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WALTER CRONKITE, with map of S.E. Asia in background. The Vietnam War (and this image) dominated the nightly news throughout my entire childhood, to the point where I just assumed that the war was permanent...and that it was normal to, at age 10, 12, 15 have a war going on that started before you were born and would go on for the rest of your life. To people my age, It wasn't just a war - it was a fixture of life.

The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. American involvement escalated in the early 1960s, with troop levels tripling in 1961 and tripling again in 1962. 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict.

Soldiers walking through the notorious Ho Chi Minh trail in Vietnam during the 1970's

In this April 30, 1975 file photo, a North Vietnamese tank rolls through the gate of the Presidential Palace in Saigon, signifying the fall of South Vietnam.

"I was ordered to go in there and destroy the enemy...That was my job on that day. That was the mission I was given. I did not sit down and think in terms of men, women and children." - Lieutenant William Calley, testifying at Court-Martial in defense of his actions in My Lai, 1970.

April 29, 1975- U.S. Navy personnel aboard the USS Blue Ridge push a helicopter into the sea off the coast of Vietnam in order to make room for more evacuation flights from Saigon.

In this June 1967 file photo, medic James E. Callahan of Pittsfield, Mass., looks up while applying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a seriously wounded soldier north of Saigon in June 1967. AP Photo/Henri Huet (repin with photo credit, finally)

VietNam--58,000 American soldiers lost their lives in this war

Last Chopper out of 'Nam - The end of the Vietnam war - Fall of Saigon

In this Sept. 21, 1966 file photo, U.S. Marines emerge from their muddy foxholes at sunrise after a third night of fighting against continued attacks of north Vietnamese 324 B division troops during the Vietnam War.

In this Jan. 1, 1966 file photo, women and children crouch in a muddy canal as they take cover from intense Viet Cong fire at Bao Trai, about 20 miles west of Saigon, Vietnam.

In this January 1966 file photo, First Cavalry Division medic Thomas Cole, from Richmond, Va., looks up with one uncovered eye as he treats a wounded Staff Sgt. Harrison Pell during a firefight in the Central Highlands in Vietnam, between U.S. troops and a combined North Vietnamese and Vietcong force.

In this April 29, 1975 file photo, people try to scale the 14-foot wall of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, trying to reach evacuation helicopters, as the last of the Americans depart from Vietnam.

LIFE (26 Nov, 1965) Photo Vietcong prisoner with taped eyes and mouth. A few minutes after taking the picture, the prisoner would be shot in the temple, by an American soldier - and this will become the most famous war crime, the Vietnam War, and will receive a name - murder in Saigon. The author photo - one of the best photographers of LIFE -Paul Schutze, perished during the Six Day War in the Middle East in 1967.

Babies strapped in seats in 747 Jumbo jet enroute Clark AB to LAX. Photo: Robert Stinnett / Oakland Tribune, April 12, 1975. This was part of the orphan airlift, called “Operation Babylift” from Vietnam to the US that took place in 1975, primarily by World Airways. Via The Oakland Tribune Collection, the Oakland Museum of California

Dan Rather reporting from Vietnam, 1966.

The Bay of Pigs Invasion began in April of 1961. Brigade 2506 was a group of CIA-trained Cuban Exiles who made an unsuccessful attempt to over throw the Cuban Government of Fidel Castro with the support and encouragement of the US Government.

Soldiers form a search-and-destroy patrol in Phuoc Tuy province.

Protestors against the Vietnam War on the streets in the 1960's