Total deaths in the Vietnam War
The human costs of the long conflict were harsh for all involved. Not until 1995 did Vietnam release its official estimate of war dead:
- As many as 2 million civilians on both sides and some 1.1 million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters.
- The U.S. military has estimated that between 200,000 and 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died in the war.
- In 1982 the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C., inscribed with the names of 57,939 members of U.S. armed forces who had died or were missing as a result of the war.
- Over the following years, additions to the list have brought the total past 58,200.
- Among other countries that fought for South Vietnam on a smaller scale, South Korea suffered more than 4,000 dead, Thailand about 350, Australia more than 500, and New Zealand some three dozen.
Not only Vietnam suffered losing of people but also losing a lot of wealth: its agriculture, business, and industry were disrupted, large parts of its countryside were scarred by bombs and defoliation and laced with land mines, and its cities and towns were heavily.
A mass exodus in 1975 of people loyal to the South Vietnamese cause was followed by another wave in 1978 of “boat people,” refugees fleeing the economic restructuring imposed by the communist regime. Meanwhile, the United States, its military demoralized and its civilian electorate deeply divided, began a process of coming to terms with defeat in what had been its longest and most controversial war. Finally in 1995, the two countries resumed formal diplomatic relations.
Civilian deaths in the Vietnam War
- It is estimated that 40,000 South Vietnamese civilians were assassinated by the People’s Army of Vietnam /Viet Cong
- 250,000 were killed as a result of combat in South Vietnam and 65,000 were killed in North Vietnam.
- Another 222,000 civilians were counted as military deaths by the U.S. in compiling its “body count.”
Deaths caused by North Vietnam/Viet Cong forces
J. Rummel – a professor of political science who taught at the Indiana University, Yale University, and University of Hawaii – estimated that:
- People’s Army of Vietnam /Viet Cong forces killed around 164,000 civilians in democide between 1954 and 1975 in South Vietnam, from a range of between 106,000 and 227,000, plus another 50,000 killed in North Vietnam.
- The Viet Cong killed hundreds of Montagnard civilians at the village during the Battle of Dak Son, 1967
- 17,000 South Vietnamese civil servants killed by People’s Army of Vietnam /Viet Cong.
In addition, at least 36,000 Southern civilians were executed for various reasons in the period 1967–1972, about 130 American and 16,000 South Vietnamese POWs died in captivity.
Thomas Thayer in 1985 estimated that during the 1965 – 1972 period the Viet Cong killed 33,052 South Vietnamese village officials and civil servants.
Deaths caused by South Vietnam
According to RJ Rummel, there are lots of civilians and soldiers killed from the Vietnam War between 1964 and 1975:
- An estimated 1,500 people died during the forced relocations of 1,200,000 civilians, another 5,000 prisoners died from ill-treatment and about 30,000 suspected communists and fighters were executed.
- In Quảng Nam Province 4,700 civilians were killed in 1969.
- This totals, from a range of between 16,000 and 167,000 deaths caused by South Vietnam during the (Diệm-era), and 42,000 and 118,000 deaths caused by South Vietnam in the post Diệm-era), excluding People’s Army of Vietnam forces killed by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam in combat.
Deaths caused by the American military
- RJ Rummel estimated that American forces committed around 5,500 intentional democidal mass-killings between 1960 and 1972, from a range of between 4,000 and 10,000 killed in democide.
- Benjamin Valentino attributes possibly 110,000–310,000 “counter guerrilla mass killings” to U.S. and South Vietnamese forces during the war.
- Estimates for the number of North Vietnamese civilian deaths resulting from US bombing range from 30,000–65,000.
- Higher estimates place the number of civilian deaths caused by American bombing of North Vietnam in Operation Rolling Thunder at 182,000.
- American bombing in Cambodia is estimated to have killed between 30,000 and 150,000 civilians and combatants.
- Burial of 300 unidentified victims from the Huế Massacre, killed by communist forces and found after the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and U.S. Marines retook the area in March, 1968. U.S. Military photo.
- 2 million gallons of Agent Orange, some of which was contaminated with Dioxin, was sprayed by the U.S. military over more than 10% of Southern Vietnam, as part of the U.S. herbicidal warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. Vietnam’s government claimed that 400,000 people were killed or maimed as a result of after effects, and that 500,000 children were born with birth defects. However, the United States government has challenged these figures as being unreliable.
- Guenter Lewy estimates that around 220,000 civilians in South Vietnam were killed in US, Army of the Republic of Vietnam and other allied land operations.
- Seven massacres officially confirmed by the American side and in five other places altogether about 100 civilians were executed.
- Two further massacres were reported by soldiers who had taken part in them, one north of Đức Pho in Quảng Ngãi Province in the summer of 1968 (14 victims), another in Bình Định Province on 20 July 1969 (25 victims).
- Tiger Force, a special operations force, murdered hundreds, possibly over a thousand, civilians.
- In the course of large-scale operations an unknown number of non-combatants were killed either accidentally or deliberately – with the Army Inspector General estimating that more than 5,000 died in the course of Operation Speedy Express.
- According to the Information Bureau of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam (PRG), between April 1968 and the end of 1970 American ground troops killed about 6,500 civilians in the course of twenty-one operations either on their own or alongside their allies. Three of the massacres reported on the American side were not mentioned on the PRG list.
Deaths caused by the South Korean military
- United States Marine recovered victims bodies who were killed by South Korean Marines in Phong Nhi and Phong Nhat hamlets on February 12, 1968.
- The ROK Capital Division purportedly conducted the Bình An/Tây Vinh massacre in February/March 1966. The 2nd Marine Brigade purportedly conducted the Binh Tai Massacre on 9 October 1966.
- In December 1966, the Blue Dragon Brigade purportedly conducted the Bình Hòa massacre. The Second Marine Brigade conducted the Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất massacre on 12 February 1968. South Korean Marines purportedly conducted the Hà My massacre on 25 February 1968.
- According to a study conducted in 1968 by a Quaker-funded Vietnamese-speaking American couple, Diane and Michael Jones, there were at least 12 mass-killings conducted by South Korean forces which approached the scale of the My Lai Massacre with reports of thousands of routine murders on civilians primarily the elderly, women and children.