The most unforgettable images from the Vietnam War

Last updated on May 17th, 2024 at 11:33 pm

The Vietnam War was one of the most contentious conflicts of the 20th century. Yet, at the same time, it was one of the most well-documented, with photographers capturing powerful and striking images of the war and its impact on soldiers and civilians alike.

These photographs have become essential to our collective memory of the war and helped shape our understanding of the conflict.

In this post, we will look at some of the most unforgettable images of the Vietnam War and explore the stories behind them. From the heroism of soldiers in battle to the devastating effects of the war on civilians, these photographs capture the full range of human experiences during the Vietnam War.

A makeshift hospital during The Vietnam War, 1970 

A US 9th Infantry soldier is submerged except for his rifle as he crosses a muddy stream south of Saigon, 1968. Photo by Henri Huet/AP

A Vietnam veteran throws his medals at the Capitol building to protest the war, 1971.

The lottery for the Vietnam draft. Every capsule was a day of the year and determined the order of draftees by birthday. 1969.

Vietnamese orphans being airlifted to the US for adoption in 1975.

Lt. Col. Robert Stirm meets his family after spending more than five years as a POW in North Vietnam in 1973.

“War is Good Business- Invest Your Son”

People fight to get on a plane out of South Vietnam during the US withdrawal on April 1, 1975.

A US Marine rescues two Vietnamese children in Hue during the Tet Offensive of 1968.

Future presidential candidate, John Kerry, speaks out against the war on April 21, 1971.

Two South Vietnamese child soldiers smoke while waiting for a North Vietnamese attack.

US soldiers show off a captured communist flag, c. 1967.

US Marines carry their weapons while on their way to bathe, 1966.

Lo Manh Hung was likely the youngest photojournalist of the Vietnam War. Photo taken on February 18, 1968.

Mangrove forest destroyed by Angen Orange, 1976.

“War Is Hell”

The “Doom Patrol,” Quảng Nam Province, Vietnam, 1968.

Chopper pilot post-mission, Vietnam 1965

Khe Sanh, Vietnam, 1968

Two American soldiers with a fallen comrade, Vietnam, 1970s

Combat helicopters fly overhead during Operation Pershing, Vietnam, 1967-68.

Paratroopers wade across a river during the monsoon season in 1965.

US airman Dewey Wayne Waddell held prisoner outside of Hanoi, Vietnam, 1967.

Landing Zone Charlie Brown, 1968

Pro-Vietnam War demonstrator in NYC, 1966.

North Vietnam activist meeting. They hid their identities from one another in case of capture, 1972

Writing on lighter from Vietnam war

US corpsman carries a child in Hue

A female Viet Cong guerrilla fighter, c. 1968

During a brief ceasefire in 1973, a North Vietnam war reporter met with a South Vietnam marine.

Marines on patrol, South Vietnam, 1969

Putting a landlord on trial in North Vietnam, 1955

Police dragging away a Swedish Vietnam War protester, Stockholm, 1973

Two French legionnaires in Vietnam, 1950. Photo taken by Harrison Forman.

 “Hard-Hats” demonstrate in favor of the Vietnam War, NYC, 1970.

A teenage soldier, Saigon, South Vietnam, 1968

American POWs, Hanoi, 1973.

Napalm strike in South Vietnam, 1966

Vietnam, 1971

A young soldier with “Make War, Not Love” on his helmet, 1960.

Carrying a bazooka across a stream, 1966.

Vietnamese mother and children flee their village, 1965.

“We Won’t Fight Another Rich Man’s War,” 1970.

McDonnell F-4Bs dropping bombs, Vietnam, 1971

“The Unseen enemy”, United Press, 1966.

Taking a break while on patrol. Date unknown.

Senegalese troops fighting for France in Vietnam in 1954. 

Vietcong guerilla fighter, 1973.

Transporting soldiers to combat zones.

US Marines advance down a street in Hue, South Vietnam

President Nixon visits U.S. troops in South Vietnam, 1969.

Captured Viet Cong, 1965

US soldier from Portsmouth carries an elderly Vietnamese woman, 1970.

Thanksgiving Dinner

A Marine Corps helicopter hit by anti-aircraft fire,1 966.

Pro-Vietnam War rally in New York City, 1968

Cu Chi Tunnels

Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol – reading comic books while waiting for a helicopter 

“Tunnel rat” Sp4 Richard Winters

9 thoughts on “The most unforgettable images from the Vietnam War”

  1. Lost a lot of brothers at Hue and Khe Sanh. Spent six weeks in hospital Cam Ranh Bay. War is stupid if you’re trying to fight it under dumbass CIC like Johnson and Nixon. What a waste.

  2. Great photos. War is hell like the guy above commented. But living with it 56 years later is a second hell, if you were
    There and it never leaves you. Blessings to those who have served our country.
    Vietnam medic.

  3. Besides the lost of 50000 plus very young men, we incurred the mental break down of a whole generation of young men. This country just can not learn from past mistakes. God have mercy on us.

  4. I did not go through the same hell as those in direct contact with Charlie but I have never forgotten my buddies in over fifty years. Loved all of you guys. Bruce Wickstrom RVN 68-69 Big Red 1 Lai Khe.

  5. My bonus Dad served in Vietnam he was a great man. He spoke very little about his time there. Looking back I’m sure he didn’t want us to know all the HELL he put thru. He took his life 2 years ago an it’s very hard on our family.

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