Vietnam War Myths

I have put together a compendium of the most virulent myths to come out of the Vietnam War. Some of these myths, because they have been repeated so many times, and have been showcased in some deplorable books and movies about the war, have taken on the status of "fact" in the minds of an alarming number of people. While some of these myths can be exposed as apocryphal tales by examining the statistics compiled during and after the war by independent sources, others are impossible to disprove (You can not "prove" a negative hypothesis: e.g., I can not "prove" there are no alien spacecraft flying around). All that can be done is examine the evidence and determine if there is any susbstance to the allegations. Statistical data was obtained from analysis of the Combat Area Casualty File of 11/93 (CACF1193), and The Adjutant General's Center (TAGCEN) file of 1981. Additional sources for factual data are listed below in the bibliography.

Ray Smith
1st Battalion 69th Armor

The Tet Offensive Was a Communist Victory   Only In The Minds Of The Media

Blacks Served In Disproportionate Numbers   They Did Not

Most Men Who Served Were Drafted  Most Men Who Served (75%) Were Volunteers

Draft Dodgers Protested Against The War   They Protested Over The Fact They Had To Serve

Drug Use Was Rampant In Vietnam  Drug Use is Rampant In Berkeley, and Hollywood

Fraggings Were Common In Vietnam   In fact they were rare

Prisoners Were Hurled From Helicopters   From the archives of the Beverly Hills National Guard

American Atrocities Were Widespread  In fact, only two can be documented

Body Counts Were Falsified   If anything, we wildly underestimated NVA dead

The Communists Still Hold POWs   There is no credible evidence to support this belief


A Bright Shining Lie, Sheehan, Neil, New York: Random House, 1988

After Tet, Ronald H. Spector, New York: Random House, 1993

A Soldier Reports, Westmorland, William C., New York: Doubleday, 1976

Code Name Bright Light, Veith, George J., New York: The Free Press, 1998

Inside The VC And The NVA, Lanning, Michael, New York: Random House, 1992

Son Thang: An American War Crime, Solis, Gary D., Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997

Stolen Valor, Burkett, B.G. & Whitley, Glenna, Dallas: Verity Press, 1998

The Rise And Fall Of An American Army, Stanton, Shelby L., Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1985

The Vietnam War, Nalty, Bernard C., New York: Smithmark Publishers, 1996

Vietnam: A History, Karnow, Stanley, New York: Viking, 1983

Vietnam At War: The History 1946-1975, Davidson, Phillip, New York: Oxford Univ Press, 1988