Cold War hostilities flared again in the early 1960s when the United States quietly entered the Vietnamese conflict in support of the South Vietnam regime. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution of 1964 led to an escalation of the war, and more American troops were sent in support of the South.
Iowans served in the regular military, as well as with the State Reserve and National Guard units, through the end of American involvement in 1973. A difficult guerrilla war, indecisive military policy, and the unpopularity of the war at home angered and alienated many, and some veterans found the adjustment to civilian life difficult.
The exhibit features three unique and engaging experiences with powerfully personal and interactive elements. An innovative timeline tells the story of the Vietnam War by utilizing intimate imagery and highlighting events that pertain to Iowans who served. Another inactive element tells the story of the iconic Huey helicopter, informing visitors about the particular chopper that is in our museum. The exhibit features a one-of-a-kind kiosk, Faces to go with Names, that tells the story of the 866 Iowans who were killed during the war. A photograph or each young man can be found, a face for each name. This powerful exhibit component offers users a chance to take home a digitally rendered rubbing in remembrance of those lost. *Faces to go with Names, was part of the temporary exhibit “365 & Counting: Iowans in the Vietnam War” and was upgraded and installed in the permanent Vietnam exhibit summer of 2016.
"We landed in Bien Hoa, Vietnam. A guy got on the airplane and said, 'In the event of a mortar or rocket attack, lay down on the floor and cover your head with hands.' Right at that point, I thought I had got in the wrong place."
— Donald Davis, U.S. Navy Seabees