- Education and Science»
- History & Archaeology
Old Historical Photos of U.S. Soldiers in Vietnam War ~ 1960s Pictures
This collection from old photo negatives was taken in the late 1960s by my brother Jim when he was serving one of his two tours of duty in Vietnam. Obviously he had some of his war buddies snap some photos of him in that setting also.
I never saw these photos in an album and until recently these negatives sat in an old shoebox on one of my mother's closet shelves in our home.
My brother died when he was only 35 years of age and his massive injuries which impaired the balance of his life occurred while he was still in the military but not Vietnam.
He was injured in a helicopter crash at Fort Hood, Texas and was one of few survivors with most of the young men in that collision being killed at that site. So called war games were being conducted and the Secretary of Defense was there according to my memory. Despite the fact of it being horrendous weather with tornadoes being sighted in the area the exercise commenced.
At 200 feet up in the air with just about zero visibility two helicopters collided and fell like rocks to the earth. My brother was hospitalized for a full nine months before ever being able to get a weekend pass outside of the hospital. He was not even expected to live at first but survived that accident only to have multiple surgeries on various parts of his body during the rest of his short lived life.
These old negatives while faded and scratched up are a part of history. The images will not be of the best quality but at least they are now preserved in this format.
Vietnam Exchange Photo Service
Old Photo Negatives
Thanks to a friend of mine who purchased a machine that can turn old negatives and old slides into a JPEG format, these negatives can now be viewed. When my brother was alive he never showed me a photo album containing these photos. So I have no idea if they were developed or if so whatever happened to them.
The photo above shows the holders of these negatives from the Vietnam theater of war.
Most of these photos derived from the old negatives dating back to the Vietnam era are faded and most of them are scratched up in many places. With photo editing I could only do so much. I eliminated some but not all of the scratches. I debated about just presenting them in black and white due to the fading but decided to present them as they are and in color.
I am presenting them for all those people who may have served in Vietnam at or around the time when my brother was there.
My other brother John was in Vietnam at the same time but he was stationed on the flagship of the fleet while in the Navy. The action he saw while important was much less intense than what Jim experienced.
High School Days
My brother was a difficult kid to get through school. My parents tried every which way to get him to comply with what was expected...simple things like doing his homework and turning in his papers on time. They tried being strict. They tried backing off and being more lenient. When they finally had him tested it turned out that he rated a genius level in many subjects and areas.
He was bored in school!
They checked into possibly utilizing private schools (although it would have been a financial hardship at the time) and even went so far as to check out some of them. Fortunately the people at the schools admitted that while they would have been happy to have accepted Jim most of their students were there for disciplinary reasons and they did not think that they could have presented a curriculum that would have kept Jim interested and engaged.
Today there are many more options regarding schooling for kids with genius level IQ's but that was back in the 1960s.
When my brother Jim voluntarily joined the army he found his niche in life. Not only did he excel but was one of the youngest instructors teaching most people above his rank the mechanics of helicopters.
My brother always was a tinkerer taking things apart and putting them back together even as a young kid. He once fixed an old antique radio of my grandfathers that had not worked in years. He was less than 10 years old when he did that!
As a tiny kid once he took the faucet handles off during the middle of the night! Our family only had one bathroom at the time! Nice surprise for the rest of us in the morning. Ha! I have no idea what he was thinking or planning when he did that.
He was a good kid. Jim was just curious about so many things and as we all found out highly intelligent.
My brother became a crew chief aboard helicopters during the two tours of duty that he saw in Vietnam. That was extremely dangerous work with a high mortality rate.
A book that my brother Jim had read and which he recommended that we read to see a bit of what that experience was like was the following: Let a Soldier Die written by Gary Holland.
My mother and I both read that sobering book and came away with a bit of a numb feeling. So many of the young men that my brother would have served with in Vietnam never came back home to their families. Those were buddies of his at the time. War is horrible for all concerned. The reading of that book gave me some sense of the daily horrors that would have been his at the time he served.
My brother Jim read this book and my mother and I also read it after he passed it on to us. He said that of all the books he had read regarding what transpired during the war in Vietnam, this was the most accurate from his perspective of having served there. Those who served aboard helicopters saw more than their share of losses. Be forewarned...it is heart wrenching!
Many Die Vietnam War Footage
Vietnam Soldier Photos
Here are some of the people that would have been sharing similar wartime experiences with my brother Jim. Hopefully they all made it home to their loved ones but undoubtedly some of them did not. The majority of them were merely patriotic kids following orders and doing their duty as was my brother.
When they were not flying helicopters providing cover for our soldiers on the ground and providing quick transit to medical care for those wounded and picking up the war dead for preparation to be shipped home, they did as all soldiers do during that and other wars.
They joked with one another, wrote letters home, had their pinup girl posters, did a little drinking and card playing, read books and magazines and would have learned about each other as only soldiers in the heat of battle do. These young men would have laid down their lives to protect one another and often did.
U.S. Soldiers in Vietnam Serving With My BrotherClick thumbnail to view full-size
I am assuming that most of the pictures which follow this text revolve around the base camp or nearby places. There are photos of a dog which was probably much beloved by the soldiers who thought of their pets back home.
The whir of helicopters coming and going would have been a constant factor. It is obvious that camouflage was used to disguise some of the equipment. Cattle are being herded in several of the photos. There are coils of barbed wire meant to protect our soldiers from enemies. Judging from all the shirtless young soldiers in these and other photos it was obviously hot and humid much of the time.
I Assume That These Were Probably Base Camp Photos in VietnamClick thumbnail to view full-size
I wish I could ask my brother about the location of these photos obviously snapped while riding in a helicopter. Like so many war veterans other than recommending that book to read he did not talk much about his experiences while in Vietnam and of course he died at so young an age.
Perhaps some readers of this post will recognize some of these places?
Photos Taken From The Air During The Vietnam WarClick thumbnail to view full-size
I have no idea if the USO which so often entertains our troops during wartime was responsible for this show or if another group arranged it. The only thing of which I am certain is that there were probably loads of appreciative smiles, laughter, whistles, cat calls and applause when this troupe of shapely entertainers hit the stage and did their singing and displayed their talents to our young soldiers in the audience.
Did they remind our soldiers of girlfriends and wives back home? Perhaps!
Jan Daley on Bob Hope USO Tour - Vietnam
In any case it would have relieved the stress of what they saw on a daily basis and was probably relished and talked about long after these entertainers left. It takes special people to put themselves in potential danger to go out and entertain troops in the middle of a war.
Bob Hope and many other celebrity entertainers as well as others have done this for many years and whoever these young girls were who accompanied him, they are to be thanked for their service to our country as well.
Entertainment For The TroopsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Part of History
As stated at the top of this post while the photos derived from old and scratched up negatives dating back to the Vietnam War as experienced by my brother in the late 1960s are not the best by way of clarity and definition I thought that their historical value was worth sharing.
My brother and other soldiers like him came back to a country that pretty much disdained their service to country or at the least did not thank them. Draft dodging was rampant back in those days. Vietnam particularly towards the end of the war was not seen as a popular war and many of the soldiers were called names like "baby killers."
Of course after the accident at Fort Hood his life was forever changed. He was deemed 100 percent disabled and had years of pain and suffering until his death. My brother went to a Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting only once and the other vets there did not welcome him. I know that it hurt his feelings.
Tribute To Jim And Others Who Served
My brother was one of the kindest, smartest and most gentle of human beings ever to inhabit this planet. He loved singing and was a self taught guitar player. While he could no longer smile after the accident which caused facial nerve paralysis (and so much more!) I could see the sparkle in his one eye (the other being sewn shut to protect the cornea). Those were the least of his injuries but ones that affected his appearance upon which strangers judged him.
Those smiley faces were all the rage when he could no longer smile.
This is a tribute to my brother Jim and all the soldiers who have served our country during wars whether they are declared ones or others such as Vietnam. May they be long remembered and honored.
Some Pictures of my Youngest Brother JimClick thumbnail to view full-size
Scars and Memories
All of the people living in what was at the time North Vietnam and South Vietnam plus many soldiers from different countries suffered through the Vietnam War. For those still living there remain scars and memories.
Was it worth the long drawn out battle? Depending upon where one lives and how one thinks the answers I am sure would be different.
The United States and other countries are still involved in wars in different places. I truly wish that there would be no need for wars to ever take place. Everybody ultimately loses. Many lives are negatively impacted. Money that could be put to better purpose is spent.
Will we as human beings sharing one small planet ever learn to live in peace?
My brother Jim and I used to strum a few chords on a guitar and we used to sing together. He was much better a player than I was. The video below shows Peter, Paul and Mary singing one of the songs we regularly sang together.
I miss my brother Jim!
Were you or a family member a soldier in Vietnam?
© 2011 Peggy Woods