American soldiers and Huey helicopters in Vietnam.

The Vietnam War was a military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia from 1959 to 1975. The war was fought between the communist North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of South Vietnam, supported by the United States and other nations.


The Viet Cong, a lightly armed South Vietnamese communist-controlled common front, largely fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The North Vietnamese Army engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large units into battle. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery and airstrikes.

The United States entered the war to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam as part of their wider strategy of containment. Military advisors arrived beginning in 1950. U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s and combat units were deployed beginning in 1965. Involvement peaked in 1968 at the time of the Tet Offensive.

After this, U.S. ground forces were withdrawn as part of a policy called Vietnamization. Despite the Paris Peace Accords, signed by all parties in January 1973, fighting continued.

The Case-Church Amendment, passed by the U.S. Congress in response to the anti-war movement, prohibited direct U.S. military involvement after August 15, 1973. U.S. military and economic aid continued until 1975. The capture of Saigon by North Vietnamese army, in April 1975, marked the end of Vietnam War. North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year.

The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities, including 3 to 4 million Vietnamese from both sides, 1.5 to 2 million Laotians and Cambodians, and 58,159 U.S. soldiers.

Links to the Franchise

The Vietnam War has several notable links with the Alien and Predator films.


In the films, Alan Schaefer, Al Dillon, Mac Eliot, Blain Cooper and Ronald Noland all fought in the Vietnam War; Dillon still uses Vietnam-era equipment in Predator, including his battle dress uniform and Colt M1911 sidearm. In Predator 2, Peter Keyes mentions that mankind has previously encountered one or more Yautja in Cambodia during the war.

Behind the scenes

Actors Al Matthews and Richard Chaves, who played Sergeant Apone in Aliens and Poncho in Predator, respectively, both fought in Vietnam. Matthews received numerous decorations there.

The design of much of the equipment used by the Colonial Marines in Aliens was heavily influenced by the technology of the Vietnam War, including the Cheyenne dropship, which was specifically designed to resemble the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II fighter jet and the Bell UH-1 Huey helicopter, both of which were used heavily in the conflict.[1] Hueys also appeared prominently in Predator.

Additionally, the M10 Pattern Ballistic Helmet used in Aliens is based on an M1 "steel pot" helmet,[2] which was standard issue for American combat personnel in Vietnam.[3] Also, the M240 Incinerator Unit in Aliens uses parts of the M16 in its design, which was also used heavily in Vietnam.

The Vietnam War is also mentioned in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem: Inside the Monster Shop.[4]



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