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FACES OF WAR: Documenting the Vietnam War from the Front Lines

This collection of photographs and motion pictures captures the Vietnam War as it was experienced by some of the 3.4 million Americans who served in the Southeast Asian Theater—the aggression, the misery, and the hope—as well as the millions more who attempted to carry on as the conflict waged at their doorsteps. Captured by the special operations photographers of the Department of the Army Special Photographic Office (DASPO), these photos provide a unique perspective of the war.

As Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces, President John F. Kennedy authorized DASPO for activation in 1962 with the purpose of providing non-biased information to the Pentagon, Department of the Army, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the United States Congress. DASPO’s objective was to cover military subjects worldwide by deploying reactionary teams from detachments in Hawaii, Panama, and the continental United States under direct orders from the Army Chief of Staff.

Armed with their cameras, sound equipment, and light weaponry, the elite photographers and cameramen of DASPO captured, in stark detail, the true horrors and humanity of the Vietnam War. Deploying to the front lines aboard Hueys and Air Force C-130s, these special operations teams operated with unlimited access—producing some of the most iconic and important images from the conflict.