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Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Mekong Delta, Vietnam: SEAL team members move in on their target, an enemy bunker complex on Tan Dinh Island, during Operation Bold Dragon III, 26 March 1968 (K-46398).


Over a 25-year period, the U.S. Navy was involved in a broad spectrum of operations in the military and political struggle for Vietnam and other countries of Southeast Asia. The Navy was active in the region from 1950, when the U.S.-supported French Union forces were battling Communist Vietminh guerillas, until 1975, when Seventh Fleet helicopters and ships evacuated the last Americans—and many South Vietnamese refugees—from Saigon.  

In its combat missions, the U.S. Navy was a major partner with the U.S. Air Force during the air campaigns in North Vietnam and Laos, and with the U.S. Army during riverine operations in South Vietnam's Mekong Delta region. U.S. naval forces comprised not only fleet units, but also U.S. Marine Corps and Coast Guard formations and assets. The Navy also fought side by side with forces from other nations of the anti-Communist coalition. U.S. Navy advisors, who were the first personnel to be assigned to Vietnam and among the last to leave, had a major role in the birth and operational viability of South Vietnam's navy.

The following NHHC publications and resources cover not only the blue and brown water, air, and ground combat operations of the U.S. Navy, but also provide insights into the command framework, logistics, and massive infrastructure and support services effort required to sustain operational momentum. 

U.S. Naval Forces in Vietnam and Southeast Asia

Reactions to the Tet Offensive, January 1968

Fred McDavitt Collection
Tet offensive, January 1968: U.S. Navy truck in My Tho with bullet holes. My Tho, the site of a Naval Support Activity Saigon detachment and base of River Division 53, was devastated during Tet (2016.23.01).

U.S. Navy Personnel Attached to Commander Naval Forces Vietnam
Sailors armed with a variety of weapons man an improvised strongpoint at one of the guard shacks of Naval Support Activity Saigon following initial Tet Offensive attacks, January 1968 (USN 1129710).

Photo #: USN 1111691-A USS Coral Sea (CVA-43)
As the catapult officer signals "launch," an A-4 Skyhawk starts down the flight deck of USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), during operations in the South China Sea, 24 March 1965 (1111691-A).

Lieutenant Terrence D. Schunrke
Lieutenant Terrence D. Schunrke, MC USN, senior medical officer at the U.S. Naval Support Facility, Da Nang, Vietnam, examines a small child at Stella Mari's outpatient clinic at the Sacred Heart Nursery Orphanage on the outskirts of the city, October 1971 (USN 1149942).
Published: Fri Jun 21 15:25:35 EDT 2024