Credit: 5 A. Major concepts/content



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Florida Department of Education COURSE DESCRIPTIONS -GRADES 9- 12 Course Number: 2100400 Course Title: The History of the Vietnam War Credit: 0.5

A. Major concepts/content. This course provides students the opportunity to acquire an understanding of the chronological development of the Vietnam War by examining the political, economic, social, religious, military and cultural events that affected the war. Topics include, but are not limited to, an understanding of geographic/historic and time/space relationships, the use of arbitrary periodization in the Vietnam War, an analysis of the United States military effort and makeup in the war, an evaluation of the role of the United States homefront, interpretations of the effects of the media, film and literature during and after the war, a judgment of crucial decisions made during the Vietnam War and an analysis of the effects of the Vietnam War on our lives today.

B. Course Requirements. After successfully completing this course, the student will:

1. Understand the geography, cultural and historical development of Vietnam.

2. Recognize the makeup of United States forces in Vietnam.

3. Examine the United States military effort to right the war in Vietnam.

4. Examine the homefront of the United States during the Vietnam War.

5. Recognize the media's role in the Vietnam War.

6. Examine the Vietnam War through American literature and film.

7. Understand the tremendous damages and costs of the Vietnam War.

8. Examine crucial decisions made by the United States government during the Vietnam conflict.

9. Recognize the importance of the Vietnam War on our lives today.



10. Apply research, study, critical-thinking and decision-making skills and demonstrate the use of new and emerging technology in problem solving.

History of the Vietnam War
During the course, the following information should be covered:

  1. Port city of North Vietnam

  2. Major river of South Vietnam

  3. Most influential country in Vietnam’s culture

  4. Ancient imperial capital of Vietnam

  5. Ideas of competition, wealth, and private property in Vietnam

  6. Significance/information about Vo Nguyen Giap

  7. Main mode of transportation for Vietminh at Dien Bien Phu

  8. Capital of South Vietnam

  9. Natural boundary separating Laos/Cambodia from V

  10. Major river of North Vietnam

  11. Religion practiced by most Vietnamese

  12. Idea of revolution to V’s culture

  13. Military leader of Vietminh at Dien Bien Phu

  14. French problem(s) at Dien Bien Phu

  15. Why did the U.S. help to stop unifying elections in 1956

  16. Significance of U.S.S. Maddox and C. Turner Joy

  17. The 5 P’s of going to war and their definitions

  18. Most decisive high-tech weapons of the late 1950’s-early 1960’s

  19. Characteristics of the ARVN

  20. Secretary of Defense for LBJ

  21. Characteristics of the “Cross-over points”

  22. Fate of President Diem in November 1963

  23. Level of Congressional support for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

  24. Late 1950’s-early 1960’s U.S. great advantage we believed would win a war of attrition

  25. List army units in order of size from squad to division and their characteristics

  26. Similarities/differences of VC tactics used against the French and U.S.

  27. Who provided the most support to the VC

  28. Three part overall strategy of the U.S. military

  29. U.S. measurement of success or failure in battle

  30. Define “fragging”

  31. U.S. military commander, 1964-68

  32. Event that was the turning point in U.S. public support of war effort

  33. Once contact with the enemy was made, what was the next move typically made by U.S. units

  34. VC advantages in battle

  35. Three part goal of “Rolling Thunder”

  36. Measure of success for U.S. pilots

  37. Most controversial battle of the war

  38. Peak year of U.S. casualties and controversy

  39. Define and give characteristics of “Vietnamization”

  40. Key U.S. player in peace negotiations

  41. How did LBJ escape having to get a Congressional Declaration of War

  42. Which SEATO member did not send combat troops to V

  43. How did Nixon expand the war

  44. Most dangerous threat to B-52’s during “Linebacker II”

  45. How was LBJ limited by not having a declaration of war

  46. Name of the official draft agency of the U.S.

  47. What percentage (rounded) of draft-age men were able to legally avoid the draft

  48. Regions of the U.S. most draftees were taken from

  49. Characteristics of typical U.S. soldier

  50. How were U.S. soldiers taught to think of Vietnamese

  51. How U.S. soldiers treated Vietnamese

  52. Level of public support for presidential decisions throughout the war (Kennedy-Nixon)

  53. What period of the war had the highest level of morale for the U.S.?

  54. Characteristics of a typical person on a local draft board

  55. Characteristics of the Conscientious Objection deferment

  56. Chances of survival of a black soldier as the war progressed

  57. Where did most racial incidents take place

  58. During which period of the war did drug use among U.S. personnel reach its peak

  59. Name of the official draft agency of the U.S.

  60. Which other wars have been protested by Americans

  61. The most visible and vocal group in opposition to the war

  62. Importance/role of SDS in the anti-war movement

  63. Most popular anti-war candidate in 1968

  64. Famous anti-war activist/actress

  65. Famous athlete banned from his sport for anti-war views

  66. Primary group responsible for organizing the anti-war movement

  67. Colleges famous for anti-war demonstrations and deaths that occurred at them

  68. Two anti-war leaders that were assassinated in 1968

  69. Site of the 1968 Democratic National Convention

  70. Government agencies that tried to infiltrate anti-war groups

  71. Where most Americans receive their info on government policies

  72. Level of support given to the government and military by the media during the war

  73. Symptoms of PTSD

  74. Beliefs of liberals and conservatives about the war

  75. Difficulties faced by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam and back home


Vietnam Vocabulary List
The following are relevant vocabulary terms:

  1. Huey: Helicopter, a.k.a. slicks (light transport) or cobras (attack helicopter or gunship, AH-1G)

  2. B-52: Heavy bomber used by S.A.C. (Strategic Air Command)

  3. Napalm: Gelled gasoline, used as defoliant, engulfs large areas in flame, sucks all oxygen from the air and emits a thick black smoke, clings to what ever it touches

  4. Ho Chi Minh: N. Vietnamese nationalist, Communist trained leader of Vietminh

  5. Ngo Dinh Diem: President of S. Vietnam, propped up by U.S., later assassinated

  6. Hanoi: Capital of North Vietnam

  7. Saigon: Capital of South Vietnam

  8. Dien Bien Phu: Valley in N. Vietnam, site of major French defeat

  9. DMZ: Demilitarized Zone, located at the 17th parallel, divided N. & S. Vietnam, no military equipment allowed

  10. Thich Quang Duc: Buddhist monk, self-immolates in a busy intersection in protest to Pres. Diem’s treatment of Buddhists

  11. VietCong: Vietnamese guerrilla soldiers, Communists,

  12. JFK: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States, builds U.S. military advisory involvement

  13. LBJ: Lyndon Baines Johnson, V.P. under Kennedy, assumes presidency after J.F.K.’s assassination, further involves U.S. military in Vietnam

  14. Vo Nguyen Giap: N. Vietnamese Defense Minister under Ho Chi Minh, overall military commander of NVA

  15. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution: gives president “blank check” to use necessary and proper actions to stop enemy aggression in S. Vietnam, not a declaration of war

  16. Green Berets: U.S. Army special forces, begun by J.F.K., used for covert operations

  17. ARVN: Army of the Republic of Vietnam, S. Vietnam’s army

  18. NVA: North Vietnamese Army, regular uniformed communist troops

  19. MAC-V: Military Assistance Command-Vietnam, unified command subject to direction of the Commander in Chief, Pacific

  20. M-16: standard issue infantry rifle for U.S. soldiers, made of stamped, pressed or forged components with plastic instead of wood, auto and semi-auto rate of fire,

  21. M-60: tripod mounted (heavy) or folding bipod mounted (light) machine gun used primarily to defend fixed positions, belt fed and easily transported

  22. AK-47: Russian assault rifle used by NVA and VC troops, a.k.a. “Kalishnikov”, sturdy, reliable, compact and light weight, rapid rate of fire and severe damage from wounds meant less training time required, adapted to adverse climate and terrain in Vietnam very well

  23. William Westmoreland: General U.S. Army, appointed MAC-V commander 1964, commanded military and construction operations in S. Vietnam, used a holding action combined with spoiling attacks to prevent enemy offensives while building the necessary infrastructure to support a large military force, later moved to a strategy of attrition, sent U.S. & ARVN on “search & destroy” missions

  24. Robert Strange McNamara: Defense Secretary for J.F.K., primary architect of U.S. policy in Vietnam, relied heavily on technology and superior American firepower, advocate of counterinsurgency, Tonkin Resolution and bombing of N. Vietnam, went from confidence in U.S. policy to total disgust with S. Vietnamese corruption and the government

  25. Body Count: number of killed enemy soldiers, used to show success in Vietnam, often inaccurate and inflated

  26. M.I.A.: Missing in Action, no evidence of what happened to a soldier, 2,483 Americans still unaccounted

  27. K.I.A.: Killed in Action, soldier was killed during combat either conventionally (bullets, artillery shells, etc) or unconventionally (booby traps, mines)

  28. W.I.A.: Wounded in Action, soldier sustains a wound in combat

  29. P.O.W.: Prisoner of War, central demand of U.S. negotiations in Paris Peace Accords, 566 military and 25 civilian POW’s were returned, either captured during combat or on missions into Cambodia or shot down in aircraft, huge discrepancy between number listed as MIA/POW and number released (alive or remains)

  30. Agent Orange: chemical defoliant used to reduce natural advantage dense jungles provided for Vietnamese guerrillas during Operation: Ranch Hand or to destroy food supply of Vietcong, Agents Orange & White  used on forests, Agent Blue  crop destruction, all had severe ecological impact, more than 46% of S. Vietnam’s forest area was sprayed, reports of lesions, chromosome alterations and deformities in infants

  31. Tet: Vietnamese Lunar New Year, Jan. 30, 1968 V.C. launch coordinated offensive across all of S. Vietnam, military defeat for V.C. but a huge strategic victory, exposes the determination of V.C. & N.V.A. and demoralizes American public opinion

  32. Friendly Fire: air, artillery or small-arms fire from American forces directed at American forces

  33. Hanoi Hilton: Hoa Lo Prison, housed over 700 American P.O.W.s, brutal conditions where prisoners were often tortured and beaten

  34. My Lai: rural hamlet believed to be a strong V.C. base, March 16, 1968 Lt. William Calley and his platoon massacre 400-500 Vietnamese

  35. Kent State University: Ohio university where 4 anti-war protesters were shot and killed by National Guard

  36. Woodstock: concert held in rural New York

  37. Free Fire Zone: areas cleared by non-combatants, anyone inhabiting these areas was deemed an enemy, used as an attempt to structure the war along conventional military lines with enemy and friendly forces occupying distinct areas

  38. Claymore: anti-personnel mine that discharged pellets in an arc

  39. Klick: unit of distance, 1 klick = 1 km

  40. Grunt: slang for an infantry man (foot soldier)

  41. Gook: slang for anyone of Asian origan

  42. Hootch: house, native hut

  43. LZ: Landing Zone, “Hot LZ”  enemy @ the LZ

  44. Charlie, Charles, Chuck: Vietcong, short for “Victor Charlie” VC

  45. Henry Kissinger: Assistant for National Security Affairs under Richard Nixon, instrumental figure in peace negotiations w/the N. Vietnamese and NLF

  46. Willie Peter, Whiskey Papa, W-P: white phosphorous mortar or artillery rounds, burns skin and creates smoke screens

  47. Phoenix Program: joint counterinsurgency effort by South Vietnamese and C.I.A. to identify members of the Vietcong infrastructure (VCI) and “neutralize” members by arrest, conversion or death

  48. Puff the Magic Dragon, Dragon Ship, Spooky: nick name for the AC-47 gunship, capable of circling over a target and firing tens of thousands of bullets into a small area

  49. Medevac: “medical evacuation” using helicopters to ferry the wounded to field hospitals, survival rate of wounded soldiers was very high

  50. Tunnel Rat: slang term for American soldiers trained to attack V.C. & N.V.A. positions in underground tunnels

  51. S.A.M.’s: Surface to Air Missiles, used to shoot down American bombers and fighters, furnished by China and the Soviet Union

  52. S.D.S.: leading campus based anti-draft, anti-Vietnam War organizations, est. in 1960 by students who had been affiliated with the Socialist Party, primary purpose was to support the black civil rights movement and organize in poor neighborhoods, organized anti-draft and anti-war demonstrations

  53. Fragging: murder of overzealous officers and NCOS using a fragmentation grenade, soldiers who felt their lives were being needlessly placed in the line of danger often used this as a means to control officers toward the end of the war

  54. Draft Dodgers: young Americans who evaded military service during the war

  55. Di Di Mao: Vietnamese for “let’s get out of here”, move quickly

  56. Ho Chi Minh Trail: supply route from N. Vietnam to S. Vietnam, used by VC & NVA to send supplies south through Cambodia & Laos

  57. Parrot’s Beak: Portion of Cambodia that juts into Vietnam; used as a sanctuary by communist troops to elude U.S. military

  58. Point: refers to a lead soldier or unit who’s purpose was to draw out enemy fire; the most dangerous position on a patrol

  59. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): emotional stress suffered by someone after a severe experience, affected many veterans

  60. Punji Pit: booby trap consisting of a hole with many sharpened stakes planted point up at the bottom of a covered pit; sometimes coated with feces to promote infection

  61. Pop Smoke: use of smoke grenades by ground troops to mark their position or landing zone for helicopter pilots, colors were used to ensure that the helicopters land in the correct spot

  62. Vietnamization: U.S. policy of turning the war over to the South Vietnamese beginning in 1969

  63. The World: term used by U.S. troops to refer to going home

  64. Alpha Bravo: slang expression for ambush, taken from the initials AB

  65. A.W.O.L.: Absent with out leave

  66. Clover Leaf: patrol technique in which units move out from a central area and “loop” back toward the main advance unit’s direction starting point, used by advance units in unknown areas

  67. CP: command post

  68. Daisy Cutter: 15,000 lb. Bomb designed to clear helicopter landing zones in heavy jungle areas

  69. Det-cord: detonation cord used to set off explosives

  70. Marching Fire: fire delivered by infantry in an assault, especially w/automatic rifles & machine guns fired from the hip while advancing


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