Myth: There was no bloodbath in Vietnam after the communists took over.

Fact: At least a half a million Vietnamese died as a direct cause of the communist takeover. 1.7 million died in Cambodia, and a half a million more in Laos.

  • 65,000-100,000 South Vietnamese were executed after the takeover.
  • 165,000 died in re-education campus due to torture, beatings, disease and starvation.
  • 250,000 died trying to escape the communist tyranny on boats.
  • Some estimates place total deaths from 1975 to the present at over 1.5 million.
  • 1.7 million were murdered in Cambodia.
  • About 56,000 were killed in Laos. The Lao government continues to pursue and murder the Hmong people to this day.

Confirming Evidence

Communist Body Count

Statistics Of Vietnamese Democide

Repression in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Executions and Population Relocation

Death Tolls and Casualty Statistics Vietnam - Vietnamese Boat People

The New Vietnam

Myth: The Phoenix Program was an immoral 'assassination program' that killed many innocent civilians, as well as Viet Cong political cadres.

Fact: The Phoenix Program was a somewhat effective effort to eradicate the VCI (Viet Cong Infrastructure through conversion, capture and killing, if the subjects resisted capture.

  • The Phoenix Program was conceived by Robert Komer, the head of CORDS, and was designed to better coordinate pacification efforts, which included degrading the VCI.
  • The effort was overseen by American military officers nominally working for the CIA, and operations were carried out by South Vietnamese PRU (Provincial Reconnaissance Units).
  • Records show that about 1/3rd of the VCI eliminated were converted (turned into spies or recruited for the GVN), 1/3rd were captured and jailed and 1/3rd were killed resisting arrest.
  • It has been falsely claimed that the targets of Phoenix were civilians, but these so-called civilians were political, financial and logistical cadre of the communist forces who did not wear uniforms.

Confirming Evidence

A Retrospective on Counterinsurgency Operations

Two new programs initiated in South Vietnam

The Phoenix Program and Contemporary Counterinsurgency

Vietnam: the Phoenix Program


Myth: U.S. used poison gas (proscribed weapons) in Vietnam and Laos and conducted secret operations to assassinate American POWs [longshadows] in Communist hands

Fact: The U.S. never shipped poison gas to Vietnam, nor were there ever any operations to assassinate American POWs

  • No evidence has ever been adduced that the U.S. even shipped poison gases to Vietnam, and a Pentagon investigation confirmed that no poisonous gasses were shipped to Vietnam.
  • A search of North Vietnamese records uncovered no reports of the use of poisonous gases by American troops.
  • According to Pentagon records, only two individuals defected during the Vietnam War while in Vietnam. Their whereabouts was unknown. One, PFC Robert Garwood, has subsquently returned to the US and been court martialed.
  • No Pentagon records exist indicating any missions were planned, much less conducted, that targeted those two defectors.
  • This entire myth is based on one Special Forces operation, "Tailwind", in Laos which was alleged to have used poison gas and hunted down and killed American deserters. CNN was forced to retract the story.

Confirming Evidence

The True Story of Operation Tailwind



Big Lie

Did The US Drop Nerve Gas?

CNN Retracts Report That U.S. Used Nerve Gas

Did U.S. Use Sarin In Laos Operation? -- Pentagon To Probe Report That Nerve Gas Was Used

Myth: With the signing of the Paris Accords, the communists did return all our POWs to us

Fact: This is a very controversial subject with little agreement between those who insist none were left behind and those who insist some were left behind.  The controversy resides partly in the dichotomy which characterizes the war itself.  Some think the war was in Viet Nam and all POWs in Vietnam were accounted for.  Others point out that the war was also in Laos and Cambodia, both of which were controlled, to some extent, by North Viet Nam.  While the surviving POWs in North Vietnam were almost certainly returned, there is no proof that all Lao and Cambodian POWs were returned.  In fact, the government lists 1,616 still unaccounted for and puts all of the unknowns in the category of presumed dead.  While is probable that a large number were dead, it's impossible to say that they all were without proof of their deaths.

  • At the end of hostilities, in 1973, 2,646 men and women were unaccounted for.
  • 1,972 men and women were unaccounted for in Viet Nam. 574 were unaccounted for in Laos. 60 were unaccounted for in Cambodia. 10 were unaccounted for in China.
  • 1,095 of the 2,646 were listed as KIA, BNR (Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered) leaving 1,551 missing or prisoners of war.  591 were returned by North Viet Nam in 1973. To date, 684 POWs have been returned alive.
  • The remaining missing and unaccounted for are 1,616 according to the government. 841 are KIA/BNR, but 727 are listed as presumed dead.
  • There is little question that a large number of the unaccounted were either KIA or killed after being taken prisoner.  There is also little question that some survived and have not yet been accounted for.
  • There is evidence to suggest that some prisoners in Laos and Cambodia were never returned.  It's likely that all are dead by now.

Confirming Evidence

MIA Facts

Vietnam War MIA/POW List


Are there any Vietnam War-era POWs still alive in Laos? – A trip to Sam Neua and Vieng Xai Caves 

Abandoned in Laos

An Honest Man Says POWs Live in Laos