The Vietnam War was the first major conflict seen live on televisions in American living rooms. On a nightly basis, we watched airplanes drop bombs, soldiers tramping through rice paddies and jungles, villages set on fire, and the suffering of the Vietnamese people.
The war also was captured in unforgettable images from intrepid photographers – photojournalists from all over the world who recorded indelible images of the fighting and its aftermath. These included Pulitzer Prize winners Horst Faas of Germany and Sal Veder of the Associated Press; United Press International staff photographer David Hume Kennerly; Welsh war photographer Philip Jones Griffiths; and Henri Huet, a French war photographer covering the war for the Associated Press.
Some of these photographers paid the ultimate price in pursuit of the visual truth. National Observer photographer Dickey Chapelle was killed by a landmine blast, becoming the first female American correspondent killed in action. Another casualty of war was Life photographer Larry Burrows, who died with Henri Huet when his helicopter was shot down over the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos in 1971.
To assemble a collection of some of the most terrifying images of the Vietnam War by a variety of photographers – some of them unknown – 24/7 Tempo reviewed historical photo archives from sources including Getty Images, Picryl, Wikimedia, and the Library of Congress.
American combat involvement in Vietnam lasted from 1964 to 1973, and was one of the nation’s longest wars. By the time the United States pulled out of Vietnam in 1973, 58,000 American soldiers had been killed. (It was one of the wars in which the most Americans died.)
The war plunged the nation into division and self-doubt as a superpower. At home and in Southeast Asia, photojournalists captured the fear, chaos, anguish, and divisiveness of the conflict. (Here’s how every war in U.S. history ended.)
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