How Many American People Died In Vietnam War – John Olson’s famous photograph of Marines evacuating wounded Marines at the Battle of Hue in February 1968. Collection of Life photos via John Olson/Getty Images
The battle at Hue, Vietnam, was as intense and messy as the Marines had seen. In mid-February 1968, American and South Vietnamese forces struggled to counter a surprise attack known as the Tet Offensive. The 1st Battalion, 5th Marines breached the city’s historic fortifications. Radio communication is disabled. From their forward positions, Marines would run a block or two to relay news and receive orders to commanders. Many of them have already been wounded or killed. As more casualties piled up, Marines from Charlie Company’s 3rd Platoon helped move the heavily wounded and unconscious infantrymen to the front of the tank; The man collapsed on the wooden door that served as a stretcher. Less than a block away on streets littered with debris and alive with gunfire, a tank stopped to pick up three Marines wounded by mortar fire. A man’s face turned pale. He was helped aboard and placed in the rear of the tank.
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Photographer John Olson arrived and began documenting the moment. His picture of an unconscious Marine lying in a tank surrounded by his wounded brothers is among the iconic images of the Vietnam War. A March 8, 1968 issue of Life magazine featured some of Olson’s wartime photos. The photo of Wounded Sea was the largest in the feature, published as a two-page spread. Vivid and moving, the raw artwork of the 26-Day Battle of Hell helped turn the American people against the war. Fifty years later, as the war’s anniversary approaches, these images have been rediscovered through a best-selling book, a major exhibition at the Newseum in Washington, and numerous articles and videos in the media.
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With this new influence came uncertainty, then controversy. Who was the unconscious man in the tank? Two different storylines have emerged over the past three years. Confusion raises questions of accuracy and identity. He weighs his journalistic obligations against the temptation to amplify the war narrative. It begs the question how respectful the trend of commemorating the dead really is.
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The now popular depiction of this scene is in Hue 1968: The Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam by Mark Bowden, an American journalist and author of Black Hawk Down, and in books about D. . Day, the mission against Osama bin Laden and the assassination of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Bowden’s account of the battle for Hue was published in 2017, just before the anniversary of the Tet Offensive. Open Entries sees the Marine Corps’ path to pyrrhic victory. In the final chapter of the book, Boden is the unconscious man seen in Olson’s photo, lying on a stretcher made in the front of the tank: Pfc. Alvin Grantham.
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This account of Grantham’s injuries recalls a firefighter shot in the chest, a wound his fellow Marines tried to seal with cellophane from a cigarette pack. He describes moving to a tank and escaping a worse fate after being accidentally killed and placed in a body bag. Grantham’s presence – in the spirit of Saving Private Ryan – becomes something to celebrate. A living example of perseverance and luck, the young sailor adds himself.
The recounting of this version of events did not end with Bowden’s chapter. In January 2018, the Newseum opened “The Seas and Tet: The Battle That Changed the Vietnam War,” an exhibit based on Bowden’s book and Olson’s photographs and research. The exhibit, which runs through March 17, features audio interviews with Huey veterans, including Grantham and Olson’s reproductions. Grantham’s story, Olson’s photo, and Bowden’s book were featured prominently in public events and 50th anniversary celebrations, including Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, CBS Sunday Morning, and several local media outlets.
In early 2017, while Bowden was completing his book, British writer and long-time reporter for The Times of London, Anthony Lloyd Hue, conducted his own research into the Navy. His report began to reveal a different story behind the photo and an entirely different identity for the wounded Marine lying on top of the tank — Pfc. James Blaine, a young rifleman who died in battle, left no story of endurance. As Lloyd put it, “He seemed to have lost his mind.”
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Blaine was born on March 22, 1949 in Moscow, Idaho to Jim and Ann Blaine. His family was Catholic, and his father was a veterinarian who worked in meat inspection for the United States Department of Agriculture. His mother worked as a nurse. Blaine is the second of nine children; A native of Spokane, Washington, James — whom his family named Jimmy — played high school basketball and polo before enlisting in the Navy in May 1967.
His brother Rob, who now lives in Boise, Idaho, recounts one young man’s journey from an active childhood to his own death. Rob: “Jimmy was a hard worker. “Before he went to school, he would get up and slide water pipes at a local fruit farm. A small weekend in northern Idaho and western Montana rode on barbeque broncs. He was very young but gentle. At the rodeo, an old cowboy tries to sell Jimmy his coat for a drink. Jimmy gave him the $5 he asked for, but he wouldn’t buy the coat. Jimmy was quiet, but had a sense of adventure. His parents tried to talk him into joining the Navy or Air Force instead of the Navy, but he wanted to go where the action was. According to Rob, when James was at the airport on his way to Vietnam after boot camp, he told his brother Tom that he “couldn’t see him again.”
When the marriage came to an end, her two sisters, Cabbie and Teresa, believed that Jimmy was in the picture. The rest of the family wasn’t so sure until a letter published in People magazine 17 years later confirmed it for them. It seemed to bring the seeds of closure. Rob was 10 when Jimmy died and always wondered what happened. In 1985, when he came to the city to see his brother named, he visited a scale model of the Vietnam Memorial. Fascinated by the photo, he sent a letter to the sea identified in a 1997 People article. One of them wrote back, but Rob never followed up.
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Then Rob and his brothers claim that there is another Seaman who was wounded for the first time in Bowden’s book. Rob says, “It made me a little sick that someone tried to steal this ‘moment’ from my dead war hero brother. In my research, I discovered that Alvin Grantham was a respected man who had the same experience as my brother, but his experience was not captured in John Olson’s February 1968 film. .
John Olson was drafted in 1966 at the age of 19 and was assigned as a photographer for the Stars and Stripes, the official magazine of the United States Army. Two years later, Hue was sent from Saigon to cover the Tet Offensive. He had five cameras, shot black-and-white film for the Stars and Stripes, and colored it to produce pictures that could be sold elsewhere. Hugh’s photos were published in Life almost immediately, and he soon became the magazine’s youngest staff photographer. In 1968, Robert Capa was awarded a gold medal for several days of work for the Battle of Hue. But his encounter with the Marines in the tank was largely ignored. The battle was so intense that individual people are not remembered or even photographed.
Olson’s photo has been published several times over the decades, most notably on April 1, 1985, when People magazine asked for help in identifying the Marines in the tank. Through reader feedback, people found everyone in the frame except for the unconscious marine. Four weeks later, on April 29, it followed up with an interview and a new story
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