The Volunteer State Goes to War: A Salute to Tennessee Veterans (Robert Peel)

The Vietnam War was, essentially, an internal conflict between communist forces in North Vietnam and the pro-western government in South Vietnam. It had begun as a war between colonial French and nationalist Vietnamese armies, but after France’s devastating defeat in the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ in 1954, the country was partitioned at the 1954 Geneva Conference into the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), led by Hồ Chí Minh, and the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), led by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm. After the French withdrew from Vietnam in 1956, the United States stepped in to support the South Vietnamese government. Deploying a steadily increasing number of military advisers and personnel, the U.S. sought to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. Although America’s participation in the war became one of the most divisive political issues of the 1960s and 1970s, thousands of Tennesseans served in the jungles of Vietnam in virtually every capacity, with 1,289 losing their lives in combat.

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