Photos US Forces

US supply helicopters and artillery on Hill Timothy during preparations for action, April 1968.
The photographer for this series is Terry Fincher. Pictured below Terry Fincher (left) with his friend and fellow Englishman, Larry Burrows, on Hill Timothy, Vietnam, April 1968. Burrows died on February 10, 1971, along with fellow journalists Kent Potter, Keisaburo Shimamoto, and Henri Huet, when their helicopter was shot down over Laos. Potter was 23 years old. Shimamoto was 34. Huet was 43. Larry Burrows, the oldest, was just 44.
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Original description and photos sourced from: Terry Fincher/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Operation in Quang Tri from February 28,1969-March 6,1969, Hill 400 Chopper Hill, and Hill 484 LZ Mack, or Mutters Ridge.( Part of Operation Purple Martin)
Operation Purple Martin (Originally Operation Massachusetts Bay) Feb 27-May 8, 1969 search and clear operation lasting 71 days on part of that operation the Marines stayed in the bush for over 50 consecutive days longest period of time spent in the bush for any operation in Vietnam.
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Original description and photos sourced from: and USMC Archive

Marine Lance Corporal William G. Cox (Jackson, Mississippi) emerges from one of many Viet Cong tunnels found in the Batangan Peninsula. Cox mapped the tunnel and found it to be over 158 yards long and two levels deep. He is serving with the 26th Marines, now conducting Operation Bold Mariner to root out the Viet Cong infrastructure (official USMC photo by Staff Sergeant Bob Jordan).
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Original text and photo sourced by the Jonathan F. Abel Collection (COLL/3611), Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections

At a young age, Carlos Norman Hathcock II would go into the woods with his dog and the Mauser his father brought back from World War II to pretend to be a soldier. Hathcock dreamed of being a Marine throughout his childhood, and on May 20, 1959, at the age of 17, he enlisted.
In 1966, Hathcock started his deployment in South Vietnam. He initially served as a military policeman and later, owing to his reputation as a skilled marksman, served as a sniper.
During the Vietnam War, Hathcock had 93 confirmed kills of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong personnel. However, kills had to be confirmed by an acting third party, who had to be an officer, besides the sniper’s spotter. Hathcock estimated that he actually killed between 300 and 400 enemy soldiers.
In one instance, Hathcock saw a glint reflecting off an enemy sniper’s scope. He fired at it, sending a round through the enemy’s own rifle scope, hitting him in the eye and killing him.
Hathcock’s notoriety grew among the Viet Cong and NVA, who reportedly referred to him Du kích Lông Trắng (“White Feather Sniper”) because of the white feather he kept tucked in a band on his bush hat. The enemy placed a bounty on his head. After a platoon of Vietnamese snipers tried to hunt him down, many Marines donned white feathers to deceive the enemy. Hathcock successfully fought off numerous enemy snipers during the remainder of his deployment.
Hathcock did once remove the white feather from his bush hat during a volunteer mission. The mission was so risky he was not informed of its details until he accepted it. Transported to a field by helicopter, Hathcock crawled over 1,500 yards in a span of four days and three nights, without sleep, to assassinate an NVA general. At times, Hathcock was only a few feet away from patrolling enemy soldiers. He was also nearly bitten by a snake. Once in position, Hathcock waited for the general to exit his encampment before shooting. After completing this mission, Hathcock came back to the United States in 1967. However, missing the service, he returned to Vietnam in 1969, taking command of a sniper platoon.
Purple heart
Silver Star
Carlos Hathcock's Silver Star Citation reads as follows:
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Staff Sergeant Carlos N. Hathcock, II (MCSN: 1873109), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Sniper, Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division, in connection with military operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam on 16 September 1969. Staff Sergeant Hathcock was riding on an Assault Amphibious Vehicle which ran over and detonated an enemy anti-tank mine, disabling the vehicle which was immediately engulfed in flames. He and other Marines who were riding on top of the vehicle were sprayed with flaming gasoline caused by the explosion. Although suffering from severe burns to his face, trunk, and arms and legs, Staff Sergeant Hathcock assisted the injured Marines in exiting the burning vehicle and moving to a place of relative safety. With complete disregard for his own safety and while suffering excruciating pain from his burns, he bravely ran back through the flames and exploding ammunition to ensure that no Marines had been left behind in the burning vehicle. His heroic actions were instrumental in saving the lives of several Marines. By his courage, aggressive leadership, and total devotion to duty in the face of extreme personal danger, Staff Sergeant Hathcock reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Hathcock passed away Feb. 22, 1999, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
We honor his service.
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Original passage sourced by: US Department of Veteran Affairs ( photos sourced from the Carlos Hathcock Collection (COLL/5613) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division (OFFICIAL USMC PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE)

American women who volunteered to serve during the Vietnam War through the Red Cross as part of a program called Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas (SRAO), better known by our brave military men as “The Donut Dollies”. Armed with nothing but cookies and home-made entertainment programs, the Donut Dollies risked their lives every day as they tried to fulfill their mission and cheer up the US troops. Despite their service and sacrifice, their stories and contributions in Vietnam have gone largely unnoticed.
Front row, Jane Smith and Jenny Young. Back row, Tara de Arrietta, Linda Bryant and Linda Driscoll. Photo taken 1969.
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To find out more about the women of this program please visit

Lance Corporal Russell Kefauver, of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362 [HMM-362], examines a 12.7mm projectile which missed his foot by just two inches. Kefauver was flying as crew chief on a medevac mission when his UH-34D came under fire. This round ripped through the floor of the chopper, then fell near his side. He plans to keep the bullet as a souvenir (official USMC photo by Staff Sergeant W. F. Schrider).

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Original description and photo sourced from USMC Archive

actical Fighter Squadron pilot and POW returns home as a hero....

Retired Lt. Col. Richard “Gene” Smith, was an F-105 Thunderchief pilot. During the Vietnam War, he was shot down during a bombing mission to destroy the Paul Doumer Bridge in North Vietnam on Oct. 25, 1967. He was captured and tortured for five and a half years, but said he never gave up his faith his country. He was released March 14, 1973.

“It was an experience I would take nothing for,” Smith said. “I would not like to do it again, but if I had to I would because I believe in this country and what it stands for.”

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Original description and photo sourced from

Lieutenant Vincent R. Capodanno, USNR (ChC) was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism while serving as a Chaplain with the 3rd Battalion, Fifth Marines in Vietnam.
Chaplains are noncombatants, meaning they don’t actively participate in hostilities, but his actions while deployed were well-respected. Capodanno earned the nickname “Grunt Padre” for living, eating and sleeping in the same conditions as the Marines with whom he served. In the community where they were stationed, he organized outreach programs, started libraries and gathered and distributed gifts for the local people. He spent hours reassuring the weary, consoling the grieving and listening to confessions.
Lt Capodanno requested a six-month extension after his tour was up. Four months into that extension, his actions led to him being posthumously honored with the Medal of Honor. He was killed in action in Quang Tin Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 4 September 1967, while administering medical aid and Last Rites to wounded Marines on the battlefield.
The chaplain’s loss was immeasurable. His bravery had inspired the men around him so much that he went on to posthumously earn the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Silver Star. On Jan. 7, 1969, his family received the Medal of Honor on his behalf.
Lt Capodanno is one of nine military chaplains to have ever earned the honor. His Medal of Honor Citation reads as follows:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Chaplain of the 3d Battalion, in connection with operations against enemy forces. In response to reports that the 2d Platoon of M Company was in danger of being overrun by a massed enemy assaulting force, Lt. Capodanno left the relative safety of the company command post and ran through an open area raked with fire, directly to the beleaguered platoon. Disregarding the intense enemy small-arms, automatic-weapons, and mortar fire, he moved about the battlefield administering last rites to the dying and giving medical aid to the wounded. When an exploding mortar round inflicted painful multiple wounds to his arms and legs, and severed a portion of his right hand, he steadfastly refused all medical aid. Instead, he directed the corpsmen to help their wounded comrades and, with calm vigor, continued to move about the battlefield as he provided encouragement by voice and example to the valiant marines. Upon encountering a wounded corpsman in the direct line of fire of an enemy machine gunner positioned approximately 15 yards away, Lt. Capodanno rushed in a daring attempt to aid and assist the mortally wounded corpsman. At that instant, only inches from his goal, he was struck down by a burst of machine-gun fire. By his heroic conduct on the battlefield, and his inspiring example, Lt. Capodanno upheld the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the cause of freedom.
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Original description and photosourced from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command, and

SGT Ronald A. Payne (Atlanta, Ga) Squad Leader, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Mechanized Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, checks a tunnel entrance before entering. This was one of several tunnels found in the Cu Chi, Republic of Vietnam area. This tunnel was found while the company was conducting a mission as a part of Operation “Cedar Falls” in the Hobo Woods area. Date24 January 1967

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Original description and photo sourced by US National Archives

ergeant First Class Charles James Holland... A Hero gives his all
Charles James Holland enlisted in the Army via Regular Military. He began his tour on May 5, 1965. He had the rank of Sergeant First Class. Occupation or specialty was Light Weapons Infantry. Service number was 12588446. Served with 173rd Airborne Brigade, 17th Cavalry, E Troop. SFC Holland was posthumously awarded the U.S Army's Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on August 18, 1967.
Staff Sergeant Holland's Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads as follows:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Charles James Holland (12588446), Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Troop E, 17th Cavalry, 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate) in the Republic of Vietnam. Staff Sergeant Holland distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 18 August 1967. On this date, in an area 15 miles northeast of Dak To Special Forces Camp, Dak To Province, in support of Operation GREELEY, the Team's mission was to penetrate an area heavily infested by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army elements, to conduct surveillance of enemy routes and to detect and report all enemy activities. Because heavy enemy activity had been reported in the area, the mission was considered to be very dangerous. Only minutes before the team was to be infiltrated, information was received that six-to-eight Viet Cong had been observed from an aircraft and that they had fired on the aircraft from a location 1,000 meters from the team's primary landing zone. When offered the opportunity to postpone the mission, Sergeant Holland declined, merely changing the location of the infiltration landing zone. During the first few hours after landing, the team located more than 25 foxholes, only 2 to 3 weeks old. The following morning they established an observation point from which they could watch both nearby Highway 14 and a known enemy trail a short distance away. The observation point, located on the side of a hill, was well concealed by the vegetation, but permitted an unobstructed view. A short time later, 21 Viet Cong were observed moving along the trail. After calling for artillery fire, voices and movement were heard to their rear and they were assaulted by intense enemy automatic weapons fire, hand grenades and M-79 grenade launcher fire. Sergeant Holland immediately returned fire but, realizing the extreme danger to his men, ordered the team to withdraw from the area. He remained behind to provide cover fire for his men, several times overtaking them only long enough to give additional instructions. When all the men had safely reached the bottom of the hill, it was noted that the radio had been left behind. Completely disregarding his own safety, Sergeant Holland charged back up the hill, firing his weapon in order to draw the enemy fire from his men. As a result of his gallant actions, it was possible for the remainder of the team to be safely extracted from their vulnerable position. The following day, Sergeant Holland's lifeless body was found a short distance from the point of initial contact. Because he was wearing part of the equipment which had been left behind, it was determined that he had reached the observation post and was overtaken by the enemy force while attempting to return to his men. From an examination of the area in which his body was found, it was discovered that he had valiantly fought the enemy until he was overcome. Moreover, evidence revealed that he had inflicted serious injury on several enemy soldiers. His courage in the face of a determined enemy force was instrumental in saving the lives of his team members. Sergeant Holland's conspicuous gallantry, his profound courage and his intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.
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Original description and photos sourced from:, US Army Archive

Charles “Chuck” Mawhinney
Following enlistment, he attended Scout Sniper School at Camp Pendleton and graduated in April 1968. From there he received orders to South Vietnam where upon arrival he was assigned as a rifleman to Lima Company 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He remained in this unit for 3 months until he was re-assigned to 5th Marine Regiment HQ Scout Sniper Platoon. There he worked as a scout sniper for different companies with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions. He also worked with the South Korean Marines, Force Recon, Army CAG Unit, but the majority of his time was with Delta Company. During this tour he is credited with 103 confirmed (PAVN)/ (VC) targets and 216 probables. He spent 16 months in Vietnam, starting in early 1968.
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Original description and photo sourced by USMC Archive and

Petty Officer 1st Class Sam Fournier, a member of SEAL Team One, still wears his grease paint as he keeps a sharp lookout from a Navy landing craft which picked up other SEAL team members following an operation along the Bassac River in November 1967. In addition to their standard modified firearms, SEALs often made further customizations to their gear in the field such as the straps on this M16. Indeed, many SEALs would use non-standard firearms on missions such as the Chinese Type 56 or commercially available shotguns such as the Remington Model 870. Essentially, SEALs made all the modifications to firearms, gear, and uniforms they deemed necessary to accomplish their often difficult and dangerous missions.
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Original description and photo sourced from
US Navy Photo K-42770/ National Archives and Records Administration


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