Communication During the Vietnam War

There was a vast range of communication during the Vietnam War. It included: propaganda, letters, radio, aircraft, video and photojournalism, and protests.  Some of these ideas were new, while others were older and used in previous wars. Either way, they were all extremely important when it came to keeping America unified during the war.


Propaganda was an idea that was used in World War II especially but was still a form of communication during the Vietnam War. “Throughout the Vietnam War, the United States government, worked hard at sculpting effective propaganda in an effort to persuade the American public, as well as the rest of the world, that the war was a ‘just’ war and as such deserved public support. The goal was to create an atmosphere that enabled the U.S. to proceed in Vietnam as it saw necessary.” (Coppola) All the government was trying to do through propaganda was convince their people that getting involved in the war was okay. By doing this they hoped to gain a majority of the public’s support which would make it easier for the government to do whatever they saw necessary to win the war.

The United States also used propaganda on North Vietnam. They would drop leaflets on North Vietnam in order to produce a sort of psychological effect on the general public as well as the soldiers to convince them that what they were doing was good. One specific example of this was when the United States dropped safe-conduct passes on North Vietnam which allowed any Viet Cong solider to turn themselves in to any Vietnamese government agency or allied force.



Letters were still the most popular form of communication during the Vietnam War between the families and their soldiers. “I have all 80 letters that I wrote home while I was in Vietnam. I yearn for the day that I can see all 80 in print somewhere, regardless of whether I ever make a single penny off of them. I believe their value is beyond the dollar. I believe that the young misunderstand what it was like to be a kid (in Vietnam.)” (O’Connell) For a lot of these soldiers their day revolved around receiving and replying to these letters. This may have been because a lot of these soldiers were still kids therefore they were homesick and writing these letters was the only way for them to cope with their problem.


Radio was incredibly important when it came to communication between the soldiers. The radio allowed for different squads to talk between one another and it allowed generals to have almost immediate contact with each other on their army or their enemy. It was also the most effective form of communication between the ground and the air transportation.

Radio was also still used as a form of communication to the public. It was also used as a form of propaganda. This allowed for the current events of the war to be biased which the government hoped would help to gain support for the war.


Aircrafts during the Vietnam War were used for many different things. They included: delivery of supplies or letters, a way to drop off and pick up troops, and it served as a way to quickly rush injured troops to treatment. Helicopters were the most popular form of aircraft during the war. “During the Vietnam War, the United States relied on the helicopter as never before…thousands of missions were flown to resupply and reinforce troops on the ground, to evacuate American and South Vietnamese wounded, and to offer countless other services in pursuance of the war effort.” (Texas Tech) The reason helicopters were so popular was because they were much more maneuverable compared to other planes, and this was important because of the terrain Vietnam had.



Journalism in this war included pictures as well as videos. Video was a much newer technology especially when it came to broadcasting the actual war and fighting to the public. “By 1962, over 80% of American homes had television and in 1968 over 60% of Americans looked to television for news on the Vietnam War.” (Kennedy) Many squads of soldiers actually had cameramen come along with them while they were on patrol or even when they were in battle with the enemy hoping to catch footage which they believed would make them money. “Some photographers were full-time staffers with news agencies such as Associated Press and United Press International and news magazines such as Life, Time and Newsweek, but many more were freelancers who turned up in Vietnam hoping to have their work taken up by one of the major agencies or papers.” (Kennedy)



As the Vietnam War continued the overall support for the war declined, which then eventually led to people protesting. Many of these protests were led by college students who were members of the Students for a Democratic Society. However some of these protests turned violent when the military got involved. Kent State University and Jackson State University were the two biggest shootings that occurred because of protesting against the Vietnam War. There were also other protests which occurred at the capital at the Lincoln Memorial. For one of the protests 100,000 people gathered near the Lincoln Memorial protesting the war, followed by 30,000 of them marching on to the Pentagon. Another protest that happened at the Lincoln Memorial was when veterans of the Vietnam War threw their medals of honor on the ground to show their disapproval on the war.

07_-_vietnam_war_protests_1 protest

Communication was incredibly vital during the Vietnam War. Propaganda allowed for a biased opinion on the war. Letters helped to keep the soldiers and their families in touch. Radio served as a form of communication between soldiers as well as another form of propaganda. Aircrafts allowed for the delivery of mail, supplies, as well as soldiers. Journalism and photography helped to give a visual sense to the war, while protests tried to speed up ending the war and bringing troops home. Each one had their own specific purpose, which when combined allowed for America to remain united during the Vietnam War.

Works Cited: Staff. “Vietnam War Protests.” 2010.  A&E Networks.

Kennedy, Liam. “Photojournalism and the Vietnam War.” UCD Clinton Institute for American Studies: Photography and International Conflict. 2008.

O’Connell, Paul. “Letters Home.” 1998.

Page, Caroline. “U.S Official Propaganda During the Vietnam War, 1965-1973.” Apocalypse Now. New York: U of Leicester Press, 1996.

Shah, Anup. “Media, Propaganda and Vietnam.” Global Issues. October, 24, 2003.

Trueman, Chris. “Protests Against the Vietnam War.” History Learning Site. 2013.

Images Cited:


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