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The Human Cost 


Paul Galanti

"Mass for the Fallen," acrylic on illustration board by John Steel, 1966 (NHHC accession no. 88-160-HV).

A few figures from official sources suffice to introduce this section. During the Vietnam War's official duration (4 August 1964–27 January 1973), 1,631 Sailors and 13,095 Marines were killed in action; 4,178 and 51,392 respectively were wounded. These figures do not include non-combat deaths or injuries, or Southeast Asian conflict–related deaths, wounds, or injuries sustained by members of the two sea services prior to or after the period noted above. The nearly 600 U.S. POWs included 154 Navy personnel and 47 Marines. Of these, 18 (9 per service) died in captivity. Fifteen U.S Navy service members (6 posthumously) and 57 Marines (44 posthumously) were awarded the Medal of Honor.

South Vietnamese military losses during the same time frame are more than four-fold; South and North Vietnamese civilian losses may have been over half a million—a clear reflection of the all-encompassing and uncompromising nature of the decades-long conflict. The ultimate North Vietnamese victory generated nearly 800,000 refugees between 1975 and 1995.

The following NHHC resources expound upon these stark figures:

Experiences Reported by the Crew of the USS Pueblo (AGER-2) and American Prisoners of War from Vietnam, 1975

The Battle Behind Bars: Navy and Marine POWs in the Vietnam War

Casualties: U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Personnel Killed and Wounded in Wars, Conflicts, Terrorist Acts, and Other Hostile Incidents (includes the Vietnam conflict and related actions)

Navy and Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients: Vietnam War 1964–75

The Final Curtain, 1973–1975 (naval evacuation of South Vietnam and Cambodia, excerpted from By Sea, Air and Land: An Illustrated History of the U.S. Navy and the War in Southeast Asia

End of the Saga: The Maritime Evacuation of South Vietnam and Cambodia 


Fall of South Vietnam, 1975

The fall of South Vietnam: Boats of Vietnamese refugees approach USS Durham (LKA-114) during a rainstorm, 4 April 1975 (K-107629).

Published:Thu Aug 10 08:39:37 EDT 2017