27 Vietnam War Facts That Will Change How You View American History

Published October 4, 2018
Updated October 10, 2018

The public was lied to, soldiers were thrown into chaos, and politicians scrambled to twist the truth. It's no surprise then that these Vietnam War facts still stun today.

Vietnam War Facts
Vietnam War Facts
Vietnam War Facts
Vietnam War Facts
27 Vietnam War Facts That Will Change How You View American History
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Some of the Vietnam War facts you think you know aren’t facts at all. The truth is quite a bit different than you might have imagined.

You're not alone. This war was so full of lies and secrets that it’s hard to separate the true Vietnam War facts from the fictional ones. Both sides committed and covered up so many war crimes that they could barely let a single truth slip out.

The American Army implemented covert strategies you would think were the stuff of science fiction. During the war, they used weather weapons that could make it rain, bringing wet weather to the dry season and flooding roads to impede truck traffic between North and South Vietnam.

They sprayed the whole country of Vietnam with toxic chemicals that still affect the area — and American veterans — today. One American unit even wore necklaces of dead Vietnamese men’s ears. They were responsible for the longest series of atrocities committed by any platoon in the war. No one was prosecuted.

Drug use was rampant. An incredible 15 percent of American soldiers were addicted to heroin, while others were so desperate for escape that they ate C-4 explosives just to get high. One soldier, Peter Lemon, even managed to earn a Medal of Honor while stoned out of his mind.

Not every lie made the war seem better, though. Some of the most horrible Vietnam War facts you’ve heard are twisted versions of reality.

For example, consider the iconic “Saigon Execution” photograph of a South Vietnamese general shooting a young Viet Cong fighter during the Tet Offensive. The victim, it turns out, wasn't innocent at all. Also, the U.S. Army had nothing to do with what happened to the infamous “Napalm Girl.”

Vietnam war facts are also ones of remarkable feats of courage, determination, and sacrifice. One American crawled for three days to take a single shot that would change the course of the war. A prisoner of war blinked in Morse code to send one chilling word home to the U.S. government: "torture."

But did his government listen? Richard Nixon, with his eye on the upcoming 1968 presidential election, had a frightening plan. He knew that the country wouldn't want to change leaders in the middle of a war. But what if the war ended? How would voters feel about him then?

Not great, if the group of anti-war protestors who gathered outside the Pentagon to perform an exorcism is anything to judge by — but that wasn't the end of their spiritual ambitions for the Department of Defense headquarters.

History, as you’ll learn in this gallery of Vietnam War facts, didn’t happen the way you think it did. There are a lot of stories you’ve never heard and a whole pile more that you have heard but incorrectly. The truth might just change the way you see America’s most disastrous war.

After reading these facts about the Vietnam war, check out these declassified Vietnam War photos and learn about the tragic legacy of America's chemical warfare: the Agent Orange victims.

Mark Oliver
Mark Oliver is a writer and teacher, and father whose work has appeared on The Onion's StarWipe, Yahoo, and Cracked.
Leah Silverman
A former associate editor for All That's Interesting, Leah Silverman holds a Master's in Fine Arts from Columbia University's Creative Writing Program and her work has appeared in Catapult, Town & Country, Women's Health, and Publishers Weekly.
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Oliver, Mark. "27 Vietnam War Facts That Will Change How You View American History." AllThatsInteresting.com, October 4, 2018, https://allthatsinteresting.com/vietnam-war-facts. Accessed May 18, 2024.