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Vietnam War Casualties
by Race, Ethnicity and Natl Origin

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V'nam Casualties by Race, Ethnicity and Natl Origin

Enlisted USA USMC USN USAF
White 28044 (83.5) 11888 (85.5) 1823 (94.7) 735 (81.1)
Black 5095 (15.1) 1860 (13.3) 78 (4.0) 82 (9.0)
Amer.Ind. 138 (.4) 73 (.5) 7 (.3) 1 (0.5)
Asian 241 (.7) 76 (.5) 17 (.8) 9 (1.0)
Unknown 26 (.07) 1 (.007) -- 79 (8.7)

Of all enlisted men who died in V'nam, blacks made up 14.1% of the total. This came at a time when they made up 11.0% of the young male population nationwide. If we add officer casualties to enlisted then the black percentage is reduced to 12.5% of all casualties.

Of the 7262 blacks who died, 6, 955 or 96% were Army and Marine enlisted men. The combination of our selective service policies, our AFQT testing of both drafted and volunteers, the need for skilled enlisted men in many areas of the armed forces, all conspired to assign blacks in greater numbers to the combat units of the Army and Marine Corps. Early in the war, when blacks made up about 11.0% of our V'nam force, black casualties soared to over 20% of the total (1965, 1966). Black leaders protested and Pres Johnson ordered that black participation should be cut back in the combat units. As a result, the black casualty rate was cut to 11.5% by 1969.

The DoD database contains no info on Hispanic-Amer casualties. Hispanics can be of any race, but the 1980 census revealed that only 2.6% regard themselves as black. In a massive sampling of the database we were able to establish that between 5.0 and 6.0> had Hispanic surnames. These were Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and other Latino-Americans with ancestries based in Central and South Amer. The 1970 census which we are using as our V'nam era population base, estimated Hispanic-Americans at 4.5% of the US population.

Thus we think it is safe to say that Hispanic-Americans were over-represented among V'nam casualties-an estimated 5.5% of the casualties against 4.5% of the 1970 population. These casualties came largely from California and Texas with lesser numbers from Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Florida and New York and some from many states across the country.

During the V'nam war, the Navy and Air Force became substantially white enclaves. Of the 4953 Navy and Air Force casualties, both officer and enlisted, 4, 736 or 96% were white.

Officer casualties of all branches were overwhelmingly white. Of the 7877 officer casualties, 7595 or 96.4% were white, 147 or 1.8% were black; 24 or .3% were Asian, 7 or .08% were Amer Indian and 104 (1.3%) were unidentified by race.

In terms of natl origin/ancestries our massive sampling of the database reveals that Americans of Italian, French Canadian, Polish and other Southern and Eastern European surnames made up about 10% of the casualties. These casualties came largely from the Northeast and North Central regions, many from the traditionally patriotic working class neighborhoods.

It becomes apparent that the remaining 70% of V'nam enlisted casualties were of English/Scottish/Welsh, German, Irish, and Scandinavian-Amer ancestries, more from the South and Mid-West than the other regions, many from the small towns with a family military tradition.

The officer corps has always drawn heavily on English, German, Irish and Scandinavian-Amer ancestries from lower-middle and middle class white collar homes with other large percentages from ambitious blue-collar and career military families. By region, officer casualties came more from the South and West (4.1 per 100000 population) to 3-5 from the Northeast and North Central.

Data compiled William F. Abbott from figures obtained shortly after the construction of the Vietnam War Memorial

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