Military


These videos and lesson plans examine the military strategy of the Vietnam War, and identify the different countries and cultural groups that fought in the war. These resources address the following questions:

- Identify and describe the miliary tactics employed by each side. In what ways did these tactics mark a distinct shift from previous wars?

- How do societies determine who is best suited to fight in a war?

- What was life like for a soldier fighting in the Vietnam War?

- How were minorities treated in the U.S. draft process? How were minorities treated by commanders and fellow soldiers once in the armed forces?

- How did the motivations of American and Vietnamese soldiers change over the duration of the Vietnam War?

  • Evolution of the Draft: Discussion Guide | Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

    The American draft evolved significantly in the course of the Vietnam War, a conflict so widely protested at home that it was ultimately fought by an all-volunteer military force comprised of just 1% of Americans (12% of the population, for comparison, served in World War II).

    The discussion guide below, along with the presentation included in the support materials, reviews how the nature of conscription has changed throughout history. Students will analyze the conditions in which drafts have been invoked throughout history, and will debate the advantages and disadvantages of conscription. Is there a benefit to having an all-volunteer miliatry force? What are the obstacles of instating a draft system? Which eligable citizens, if any, should be excused from the draft? By the end of this lesson, students will form and support their own opinions about the draft system.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Medical Advances: Discussion Guide | Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

    The Vietnam War brought some major advances in medical care, some of which are still standard practice in civilian medical care today. The advancement of medicine can be considered a positive consequence of the immense challenges soldiers and civilians face during war.

    What were the major medical advances of the Vietnam War? What is pre-medical care? What is that service called today? In what ways did the radio improve emergency medicine? How did Vietnam-era medical advances benefit civilians, and which developments continue to benefit soldiers and civilians alike?  Answer these questions and more with the discussion guide below, and the presentation included in the support materials. By the end of this lesson, students will better understand that the most critical national events often yield very important advances in science and medicine, which benefit generations to come.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Nixon Invades Cambodia | The Day the '60s Died

    Learn President Nixon's initial plan to end the Vietnam War in this clip from The Day the 60's Died. Nixon's original strategy, which involved a gradual reduction of American troops, was ultimately stalled when enemy sanctuaries in Cambodia forced him to authorize an invasion of Cambodia. For the American public, already frustrated with the never-ending war, this expansion was unwelcome news.

    Grades: 9-12
  • SEALs in the Vietnam War | Navy SEALs - Their Untold Story

    Understand key elements of U.S. strategy and operations during the Vietnam War through the contributions of the U.S. Navy SEALs to this conflict. SEAL teams partnered with the CIA to train their South Vietnamese counterparts and they collaborated with American military scientists on weapons technology. Because they wore camouflage makeup during their missions, the SEAL combat teams in Vietnam were known as “Men with Green Faces.”

    Grades: 6-12
  • Agent Orange and the Vietnam War | Iowans Remember Vietnam

    Agent Orange was the name of a potent herbicide that was used by United States troops during the Vietnam War to defoliate trees in the jungle. The chemical has since been determined to cause various diseases, including cancer. This segment from Iowa Public Television's Iowans Remember Vietnam documentary includes archival footage, and a first-person account of a veteran and his experiences with Agent Orange.

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Experiences of a U.S. Veteran During the Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War | Iowans Remember Vietnam

    In January 1968, communist forces launched the largest offensive of the Vietnam War. Starting on the Vietnamese New Year known as Tet, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces attacked more than 100 South Vietnamese cities, catching South Vietnamese and United States forces totally by surprise. Although the Tet Offensive was considered a military failure for the communists, the scope of the conflict led the United States military, public and political leaders to rethink continued support for the war. This segment from Iowa Public Television's Iowans Remember Vietnam includes archival footage and interviews with Iowa veteran Paul Dwyer. Dwyer describes his role as a radio operator during the war, and explains his experiences during the Tet Offensive.

    Grades: 6-12
  • U.S. Veteran Describes Experiences as a Helicopter Pilot in the Vietnam War | Iowans Remember Vietnam

    A United States Marine veteran describes his experiences as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. His duties ranged from delivering mail, to troop insertion and extraction, and picking up wounded soldiers. This segment from Iowa Public Television's Iowans Remember Vietnam documentary includes historical archival footage and first-person accounts to describe events and experiences of the war.

    Grades: 6-12
  • My Lai: On the Road to Hell

    During the Vietnam War, military leaders failed to give moral guidance to scared U.S. soldiers. Video from American Experience: “My Lai.”

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Experiences of a Nurse During the Vietnam War | Iowans Remember Vietnam

    The Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation estimates that 11,000 military women were stationed in Vietnam during the conflict, and approximately 90 percent of them served as nurses. This segment from Iowa Public Television's Iowans Remember Vietnam documentary includes archival footage and an interview with Iowa veteran Grace Lilleg Moore. Moore describes her experiences as a nurse in the 12th Evacuation Hospital near Cu Chi, Vietnam, in 1968, and explains the emotional impact of this work during and after the war.

    Grades: 6-12
  • U.S. Veteran Describes Being a Prisoner of War in Vietnam | Iowans Remember Vietnam

    During the Vietnam War many United States soldiers were captured and held as prisoners of war. Many soldiers reported being regularly tortured, and some were used for military propaganda. This segment from Iowa Public Television's Iowans Remember Vietnam includes archival footage and interviews with Iowa veteran Harold Johnson. Johnson describes his role as a military jet pilot, his experience being captured, his days in captivity and his eventual release.

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Sixties: Notes from the Ho Chi Minh Trail | History Detectives

    Students watch a clip from the episode Vietnam Diary that introduces them to the diary of a member of the Communist Youth Party and soldier from North Vietnam. They then analyze arguments for and against the Vietnam War to determine what made this war so controversial.

    Grades: 6-12
  • An African American’s Experience with Discrimination on the Battlefront and at Home During the Vietnam War | Iowans Remember Vietnam

    African Americans volunteered in large numbers for the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. For some, the color line among troops blurred quickly in battle, but many still faced discrimination when they returned home. This segment from Iowa Public Television's Iowans Remember Vietnam documentary includes archival footage and interviews of veterans of the war.

     

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Draft | On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam

    This educational module adapted from the film On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam examines the draft. During the Vietnam War, the US government decided service would be selective and certain categories of young people would serve their country in other ways, but in practice the burden of combat service fell to young men with less privilege. This module will prompt students to think critically about the benefits and pitfalls of selective compulsory military service during the Vietnam War, and how it differed from the notion of ’universal service.

    Grades: 7-12
  • It Was My Duty to Serve | On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam

    This educational module adapted from the film On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam examines the long tradition of Latino military service in the United States. Nearly half a million Latinos fought in World War II, and over 80,000 Latinos fought in the Vietnam War. This module weaves together several veterans' personal stories to explore the reasons why so many Latinos have enlisted in the armed forces before, during, and after the Vietnam War. The module shows what military service means to Latinos who have experienced multiple generations of discrimination and barriers to full citizenship. The module also reflects on how our society recognizes military service and the sacrifices war veterans have made.

    Grades: 7-12
  • The Betrayal (Nerakhoon): Human Consequences of U.S. Foreign Policy Decisions

    This lesson plan is designed to be used with the film The Betrayal (Nerakhoon), which tells the story of members of a Laotian family whose father and husband helped the United States wage a so-called "secret war" in Laos during the Vietnam War, only to face imprisonment or execution after the United States withdrew its forces. This family's story represents the experiences of many Laotians and is an excellent case study for showing students how U.S. foreign policy decisions have the potential to impact generations.

    Grades: 9-12