (Reversed on the other side) with the aircraft's unit markings and brilliantly coloured rainbow style wrapping around the fuselage. You can see from the picture of the aircraft above how the placement sheet from Zotz matches the aircraft right down to the warning signs that little the aircraft and the white "500" on the flaps.

Here are the colourful decals to match - first the tail section (including tail top green markings) then the large coloured rainbow -like markings

There are two planes from the USMC VMA-211 “Wake Island Avengers” next - one with and one without the hump option. VMA-211 completed four tours between 1965 and 󈨍 and so became one of the most experienced and well known Skyhawk units in the Marines.

This individual machine was marked with a white node cone and a 󈬄” with a striped refuelling probe and – like all of the aircraft in the unit – the squadron emblem of the red Wake Island on a yellow background on the side of both fuselages as well as the “CF” tailcode in large letters on the horizontal stabilizer.

Though not 151147 - you can see the colours and markings of this unit's aircraft clearly from this A-4E taken at the same time period

The decals for this are notably the Wake Island Avengers insignia on both air intakes, The large "CF" on the tail and the red and white striped tail section - you can see many pictures below of the real aircraft and some in this unit - Thierry has looked hard into this to research. The decals of these markings are below and to the left - the artwork is very good considering how much larger this image is on the screen

These decals wrap around the vertical stabilizer over some white to make the desired effect

“We Don't Want Another Vietnam”: The Wall, the Mall, History, and Memory in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Education Center

Sincere gratitude goes to Harriet F. Senie for her guidance of this work, which is part of a larger ongoing project, “The Reinterpretation of National History: Added Museums at US War Memorials.” My thanks as well to Meredith Lair, the anonymous peer reviewers of this article's earlier iteration, and to Marisa Lerer for her comments.


1 The title of this article is partially taken from Jimmy Cliff's alteration of his 1969 single “Vietnam,” which he performed at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival retitled as “We Don't Want Another Vietnam in Afghanistan.” A version of this essay was presented in the panel “Closing in on ‘The Wall’: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Thirty-Five,” College Art Association 104th Annual Conference (Washington, DC, February 3–6, 2016) with the same title.

2 Scruggs retired from his formal role with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund in February 2015, but will informally continue to raise money for the Fund and the Education Center. His role was assumed by Jim Knotts, a veteran of the Persian Gulf War. See Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “Jan Scruggs Announces Retirement.” (accessed 20 Feb. 2016) Mike Ruane, “Jan Scruggs, Major Advocate for Vietnam Wall, to Step Down as Nonprofit's Leader,” The Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2015. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

3 The VVMEC failed to pass the US Senate and Congress twice before finally obtaining approval in 2003. In September 2000 the project, titled the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Education Act and submitted as an amendment to Public Law 96-297 (the “Joint Resolution to Authorize the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. to establish a memorial,” 1980), failed to come to a vote before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the House Committee on Resources. Sponsors were Senator Chuck Hagel (R.) of Nebraska and Representative John P. Murtha (D.) of Pennsylvania, both Vietnam veterans. In February 2001 Hagel and Murtha reintroduced proposed legislation, which was again rejected at the legislative committee stage. A key reason for the preliminary rejections was that the Center would be in violation of the Commemorative Works Act of 1986, which prohibits “any commemorative work primarily designed as a museum” in the vicinity of the National Mall. National Park Service (NPS) staff testified against the Center on multiple occasions — for example in July 2001, when NPS Associate Regional Director John G. Parsons presented the Department of the Interior's opposition to the project before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks. In addition the bill was opposed more than once by at least one key member of the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, including Phil Gramm (R.) of Texas, whose retirement from the Senate in 2002 effectively cleared a major roadblock for the Fund. In March 2003, H.R. 1442, “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitor Center Act,” was submitted to Congress by California Representative Richard W. Pombo (R.) Hagel submitted it to the Senate in May 2003 as S. 1076. In September 2003 President George W. Bush signed into law the authorization of the Center's construction as an underground structure. The design of the Center was the result of an architectural competition whose four finalists were Ann Beha Architects of Boston Architecture Research Office of New York City Michael Graves & Associates of Princeton, New Jersey and New York City and Polshek Partnership of New York City, now known as Ennead Architects. All but Ann Beha Architects partnered with Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) for their entries, which underscores the firm's prominence in exhibition design. RAA had also previously completed the displays for the Vietnam Era Museum and Education Center in Holmdel, New Jersey (dedicated in 1998).

4 Per US National Park Service and Department of the Interior requirements, construction on the Education Center cannot begin until full funding for its building costs and upkeep, currently projected to be $115 million, is complete. The Education Center is required to be constructed underground so as not to disrupt sightlines across the National Mall as it currently exists, or to detract from visitors' experience of the nearby Lincoln Memorial or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial itself. This requirement was put in place to comport with the 2003 amendment to the Commemorative Works Act that was looped in to Congressional Public Law 108-126 authorizing the construction of The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitors Center (as it was then named), which stated that the National Mall is “a substantially completed work of civic art.” The architectural plans have undergone several rounds of review by the National Capital Planning Commission, which granted approval of the VVMEC site in 2006 and the building design in July 2015. The latter event followed the US Commission of Fine Arts approval of the design plans in May 2015. See Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “Site and Building Plans for Future Education Center Approved.” (accessed 5 May 2016). Full text of Public Law 108-126 is available at

5 The instructions to the jury for the memorial required: “A design without political content, i.e., one that makes no comment or statement regarding the rightness, wrongness or motivation of the policy of the US Government in entering, conducting, or withdrawing from the war.” Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “Vietnam Veterans Memorial Design Competition Instructions to the Jury,” undated document, Box 32, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. The VVMF summarizes the guidelines for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Design Competition on its website at See also Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Design Competition: Design Program (Washington, DC: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, 1980).

6 My thanks to an anonymous peer reviewer for suggesting the inclusion of this point.

7 Patrice Gaines-Carter, “Viet Memorial Fund Closes $9.9 Million Raised for Vets' Monument,” Washington Post, 26 Jan. 1985, A10. For background on the effort to add the flagpole and figurative sculpture at the memorial site see Patrick Hagopian, The Vietnam War in American Memory: Veterans, Memorials, and the Politics of Healing (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2009), 106, 114–128.

8 Scruggs, quoted in Vietnam Magazine, “Interview — Jan C. Scruggs, President of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund,” HistoryNet, 7 Dec. 2009. (accessed 5 May 2016).

9 See Hagopian, Vietnam War in American Memory, 386–393 for details on the earliest traveling replica of the VVM, which was displayed in San Francisco in 1983, and on later replicas, including one sponsored by funeral and cemetery company Service Corporation International (SCI), which paid Scruggs a stipend for the privilege and for his appearance at their wall's display events. The SCI-sponsored wall traveled as early as 1991 see Bob Henderson, “Vietnam Tributes Coming,” St. Petersburg Times, 10 Apr. 1991, 1. See also Ron Martz, “Fight Rages over Right to Put Vietnam Statue on T-shirts,” Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 7 Jan. 1992, C4.

10 Although the VVMF has no official mission statement, on its website it states that it aims “to honor and preserve the legacy of service and educate all generations about the impact of the Vietnam War.” See Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “Our Mission.” (accessed 21 Feb. 2016). An earlier version of the Fund's website added that it originated “to bring long overdue honor and recognition to the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in Vietnam.” See Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “The Memorial Fund.” (accessed 21 Feb. 2016).

11 Harriet F. Senie, Memorials to Shattered Myths: Vietnam to 9/11 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 34. The most current iteration of the Traveling Wall education center contains a prototype of the “Wall of Faces” planned for the VVMEC. In fact, the continuing tours of the traveling wall have been part of the effort to collect photographs of those named on the memorial for the Education Center on the National Mall.

12 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Echoes from the Wall (educational guide) (Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund: Washington, DC, 1999), 4.

13 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “Plans for Education Center to be Revealed,” press release. Washington, DC, 18 Sep. 2000 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. “ Plans for Education Center to be Revealed .” 18 Sep. 2000 . (accessed 20 Feb. 2016 ). [Google Scholar] . (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

15 The use of the term “education center” instead of “museum” or “visitors center” is noteworthy on the part of the VVMF In a practical sense it escapes violating the prohibition in the Commemorative Works Act for the construction of a museum on the National Mall. Historically it connects the VVMEC to the mobile education center that accompanies the Traveling Wall. Scruggs explained that the Fund elected to use “education center” over “visitors center” because the latter term seemed too “trite and would tie it solely to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial,” which is to say that the scope of the VVMEC is the veterans and the war in addition to the memorial. Jan C. Scruggs, interview by author, telephone conversation, New York, 5 Sep. 2013.

16 Selections from the collection have been displayed in various capacities in the past, beginning with “Personal Legacy: The Healing of a Nation,” at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History, an exhibition that opened 28 Oct. 1992 and was organized to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the VVM's dedication. The show remained on view until 14 Sep. 2003. As of May 2016, the collection is comprised of between 200,000 and 225,000 objects (NPS email message to author, 18 May 2016).

17 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and Ralph Appelbaum Associates, untitled and undated curatorial document, accessed 28 Jun. 2013, US National Park Service Museum Resource Center, Landover, Maryland. At present, an estimated 6500 artifacts will be displayed in the Education Center (VVMF email message to author, 16 May 2016).

18 Mary Beth Byrne, interview by author, telephone conversation, New York, 21 Dec. 2009. Final exhibition plans for the various displays in the Education Center are not set as of May 2016.

19 The VVMF launched a “Faces Never Forgotten” campaign across the United States in order to gather photographs of those named on the VVM. See, for example, Kristen Moulton, “Can Utahns, LDS Church Find Photos of Vietnam Fallen?” The Salt Lake Tribune, 21 Feb. 2013. (accessed 5 May 2016). As of May 2016, images of over 46,100 military personnel have been collected. See Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “Nevada Becomes 11th State to Find Every Photo of Their Fallen,” Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. (accessed 5 May 2016).

20 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “VVM Center Exhibits Unveiled,” press release, Washington, DC, 22 May 2007. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

21 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Campaign to Build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center (Washington, DC: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, 2005), 16 and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “Behind Every Name,” The Education Center at the Wall. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016). The National September 11 Memorial Museum provides a similar electronic database for victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks in its “In Memorium” exhibition, which features its own “Wall of Faces.”

22 Jan C. Scruggs, “It's Time for More than a Parade,” Your Stories, Your Wall, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, 29 Dec. 2011. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

23 Armando Trull, “Vietnam Veterans Memorial Expansion Gets Approval,” WAMU, 16 Jul. 2012. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

24 Scruggs, “It's Time for More than a Parade.”

25 Jan C. Scruggs, interview by author.

26 As of May 2016 the National Park Service Museum Resource Center database contained 74 objects categorized as Iraq, 12 categorized as Afghanistan, and 22 categorized as both (NPS email message to author, 18 May 2016).

27 “Assemblage,” National Park Service Catalog Number VIVE 14944, Accession date 23 Jun. 2009, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

28 Anonymous, interview by author, Washington, DC, 25 Jun. 2013.

29 Quoted in Stephen Manning, “Vietnam Memorial Center Design Approved,” USA Today, 18 Oct. 2007. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

30 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “Explore the Center,” Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

31 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, The Education Center at The Wall. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

32 During the Q&A portion of the College Art Association Conference panel in which I presented an earlier version of this article, Daniel Shay, a Vietnam veteran, commented that the plans for the Center to involve a descent into the underground struck him as problematic for his fellow veterans.

33 See Carolyn Kleiner Butler, “Coming Home,” Smithsonian Magazine, Jan. 2005. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016) George Esper, “P.O.W.'s Homecoming a Picture of Joy, but a Tapestry of Sadness,” Los Angeles Times, 4 Jul. 1993. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016). The photograph was taken by Associated Press photographer Slava “Sal” Veder, who won the Pulitzer Prize for the image in 1974.

34 Jan Scruggs, interview with Robert Siegel, All Things Considered, National Public Radio, 26 May 2003. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

35 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “Timeline.” (accessed 21 May 2016).

36 The summary reads: “As ‘the most shocking episode of the Vietnam War,’ the My Lai Massacre was the mass killing of Vietnamese civilians by US Army soldiers. Despite the atrocities of the day, Hugh Thompson Jr., a US Army helicopter pilot, tried to stop the killings and rescued Vietnamese civilians from his fellow G.I.s.” The reader is then instructed: “Click on the link to the left to listen to an N.P.R. report about Hugh Thompson, Jr. Why do you think he tried to stop his fellow G.I.s? What would you do if you were Thompson?”

37 Nixon's quote reads: “This should remind us all once again that when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy. It is my hope that this tragic and unfortunate incident will strengthen the determination of all the nation's campuses, administrators, faculty and students alike to stand firmly for the right which exists in this country of peaceful dissent and just as strong against the resort to violence as a means of such expression.” The incident summary indicates: “Students from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio participated in a protest on campus against the expansion of the Vietnam War. The Ohio National Guard took fire on the students. The shots killed four students and injured nine students.”

38 US Department of Defense, “Interactive Timeline,” The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. (accessed 21 May 2016).

39 See 2008 National Defense Act, Public Law 110-181, Sec. 598.

40 The full description of the latter event reads only: “Defoliation operations cease when the Secretary of Defense restricts the use of herbicides.” “Operation Ranch Hand” was the US Air Force code name for the spraying of toxic herbicides over the Vietnamese jungle in effort to destroy Viet Cong ground cover and resources.

42 See Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Paying Respects, Pentagon Revives Vietnam, and War over Truth,” New York Times, 9 Oct 2014. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016). The website for “Vietnam: The Power of Protest,” which includes a listing of speakers and links to the full program that ran from 1 to 2 May 2015, can be accessed at My thanks to an anonymous peer reviewer for suggesting the discussion of the DoD timeline and the reaction to it.

43 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund email message to author, 16 May 2016. Presumably the production of exhibition text will be contingent upon VVMF's ability to fully raise the funds to begin construction on the VVMEC.

44 See Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “Content Advisory Committee,” available at Members of the Content Advisory Committee are: George C. Herring (Committee Chair), Mark Atwood Lawrence (Content Specialist), Larry Berman, Paulette G. Curtis, Ron Milam, Edwin Moïse, Lindy Poling, John Prados, Ronald Spector and Robert K. Sutton. Note that George C. Herring was a signer to the petition organized in protest to the DoD interactive timeline. For an account of an earlier advisory group assigned to develop the Education Center and analysis on the use of Vietnam War timelines, see Meredith H. Lair, “The Education Center at The Wall and the Rewriting of History,” The Public Historian 34 (2012): 34–60.

45 Statistics are published in Hagopian, Vietnam War in American Memory, 13–14.

46 Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto, and Fred Backus, “Most Americans Say Iraq War Wasn't Worth the Costs: Poll, CBS News, 23 Jun. 2014. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

47 Frank Newport, “Most Americans Now View the Afghanistan War as a Mistake,” Gallup, 19 Feb. 2014. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016). These poll numbers have since shown a slight reversal in trend, presumably due to the rise of the Daesh terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

48 Matthias Gebauer and Holger Stark, “Ex-US Intelligence Chief on Islamic State's Rise: ‘We Were Too Dumb’,” Spiegel Online, 29 Nov. 2015. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016). Flynn stepped down from his Defense Intelligence Agency role in August 2014 and is now retired.

49 See Frank Rich, “Obama at the Precipice,” New York Times, 26 Sep. 2009. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016) John Kerry, “Testing Afghanistan Assumptions: The Lesson of Vietnam is Don't Commit Troops Without a Clear Strategy,” Wall Street Journal, 27 Sep. 2009. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016) Bill Clinton, interview with Larry King, Larry King Live, 17 Feb. 2009, transcript at (accessed 20 Feb. 2016). See also Andrew Bacevich, “Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, Vietnamization 2.0,” TomDispatch, 13 Oct. 2015. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

50 Hagopian, Vietnam War in American Memory, 40–46, 264–265, 410-411.

51 Robert M. Gates, “Speech at United States Military Academy,” West Point, New York, 25 Feb. 2011. (accessed 20 Feb. 2016).

52 “Good wars” refers to conflicts in which the United States and its allies achieved a moral and military victory, with World War II being the prime example. In US history the American Revolution is considered to be the first “good war.”

53 For discussion of this phenomenon during the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, see Patrick G. Coy, Lynne M. Woehrle, and Gregory M. Maney, “Discursive Legacies: The US Peace Movement and ‘Support the Troops,’” Social Problems 55 (2008): 161–189. See also Lair, “Education Center at the Wall,” 36, 52.

54 51% of respondents aged 18–29 replied that sending troops to Vietnam was not mistake 43% said it was a mistake. Statistics published in Andrew Dugan, “On 10th Anniversary, 53% in US See Iraq War as Mistake,” Gallup, 18 Mar. 2013. My thanks to an anonymous peer reviewer for calling this to my attention.

55 Kirk Savage, Monument Wars: Washington, DC, the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 266.

How deadly has Covid-19 been compared to the United States’ major wars?

The quote above from Albert Camus’s 1947 novel, The Plague, implicitly categorizes plagues and wars as congeneric events—what I’ll call death events.

Five great wars in US history have produced major US fatalities. The deadliest was the Civil War, which claimed 620,000 lives, more than perished in WWI, WWII, Korea, or Vietnam.

How do these wars compare to the Covid-19 pandemic?

In absolute number of deaths, the pandemic has been more deadly in the United States than four of the five great wars, with only the Civil War producing more deaths. More have died to June 7 (almost 600,000, with more deaths to follow) than died in WWII (418,500).

But comparing absolute numbers presents a problem. The longer a death event lasts, the greater the opportunity for fatalities to accumulate. In order to compare like to like, we need to place fatalities on a common scale. One way is to look at the average number of deaths per day over a death event’s course.

When death events are examined this way, the pandemic reveals itself to be more deadly than the great wars. Over 1,100 US citizens have died daily, on average, from Covid-19, from 19 January 2020, the day the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in the United States, to 7 June 2021. The deadliest war, the Civil War, at 427 deaths per day on average, is a distant second.

Covid-19 vs. war deaths, United States
DeathsDaysDeaths per day, (avg.)
Civil War620,0001,451427
*Jan 19, 󈧘 – June 7, 󈧙

And while US politicians and journalists speak as if the pandemic is all but over in their country (and many US citizens act as if this is true), the numbers suggest the celebration is premature. The average number of Covid-19 deaths per day from June 1 to June 7 was 324, according to Our World in Data, greater than the average daily number of US fatalities in WWII. This means that US citizens are dying today from Covid-19 at a greater daily rate than US soldiers perished in combat every day from late 1941 to late summer 1945.

Yet, no matter how deadly the current pandemic has proved to be, there was one more deadly: the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. That pandemic killed an estimated 675,000 US citizens, or 1,232 per day on average, somewhat higher than the daily number killed to date by the novel coronavirus.

Covid-19 vs. 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, United States
DeathsDaysDeaths per day, (avg.)
Influenza pandemic 1918-1919675,0005481,232
*Jan 19, 󈧘 – June 7, 󈧙

The rough parity in deaths between the two pandemics is misleading. The US population was much smaller in 1918. Adjusting for population growth, the influenza pandemic was much more deadly, carrying away a greater percentage of the population than Covid-19 has. How do the various death events compare if historical differences in population size are taken into account?

Looking at fatalities per million, the Civil War is by far the deadliest event in US history*, both in the cumulative number of deaths and the average number of deaths per day. The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 comes second, while the Covid-19 pandemic comes a distant third. The coronavirus pestilence and the twentieth century wars comprise a class of their own, much less deadly than the Civil War and the 1918-1919 influenza. Even so, compared to the wars of the last century, the current pandemic is more deadly, even controlling for population growth.

Pandemic vs. war deaths, United States, per million
DeathsDaysDeaths per day, (avg.)
Civil War19,7261,45113.6
Influenza pandemic 1918-19196,54154811.9
*Jan 19, 󈧘 – June 7, 󈧙

What these findings reveal is that the Covid-19 pandemic is a major death event. More US citizens have perished in the pandemic to date than in any of the four major twentieth century wars, controlling for the number of days the death event lasted and population size.

They also show that notwithstanding the unduly sanguine pronouncements of the pandemic’s imminent end in the United States, the rate of mortality continues to be high relative to the major wars of the last century. Only by redefining “almost over” to mean a death rate better than abysmal but still higher than WWII—and no better than that of the world as a whole, as the chart below shows—can the pandemic be said to be nearly over. If deaths per million in the United States have reached a point where this is true, then the pandemic can also be said to be nearly over in the world as a whole, since deaths per million globally are at the same level. But who believes that on a world scale, the pandemic’s demise is imminent?

The figures also confirm, for the Covid-19 pandemic, the observation implicit in Camus’s words, namely, that plagues and wars are, in their deadliness, of the same sort.

A caveat: The United States is an anomaly, and the findings above cannot be considered as representative of the world in toto.

First, US fatalities in major wars have been very low by comparison with other belligerents, and have comprised but a very tiny fraction of total, word-wide, deaths.

Second, US authorities have exhibited considerable ineptitude in meeting the challenge of the pandemic. Favoring a pharmaceutical solution (which offers a cornucopia of profits to the biopharma industry) over a zero-Covid public health approach (which, through business closures, would have severely attenuated profits in the larger business community temporarily but whose efficacy was demonstrated early on by the Communist-led Chinese government), deaths accumulated to a level commensurate with what would be expected from a failed state. The conclusion is that capitalism is a comorbidity–a condition whose presence amplifies the deadly effects of the pandemic.

Only now, nearly a year and a half after Washington should have taken swift and decisive action to smother the infant pandemic in its cradle, is the roll out of vaccines starting to have an effect. This is hardly a consolation for the loved ones of the nearly 600,000 US citizens whose deaths could have been prevented.

Embarrassed by its abject failure to contain the pandemic, especially in light of Communist successes in China, Vietnam, Cuba, and North Korea, Washington has redefined success it now means the fruition of its strategy, namely, the mass uptake of vaccines, but this metric bears little relation to the question of whether the virus continues to scythe through the population, which it does, as this analysis has shown.

And it’s doubtful that Washington’s pharmaceuticalization strategy will succeed. No pathogen has ever been eliminated by vaccination alone, and nor does it seem likely that Washington is about to set a precedent, given the realities of vaccine hesitancy, the expectation that it will be two or more years before low income countries are fully vaccinated, and the expected continued emergence of variants—some of which may prove resistant to current vaccines.

For these reasons—the US anomalies of low war fatalities and high Covid-19 deaths—US figures cannot be taken as indicative of what is true of the world as a whole. In a follow-up post, I’ll examine the question globally, comparing the death event of Covid-19 with the death events of WWI and WWII.

A final caution. Covid-19 has likely been deadlier than the official numbers indicate. As the Wall Street Journal noted, “Epidemiologists believe [the official] numbers represent only a portion of the pandemic’s true toll, due in part to missed Covid-19 deaths and collateral damage from issues like healthcare disruptions. In the U.S., for example, experts believe limited test availability hampered the ability to correctly identify many Covid-19 deaths early in the pandemic.” (Covid-19 Deaths This Year Have Already Eclipsed 2020’s Toll, June 10, 2021)

*In terms of absolute number of deaths, the genocide of the Amerindians and the slave trade, the foundations of US capitalism, almost certainly preponderate the death events examined here.

Electronic Records Relating to the Vietnam War

This reference report provides an overview of the electronic data records in the custody of the National Archives that contain data related to military objectives and activities during the Vietnam War.

The National Archives holds a large body of electronic records that reflects the prolific use of computers by the military establishment in carrying out operations during the Vietnam War. Under the auspices of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the military implemented an extensive data collection effort intended to improve the conduct of the conflict. The raw data documented details of casualties, military operations, military logistics, pacification programs, and other aspects of the war. With the data in electronic form, analysts performed statistical and quantitative analysis to assess and influence the direction of the conflict. After the conflict ended in the 1970's, various Department of Defense organizations, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Joint Commands, transferred the raw data files to the National Archives. Some of these records include documentary material that has not been transferred to the National Archives in any other format.

This reference report is organized by nine broad categories of Vietnam War data as listed above in the table of contents. For each category, the relevant electronic records series are listed along with information about the number of files, available output formats (see Output Formats for details), and technical documentation. Many of the series listed also have supplemental documentation. Since some series contain data applicable to more than one category, researchers may wish to review all potentially related categories and review the full descriptions for more details on the content of the records.

In several cases, different Department of Defense agencies used the same data systems, but may have modified the system to meet their needs. Therefore, NARA may have two versions or series of the same system. For example, both the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Record Group 330) and the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (records found in Record Group 472) transferred files from the Hamlet Evaluation System (HES). In general, besides the fact that difference agencies transferred the files, the versions may differ in time coverage, format, and/or layout. While the different versions may contain some of the same records, there may be records in one version that are not in the other and vice versa.

Full descriptions of the series and data files listed in this report are in the National Archives Catalog. Users can search the Catalog by title, National Archives Identifier, type of archival material, or keyword.

NARA also has custody of textual (paper) records related to some of the Vietnam War data files described in this reference report. Some of these records may include outputs from the systems and reports based on the data. Users may wish to search the National Archives Catalog for descriptions of any related textual (paper) records.

Some of the series and files listed in this report are accessible online:

  • Download - This is a link for downloading the files and documentation from the Catalog. For more details on downloading files, please review the frequently asked questions (FAQs).
  • Search - This is a link for searching the records via the Access to Archival Databases (AAD) resource.

All of the files are also available for a cost-recovery fee. For more information see: Ordering Information for Electronic Records.

Please note that NARA makes public use versions available of records containing personal identifiers that if released may result in an unwarranted invasion of privacy. Such public use versions mask or delete these sensitive personal identifiers. In general, records of deceased casualties are released in full. The description and/or the technical documentation for a series outlines the information masked in the public use version.

Data about Military Operations, Incidents, and Activities

Record Group 218: Records of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff

    Republic of Vietnam Incidents Files (INCDA), 1/26/1973 - 4/21/1975
    National Archives Identifier:601815
    Data Files: 4 (ASCII translated) (NIPS version also available)
    Technical Documentation: 56 pages
    Online Access: DownloadSearch

This series contains information on ceasefire violation combat incidents.

This series contains data on Viet Cong (VC) incidents against South Vietnam (SVN) indigenous civilian population plus damage or destruction of private or government property and /or installations. These files came from Headquarters, Pacific Command (PACOM) via the Survivability/Vurnerability Information Analysis Center (SURVIAC) [Wright-Paterson Air Force Base].

Record Group 330: Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense

    Records About Combat Incidents in Cambodia During the Vietnam War [KHMER], 6/30/1970 - 6/12/1974
    National Archives Identifier:574517
    Data Files: 1 (ASCII translated) (NIPS version also available)
    Technical Documentation: 18 page, 4 electronic documentation files
    Online Access: DownloadSearch

This series contains information on incidents involving friendly and enemy military units operating in Cambodia during the Vietnam War and Cambodian War.

This series consists of records of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese initiated incidents of violence against the civilian population of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. TIRSA is part of the Operations Analysis (OPSANAL) system.

This series provides select data on enemy initiated incidents during the Vietnam War. VCIIA is part of the Operations Analysis (OPSANAL) system.

Record Group 472: Records of the U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia

    Psychological Operations Information System (PSYOPSIS) Files, 3/1970 - 2/1973
    National Archives Identifier:23812710
    Data Files: 5 (ASCII Rendered) (NIPS version available)
    Technical Documentation: 90 pages
    Online Access: Download

This series contains records about aerial and surface psychological operations carried out by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. This data served as input for the Psychological Operation Quarterly Analysis System (PSYOPQA).

This series contains aggregate data about psychological operations carried out by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. The data from the Psychological Operations Information System (PSYOPSIS) served as input for this series. The data was linked with selected data from the Hamlet Evaluation System (HES).

This series contains data about incidents by the enemy against the civilian population, and public and private property. Incidents captured in the system include deaths, abductions, seizure of property, damage to property, and injuries, to name a few. This system was used as input for "Terrorist Incident Reporting System (TIRSA) Files, 10/1967 - 2/1973."

Data specific to Land Military Operations and Activities

Record Group 218: Records of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff

    Records About the Ground Combat Operations by the Army During the Vietnam War, 5/20/1966 - 3/12/1973 (also known as Situation Report Army (SITRA))
    National Archives Identifier:604416
    Data Files: 4 (ASCII translated) (NIPS versions available)
    Technical Documentation: 49 pages, 2 electronic documentation files
    Online Access: DownloadSearch

This series contains records of ground combat operations in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and includes but is not limited to information on the type of military operation, nationalities of armed forces, location, and dates.

This series includes statistical operations data about friendly initiated (FO) incidents and actions in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. It appears this series may conain data from the Republic of Vietnam Operational Statistics System (RVNOSS). These files came from Headquarters, Pacific Command (PACOM) via the Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center (SURVIAC) [Wright-Patterson Air Force Base].

This series includes operations data about enemy initiated (VC) incidents and actions in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. It appears this series may contain data from the Republic of Vietnam Operational Statistics System (RVNOSS). These files came from Headquarters, Pacific Command (PACOM) via the Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center (SURVIAC) [Wright-Patterson Air Force Base].

Record Group 330: Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense

    Enemy Base Area File (BASFA), 7/1/1967 - 6/1/1971
    National Archives Identifier:600139
    Data Files: 1 (ASCII translated) (NIPS version available)
    Technical Documentation: 40 pages
    Online Access: DownloadSearch

This series contains data that define enemy base area locations in South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and Cambodia on a monthly basis. BASFA is part of the Operations Analysis (OPSANAL) system.

This series contains information on the identity and location of American, South Vietnamese, and Allied maneuver battalions (infantry, armored, cavalry, airborne, and air mobile) deployed in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. SEAFA is part of the Operations Analysis (OPSANAL) system.

This series contains data on ground combat operations, whether enemy or friendly initiated, in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. VNDBA is part of the Operations Analysis (OPSANAL) system.

Record Group 335: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Army

    Battalion Tracking Study Files, 10/1/1966 - 3/31/1969
    National Archives Identifier:644345
    Data Files: 55 (ASCII)
    Technical Documentation: 61 pages
    Online Access: Download

This series contains data for 48 U.S. Army ground combat battalions that were located in III Corps during the Vietnamese Conflict. The data was compiled as part of a study on the exposure of U.S. Army personnel to Agent Orange. It was created in conjunction with the series "Vietnam Experience Study Files, 1967 - 1968" (see Data about U.S. Military Personnel).

Record Group 338: Records of U.S. Army Operational, Tactical, and Support Organizations

    Records About Combat Operations by Army Units and Their Use and Loss of Military Supplies During the Vietnam War (COLED-V), 7/1/1967 - 6/30/1970
    National Archives Identifier:572881
    Data Files: 6 (ASCII)
    Technical Documentation: 32 pages
    Online Access: DownloadSearch

These records contain information about the use and the loss of military supplies, such as ammunition and equipment, by unit and by type of combat activity during the Vietnam War.

Record Group 472: Records of the U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia

    Ground Operations Reporting System (GORS) Files for the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam, 1967 - 3/29/1973
    National Archives Identifier:609200
    Data Files: 80 (ASCII Rendered) (NIPS version available)
    Technical Documentation: 262 pages and 5 electronic layout files
    Online Access:Download

This series contains information on ground combat missions involving military units of the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Data specific to Air Military Operations and Activities

Record Group 218: Records of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff

    Combat Air Activities Files (CACTA), 10/1965 - 12/1970
    National Archives Identifier:634496
    Data Files: 32 (ASCII Translated) (NIPS version available)
    Technical Documentation: 160 pages and 2 electronic layout files
    Online Access: DownloadSearch

This series contains bimonthly data on air combat missions flown in Southeast Asia by U.S. and allied forces during the first part of the Vietnam War. It is the predecessor to the series "Records About Air Sorties Flown in Southeast Asia, 1/1970 - 6/1975." These CACTA files contain two months of data, with some gaps. There is some duplication between these CACTA files and those in Record Group 529 and there are some records in one version that are not in the other and vice versa.

This series contains data on Fixed-Wing Aircraft Combat and Combat Support Sorties for U.S. and South Vietnam military forces. These files came from Headquarters, Pacific Command (PACOM) via the Survivability /Vulnerability Information Analysis Center (SURVIAC) [Wright-Patterson Air Force Base].

This series contains data on air warfare missions flown over Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. NARA received three files from the U.S. Joint cheifs of Staff via the National Military Command Systems Support Center and nine files from Headquarters, Pacific Commaand (PACOM) via the Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center (SURVIAC) [Wright-Patterson Air Force Base]. There may be some duplication between the sets of files.

This series contains data on air combat missions flown in Southeast Asia by the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the Vietnam War.

This series consists of files with records on air combat missions flown in Southeast Asia by U.S. and allied forces during the last part of the Vietnam War. It is the successor to the series "Combat Air Activities Files (CACTA), 10/1965 - 12/1970."

Record Group 330: Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense

    Herbicide File, 1965 - 1971
    National Archives Identifier:623176
    Data Files: 4 versions: Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) de-NIPS'd version NARA de-NIPS'd version National Academy of Science (NAS) version and Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Revised version
    Technical Documentation: 70 pages
    Online Access: Download

This series contains data on herbicide spraying missions, including the use of Agent Orange, during the Vietnam War.

Record Group 341: Records of Headquarters U.S. Air Force (Air Staff)

  • Airlift Operations Data Files, 10/1/1966 - 4/30/1972
    National Archives Identifier:630623
    Data Files: 140 (ASCII Rendered) for ALOREP 85 (ASCII Rendered) for MACAL (NIPS version available for ALOREP and MACAL)
    Technical Documentation: 18 pages and 2 electronic documentation files for ALOREP 14 pages and 3 electronic documentation files for MACAL
    Online Access:Download
    This series contains sortie-level data on the operational employment of airlift resources during the Vietnam War. The series includes the Airlift Operations Files (ALOREP) and Military Airlift Command Airlift Operations Report (MACAL) files.

Record Group 529: Records of U.S. Pacific Command

    Combat Air Activities Files (CACTA), 10/1/1965 - 1/31/1971
    National Archives Identifier:2123846
    Data Files: 50 (ASCII Translated) (NIPS version also available)
    Technical Documentation: 50 pages NARA prepared documentation, 1 electronic layout file (for agency documentation see CACTA RG 218)
    Online Access: Download

This series contains monthly data on air combat missions flown in Southeast Asia by U.S. and allied forces. These CACTA files are mostly by month, with some gaps. There is some duplication between these CACTA files and those in Record Group 218 and there are some records in one version that are not in the other and vice versa.

This series contains data identifying reconnaissance objectives, imagery requests, and imagery characteristics for imagery reconnaissance missions flown over Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

Data specific to Sea Military Operations and Activities

Record Group 38: Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

    Records About Hostile Fire Against U.S. and Australian Warships During the Vietnam War, 10/25/1966 - 4/5/1970 (also known as Hostile Fire File (HOSTA))
    National Archives Identifier:572877
    Data Files: 1 (ASCII)
    Technical Documentation: 23 pages (includes full printout of file)
    Online Access: Download

This series contains information about combat incidents of hostile fire directed at U.S. and Australian warships patrolling North and South Vietnamese waters in the South China Sea.

Record Group 218: Records of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff

    Records About Naval Gunfire Support During the Vietnam War, 3/1966 - 1/1973 (also known as Combat Naval Gunfire Support File (CONGA))
    National Archives Identifier:572874
    Data Files: 1 (de-NIPS'd) (NIPS version available)
    Technical Documentation: 274 pages
    Online Access: DownloadSearch

This series contains data from daily and weekly Operations Summary Reports (OPREP-5) that document naval gunfire support missions.

This series contains data from two military operations during the Vietnamese Conflict, Operation Linebacker and Operation Pocket Money, which concerned all mining operations conducted against North Vietnamese interior waterways and harbors.

This series contains information on operation Market Time (surveillance of the coastline of South Vietnam) and operation Game Warden (patrolling South Vietnamese rivers).

Data specific to Tactical Military Intelligence

Record Group 472: Records of the U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia

    Small Unit Combat Actions Files, 1969 - 1970 (also known as Integrated Tactical Data File (ITDF))
    National Archives Identifier:610020
    Data Files: 3 (EBCDIC)
    Technical Documentation: 203 pages

This series contains records on small unit combat actions reported in the Corps Tactical Zone of the I field Force Vietnam (IFFV).

This series contains records of small unit combat actions reported in the Corps Tactical Zone of the Third Marine Amphibious Force (III MAP) during the Vietnam War.

Data about U.S. Military Personnel

Series containing data on U.S. military casualties are described in a separate reference report, Records of U.S. Military Casualties, Missing in Action, and Prisoners of War from the Era of the Vietnam War.

Record Group 335: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Army

    Vietnam Experience Study Files, 1967 - 1968
    National Archives Identifier:648567
    Data Files: 8 (ASCII)
    Technical Documentation: 72 pages
    Online Access: Download

This series contains data on selected Army personnel who served in the Vietnamese conflict during 1967 and 1968 and were assigned to units tracked in the series "Battalion Tracking Study File, 10/1/1966 - 3/31/1969" (see Data specific to Land Military Operations and Activities). Public use versions of the files are available.

Record Group 472: Records of the U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia

    Records of Awards and Decorations of Honor During the Vietnam War (also known as Awards and Decorations System (AWADS))
    National Archives Identifier:604413
    Data Files: 1 (ASCII)
    Technical Documentation: 131 pages
    Online Access: DownloadSearch

This series contains information about some of the awards and decorations of honor awarded to U.S. military officers, soldiers, and sailors, and to allied foreign military personnel. A public use version is available.

Data about Vietnamese and Allied Military Forces

Record Group 218: Records of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff

    Southeast Asia Casualty File (SEACA), 1/27/1973 - 4/20/1975
    National Archives Identifier:630221
    Data Files: 1 (NIPS)
    Technical Documentation: 16 pages
    Online Access:Download

This series contains counts of the number of war casualties during the ceasefire period. Casualty counts include South Vietnam civilians, Army of the Republic of Vietnam forces, North Vietnamese Army, and Viet Cong.

Record Group 330: Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense

    Cambodian Friendly Units Files, 1/1970 - 3/1973
    National Archives Identifier:610063
    Data Files: 1 (ASCII Translated) (NIPS version available)
    Technical Documentation: 32 pages and 1 documentation (layout) file
    Online Access: DownloadSearch

This series contains data on over 900 military units in the Cambodian Armed Forces (Forces Armees Nationales Khmeres (FANK)) that were friendly to the allied side during the Cambodian War and the Vietnam War.

This series contains monthly data on the total number of policemen within the South Vietnamese National Police Force by both administrative unit and assigned police function.

Also known as the Army and Marine Forces Evaluation System Monthly Activity (AMFESMA), this series contains monthly activity data on the effectiveness of the armed forces of the Republic of South Vietnam. AMFESMA was part of the System to Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Republic of Vietnam Forces (SEER). There is an additional file, Army and Marine Forces Monthly Activity (AMFSA), that covers 1968.

This series contains information relating to personnel, training, unit deployment, military readiness, and operations of Vietnam Armed Forces. It is the predecessor to the series "Monthly Reports of Vietnamese Regional and Popular Forces, 4/1970 - 9/1972."

Record Group 472: Records of the U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia

    Monthly Reports of Vietnamese Regional and Popular Forces, 4/1970 - 9/1972
    National Archives Identifier:598773
    Data Files: 1 (EBCDIC) for TFES 1 (EBCDIC) for VNUS
    Technical Documentation: 66 pages
    Online Access: Download

This series consists of the Territorial Forces Evaluation System (TFES) and Vietnamese/United States System (VNUS). Both systems contain data on the combat effectiveness of regional and popular forces with South Vietnam. These systems were merged and expanded into the "Territorial Forces Analysis Reporting System (TFARS) Files, 9/1972 - 4/1974."

This series contains information on local defense forces, such as the number of people in combat training, the number and type of weapons in each hamlet, the number of friendly and enemy casualties, the training status of defense units, and if the defense unit engaged in combat, along with demographic information. The agency used the data to evaluate the progress and effectiveness of various components of local defense forces.

This series contains information about personnel with the Vietnamese (Republic of Vietnam) Air Force.

This series contains data on national police units and correction centers. It was used in conjunction with the National Police Infrastructure Analysis Subsystems (NPIASS).

Data related to Intelligence Gathering and Pacification Efforts

Record Group 330: Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense

    Hamlet Evaluation System (HES) Files, 1967 - 1974
    National Archives Identifier:4616225
    Data Files: 98 (ASCII Rendered) (de-NIPS'd and NIPS version available)
    Technical Documentation: varies per file(s) (343 pages total, plus supplemental documentation)
    Online Access: Download

This series contains geopolitical and demographic information for South Vietnamese villages and hamlets, along with observation ratings relating to security conditions and socio-economic factors in each village and hamlet.

This series contains monthly public opinion poll responses from Vietnamese interviewees in both rural and urban areas about the Vietnamese Conflict, Cambodian War, Pacification Program, economic conditions, and other public issues. Interviewers memorized the survey questions, used indirect questioning techniques to obtain the responses, and then memorized the responses.

Record Group 472: Records of the U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia

    Hamlet Evaluation System (HES), 1969 - 1973
    National Archives Identifier:18556191
    Data Files: 1 (EBCDIC, variable-length records)
    Technical Documentation: none compiled

This series contains geopolitical and demographic information for South Vietnamese villages and hamlets, along with observation ratings relating to security conditions and socio-economic factors in each village and hamlet.

This series contains two subsystems of the National Police Infrastructure Analysis Subsystems (NPIASS I and NPIASS II) that have information about Viet Cong (VC) infrastructure by position and name, and document by dossier suspected VC members and the countermeasures taken against each suspect. A public use version of NPIASS II is available.

This series also contains the following electronic documentation files:

  • Hamlet Evaluation System (HES) / Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI) Gazetteer, 1971-1973
  • Hamlet Evaluation System (HES) Gazetteer Source File, 1971-1973
  • Hamlet Evaluation System (HES) Gazetteer, 1971-1973
  • Greenbook File

The gazetteer files include codes and names for the geographic levels of Province, District, Village, and/or Hamlet, along with codes for the Corps Region, population numbers, ratings, and Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates. The files may serve as the source for the meanings for the district, village, and hamlet codes used in Hamlet Evaluation System (HES) and other related Vietnam War data files. The Greenbook file contains a table of all Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI) political position codes, position title, and reporting level indicators.

This series contains monthly public opinion poll responses from Vietnamese interviewees in both rural and urban areas about the Vietnamese Conflict, Cambodian War, Pacification Program, economic conditions and other public issues. Interviewers used memorized the survey questions, used indirect questioning techniques to obtain the responses, and then memorized the responses.

Also known as the Phung Hoang Management Information System (PHMIS), this file contains biographical data on all suspected or confirmed members of the Viet Cong. A public use version is available.

Data related to Logistics

Record Group 472: Records of the U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia

    Automated Movement Management System Files [MACAMMS], 1968 - 1972
    National Archives Identifier:609199
    Data Files: 9 (ASCII)
    Technical Documentation: 184 pages basic documentation (estimated 600 pages supplemental)
    Online Access:Download

This series contains records that broadly describe shipments of cargo within and away from South Vietnam.

This series contains information on supplies and requisitions for the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces

Output Formats

Contact staff for more details about specific files

During the Vietnam War, the Department of Defense used an early data base management system called the National Military Command System (NMCS) Information Processing System 360 Formatted File System, commonly known as NIPS. The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) developed the system. NIPS allowed users the ability to structure files, generate and maintain files, revise and update data, select and retrieve data, and generate reports. In some ways, NIPS supported relational database functionality.

Department of Defense agencies transferred to NARA many of the data files created during the Vietnam War in the software-dependent NIPS format. Although most of the file contains data, the beginning of the file consists of supporting information used during file maintenance, data retrieval, and output processing. The data are composed of fixed, non-repeating data with repeating subsets (i.e. a one-to-many relationship). The data are organized into the following sets of elements or tables:

  • Control Set, containing the unique record identifier that links to the Fixed Set and Periodic Sets
  • Fixed Set, containing non-repetitive data and
  • Periodic Sets, containing fields that can be repeated as needed there can be more than one type of Periodic Set.

For example, a record for a military mission in a NIPS file would include a control set that contains a unique identifier or fields that can be combined to create a unique identifier a fixed set with data about the mission as a whole a periodic set with data about the ordnance used in the mission that would be repeated for each type of ordnance used in the mission and a periodic set about the losses incurred in the mission repeated for each type of loss incurred. Therefore, a single mission record would consist of the control set, fixed set, none-to-many periodic sets per ordnance, and none-to-many periodic sets per loss.

In addition, NIPS files can include Variable Sets that appear only when data is present. These sets are usually "Comments" data in a free-text field of variable length. Data records in NIPS files are usually of varying length since the number of periodic sets vary for each record. NARA only provides exact copies of NIPS files.


In the late 1970s and early 1980s, NARA staff "de-NIPS'd" or reformatted some of the files transferred in the NIPS format, outputting the data in a flat-file format using then-standard EBCDIC encoding. This was done in order to have a software-independent version of the data. However the "de-NIPSing" process output some numeric fields in a zoned decimal format these fields usually need to be reformatted before using with contemporary software.

In addition, the NIPS records have a control set, fixed set, and periodic set of fields. In the "de-NIPS'd" version, the control set or the fixed set of fields may appear in the first instance of the record, but may not appear in the subsequent instances with multiple periodic set fields for that record, which immediately follow the first instance. For example, the first instance of a record would be a row in the database containing the control set, fixed set, and the first periodic set. If there are multiple periodic sets for that record, the next row would only include the control set and the second periodic set, followed by another row with the control set and the third periodic set, and so forth for each periodic set. Therefore the records are preserved in a specific sequential order and need to be "read" by the computer in that order. "De-NIPS'd" files may contain fixed-length or variable-length records. NARA only provides exact copies of de-NIPS'd files.

ASCII Translated

In 2002, NARA staff and volunteers developed computer programs written in Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL) to translated the NIPS files into ASCII, fixed-length records per each periodic set that contained the control set, fixed set, and periodic set fields. This format allows users to sort the records (i.e. the records are no longer in a sequential order).

ASCII Rendered

In 2007, NARA staff developed another software program, NIPSTRAN, to convert the NIPS files into more usable ASCII rendered tables. The program produces a table for the fixed set and tables for each periodic set. The tables function like a relational-database with one-to-many relationship (i.e. one fixed set record to many periodic set records). All the records in the tables include the corresponding control set fields to allow for linking between the fixed set table and periodic set table(s). The records in the tables are fixed-length and there may be versions of the tables where the records are field delimited.

EBCDIC and/or Binary

If not in the NIPS format, most of the other Vietnam War data files in NARA's custody are preserved in EBCDIC encoding. Some of these files may include binary characters, fields with zoned decimal data, variable-length records with binary counters, or other aspects that require the file be reformatted before using with contemporary software and may not properly auto-convert to ASCII. NARA can only offer exact copies of these files.

Selected Supplemental Documentation

Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS), Research and Analysis Directorate, Hamlet Evaluation System (HES) Command Manual, Document No. DAR R70-79 CM-01B, Military Assistance Command Vietnam, 1 September 1971. (RG 472 108 pages)

Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS), Research and Analysis Directorate, Hamlet Evaluation System (HES) Operations Manual, Document No. DAR R70 OM-01A, Military Assistance Command Vietnam, June 1972. (RG 472 150-200 pages)

Defense Communications Agency, Command and Control Technical Center, NMCS Information Processing System 306 Formatted File System (NIPS 360 FFS) General Description, Computer System Manual Number CSM GS 15-17, 1 September 1978. (41 pages)

Defense Communications Agency, Command and Control Technical Center, NMCS Information Processing System 306 Formatted File System (NIPS 360 FFS) Volume I Introduction to File Concepts, Computer System Manual Number CSM UM 15-78, 1 September 1978. (106 pages)

National Military Command System Support Center, The Operation Analysis System (OPSANAL) User's Manual (Revision A), Computer System Manual Number CSM UM63A-68, 30 September 1969. (405 pages)

Selected Additional Resources

Adams, Margaret O. "Vietnam Records in the National Archives: Electronic Records." Prologue 23 (Spring 1991): 76-84.

Carter, G. A., et al. An Interim Guide to Southeast Asia Combat Data. Prepared for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency by Rand (WN-8718-ARPA). Santa Monica, CA: Rand, June 1974.

Carter, G. A., et al. A User's Guide to Southeast Asia Combat Data. Prepared for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency by Rand (R-1815-ARPA). Santa Monica, CA: Rand, June 1976.

Eliot, Duong Van Mai. RAND in Southeast Asia: a history of the Vietnam War era. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2010.

Harrison, Donald F. "Machine-Readable Sources for the Study of the War in Vietnam." In Databases in the Humanities and Social Sciences-4: Proceedings of the International Conference on Databases in the Humanities and Social Sciences, July, 1987, ed. Lawrence J. McCrank. Medford, NJ: Learned Information, Inc, 1989.

Thayer, Thomas C., ed. A System Analysis View of the Vietnam War: 1965-1972, 12 volumes, 1975. These volumes contain articles printed in the "Southeast Asia Analysis Report" from January 1967 to January 1972. The volumes include:


The purpose of this LibGuide is to highlight the materials available from federal government documents that pertain to the Vietnam War. It is not meant to be all-inclusive and does not include materials available in others collections in the Marx Library. To access those materials be sure to check SOUTHcat and the list of databases accessible through the library.

In addition to this LibGuide, there are other resources you can use as a finding aid to materials. Check out these links to other LibGuides on the Vietnam War:

Vietnam Conflict (Naval Postgraduate School, Dudley Knox Library)

About the Author(s)

Joaquin Jay Gonzalez III, Ph.D., is Mayor George Christopher Professor of Public Administration at Golden Gate University. He worked as immigration commissioner for the city of San Francisco and is long-time President and CEO of the Pilipino Senior Resource Center in San Francisco, California.

Mickey P. McGee, DPA, is associate professor of public administration and director of the Doctor of Business Administration Program at Golden Gate University. He co-developed GGU’s Urban Innovations Program including the course, Inclusion, Diversion, Equity, and Accessibility. He has consulted for the U.S. Agency for International Development and the International City/County Management Association.

Roger L. Kemp, Ph.D., a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, has been a city manager on both the East and West coasts for more than 25 years and holds International City/County Management Association credentials. He has taught at the University of California, Rutgers University, University of New Haven, University of Connecticut and Golden Gate University.

Hobbycraft MiG-17F

The MiG-17 was designed to rectify some of the MiG-15s unsatisfactory high speed handling characteristics. The fuselage was lengthened and a new compound "sickle" wing with no less than three wing fences was added to help with high speed stability. Later, an improved engine with afterburner was added to make the MiG-17F.

The MiG-17 served with at least 22 different Air Forces around the world and was valued for its ruggedness, simplicity, outstanding dogfight maneuverability, and the hitting power of its cannon armament. It gained its greatest fame in the skies over Vietnam where it was opposed by more sophisticated supersonic American aircraft. As the war went on, the North Vietnamese were able to coordinate MiG-17s with supersonic MiG-21s, SAMs, and antiaircraft guns into a formidable air defense system. The MiG-17 was typically used at low altitude to engage bomb laden fighter bombers as they popped up for bombing runs or as they recovered from their dives. If threatened, MiG-17s would often form a defensive circle to cover each others' vulnerable rear quadrants. If any American aircraft attacked a MiG in the circle, the other MiGs could use their maneuverability to break across the circle and attack the American fighter.


This kit is the Hobbycraft copy of the Trumpeter MiG-17 kit in 1/32nd scale. I basically worked on it for two years, on and off, before completing it. The kit required A LOT of tender loving care, with many inaccuracies needing to be corrected. Once completed, however, it makes an impressive model that will look great next to my new F-105! Some of the items that were scratch built included:

  • ejection seat head rest (I adapted a MiG-15 seat, the Cutting Edge seat was unavailable at that time)
  • ventral strake was added
  • tail warning radar and position light were added
  • pitot tubes were fabricated from pins and brass tube
  • canopy rear view mirror
  • cannon barrels made from brass and aluminum tube
  • landing light using a MV lense and Eduard photo etch
  • trim tabs
  • flare launcher
  • drop tank pylons
  • position lights on the wing tips

Additionally, a number of aftermarket products were used in construction of the kit. Do not attempt to build this kit without the Eduard photo etch set (#32-051) or the Squadron crystal clear canopy (for the MiG-15). These sets replace some of the components that were pretty sad. Other aftermarket items included:

  • various decals from Eagle Strike's Fresco collection #32019 and Trumpeter BORT numbers
  • Cutting Edge intake splitter (this is also HEAVY…keeps the kit from being a tail sitter, but fill in the landing light) #32052
  • Cutting Edge wheels #32036
  • Cutting Edge cockpit set #32101 (this is the actual MiG-17 set with the KK-2 seat).


Some of the panel lines on the right side of the tail were wrong, these were filled and re-scribed. The engine is a VK-1 from an early MiG-17A or a MiG-15. The VK-1F from the MiG-17F has an afterburner that swells the combustion chamber noticeably, so I didn't use the engine. Additionally, the engine exhaust nozzle is incorrect. I used the Eduard set to make a new one which was secured to a length of brass tube and inserted into the fuselage. The main wheel wells are too shallow and are incorrect…the Eduard set came to the rescue again. The location holes for the drop tanks are grossly out of position to the outboard and are splayed out (pigeon toed). They were relocated approximately in line with the center wing fences. The radio antennae on the right side of the fuselage is in the wrong place….a new locating hole was drilled. The wing fences are way too thick, they were sanded down. The airbrake hydraulic actuators attach to the fuselage in the wrong place. New holes were drilled.


This was a challenging build for me. My local modeling friends really helped me to stick with it when I became frustrated. The result is an important addition to my collection of 1/32 Vietnam aircraft. Time now for the Thud!


  • AIR WAR OVER NORTH VIETNAM- The Vietnamese People's Air Force 1949-1977
  • MiG-17 In Action
  • MiG-17 and MiG-19 Units of the Vietnam War

Related Content

This article was published on Wednesday, July 20 2011 Last modified on Friday, March 16 2018

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Journal Articles and Reports

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Gerald G. Howard. Combat in Kosovo: Ignoring the War Powers Resolution. 38 Houston Law Review 261 (Spring 2001).
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Monroe Leigh. A Modest Proposal for Moderating the War Powers Controversy. 11 George Mason University Law Review 195 (Fall 1988).
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David I. Lewittes. Constitutional Separate of War Powers: Protecting Public and Private Liberty. 57 Brooklyn Law Review 1083 (Winter 1991).
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Watch the video: Vietnam war american soldier - 112 scale action figure review (August 2022).