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The Vietnam Experience

USS New Jersey
7th Fleet, Point Debbie off Marble Mountain, South of Danang
John C. Roach, 1969.178
Tempera on paper, June-August 1969

Launched in 1942, New Jersey (BB-62) saw service in WWII and Korea before being decommissioned in 1957. In 1968 it was reactivated and outfitted to serve as a heavy bombardment ship in Vietnam. At recommissioning, it was the only active battleship in the U.S. Navy. Between late September 1968 and early April 1969, it participated in Operation Sea Dragon, providing offshore gunfire support against inland and coastal targets. Soon thereafter, the Navy decided to reduce heavy bombardment forces in Southeast Asia. New Jersey was again decommissioned in December 1969.


John Steel, #37
Acrylic on illustration board, April 1966



The tag attached to this man's collar identifies him as a "V.C." or Viet Cong suspect. Viet Cong was the name applied to a variety of categories of southern insurgents. Since the man is young and appears to be in civilian clothing, he may be merely a draft dodger without identity papers, a communist civilian auxiliary, or a part-time or full time soldier of the National Liberation Front which was controlled by the Vietnamese communist party.


Mass for the Fallen
John Steel, #55
Acrylic on illustration board, December 1966


A priest and Marines hold a mass in the field in remembrance of fallen comrades. Marine units were ministered to by Navy chaplains.


Off Limits, Cat Lo
Charles Waterhouse, #27
Felt tip pen on paper, March 1967


In the severely stressed economy of South Vietnam, Vietnamese who were able to acquire American military scrip or currency were far better off than their neighbors. Thus, wherever American troops established themselves, entrepreneurs quickly set up shop to attract their business. The result of the quest for dollars, however, was crime, corruption, and often bitter resentment against Americans. Military and civilian authorities attempted to curtail activities that engendered corruption, but frequently failed.


Danang Harbor
Gene Klebe, #30
Watercolor on paper, October-November 1965

USS Navarro (APA 215) offloads supplies while Vietnamese craft ply the harbor.


Mine on Patrol
John Steel, #26
Acrylic on illustration board, April 1966


In the guerilla warfare that characterized the Vietnam War, the presence of passive weapons, such as anti-personnel mines and punji sticks kept tension at a high level.

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27 July 2004