12 March 2011

Myth vs. Reality: Death statistics from Vietnam

"The Vietnam War saw the highest proportion of blacks ever to serve in an American war. During the height of the U.S. involvement, 1965-69, blacks, who formed 11 percent of the American population, made up 12.6 percent of the soldiers in Vietnam. The majority of these were in the infantry, and although authorities differ on the figures, the percentage of black combat fatalities in that period was a staggering 14.9 percent. from The Oxford Companion to American Military History. Copyright © 1999 by Oxford UP."

From the 1969 Supreme Court Case Sellers v. Laird this little nugget of statistical falsehood has been recorded for posterity. " The Negroes are '10% of the U. S. population, yet 30% of the casualties in Vietnam are Negroes.' They are 'the front line foot soldiers.' He feels that the country 'will not give the Negroes any room.' He states that the Vietnamese are basically colored people and the Negro soldiers have no business there fighting other colored people.'"

Even Dr. King was attributed with the quote "Vietnam is a white man's war and a black man's fight."

One of the persistent myths I've heard about Vietnam was that it was "drafted Black soldiers" who took the brunt of casualties.  One of the good things that the Leviathon Army is good at is keeping records.

Number of "Negro" deaths 7,264
Number of "Caucasian" deaths 50,120

If the Oxford Companion to Military History is correct then 7,264/50,120 = 14.6% but as any idiot with a calculator can show you the correct answer is 12.5%.  If African Americans did serve as 12.6% of the force then a casualty rate of 12.5% of the force shows no bias against African Americans in terms of morality risk over the entire course of the war.  Just for clarity, according to the reference I could find, only 8 women GIs died in Vietnam.  It is true that the yearly statistics jumped up and down, at one time I believe African Americans made 20% 16.3% of the yearly casualties, but statistical anomalies happen, and over the course of time trends return to the mean.

Total number of deaths in Vietnam for "Selected Service" (draftees), 17,672.  17,672/58,193 = 30% of casualties.  That means 70% of casualties in Vietnam volunteered for the Armed Services.

The numbers show that Vietnam was largely a volunteer Army of young white men based on who passed on during the conflict.  I'm sorry if this isn't in line with the accepted norms of our culture, and I don't wish to diminish the contributions of either African Americans or those drafted into service, after all we could not have fulfilled our treaty obligations in Europe without draftees.

I think that the enduring myth of "white man's war, black man's fight" came about because of the propaganda war back home.  And because that sound bite (patently false) fit the narrative of certain leftists it has been passed on as truth even into textbooks.  So if you are a part of the conservative propaganda corps, keep typing.  Telling the truth is a powerful tool of dissent in this world.

Demographically it is true that those who served often came from poorer neighborhoods or rural farming communities.  That remains true to this day even with an All Volunteer force.  Remember the kerfluffle back in 2004 when the Stop Loss policy (which has been on the books since before Vietnam) was called a "backdoor draft" by Sen Kerry?  The leftists hate the military, hate the people who choose to serve (cause we are so dumb that we get stuck in the Army in a war zone), and hate that we aren't some poster organization for UN ineffectiveness and multi-culti tolerance. Fuck 'em.

Heck do Google for "Soldiers are not heroes" and "Soldiers are scary" and you'll find some nice links to democraticunderground.com and the dailykos.com.  They hate us, and they hate those that understand us.  They hate the personification of government sanctioned violence that we are.  As a group they hate us, and as an individual they hate all warriors.  You have heard it all before, people with guns have penis issues, martial artists are wimps looking for a fight, etc.  It is nothing more than propaganda in the culture war, just like Vietnam being a "white man's war, black man's fight."

All numbers from http://www.militaryfactory.com/vietnam/casualties.asp

If you served in Vietnam, volunteer or draftee, thank you.  The warrior tradition that you have passed on to me will not be extinguished on my watch and I swear to pass it on to the next generation to the best of my abilities.


Brock Townsend said...

Here's some more.

Viet Nam: Fact vs Fiction

Anonymous said...

Of course they hate the warrior types. Look at MS. Napolitano's statements about the treat to America, Returning vets and vets are the biggest threat to the US.

Graybeard said...

Thanks for that info. One of my pet annoyances in life is the groups who routinely mangle facts to fit their agenda because "the ends justify the means". Facts are facts, and have no agenda.

I registered for the draft in the Vietnam era, but was never called. In my circle of family and acquaintances, no one ever spoke of volunteering for the service. It took me many years to regret that, but I ended up sorry I didn't enlist.

Anonymous said...

"Stolen Valor" by B.G. Burkett and Glena Whitley is an excellent work regarding the myths surrounding the demographics of my generation. It also foretells what you can expect from the non warriors for your generation. In RVN our jobs as gunship pilots was to protect our slicks and defend "the guy on the ground." It was a privilege to serve. I've referred your blog to many with whom I served. If you are an example of our current army leadership, we've left the Army in good hands. "Keep up the fire," thanks for your service, regards, Alemaster

Blue said...

There are approximately 24 million U.S. veterans living today. What's that? 8% of the population? There are approximately 1.5 million serving on active duty today and 850,000 in the Guard, Reserve, Coast Guard, etc.... Less than 1% of the population.

Folks don't understand what makes soldiers "tick". They never will understand. Sadly, most don't care. They aren't willing to sacrifice their safety or comfort to serve our nation. That's disgusting, in my opinion. Part of the ever-growing entitlement mentality.

Ah well.... Stay safe. :)

And always remember, some of us DO understand and appreciate what you do.