The Vietnam War or Second Indochina War (also known colloquially as "Vietnam" or "Nam" as well as the American War to the Vietnamese) was a conflict between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRVN, or North Vietnam), allied with the Communist World, namely the Soviet Union and China, against the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, or South Vietnam), and its allies — notably the United States military, with US combat troops involved from 1965 until the official withdrawal in 1973. Several baseball-related people died during the war.
After France's attempted recolonization of Indochina was defeated in 1954 by the Viet Minh at the battle of Điện Biên Phủ, an agreement to temporarily partition Vietnam in two with a de-militarized zone between the two halves was reached at the Geneva Conference (1954). The Vietnam War ostensibly began as a civil war between the feuding northern and southern governments. Being Western-oriented and perceived as less popular than Hồ Chí Minh's northern government, the South Vietnam government fought largely to maintain its governing status within the partitioned entity, rather than to "unify the country" as was the goal of the North. Fighting began in 1957 and with U.S. and Soviet-Chinese involvement would steadily escalate and spill over into the neighboring Indochinese countries of Cambodia and Laos.
The Geneva partition was not a natural division of Vietnam and was not intended to create two separate countries. But the South government, with the support of the United States, blocked the Geneva scheduled elections for reunification. In the context of the Cold War, and with the recent Korean War as a precedent, the U.S. had feared that a reunified Vietnam would elect a Communist government under the popular Hồ Chí Minh, either freely or fraudulently.
South Vietnam and its Western allies portrayed the conflict as based in a principled opposition to communism — to deter the expansion of Soviet-based control throughout Southeast Asia, and to set the tone for any likely future superpower conflicts. The North Vietnamese government and its Southern dissident allies (NLF) viewed the war as a struggle to reunite the country and to repel a foreign aggressor — a virtual continuation of the earlier war for independence against the French.
After fifteen years of protracted fighting and massive civilian and military casualties, major direct U.S. involvement ended with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. Fighting between Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces against the dominant combined People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and NLF forces would soon bring an end to the RVN and the war on April 30, 1975. With the Northern victory, the country was reunified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) with a communist-controlled government based in Hanoi.
With the increased involvement of American troups in the conflict in the late 1960s, large numbers of young Americans were drafted to serve in Vietnam. Contrary to World War II, where the draft had broached few exceptions and the military's composition largely reflected American society, the US forces in Vietnam were composed of very young men, and largely of high school graduates. Deferments could be obtained through college studies or by use of influence - future presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Donald Trump avoided combat through such means. Most of the baseball players who served in Vietnam did so while they were still minor leaguers; major leaguers who were drafted were usually able to fulfill their obligations by serving for short periods on bases in the United States and largely during the off-seasons.
Baseball Players and Umpires Who Died During the War
- Dell Chambers, minor league infielder
- Charles Chase, minor league outfielder
- Eddie Glinnen, minor league player
- Joe McCarthy, minor league infielder
- Larry Smith, minor league umpire
- Kerry Taylor, minor league player