The United States Air Force dropped in Indochina, from to August 15, , a total of 6,, tons of bombs and other ordnance.
Navy and Marine Corps aircraft expended another 1,, tons in Southeast Asia. American bombing missions were enabled by the U. Following the Soviets launching of Sputnik in , the Eisenhower administration founded the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA , whose mission was to recruit top scientific talent for developing cutting edge military technologies that would enable the U. In , it was estimated that more than , technological and scientific workers were involved in war related production or research.
Boeing Bs carpet bombed from high altitudes. The NLF and NVA studied American weapons systems and attempted to evade or counter them by developing effective warning systems, spy networks, camouflage techniques, clever battlefield tactics, knowledge of the jungle terrain, and support from the local population.
Although southern fighters were aided by the north, they had to rely on their own ingenuity to neutralize the advantages of American weapons. Expert at navigating the waterways and moving supplies by boat, they built a network of underground tunnels where they could live for days and even perform medical surgeries. A cook by the name of Hoang Tram became a national hero for developing a stove that could cook meals without giving off tell-tale smoke.
NLF leader trained teenage girls in a jungle clearing, Sept. Guerrillas manufactured homemade bombs and mines from unexploded American ordinance. They set up punji traps and camouflaged land-mines for GIs to step on while on patrol.
To trick American ground sensors, which were prone to false alarm and inaccurate placement, they used decoys such as sending herds of cattle to simulate troop movement. This included nearly all homes, thirty-one schools, the university, four hospitals, the main bookstore and cinema, two churches, an historic 18 th century Buddhist pagoda that served as the cultural center of the city, a museum of the revolution, and the 19 th century imperial citadel.
Following raids in Dai Lai village in the rural Thai Binh province southeast of Hanoi in October , French journalist Gerard Chaliand witnessed men and women weeping as they swept debris from the floors of destroyed homes and recounted how their neighbors had been burned alive by the fires. Bui Van Nguu, age forty-six, told Chaliand that he had been outdoors making brooms for the cooperative when a bomb exploded in his kitchen, burying his three children.
The only thing left of them was mangled limbs, shreds of flesh, and the ear of his eldest daughter which was found in a garden seven yards away. Rescue teams in the village dug out many other children who had been buried alive, burned to shreds, or asphyxiated in the bombing massacre that was one of many in the war. Tell him that we will continue our life and struggle no matter what future bombings there will be because we know that without independence and freedom, nothing is worthwhile.
F-4 and VF warplanes on a bombing run, One reason is that some pilots simply ignored the rules. We bombed the cattle because we were told that anything out there was North Vietnamese controlled and we figured that was part of the food supply. North Vietnamese encryption specialists were often able to intercept American communications, resulting in foreknowledge of attacks.
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An estimated U. You must be extra careful when you fight the Americans. They come from a very advanced country and their aircraft are much faster and more powerful. Even so we can deal with them if we keep up our spirit and never lose courage.
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A summary Pentagon report at the end of took stock of civilian casualties, estimating that about 80 percent of the 13, to 24, North Vietnamese killed by American bombs were civilians. The report also noted that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were eager to abolish all legal restraints on bombing. A final report on Operation Rolling Thunder issued in the fall of summarized its failure to achieve stated military and psychological objectives:. Nor has it caused them to waver in their belief that the outcome of this test of will and endurance will be determined primarily by the course of the conflict on the ground in the South, not by the air war in the North.
He remained a POW until the end of the war. Photo by Francois Chalais. One U. On October 31, , with the antiwar movement in full-swing and public opinion having turned against the war, President Johnson ended Operation Rolling Thunder, hoping to boost the presidential prospects of his vice president, Hubert Humphrey.
Republican candidate Richard Nixon won the election and continued this official halt, while increasing the bombing of South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. He nonetheless wanted DRV leaders in Hanoi to believe that he was ready to employ all means necessary to win the war, perhaps even nuclear weapons. Haldeman, Nixon had confided to him:.
I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. Hanoi bombed, Dec. Known as Operation Linebacker, Bs and tactical aircraft dropped over , tons of bombs within a six-and-a-half-month period, ending October In December, with peace negotiations proceeding to a conclusion and few U. During the eleven-day onslaught, more than 36, tons of munitions rained down on North Vietnam, resulting in at least 2, civilians killed.
The North Vietnamese shot down fifteen Bs, according to the U. A napalm strike erupts in a fireball near U.
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While U. According to the historian and former U. Air Force pilot, James P. Carl Champ, Aug. There was the attitude that those Vietnamese were less than people…. From a kilometer, the shock waves knocked their victims senseless. Any hit within half a kilometer would collapse the walls of an unreinforced bunker, burying alive the people cowering inside. The terror was complete. One lost control of bodily functions as the mind screamed incomprehensible orders to get out….
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Sooner or later though. The region was pounded with artillery, bombers, and helicopter gunships, followed by sweeps of U. According to U. Provincial hospitals overflowed with civilian casualties. Air Force Captain Brian Willson, newly arrived in Vietnam, had yet to be anesthetized to the violence when he was asked to assess bomb damage in five hamlets in Vinh Long Province in mid-April The hardest hit area was the province of Quang Tri, just south of the Demilitarized Zone, where an estimated 3, villages were repeatedly bombed. In April , the province was hit with the heaviest B bombing of the entire war.
The capital city and the southeastern quadrant of Quang Tri were obliterated. Arthur Westing, an ecologist who had worked for the U. As far as we could determine not a single permanent building, urban or rural, remained intact; no private dwellings, no schools, no libraries, no churches or pagodas and no hospitals.
Moreover, every last bridge and even culvert had been bombed to bits. The one rail line through the province was also obliterated. A Ramparts Magazine article by William F. The little figures are afterward often scarcely human in appearance, and one cannot be confronted with the monstrous effects of the burning without being totally shaken.
His article was reportedly read by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the same attack, a grandmother sought help for her one-year-old grandson. Late in August, napalm bombs fell from the sky.
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Developed by elite military scientists in conjunction with 39 private companies such as American Electric of La Mirada, California, cluster bombs released hundreds of smaller bomblets, each one exploding into hundreds of razor-sharp shrapnel that could rip through bodies. These were antipersonnel weapons specifically designed to cripple and maim. The main casualties were again civilians.
Some of the bombs are timed and go off later [and thus] interfere with relief operations. I was working on a technical problem that was considered pressing. Those of us who testify… have seen the mechanical monster, the mindless devastation, the agony of simple people caught in the firestorm of our technological rampage. Westmoreland, was callous in his attitude toward Vietnamese civilian deaths and saw technical advances in Vietnam as inaugurating a new way of war.
With first round kill probabilities approaching certainty, and with surveillance devices that can continually track the enemy, the need for large forces to fix the opposition will be less important. As in Laos, the U. In March , President Nixon significantly increased the aerial assaults under the codename MENU, while still keeping the raids secret from the American people, an amazing feat considering that , tons of bombs were dropped over a fourteen-month period.
Kissinger approved each of the 3, Cambodia bombing raids in and as well as the methods for keeping them out of the newspapers. All told, the U. According to the diplomatic historian Greg Grandin:. The bombing of Cambodia was illegal in its conception, deceitful in its implementation, and genocidal in its effect. It committed Washington to a program of escalation, including its invasion, which hastened the collapse of Cambodian society.