April 30th, was the 35th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War, and May 4th, was the 40th anniversary of the shooting of protesting students at Kent State University. The Vietnam War and America’s involvement in it affected the lives of millions for well over a decade, exacting a massive human cost with millions of deaths and countless injuries – both physical and mental – that plague many of those involved to this day. United States military involvement and troop strength grew rapidly after 1964 – at its highest level in 1968, with over 500,000 troops on the ground. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. now bears the engraved names of 58,267 of those troops. It’s nearly impossible to encapsulate an event of such scale in a handful of photographs, but here, 35 years after the end of the conflict, is my attempt.
Hovering U.S. Army helicopters pour machine gun fire into a tree line to cover the advance of South Vietnamese ground troops in an attack on a Viet Cong camp 18 miles north of Tay Ninh, northwest of Saigon near the Cambodian border, in Vietnam on March 1965. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)
Paratroopers of the U.S. 2nd Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade hold their automatic weapons above water as they cross a river in the rain during a search for Viet Cong positions in the jungle area of Ben Cat, South Vietnam on Sept. 25, 1965. (AP Photo/Henri Huet)
Sgt. Ronald A. Payne, from Atlanta, Georgia, Squad Leader of Company A, 1st Bn, 5th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, checks a tunnel entrance carrying a flashlight and a sidearm, before entering it to search for Viet Cong and their equipment during Operation “Cedar Falls” in the Ho Bo Woods, 25 miles north of Saigon on January 24th, 1967. (US Department of Defense/SP5 Robert C. Lafoon, US Army Sp Photo Det Pac)
D. R. Howe (Glencoe, MN) treats the wounds of Private First Class D. A. Crum (New Brighton, PA), “H” Company, 2nd Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, during Operation Hue City on February 6th, 1968. (US Department of Defense)
Entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. performs for members of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in an undisclosed location in Vietnam during February of 1972. (US Department of Defense/SP4 George Gibbons, USA Sp Photo Det, Pac)
Members of the 101st Airborne Division take photographs during the Bob Hope Christmas Show at Camp Eagle in Vietnam on December 23rd, 1970. (US Department of Defense/SP5 Joel M. Shanus, USA Sp Photo Det, Pac)
U.S. Marines emerge from their muddy foxholes at sunrise after a third night of fighting against continued attacks of north Vietnamese 324 B division troops during the Vietnam War on Sept. 21, 1966. (AP Photo/Henri Huet)
A supply helicopter comes in for a landing on a hilltop forming part of Fire Support Base 29, west of Dak To in South Vietnam’s central highlands on June 3, 1968. Around the fire base are burnt out trees caused by heavy air strikes from fighting between North Vietnamese and American troops. (AP Photo)
(2 of 3) South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan, chief of the national police, fires his pistol into the head of suspected Viet Cong officer Nguyen Van Lem on a Saigon street, on Feb. 1, 1968. (AP Photo/Eddie Adams)
(3 of 3) South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan holsters his gun after executing suspected Viet Cong officer Nguyen Van Lem whose body lies on a Saigon street Feb. 1, 1968, early in the Tet Offensive. (AP Photo/Eddie Adams)
(1 of 3) Bombs with a mixture of napalm and white phosphorus jelly dropped by Vietnamese AF Skyraider bombers explode amidst homes and in front of the Cao Dai temple in the outskirts of Trang Bang, June 8, 1972. In the foreground are Vietnamese soldiers and news and cameramen from various international news organizations who watch the scene. The towers of the Trang Bang Cao Dai temple are visible in the center of the explosions. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
(2 of 3) South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc (center left), as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places, June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The children from left to right are: Phan Thanh Tam, younger brother of Kim Phuc, who lost an eye, Phan Thanh Phouc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Kim’s cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A young South Vietnamese woman covers her mouth as she stares into a mass grave where victims of a reported Viet Cong massacre were being exhumed near Dien Bai village, east of Hue, in April 1969. The woman’s husband, father and brother had been missing since the Tet Offensive, and were feared to be among those killed by Communist forces. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)
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