Vietnam War - Statistical Profile

  • In Uniform and In Country Vietnam Vets: 9.7% of their generation. 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam era (August 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975)
  • 8,744,000 GIs were on active duty during the war (August 5, 1964 - March 28, 1973)
  • 3,403,100 (including 514,300 offshore) personnel served in the Southeast Asia Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flight crews based in Thailand, and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters).
  • 2,594,000 personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam (January 1, 1965 - March 28, 1973).
  • Another 50,000 men served in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964.
  • Of the 2.6 million, between 1-1.6 million (40-60%) either fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly exposed to enemy attack.
  • 7,484 women (6,250 or 83.5%, were nurses) served in Vietnam.
  • Peak troop strength in Vietnam: 543,482 (April 30, 1969).

Casualties

  • Hostile deaths: 47,418
  • Non-hostile deaths: 10,811
  • Total: 58,229 (includes men formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez casualties).
  • 8 nurses died - 1 was KIA.
  • Married men killed: 17,539
  • 61% of the men killed were 21 or younger.
  • Highest state death rate: West Virginia - 84.1 (national average 58.9 for every 100,000 males in 1970).
  • Wounded: 303,704
  • Hospitalized: 153,329
  • Injured: 150,275
  • Severely disabled: 75,000
  • Completely Disabled: 23,214
  • Lost Limbs: 5,283
  • Multiple Amputations: 1,081

Amputations or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WWII and 70% higher than in Korea.

  • Missing in Action: 2,338
  • POWs: 766 (114 died in captivity).

Draftees vs Volunteers

  • 25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees (66% of U.S. armed forces members were drafted in WWII). Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam.
  • Reservist: 5,977
  • National Guard: 6,140 Served; 101 Died.
  • Total draftees (1965-73): 1,728,344
  • Actually in served in Vietnam: 38%
  • Marine Corps draft: 42,633
  • Last man drafted: June 30, 1973

Race and Ethnic Background

  • 88.4% of the men who actually served in Vietnam, were Caucasian.
  • 10.6% (275,000) were black; 1% belonged to other races.
  • 86.3% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (includes Hispanics); 12.5% (7,241) were black; 1.2% belonged to other races.
  • 170,000 Hispanics served in Vietnam; 3,070 (5.2% of total) died there.
  • 70% of enlisted men killed were of Northwest European descent.
  • 86.8% of the men who were killed as a result of hostile action were Caucasian; 12.1% (5,711) were black; 1.1% belonged to other races.
  • 14.6% (1,530) of non-combat deaths were among blacks.
  • 34% of blacks who enlisted volunteered for the combat arms.

Overall, blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam at a time when the percentage of blacks of military age was 13.5% of the total population.

Religion of Dead

  • Protestant: 64.4%
  • Catholic : 28.9%
  • Other/None: 6.7%

Socio-Economic Status

  • 76% of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle/working class backgrounds.
  • Three-fourths had family incomes above the poverty level; 50% were from middle income backgrounds.
  • Some 23% of Vietnam vets had fathers with professional, managerial or technical occupations.
  • 79% of the men who served in Vietnam had a high school education or better when they entered the service (63% of Korean war vets and only 45% of WWII vets had completed high school upon separation).

Deaths by Region per 100,000 of Population

  • South: 31
  • West: 29.9
  • Midwest: 28.4
  • Northeast: 23.5

Winning & Losing

  • 82% of the veterans who saw heavy combat strongly believe the war was lost because of lack of political will.
  • Nearly 75% of the public agrees it was a failure of political will, not of arms.

Honorable Service

  • 97% of Vietnam-era veterans were honorably discharged.
  • 91% of actual Vietnam War veterans and 90% of those who saw heavy combat are proud to have served their country.
  • 66% of Vietnam vets say they would serve again if called upon.
  • 87% of the public now holds Vietnam veterans in high esteem.

Source: VFW magazine April 1997

Updated Source: VFW magazine January 2003