Remembering the Vietnam War

50th Commemoration

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Home : Features : 2016 : Vietnam War 50th Commemoration

From May 12, 2012 to November 11, 2025, the United States is commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Vietnam War, and taking time to remember America’s veterans of that conflict, and their families. Under the leadership of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, the National Guard Bureau has partnered with The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration to honor the veterans of the Vietnam War, their families, and the organizations that supported the Armed Forces during the war.

For the National Guard Bureau and the National Guard, this remembrance also means paying tribute to those Guardsmen who served in theater and at home in support of the war effort. One widespread perception was that joining the National Guard provided a means of avoiding service in the active military and thus in Vietnam. Nonetheless, the Army and the Air Force deployed National Guard units and individual Guardsmen to Vietnam and around the world to support combat operations. By the end of the war, over 9,000 National Guardsmen served in-country, with over 100 of them making the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their nation.

The National Guard played a strategic role in supporting the war from the home front. In September 1965, the Secretary of Defense directed that the reserve components create pools of enhanced readiness units called the Selected Reserve Force (SRF). The Army used its SRF units to maintain the strength of the Army’s Strategic Forces in the Continental United States, which released active-duty units for deployment overseas. Similarly, the Air Force concentrated its SRF units, dubbed “Beef Broth,” in fighter-interceptor and photo reconnaissance units to be available for duty on short notice. Meanwhile, National Guard units continued to execute their domestic mission and responded to the growing civil disturbances that erupted across America. As combat operations in Vietnam began to slow in the late 1960s and the Department of Defense began planning a shift from a draft-based military to an all-volunteer military, the National Guard began to play a significantly greater role in U.S. defense policy in the post-Vietnam era.