How Well Do You Know the Vietnam War?


By: Lauren Lubas

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

The time, energy, money and human life that wars cost our country can be overwhelming. Although it has been over 100 years since we last saw war on American soil, the United States has been involved in wars around the world for the majority of its existence. These wars include both World Wars, the Korean War and Vietnam. Of the foreign wars that America has been involved in, Vietnam stands out as one of the turning points in American history. Not only were American citizens perplexed as to why we were involved, but they were also enraged by the lies they were hearing from the government and media, nearly causing a second civil war on US soil. 

There is no doubt that the Vietnam War changed the sociopolitical landscape of this country, but it also changed how we view getting involved in international conflicts. People started to get informed and make educated decisions while in the voting booths.  It was the first televised war, and it was the first war that flooded our living rooms with misinformation. Whether you lived through it or studied it, we want to know how well you remember the Vietnam War. Take this quiz to find out if you have your facts straight.

What year did Congress declare war on Vietnam?

The United States Congress never actually declared war on Vietnam. This is why you'll often hear the term "Vietnam Conflict" instead of war. Although it was never officially considered a war, it was just as costly (financially and in terms of human life) as any other war.


In what year did the United States first get involved in Vietnam?

Although we didn't send troops until 1965, the United States did begin sending money, supplies and weapons to our allies who were assisting the South Vietnamese against communist forces from the north.


Do you remember which country was helping the South Vietnamese before the United States was involved?

France was helping the South Vietnamese fight communism shortly after World War II. However, once the United States began helping, France pulled out shortly after the fall of Dien Bien Phu. Shown here, supporting troops fall back across the Mekong River after the fall of Dien Bien Phu.


Who led the North Vietnamese army, known as the Viet Minh?

Considered the leader of the communist party in Northern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh led the revolution against both the Japanese and the French throughout the middle of the 20th century.


Do you know the colonial name the French gave Vietnam during its occupancy?

French Indochina was considered to be owned by France. However, it didn't take long for the French to realize that they made a terrible mistake in trying to assimilate the locals and change their ways of life. Shown here are members of the French 1st Foreign Parachute Heavy Mortar Company during the Indochina War.


Can you tell us the reasoning the US government gave its citizens for getting involved in Vietnam?

Coming hot off the heels of the red scares that were going on in the United States, it was clear that this topic could still be used as a justification to get the United States citizens to believe and accept nearly anything. However, several opposition groups began to fight back and spread information across the country.


John F. Kennedy and Robert McNamara created a plan to exit Vietnam by what date?

By the time Kennedy was assassinated, there were over 10,000 military "advisors" in South Vietnam, helping with the defensive effort. Kennedy wanted to ensure that they could pull out and continue giving supplies to the region. Unfortunately, this didn't happen as Kennedy was killed and LBJ decided to escalate instead of following in Kennedy's footsteps.


What incident led to United States troops being deployed in Vietnam?

In the Gulf of Tonkin incident (or the Tonkin Gulf incident). It was stated that the Northern Vietnamese attacked a United States ship (the USS Maddox, shown here). This led Congress to accept sending troops into Vietnam. It was later reported the ship only received a single bullet hole.


Which countries sent troops to fight alongside American troops?

While South Korea sent more troops than any other country, France was nowhere to be found. Australia and New Zealand, however, sent troops and supplies to aid in the war effort. Shown here, personnel and aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force arrive in South Vietnam.


Can you name the president who was NOT in office during the Vietnam War?

While Eisenhower first allowed for supplies and advisors to be sent to Vietnam, it was Lyndon B. Johnson who first sent ground troops. Nixon returned all of the troops, but the war didn't end for South Vietnam until Gerald Ford was president in 1975.


Can you name the neighboring country that the Ho Chi Minh Trail ran through?

The Ho Chi Minh Trail ran through Laos, Cambodia, North Vietnam and South Vietnam. It was used mainly for the Northern Vietnamese to move supplies, weapons and soldiers through the countries from 1959 to 1975.


How many troops did South Korea send to help the United States in Vietnam?

Over the course of their time in the Vietnam War, South Korea sent approximately 50,000 troops per year. This spanned from 1964 to 1973. South Korean troops, shown here, helped the United States more than any other country.


In dollars, how much did Vietnam cost the United States?

Wars are expensive. For a war that lasted over 20 years, this price point is around average. This cost included weapons, transportation and supplies for the troops that were on the ground. In today's dollars, that would be almost a trillion bucks.


In order to get a clear view of their surroundings, what herbicide did US forces use to reduce jungle vegetation?

Agent Orange wasn't your average herbicide. It could take down entire forests and crops throughout the jungle. This helped reduce cover for the North Vietnamese and aided US troops in finding the enemy. Unfortunately, it also caused a host of health issues for those exposed to it, including U.S. troops.


Who were the Viet Cong?

Guerrilla warfare was nothing new by the time the Vietnam War came along. However, the Viet Cong did anything and everything that they had to do in order to win. The Viet Cong were also known as the National Liberation Front, and worked toward communist goals.


In 1968, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese created a combined assault called what?

When it came to war strategy, the Northern Vietnamese didn't take planning lightly. The Tet Offensive included attacks that were coordinated on more than 100 cities and postings throughout South Vietnam.


What year did Ho Chi Minh die?

While the war was in full swing, the leader of the communist party died of congestive heart failure at the age of 79. He had been running North Vietnam for nearly 25 years as prime minister and president.


Who was president when the ceasefire was signed in Paris?

While people like to bash Nixon's presidency, he actually did a lot to make changes for America. As early as 1970, he worked toward removing US troops from Vietnam and ending the war.


What was Vietnamization?

Although it may not have been a perfect removal of US forces, Vietnamization was a plan to reduce the combat role of the United States. In order to do that, there had to be markers in place to ensure the South Vietnamese could stand on their own.


In what year were all of the United States troops removed from Vietnam?

The United States pulled out of Vietnam in 1973, having assumed the South Vietnamese had all of the tools and funding they'd need to succeed. However, just two short years later, North Vietnam invaded and took over the south, ending the conflict in defeat.


What is the Vietnam War known as in Vietnam?

Although American troops were sent to help the South Vietnamese, from the perspective of the north and the communist party, it was clear that they were just trying to take back what the French had stolen from them in the 1800s: their land and culture.


Who died just before John F. Kennedy?

Ngo Dinh Diem was the South Vietnamese president. He was deposed by a coup that the U.S. knew about, but did nothing to stop. The coup began on Nov. 1, and by the next day, Ngo Dinh Diem had been captured and executed.


Saigon was a popular place during the Vietnam War. What was it?

The capital city of Saigon was often protected by US troops. However, after they were removed, it took two years for the North Vietnamese to take it over, in a capture known as the Liberation, or Fall, of Saigon. It is now known as Ho Chi Minh City. Shown here, Vietnamese civilians gather to be airlifted out prior to the capture of Saigon.


Why was the Viet Minh formed?

While the Indochinese Communist Party (or ICP) was formed as early as 1930, it wasn't until 1941 when Japan attacked that the Viet Minh was created. This guerrilla force was meant to fight against both France and Japan ... and anyone who threatened the communist organization. Shown here is the Viet Minh flag.


In what year was Vietnam split into North and South?

1954 was a big year for the Vietnam War. A two-month battle on Dien Bien Phu led to the French pulling out of the country completely, and a Geneva conference declared that the country was now two different countries.


What export do some believe is the real reason the US decided to help this small country fight communism?

A major world power heading in to help out a small country in the middle of the Pacific might seem like a big brother trying to be protective, but not necessarily a reason to get an entire country into war. However, a large supply of rubber may have given a little incentive for the US.


Which country was not considered a battleground for the Vietnam war?

Cambodia was supposed to be a neutral zone during the war. However, that didn't last long. It was actually a part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and there are still live landmines in the country.


How many Vietnamese hostiles, communists and Viet Cong are estimated to have died during the war?

Although many of the numbers seen on the television screen during the war were made up and given to the press, the actual numbers were released by Vietnam in 1995. They claimed that 1.1 million troops were killed during the fighting (not including the South Vietnamese deaths).


When did the Viet Minh really start focusing their efforts on the French?

Just after WWII ended, Japan left Vietnam and left a power vacuum in the country. When France tried to reclaim power, the Viet Minh attacked and Ho Chi Minh declared his independence.


The Truman Doctrine is part of the reason we were in Vietnam. What did it state?

After WWII ended, the Soviet Union began trying to "export" communism around the world. This system was antithetical to the way the United States and most other industrialized nations ran things.


Which two large world powers aided the communist resistance in North Vietnam?

The Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China were both major world powers that supported communist efforts around the globe. Both of these powers delivered financial and military aid to the communist uprising, beginning in 1950. Shown here are Soviet anti-air instructors and North Vietnamese crewmen, taken in the spring of 1965.


In order to gain support for helping the French in Vietnam, what did Eisenhower say their defeat could do?

In order to gain support for his giving money to foreign countries for war, Eisenhower supported the Truman Doctrine and pushed the fact that communism could spread like a disease if it wasn't opposed.


What year were the first US soldiers killed in Vietnam?

As early as 1956, the first US death was recorded in the war. Air Force Technical Sgt. Richard B. Fitzgibbon was the first of many Americans to die in the conflict.


In 1960, who replaced Ho Chi Minh as the head of the communist party in North Vietnam?

His official title in 1960 became general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam. With a title like that, you know this guy was one of the most important men in the war.


Before actual ground troops were sent to Vietnam, who did John F. Kennedy send for secret operations?

Secret stealth missions were not uncommon throughout the Vietnam War. The Green Berets were some of the most highly regarded special operations soldiers we had. In 1961, JFK sent 400 into the country to complete missions.


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