Observances

Vietnam as Seen Through the Lens

Nov. 9, 2018 | BY David Vergun

A group of Army photographers and videographers recently visited the Pentagon to share their Vietnam War stories.

The timing of their visit was relevant as the nation prepares to honor those who served on Veterans Day, particularly the Vietnam veterans who didn’t come home to a victory parade. 

Some of the most iconic photos and film footage of the Vietnam War came from a relatively unknown group of soldiers who risked their lives to tell soldiers’ stories in pictures. Many of them were wounded in action and two were killed.

A soldier in South Vietnam takes the lead in chest-deep water.
Greenlead Leads
Army Pfc. Fred. L. Greenleaf leads from the front at Cat Lai, South Vietnam, in 1967.
Photo By: Spc. 4 Robert C. Lafoon
VIRIN: 181101-D-ZZ999-001C
Soldiers conduct a dismounted patrol in South Vietnam.
Soldier Patrol
Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division patrol in Chu Lai, South Vietnam, in 1968.
Photo By: Spc. 5 Carl C. Hanson
VIRIN: 181101-D-ZZ999-004C

These soldiers often didn’t receive credit for their work, which has been disseminated by the media for the last half-century.

Most of them had aspirations for careers and education that did not involve the military. But when they were called to serve, they did so willingly and to the best of their ability.

A soldier in South Vietnam sits smiling with puppy in his lap.
Lap Dog
Army Pfc. Fred. L. Greenleaf carries a puppy at Cat Lai, South Vietnam in 1967.
Photo By: Spc. 4 Robert C. Lafoon
VIRIN: 181101-D-ZZ999-002

Their compelling stories are not just about their pictures, it’s also about their humanity – love for their fellow soldiers and love for the Vietnamese people.

While not everyone will serve in the military or in combat, stories like these can inspire everyone to spread kindness and help others.

Army tanks advance against enemy positions in South Vietnam.
Firefight
Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division engage in a firefight at Tan Thoi Nhut, South Vietnam, during Operation Tropic Lightning in 1968.
Photo By: Spc. 5 Richard Durrance Jr.
VIRIN: 181101-D-ZZ999-005C
An Army helicopter hovers over a landing zone in South Vietnam, as soldiers stand by.
Resupply Mission
An UH-1 Iroquois helicopter flies on a resupply mission for the 8th Infantry Division near Dak To, South Vietnam, during Operation MacArthur in 1967.
Photo By: Spc. 5 Carl C. Hanson
VIRIN: 181101-D-ZZ999-006C