Vietnam's Untold Stories: A New Perspective Through Rare Photographs

May 24, 2024

Filmmaker Oliver Stone Was Awarded a Bronze Star with V For Heroism in Ground Combat

Think you've seen the Vietnam War? While there are certain iconic images from this most controversial conflict, there are many others you haven't seen. Whether they're old to you or new, these Vietnam War photos look fresh thanks to colorization technology. These moments of tenderness, celebration, solemnity and ingenuity are must-sees for history fans. The joy of a USO show to the passion of protest, they run the gamut of emotions. Did you know that the youngest soldier to die was just 15? Or that Pat Sajak served? What about the snakes -- have you seen the giant snakes that were all over the jungles of Vietnam? Young Americans found themselves in an eerie, surprising place, fighting an elusive foe in an unprecedented kind of combat -- and it happened in our lifetime.

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Most young men who faced military enlistment during Vietnam didn’t exactly want to go to the front lines, but most young men weren’t future director Oliver Stone. In 1967 Stone joined the U.S. Army and requested combat duty.

The director later said of his fervent decision to join up:

I thought war was it; it was the most difficult thing a young man could go through... It was a rite of passage. And I knew it would be the only war of my generation, so I said, 'I've gotta get over there fast, because it's going to be over.' There was also a heavy streak of rebelliousness in the face of my father, and I think I was trying to prove to him that I was a man, not a boy.

After his service Stone was awarded the the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam. 

Army Nurse Kate O'Hare Palmer

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While we mostly think of men serving in the military during Vietnam, there were plenty of women who put their lives on the line as well. Kate O’Hare-Palmer served in Vietnam as a nurse for the U.S. Army. She not only dodged enemy fire, but dealt with some of the worst parts of war -- trying to save troops who were far beyond saving.

During the war O’Hare-Palmer worked in two field hospitals where she saw the worst of the worst, but managed to make it back home intact. Today she’s chair of the Women Veterans Committee of the Vietnam Veterans of America.