What Unusual Dangers Did US Troops Face in Vietnam?

Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs as they're now known, have become commonplace in 21st century warfare. But these types of booby traps have been around for years. During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army found numerous unexpected and deadly ways to attack American soldiers. For example, early on in the Southeast Asian conflict, the VC noticed that American soldiers liked to kick empty soda cans that were left lying on the ground. So the VC rigged those cans with explosives and planted them along regular patrol routes. When the cans were kicked down the road, they'd explode, causing injury or death.

More on sneak attacks in Vietnam:

  • Booby traps in Vietnam were used to delay and disrupt the mobility of enemy forces. What the VC lacked in firepower, they overcame with deadly ingenuity, which took a heavy psychological toll on US soldiers.
  • The most common VC booby trap was the punji stake. Punji stakes were sharpened lengths of bamboo or metal. They might be coated with excrement to cause infection when stepped on.
  • Another VC favorite was the trip wire, which could cause dangerous reactions when it was moved -- detonating an explosive, perhaps, or launching a clutch of nasty bamboo spikes directly at a soldier.
More Info: DefenceWeb

Discussion Comments


The statistics (roughly) are that

about 51,000 US soldiers were killed and 687 Australians were killed.

Compare the soda cans to the bombing:

About 4.1 million Vietnamese people killed. An ideological war? Hardly.

The Vietnamese regarded the US and Australia as Colonial power number 3 after the Chinese and the French.

They were protecting their homeland from another threat of subjugation. Watch the video "The Fog of War".

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