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The War in Vietnam - A Story in Photographs

Making Connections

All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.

Introduction

The war in Vietnam has been described as the first "living room war"—meaning combat was seen on TV screens and newspapers on a daily basis. Newspaper and television crews documented this war much more intensely than they did earlier conflicts. This willingness to allow documentation of the war extended to the military's own photographers—who captured thousands of images that covered every aspect of the conflict between 1962 and 1975.

In this activity, you will study and analyze several of these photographs. Practice photograph analysis with the first photo by answering questions 1-4 and a-b that follow the image.

Go through the same process for each of the additional photos; but don't write out the full answers to questions 1-4. Instead, in the response box after each photo, just: 
  1. List the topic of the war that the photo covers (for example: battle tactics, weapons, jungle warfare, or roles of women).
  2. Write a caption for it (one or two sentences describing the image and how it relates to the topic).

When you finish analyzing, categorizing, and captioning all of the photos, you will be asked to curate an exhibit about U.S. involvement in Vietnam.


Name:
Class:

Worksheet

The War in Vietnam - A Story in Photographs

Making Connections

Examine the documents and text included in this activity. Fill in any blanks in the sequence with your thoughts and write your conclusion response in the space provided.

Vietnam....Marines riding atop an M-48 tank cover their ears as te 90mm gun fires during a road sweep southwest of Phu Bai


Study the previous photograph for 2 minutes. Then answer in the response box that follows:

1. List the people, objects, and activities you see.
2. Where is it?
3. What was happening when this photo was taken?
4. Why was it taken?

Then:

a. How might you categorize this photograph — what topic of the war does it cover? (For example: battle tactics, weapons, jungle warfare, or roles of women)

b. Write a caption for the photograph (one or two sentences describing the image and how it relates to the topic).
Enter your response

Operation "Yellowstone" Vietnam: Following a hard day, a few members of Company "A," 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (Mechanized), 25th Infantry Division, gather around a guitar player and sing a few songs.


Enter your response

Operation "Oregon" Search and Destroy Mission


Enter your response

Vietnam....A Sky Trooper from the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) keeps track of the time he has left on his "short time" helmet, while participating in Operation Pershing, near Bong Son


Enter your response

Soldiers Carry a Wounded Comrade Through a Swampy Area


Enter your response

Vietnam....Marines of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, walk through a punji-staked gully


Enter your response

Wet going - Marine Private First Class J.L. Collins keeps a battery pack dry as he wades through a muddy hole while on a search mission with "I" Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 12 miles south-southwest of DaNang Vietnam.


Enter your response

Vietnam....A Marine stands watch in an observation tower as Lieutenant Commander McElroy, the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines chaplain, holds mass on Hill 950


Enter your response

Vietnam...."Home is where you dig" was the sign over the fighting bunker of Private First Class Edward, Private First Class Falls and Private First Class Morgan of the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, during Operation Worth


Enter your response

Republic of Vietnam...Members of U.S. Navy Seal Team One move down the Bassac River in a Seal team Assault Boat (STAB) during operations along the river south of Saigon


Enter your response

South Vietnam....Loretta Clause plays cards, talks, etc., with Marines of H&S, 1st Marine Division. She is a volunteer worker for the Red Cross


Enter your response

Navy Nurses. Lieutenant Commander Dorothy Ryan checks the medical chart of Marine Corporal Roy Hadaway of Calera, Alabama aboard the hospital ship USS repose off South Vietnam.


Enter your response

South China Sea....A nurse tends a patient just out of surgery in the intensive care ward of the hospital ship USS Repose (AH-16). The ship is steaming off the coast of Vietnam a few miles south of the 17th parallel.


Enter your response



1

Activity Element

Vietnam....Marines riding atop an M-48 tank cover their ears as te 90mm gun fires during a road sweep southwest of Phu Bai

Page 1



2

Activity Element

Operation "Yellowstone" Vietnam: Following a hard day, a few members of Company "A," 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (Mechanized), 25th Infantry Division, gather around a guitar player and sing a few songs.

Page 2



3

Activity Element

Operation "Oregon" Search and Destroy Mission

Page 2



4

Activity Element

Vietnam....A Sky Trooper from the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) keeps track of the time he has left on his "short time" helmet, while participating in Operation Pershing, near Bong Son

Page 2



5

Activity Element

Soldiers Carry a Wounded Comrade Through a Swampy Area

Page 2



6

Activity Element

Vietnam....Marines of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, walk through a punji-staked gully

Page 2



7

Activity Element

Wet going - Marine Private First Class J.L. Collins keeps a battery pack dry as he wades through a muddy hole while on a search mission with "I" Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 12 miles south-southwest of DaNang Vietnam.

Page 2



8

Activity Element

Vietnam....A Marine stands watch in an observation tower as Lieutenant Commander McElroy, the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines chaplain, holds mass on Hill 950

Page 2



9

Activity Element

Vietnam...."Home is where you dig" was the sign over the fighting bunker of Private First Class Edward, Private First Class Falls and Private First Class Morgan of the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, during Operation Worth

Page 2



10

Activity Element

Republic of Vietnam...Members of U.S. Navy Seal Team One move down the Bassac River in a Seal team Assault Boat (STAB) during operations along the river south of Saigon

Page 2



11

Activity Element

South Vietnam....Loretta Clause plays cards, talks, etc., with Marines of H&S, 1st Marine Division. She is a volunteer worker for the Red Cross

Page 2



12

Activity Element

Navy Nurses. Lieutenant Commander Dorothy Ryan checks the medical chart of Marine Corporal Roy Hadaway of Calera, Alabama aboard the hospital ship USS repose off South Vietnam.

Page 2



13

Activity Element

South China Sea....A nurse tends a patient just out of surgery in the intensive care ward of the hospital ship USS Repose (AH-16). The ship is steaming off the coast of Vietnam a few miles south of the 17th parallel.

Page 2



Conclusion

The War in Vietnam - A Story in Photographs

Making Connections

Military photographers took these pictures to document military operations, equipment, and personnel — but their photographs also tell a story. It is a story about America's sons and daughters, young men and women who fulfilled their duty to their country by serving in the war in Vietnam.

You are a curator who has been asked to use these images to plan a photography exhibit. The exhibit should help people understand the impact of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

  1. Write one sentence summarizing the main message of your exhibit.
  2. List the sections that the exhibit will be divided into (these should be based on the topics of the war that you identified for the various photos).
  3. Under each topic, list the names of the photographs that fit in that topic and the captions you wrote for them.
  4. Think of other resources that you could use to learn more information about the war to provide more historical background in your exhibit.


Your Response




Document

Vietnam....Marines riding atop an M-48 tank cover their ears as te 90mm gun fires during a road sweep southwest of Phu Bai

4/3/1968

The original caption for this photograph reads: Vietnam....Marines riding atop an M-48 tank cover their ears as the 90mm gun fires during a road sweep southwest of Phu Bai.
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.
National Archives Identifier: 532483
Full Citation: Photograph 127-N-A371493; Vietnam....Marines riding atop an M-48 tank cover their ears as te 90mm gun fires during a road sweep southwest of Phu Bai; 4/3/1968; General Photograph File of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1927 - 1981; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/vietnam-marines-m48, September 15, 2019]


Vietnam....Marines riding atop an M-48 tank cover their ears as te 90mm gun fires during a road sweep southwest of Phu Bai

Page 1



Document

Operation "Yellowstone" Vietnam: Following a hard day, a few members of Company "A," 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (Mechanized), 25th Infantry Division, gather around a guitar player and sing a few songs.

1/18/1968

The original caption for this photograph reads: Operation "Yellowstone" Vietnam: Following a hard day, a few members of Company "A," 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (Mechanized), 25th Infantry Division, gather around a guitar player and sing a few songs.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
National Archives Identifier: 530617
Full Citation: Photograph 111-C-CC45804; Operation "Yellowstone" Vietnam: Following a hard day, a few members of Company "A," 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (Mechanized), 25th Infantry Division, gather around a guitar player and sing a few songs.; 1/18/1968; Color Photographs of Signal Corps Activity, 1944 - 1981; Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/company-a-guitar, September 15, 2019]


Operation "Yellowstone" Vietnam: Following a hard day, a few members of Company "A," 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (Mechanized), 25th Infantry Division, gather around a guitar player and sing a few songs.

Page 2



Document

Operation "Oregon" Search and Destroy Mission

4/24/1967

The original caption for this photograph reads: Operation "Oregon," a search and destroy mission conducted by an infantry platoon of Troop B, 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), three kilometers west of Duc Pho, Quang Ngai Province. An infantryman is lowered into a tunnel by members of the reconnaissance platoon.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
National Archives Identifier: 530613
Full Citation: Photograph 111-C-CC39781; Operation "Oregon" Search and Destroy Mission; 4/24/1967; Color Photographs of Signal Corps Activity, 1944 - 1981; Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/operation-oregon-mission, September 15, 2019]


Operation "Oregon" Search and Destroy Mission

Page 2



Document

Vietnam....A Sky Trooper from the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) keeps track of the time he has left on his "short time" helmet, while participating in Operation Pershing, near Bong Son

1968

The original caption for this photograph reads: Vietnam....A Sky Trooper from the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) keeps track of the time he has left on his "short time" helmet, while participating in Operation Pershing, near Bong Son.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
National Archives Identifier: 531453
Full Citation: Photograph 111-SC-647323; Vietnam....A Sky Trooper from the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) keeps track of the time he has left on his "short time" helmet, while participating in Operation Pershing, near Bong Son; 1968; Photographs of American Military Activities, ca. 1918 - ca. 1981; Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/time-left-helmet, September 15, 2019]


Vietnam....A Sky Trooper from the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) keeps track of the time he has left on his "short time" helmet, while participating in Operation Pershing, near Bong Son

Page 2



Document

Soldiers Carry a Wounded Comrade Through a Swampy Area

1969

This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
National Archives Identifier: 531457
Full Citation: Photograph 111-SC-651408; Soldiers Carry a Wounded Comrade Through a Swampy Area; 1969; Photographs of American Military Activities, ca. 1918 - ca. 1981; Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/soldiers-carry-wounded, September 15, 2019]


Soldiers Carry a Wounded Comrade Through a Swampy Area

Page 2



Document

Vietnam....Marines of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, walk through a punji-staked gully

1/28/1966

The original caption for this photograph reads: Vietnam....Marines of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, walk through a punji-staked gully.
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.
National Archives Identifier: 532439
Full Citation: Photograph 127-N-A186578; Vietnam....Marines of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, walk through a punji-staked gully; 1/28/1966; General Photograph File of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1927 - 1981; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/marine-punji-stakes, September 15, 2019]


Vietnam....Marines of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, walk through a punji-staked gully

Page 2



Document

Wet going - Marine Private First Class J.L. Collins keeps a battery pack dry as he wades through a muddy hole while on a search mission with "I" Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 12 miles south-southwest of DaNang Vietnam.

ca. 1968

The original caption for this photograph reads: Wet going - Marine Private First Class J.L. Collins keeps a battery pack dry as he wades through a muddy hole while on a search mission with "I" Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 12 miles south-southwest of DaNang Vietnam.
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.
National Archives Identifier: 532464
Full Citation: Photograph 127-N-A193157; Wet going - Marine Private First Class J.L. Collins keeps a battery pack dry as he wades through a muddy hole while on a search mission with "I" Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 12 miles south-southwest of DaNang Vietnam.; ca. 1968; General Photograph File of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1927 - 1981; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/marine-wading-mud, September 15, 2019]


Wet going - Marine Private First Class J.L. Collins keeps a battery pack dry as he wades through a muddy hole while on a search mission with "I" Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 12 miles south-southwest of DaNang Vietnam.

Page 2



Document

Vietnam....A Marine stands watch in an observation tower as Lieutenant Commander McElroy, the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines chaplain, holds mass on Hill 950

7/31/1967

The original caption for this photograph reads: Vietnam....A Marine stands watch in an observation tower as Lieutenant Commander McElroy, the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines chaplain, holds mass on Hill 950.
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.
National Archives Identifier: 532465
Full Citation: Photograph 127-N-A193262; Vietnam....A Marine stands watch in an observation tower as Lieutenant Commander McElroy, the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines chaplain, holds mass on Hill 950; 7/31/1967; General Photograph File of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1927 - 1981; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/marine-observation-tower, September 15, 2019]


Vietnam....A Marine stands watch in an observation tower as Lieutenant Commander McElroy, the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines chaplain, holds mass on Hill 950

Page 2



Document

Vietnam...."Home is where you dig" was the sign over the fighting bunker of Private First Class Edward, Private First Class Falls and Private First Class Morgan of the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, during Operation Worth

1968

The original caption for this photograph reads: Vietnam...."Home is where you dig" was the sign over the fighting bunker of Private First Class Edward, Private First Class Falls and Private First Class Morgan of the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, during Operation Worth.
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.
National Archives Identifier: 532482
Full Citation: Photograph 127-N-A371411; Vietnam...."Home is where you dig" was the sign over the fighting bunker of Private First Class Edward, Private First Class Falls and Private First Class Morgan of the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, during Operation Worth; 1968; General Photograph File of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1927 - 1981; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/home-is-where-you-dig-it, September 15, 2019]


Vietnam...."Home is where you dig" was the sign over the fighting bunker of Private First Class Edward, Private First Class Falls and Private First Class Morgan of the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, during Operation Worth

Page 2



Document

Republic of Vietnam...Members of U.S. Navy Seal Team One move down the Bassac River in a Seal team Assault Boat (STAB) during operations along the river south of Saigon

11/1967

The original caption for this photograph reads: Republic of Vietnam...Members of U.S. Navy Seal Team One move down the Bassac River in a Seal team Assault Boat (STAB) during operations along the river south of Saigon.
This primary source comes from the General Records of the Department of the Navy.
National Archives Identifier: 558512
Full Citation: Photograph 428-K-42782; Republic of Vietnam...Members of U.S. Navy Seal Team One move down the Bassac River in a Seal team Assault Boat (STAB) during operations along the river south of Saigon; 11/1967; General Color Photographic File of the Department of Navy, 1958 - 1981; General Records of the Department of the Navy, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/seal-team-one-bassac, September 15, 2019]


Republic of Vietnam...Members of U.S. Navy Seal Team One move down the Bassac River in a Seal team Assault Boat (STAB) during operations along the river south of Saigon

Page 2



Document

South Vietnam....Loretta Clause plays cards, talks, etc., with Marines of H&S, 1st Marine Division. She is a volunteer worker for the Red Cross

8/2/1967

The original caption for this photograph reads: South Vietnam....Loretta Clause plays cards, talks, etc., with Marines of H&S, 1st Marine Division. She is a volunteer worker for the Red Cross.
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.
National Archives Identifier: 532478
Full Citation: Photograph 127-N-A370335; South Vietnam....Loretta Clause plays cards, talks, etc., with Marines of H&S, 1st Marine Division. She is a volunteer worker for the Red Cross; 8/2/1967; General Photograph File of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1927 - 1981; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/red-cross-volunteer-cards, September 15, 2019]


South Vietnam....Loretta Clause plays cards, talks, etc., with Marines of H&S, 1st Marine Division. She is a volunteer worker for the Red Cross

Page 2



Document

Navy Nurses. Lieutenant Commander Dorothy Ryan checks the medical chart of Marine Corporal Roy Hadaway of Calera, Alabama aboard the hospital ship USS repose off South Vietnam.

4/22/1966

The original caption for this photograph reads: Navy Nurses. Lieutenant Commander Dorothy Ryan checks the medical chart of Marine Corporal Roy Hadaway of Calera, Alabama aboard the hospital ship USS repose off South Vietnam. Miss Ryan, from Bronx, New York is one of 29 nurses aboard the hospital ship selected from 500 volunteers of the Navy Nurse Corps.
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Marine Corps.
National Archives Identifier: 532500
Full Citation: Photograph 127-N-A704374; Navy Nurses. Lieutenant Commander Dorothy Ryan checks the medical chart of Marine Corporal Roy Hadaway of Calera, Alabama aboard the hospital ship USS repose off South Vietnam.; 4/22/1966; General Photograph File of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1927 - 1981; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/uss-repose-vietnam, September 15, 2019]


Navy Nurses. Lieutenant Commander Dorothy Ryan checks the medical chart of Marine Corporal Roy Hadaway of Calera, Alabama aboard the hospital ship USS repose off South Vietnam.

Page 2



Document

South China Sea....A nurse tends a patient just out of surgery in the intensive care ward of the hospital ship USS Repose (AH-16). The ship is steaming off the coast of Vietnam a few miles south of the 17th parallel.

10/1967

The original caption for this photograph reads: South China Sea....A nurse tends a patient just out of surgery in the intensive care ward of the hospital ship USS Repose (AH-16). The ship is steaming off the coast of Vietnam a few miles south of the 17th parallel.
This primary source comes from the General Records of the Department of the Navy.
National Archives Identifier: 558532
Full Citation: Photograph 428-N-1142176; South China Sea....A nurse tends a patient just out of surgery in the intensive care ward of the hospital ship USS Repose (AH-16). The ship is steaming off the coast of Vietnam a few miles south of the 17th parallel.; 10/1967; General Black-and-White Photographic File of the Department of Navy, 1958 - 1981; General Records of the Department of the Navy, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/uss-repose-intensive-care, September 15, 2019]


South China Sea....A nurse tends a patient just out of surgery in the intensive care ward of the hospital ship USS Repose (AH-16). The ship is steaming off the coast of Vietnam a few miles south of the 17th parallel.

Page 2