Vietnam as Statistics
Some interesting statistics on the War in Vietnam from the book “The Vietnam War Day by Day” by John S. Bowman, Barnes & Noble 1989.
“Some 8,744,000 Americans served in the four branches of the US military-Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force-during the main period of hostilities (August 1964-January 1973), which make the Vietnam War second only to WWII in number of personnel involved. But because of the constant rotation of US servicemen in Vietnam-primarily one-year terms-a greater percentage of personnel saw duty in Vietnam. The average age of US combat personnel in Vietnam was only 19-compared to 26 in WWII. Black Americans constituted about 13 percent of the total troop force in Vietnam, about the same as their proportion of the total US population, but 28 percent had combat assignments, and only 2 percent of the officers were black. Meanwhile, about 15,000,000 eligible American youth avoided the draft by gaining student or occupational deferments; an estimated 250,000 simply didn’t register for the draft; an estimated 1,000,000 committed draft offenses; some 25,000 were indicted for draft-related charges, but only some 3250 spent any time in prison.
The US military lost 47,253 in combat and another 10,449 died in Vietnam; there were 313,616 wounded, of whom 153,300 were classified as seriously wounded. Only a small percentage of the US military personnel actually fought against large Vietcong or North Vietnamese units, although 76 percent were the target of enemy mortars or rockets, and 56 percent witnessed their comrades being killed or wounded. Due to the use of helicopters for evacuation, and the advanced medical facilities available, 82 percent of Americans seriously wounded were saved (compared to 71 percent in WWII and 74 percent in Korea)-the highest survival rate of any modern war. Only 2.6 percent of those who reached hospitals died. However, because of the enemy’s use of booby traps, mines, ambushes, and other guerrilla tactics some 10,000 Americans lost at least one limb (more than all those in WWII and Korea combined). Another 81 US servicemen were killed in Laos and Cambodia. Some 1340 Americans were listed as Missing in Action when the war ended. Some of these would be identified and their bodies returned to the US in the years that followed, but most would remain listed as MIAs.
South Vietnam reported 185,528 of its military personnel killed in the war, with 499,026 wounded. North Vietnam and the Vietcong reportedly lost 924,048 dead in combat. Vietnam is estimated to have lost 415,000 civilians in the war, with at least 935,000 wounded.
South Korea lost 4407 troops fighting in Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand lost 475, and 2348 wounded; and 350 Thais were killed fighting in Vietnam.
It is roughly, but reasonably estimated that the war cost the US $150.00 billion in direct expenses. Indirect expenses would probably total at least that, while still other costs-such as payments to veterans, interest on debt incurred etc-are all but unending. On an average day, US artillery expended 10,000 or so rounds; at about $100.00 per shell, this item alone cost $1 million per day. One sortie by a B-52 cost $30,000.00 in bombs alone. Some 4865 US helicopters were lost in the war, each costing about $250,000.00 and 3720 other aircraft were destroyed. The total tonnage of bombs dropped over North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos came to about 8 million (about four times the tonnage used in all of WWII); 2,236,000 tons of bombs were dropped on the infiltration routes in Laos alone between 1965-71. Although the bombing inflicted an estimated $600 million worth of damage on North Vietnam, it is calculated that the Us spent about 10 times on these raids, in which thousands of US fliers were killed, wounded, captured, or missing. The Soviet Union and Communist China are estimated to have provided about $3 billion worth of aid to North Vietnam and the Vietcong.