LIFE Covers: The Vietnam War


One of the most important stories that LIFE Magazine would ever cover was the Vietnam War. From sending photographers to the trenches to covering the stories of draft dodgers and deserters, LIFE Magazines during the 1960s explored every aspect of the most highly televised conflict in history. LIFE Magazine would do it’s part to shape the story, as well.

Life Magazine (October 27, 1961) Advisers in Vietnam, mans eye

Life Magazine (January 25, 1963) Mekong Delta

Life Magazine (November 15, 1963) South Vietnam soldiers

Life Magazine (March 20, 1964) Henry Cabot Lodge in Vietnam

Life Magazine (June 12, 1964) Patrol in Vietnam

Life Magazine (August 21, 1964) South Vietnam’s General Khanh

Life Magazine (November 27, 1964) Vietnam GIs

Life Magazine (April 16, 1965) U.S. helicopter crew, Yankee Papa

Life Magazine (July 2, 1965) Wounded marine evacuated in Vietnam

Life Magazine (August 6, 1965) U.S. Navy vs. Vietcong

Life Magazine, August 20, 1965 – Draft inductees

In the summer of 1969 I got my induction papers from Uncle Sam; I think it read: “I Want You”

Life Magazine (November 26, 1965) Vietcong prisoner

A Vietcong prisoner, captured during the battle at Cape Batangan, under guard as he awaits transfer to a U.S. POW compound.

Life Magazine (January 14, 1966) Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh and Pham Van Dong

Life Magazine (February 11, 1966) Wounded GIs in Vietnam

Life Magazine (February 25, 1966) Dawn mission over South Vietnam

Life Magazine (October 28, 1966) Wounded marine

Life Magazine (November 4, 1966) President Johnson goes to Vietnam

About four years after this photo, Vice President Spiro Agnew paid a visit to Vietnam. Our unit provided security around Saigon before his arrival.

Life Magazine (January 13, 1967) Navy patrol in Mekong River

Life Magazine (March 10, 1967) U.S. paratroopers over Vietnam

Life Magazine (April 7, 1967) Hanoi air-raid alert

Life Magazine (May 26, 1967) General Lew Walt

Life Magazine (August 25, 1967) Marine and young Vietnamese friend

Life Magazine (October 27, 1967) GI at Con Thien

Life Magazine (February 16, 1968) North Vietnamese soldiers

Life Magazine (March 22, 1968) Ho Chi Minh

Life Magazine (November 8, 1968) Vietnam war victim, This girl tron

Life Magazine (June 27, 1969) American dead in Vietnam

One of LIFE’s most memorable stories was from an issue published on June 27, 1969. Editor-in-chief Hedley Donovan approved a yearbook-like spread of photos of the 242 soldiers who died in Vietnam between May 28 and June 3. That feature did what the editor hoped – it burned into the American consciousness the young faces of the men who fought.

Life Magazine (September 6, 1969) Woodstock

The Woodstock festival was a protest to pull soldiers from the Vietnam War.

Life Magazine (October 24, 1969) Composite: Dissent

Life Magazine (May 15, 1970) Wounded Kent State student

Some of the students who were shot had been protesting against the American invasion of Cambodia, which President Richard Nixon announced in a television address on April 30.

Life Magazine (May 22, 1970) Composite: Our Forgotten Wounded

Life Magazine (January 29, 1971) Bob Hope

I was very fortunate to be able to attend the Bob Hope USO Christmas Show in 1970. It was by far my fondest memory of my Vietnam tour…

Life Magazine (March 12, 1971) South Vietnamese soldiers in Laos

Life Magazine, January 21, 1972 – Single U.S. Vietnam casualty in a week

Life Magazine (May 12, 1972) Vietnam soldier carries wounded buddy

Life Magazine (November 10, 1972) Navy POW

Life Magazine (June 1, 1979) Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now

When I saw this issue of LIFE on a magazine rack in 1979, it definitely got my attention. It had an article about a movie to be released August 15th of that year featuring the unit (1st Squadron 9th Cavalry) I served with in Vietnam.


Filed under Vietnam War

27 responses to “LIFE Covers: The Vietnam War

  1. Walker Jones

    Very good job here.

  2. usastruck

    Hey thanks Walker! Sometimes pictures speak louder than words…

  3. jesuspdlr

    Rob, thanks for the job and your effort!

  4. Steph

    How do i cite this?

  5. Steph

    In terms of referencing this site for a history project i am doing

  6. usastruck

    Steph, you can use this link:
    I hope this is helpful…Rob

  7. Mike Sullivan

    June 1969 my friend Bill on the cover of Life. Only 10 miles from me. Dies alone in a river. For what?War goes on and old guys still wave flags.

    • Woody Woodrum

      No he wasn’t alone. Gearing was with Jeremiah June. I was in the same unit as they when this happened. June was a close friend. Meet Gearing in passing, exchange hi’s and never meet again. Not sure just what happened. Never saw the after action reports. But word at Battalion was that the unit they were working with had stopped and grabbed some c-rations for a quick meal. June and Gearing had went a little away from the main group, sat under a tree, and started to eat. One mortar round was fired, just one, and hit next to them killing them. Now I cannot say if this was true but like I said this is the word that came back to us. But I am sure that they were together when they were KIA

  8. usastruck

    More details please…

  9. That is my grandpa in the May 12th, 1972 issue. (Carrying his friend)

  10. Jerilyn Smith

    My cousin was on the cover of Life during the Vietnam War. His name is Bubba Delasanta. I cannot find that one. He was with two other men in the picture. Do you have that one?

  11. Tammy DiMaggio

    Hi ,
    I’m trying to locate magazine (not sure if it was time or life Magazine) from 1967. I recent discover from a cousin my father was on the cover , he was an injured marine was described to me he was leaning on am marine truck or rank after recent been involved in an explosion was awaiting medic to come get him. His name is Matthew Smolinsky . Not sure on best way to tlocate or who to ask about.
    Thank You ,
    Tammy DiMaggio

  12. Nancy Schnell

    Does anyone know how to reach Clark Clifford? May 22, 1970 cover, “Our Forgotten Wounded “? My dad is pictured in that cover from Cambodia. Dad somehow never got his purple heart. The picture is very clear.

    Any Fonda friends, don’t need your shit! So step off with your hate, vile and bullshit. He didn’t want to be there. It’s a miracle he made it back to make me.

    • MISSY doyle

      Nancy, did you find out any info about the May 22 cover of Life magazine? I was interested to see if my Dad was one of the soliders.

      • Scott Mullen

        Hi Missy,
        As I told Nancy, my sister’s first husband is on that cover. Was your dad in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (11ACR)? That was the unit my bother in law was in when he was wounded and that picture was taken. You can email me at

    • Scott Mullen

      Hi Nancy, my sister’s first husband is on that same 22 May 1970 LIFE cover, he’s the guy with his hands on his hips. He was in the 11th ACR (Black Horse Regiment). He’s now a retired car mechanic who lives in Houston. I’m sending a private email to your yahoo address. You can email me at

  13. Greg

    My uncle Denver McClanahan is the wounded Marine on the July 2nd, 1965 cover of Life… He passed away yesterday. He denied that It was him. Even when his mom (my grandma) said she knew it was him. Until about a year ago, he finally admitted the wounded Marine was him. Rest in peace, Denver.

    • Kester Hurley

      Denver was a good friend of mine. We were both from Grundy, VA. I was in the 101st Airborne and Denver was in the Marines. I only saw Denver once at Cam Rahn Bay in Vietnam when he was there for medical help. I really would have liked to see him one more time before his death but it was not to be.
      “”RIP My Brother in Arms”

  14. Stephen guleff

    Stephen Guleff November ,1972 the small town in Ohio noted on the front cover is my home town,Massillon,Ohio . In the middle of that mag Is 9 of my close friends and myself in town center ,all Vietnam Vets. There is a whole story on that picture which I believe would make a terrific book on lifestyles and affects on each life before ,during and after the Vietnam experience we all shared . The great thing is I believe nine are still alive and the stories we all have are totally mind bending!

  15. I am looking for the Life cover, with several wounded soldiers riding on a tank. One of the soldies was from our home town ( Bucyrus Ohio ) Can you help me with this Life cover… Contact Davey Jones WQEL Radio, 800-492-9226 ext 214 .. thanks

  16. Pingback: 28 Oktober 1966: Majalah “Life” menampilkan sampul prajurit yang terluka | Blog – Komunitas Fotografi National Geographic Indonesia

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