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I’ve been reading the fictional series Vietnam: Ground Zero written by two Vietnam veterans under the pen name of Eric Helm.

I know in reality, some soldiers served as many as 3 tours in Vietnam. Did any serve the entire war?


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Dear Arrow,

Apparently the longest-serving American in the Vietnam War was Robert Lewis Howard, who started his first tour in 1965 with the 101st Airborne Division, and went on to serve with the Special Forces and Military Assistance Command Vietnam/Studies and Observation Group (MACV/SOG), doing a record five tours of duty and becoming one of the most decorated American service men (including the Medal of Honor, after having been nominated for it three times).

There is also a sizeable proportion of soldiers who served longer in Vietnam than Howard, however. Having nowhere else to go, and being lucky enough to survive more than a mere decade of (or more) of combat, these veterans had served in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the National Liberation Front and the People’s Army of Vietnam.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History

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