Vietnam War Pictures

The Vietnam War (1959-1975) was bloody, dirty, and very unpopular. In Vietnam, U.S. soldiers found themselves fighting against an enemy they rarely saw, in a jungle they couldn't master, for a cause they barely understood. These pictures offer a brief glimpse into life during the Vietnam War.

Combat Action

A solider clears an area of Vietnam using his flamethrower.
Da Nang, Vietnam. Sergeant Robert E. Fears clears an area using his flamethrower. (May 22, 1970). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
  • Marine Corp flame thrower tank in action
  • A soldier uses his flamethrower to clear an area
  • A machine gunner and a rifleman firing at the enemy
  • A U.S. Air Force HH-3 helicopter crewman firing a mini-gun
  • Two soldiers wading through a muddy hole while on a search mission
  • Marines take to water
  • Soldiers clearing housing during patrol
  • Napalm bombs exploding on Viet Cong structures
  • A Viet Cong base camp being destroyed
  • Aerial View of bombing Viet Cong structures along a canal
  • An infantry patrol moves up to assault the last Viet Cong position
  • Soldiers moving along a trail during an assault operation
  • Marines riding on a M-48 tank

Entertaining the Troops

John Wayne signes a soldier's helmet during a visit in Vietnam.
Vietnam. John Wayne signs Private First Class Fonzell Wofford's helmet during his visit to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, at Chu Lai. (June 20, 1966). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Soldiers

A young Marine private waits on the beach during the Marine landing in Vietnam.
Da Nang, Vietnam. A young Marine private waits on the beach during the Marine landing. (August 3, 1965). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Life in the Jungle

Following a hard day, a few soldiers gather around a guitar player during the Vietnam War.
OPERATION "YELLOWSTONE" VIETNAM: Following a hard day, a few members of Company "A," 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (Mechanized), 25th Infantry Division, gather around a guitar player and sing a few songs. (January 18, 1968). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
  • Staff Sergeant Howard Stevens reading his mail
  • Soldiers playing guitar after a hard day
  • Three soldiers sitting in a fighting bunker eating and writing

Wounded

Marines, while under heavy firefight, carry one of their fellow Marines during the Vietnam War.
Vietnam. Medical Evacuation. Marines of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, while under heavy firefight with NVAs within the DMZ on Operation Hickory III, are carrying one of their fellow Marines to the H-34. (July 29, 1967). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
  • Marines carrying one of their fellow Marines to the H-34 under heavy firefight
  • A nurse tending a patient just out of surgery on a hospital ship
  • A nurse checking the medical chart of an injured Marine aboard a hospital ship
  • Two nurses talking with a wounded American soldier
  • Medical evacuation patients on the deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli
  • 1st Lt. Elaine H. Niggemann changes a surgical dressing
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson decorating a soldier in a hospital

P.O.W.s

A U.S. soldier is given first aid while being guarded by his captors in North Vietnam.
United States Air Force Captain Wilmer N. Grubb is given first aid while being guarded by his captors in North Vietnam. (January 1966). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Women in the Military

1st Lt. Elaine H. Niggemann changes a surgical dressing for a U.S. soldier during the Vietnam War.
1st Lt. Elaine H. Niggemann changes a surgical dressing for Mr. James J. Torgelson at the 24th Evacuation Hospital. Mr. Torgelson is civilian employee for HNA, Inc. (July 9, 1971). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
  • The first five enlisted women in the Air Force arriving
  • Staff Sergeant Ermalinda Salazar, a woman Marine who has been nominated for the 1970 Unsung Heroine Award, holds two youngsters
  • A nurse tending a patient just out of surgery in the intensive care ward of a hospital ship
  • Two nurses talking with a wounded American soldier wounded
  • 1st Lt. Elaine H. Niggemann changes a surgical dressing
  • A nurse checking the medical chart of an injured Marine aboard a hospital ship
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson talking to nurses and children in Vietnam

Media

Vietnam. Walter Cronkite of CBS interviewing Professor Mai during the Vietnam War.
Vietnam. Walter Cronkite of CBS interviewing Professor Mai of the University of Hue. (February 20, 1968). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Views From the Air

Napalm bombs explode on Viet Cong structures south of Saigon in the Republic of Vietnam.
Napalm bombs explode on Viet Cong structures south of Saigon in the Republic of Vietnam. (1965). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
  • Napalm bombs exploding on Viet Cong structures
  • Bombing Viet Cong structures along a canal
  • View from inside a helicopter

Helicopters

A huge Sky Crane CH-54A helicopter during the Vietnam War.
One of the unique pieces of equipment brought to Vietnam by the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), U.S. Army, is the huge Sky Crane CH-54A helicopter which can lift tremendous loads. Viet Nam Photo Service. (1958-1974). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
  • Helicopters waiting in a row
  • Vietnam War refugees riding an Air Force helicopter
  • A huge Sky Crane CH-54A helicopter
  • Air Force F-105 Thunderchief refueling in the air
  • A U.S. Army soldier directing a UH-1 helicopter
  • UH-1D helicopters airlifting soldiers
  • Medevac helicopter taking off
  • A U.S. Air Force HH-3 helicopter crewman firing a mini-gun
  • View from inside a helicopter

Planes

Two F-4b phantoms on their way to targets during the Vietnam War.
Vietnam. Two F-4b phantoms of VMFA-542, Marine Aircraft Group-11, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, DaNang RVN, on their way to targets in support of Marines working in Northern I Corps. (January 1969). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Boats and Ships

The nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise cruises in the clear blue water.
The nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise cruises in the clear blue water of the Gulf of Tonkin off the shores of Vietnam. With A-4 Skyhawk bombers on her bow, enterprise is ready to recover more aircraft on her angled deck. (May 28, 1966). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Viet Cong Prisoners

A Viet Cong prisoner, captured during the Vietnam War, is brought into the collection area.
A Viet Cong prisoner is brought into the collection area by Marines. Prisoners are blindfolded and tied to prevent escape attempts. The card on the prisoner's black shirt relates to circumstances of his capture. (February 1, 1966). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Life for the Vietnamese During War

Small girl receives medical aid during fierce fighting in Nam-o Village near Danang, South Vietnam.
Small girl receives medical aid during fierce fighting in Nam-o Village near Danang, South Vietnam. (January 30, 1968). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Vietnam Veterans' Memorials

Jimmy Carter unveil a memorial to Vietnam Veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.
Jimmy Carter and Max Cleland unveil a memorial to Vietnam Veterans during Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. (November 11, 1978). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Propaganda

A propaganda picture used on the cover of a pamphlet during the Vietnam War.
This picture was used as the cover of a pamphlet which describes the truth about the cause of the subversive insurgency in Vietnam. Such dramatic pictorial appeals draw sympathy from the reader before a word is read. (1966). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Protestors

Two men protesting the Vietnam War with a sign that states: Saigon Puppet.
Vietnam War protesters. Wichita, Kansas. (1967). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

President Lyndon Johnson

President Lyndon B. Johnson decorating a soldier during the Vietnam War.
President Lyndon B. Johnson in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam: Decorating a soldier. (October 26, 1966). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

President Richard Nixon

President Nixon at Camp David, discussing the Vietnam situation.
Meeting at Camp David to discuss the Vietnam situation. Pictured: Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, President Nixon, Maj. Gen. Alexander M. Haig Jr., Deputy Assistant. (Nov. 13, 1972). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

General William C. Westmoreland

General William C. Westmoreland, Commanding General, watches the ceremonies during Vietnam War.
New Port, Vietnam. Queen's Cobra Arrival in Vietnam. General William C. Westmoreland, Commanding General, MACV, watches the ceremonies on the arrival of the Royal Thai Volunteer Regiment in Vietnam. (Sept. 21, 1967). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam

President Nguyen Van Thieu (South Vietnam) and President Lyndon B. Johnson.
President Nguyen Van Thieu (South Vietnam) and President Lyndon B. Johnson. (July 19, 1968). Picture courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.