Do You Know These Facts and Figures About the Vietnam War?
By: John Miller
Image: [USMC Photo A184402] via Wiki Commons
About This Quiz
Even today, America grapples with the ghosts of the Vietnam War. After World War II, the United States Armed Forces appeared nearly invincible, and its hard-fought gains in the Korean conflict seemed to confirm that fact. So when violence in Vietnam became unavoidable, most people were sure the nation would find itself victorious once again. In the quicksand of this booby-trapped quiz, how much do you remember about the facts and figures of the Vietnam War?
Vietnam was no straightforward fight. It was a complicated political standoff that involved major countries – like the USSR, China and U.S. – engaging in what amounted to a proxy war. All sides dumped immense amounts of firearms, supplies and cash into the region, all in the hopes of swaying the outcome. The U.S., of course, eventually committed troops, too. Do you remember how these strange events all unfolded?
Once America joined the fray, the violence became evermore explosive. Civilians on both sides ran for their lives. Hundreds of thousands of troops lost their lives. And places like Saigon, Hanoi and Hamburger Hill became icons of the age.
Grab your M16 and see if you can survive this Vietnam War quiz now!
What was the goal of North Vietnam during the war?
to commit genocide
to unify the country under communism
The North hoped to unify the fractured country under communism. Leaders wanted a system similar to China and the USSR.
At the beginning of the war, what sort of government controlled South Vietnam?
As communism took hold in the North, the South was driven by a (mostly) democratic-style government. It was a situation that could not stand, and America wanted to be sure that the democratic side won.
U.S. leaders feared that if South Vietnam became communist, the result would be a "domino effect" in which other parts of Southeast Asia also fell to communism. Officials committed that stopping that from happening.
In August 1964, two North Vietnamese torpedo boats fired at U.S. Navy ships in what's called the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The event -- which may have been fabricated -- gave the U.S. cause to escalate its presence in the war.
Which country dumped major amounts of supplies and weapons in North Vietnam in hopes of helping them win the war?
all of the above
China and the USSR, both bastions of communism, heaped supplies and weapons on the North Vietnamese to help them win the war. It's no wonder, then, that America felt so threatened by the events unfolding there.
What was the purpose of Agent Orange during the war?
to defoliate North Vietnam
American planes sprayed tons of a chemical called Agent Orange on North Vietnam in order to defoliate the country's thick jungles (and to damage crops). It worked to some degree, but it also left many people on both sides with terrible side effects.
What was the purpose of the South's Strategic Hamlet Program?
to create bomb-proof bunkers
to protect rural areas from Northern troops
The South's Strategic Hamlet Program uprooted many rural people and corralled them into protected hamlets, with the idea being that this would shield them from the bullets (and influence) of Northern invaders. But the program was a massive failure thanks to resentment caused by relocation and the fact few people could tell which people needed protection and which people were infiltrators.
How did North Vietnamese troops counter the South's American helicopters?
small arms fire
In the early war, many North Vietnamese and Vietcong troops were terrified by the power of American helicopters. But they soon realized that concentrated small arms fire could blast the gunships out of the skies.
What was one major weakness of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam?
It used heavy American weapons.
The South's Army of the Republic of Vietnam relied on American weapons (many from WWII) for the war. But many of those weapons and vehicles were way too heavy for the mobile style of fighting of Vietnam.
In 1968, what happened at a village called My Lai?
In 1968, a U.S. unit went crazy, killing 400 women, children and elderly people in what's called the My Lai Massacre. Only one U.S. soldier was ever punished for the atrocities, and he was freed from prison early.
In 1968, the North launched the Tet Offensive. The offensive failed tactically, but it caused a dramatic shift in America's attitudes toward the war -- now it seemed unwinnable, and people wanted the troops brought home.
When did the U.S. withdraw combat troops from Vietnam?
In 1973, the combined forces of the North Vietnamese -- backed by China and the USSR -- proved to be far too much of a challenge for the U.S. That year, it withdrew its combat troops, essentially throwing in the towel on the war.