41 years have passed since the end of the Vietnam War, and more photos of the conflict are emerging every year. Many of the best-known photos of the war were taken not by those who served, but by the photojournalists who were sent there by certain publications.
But after a close friend lost her father, a veteran who had served in the Vietnam War, photo editor Kendra Rennick found herself interested in the stories of the men who served there. She and her friend soon discovered old slides — film that was intended for projection onto a screen using a slide projector — that were taken by her father during the war. This sparked an idea in Rennick’s mind, and soon the Vietnam Slide Project was born.
“It amazes me that these images, for the most part, remain untouched in basements or attics collecting dust,” Rennick told Business Insider. “Many of these images are quite visually striking. These images speak to both my generation and older generations who lived through this time in history.”
Below, see compelling colour photos from the Vietnam War, taken by the veterans who served.
The Vietnam Slide Project is an ongoing archive-based photography project with the aim of sharing personal photos taken by servicemen during the Vietnam War.
Getting access to these slides was easier than Rennick expected. After speaking with her family and friends, she discovered that a number of people she knew had family members who served.
Rennick also contacted the Vietnam Veterans of America with her idea and concept, and they mentioned the project on their 'Arts of War' website.
This caught the attention of family members and veterans, who reached out to Rennick to contribute slides and stories.
One veteran even sent her a written essay about his experience in Vietnam. The daughter of a veteran who recently passed away sent her slides and information on the medals her father earned while serving.
Rennick's goal is to eventually raise money to donate to veteran services, and give back to those who served.
Rennick described the responses she got as 'remarkable.' 'Their openness to share these stories with me has been the highlight of this project,' she said.
Dennis Thornton, the photographer of the picture below, served in the First Air Cavalry division of the US Army. He spent 1969 and 1970 just a few miles north of Saigon.
James Allan Townsend, the veteran who took this photo, served in the US Army from 1967 to 1973. He served in Vietnam from 1968 through 1969. Townsend passed away last year of Agent Orange-related Parkinson's disease he sustained in Vietnam. His daughters provided the slides for the project.
These photos offer two perspectives of the war: the actual conflicts of the war, and the raw moments between soldiers as they hung out in their downtime.
'I am interested in the juxtaposition of the veteran playing guitar or ping pong during downtime, to soldiers walking through the swamp strapped with bullets, all photographed by the same soldier,' Rennick said.
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