This article focuses solely upon the Vietnam War's connection to G.I. Joe. For broader information please see the External links below.

The Vietnam War was a major conflict in South-East Asia fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and South Vietnam, supported by its allies including the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The war lasted from 1959 until 1975. Many future Joes fought in the conflict, with several forming key bonds or hatreds that would last for years to come. The war also had a major impact upon American society.


Information about many characters' involvement in the War is devoid of chronology; consequently these sections focus upon each individual or grouping separately.


A Real American Hero continuity

Marvel Comics continuity

A key grouping was the Long-Range Recon Patrol headed by the future Stalker and consisting of the future Snake-Eyes, the future Storm Shadow, Wade Collins, Ramon Escobedo and Dickie Saperstein.[1] Each had joined up for their own very different reasons,[2] but the unit bonded well. During one mission they entered a valley where they were attacked by a large force of regular Viet Cong. Escobedo and Saperstein died[3] and the others believed Collins had also perished.[4] Stalker, Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow crawled clear to be picked-up by helicopter, when they came under fire. Snake-Eyes was hit and Stalker ordered Storm Shadow to leave him, but the latter rescued Snake-Eyes. The two were strong friends and Storm Shadow had offered Snake-Eyes a place in the family business - the Arashikage ninja clan.[5] Collins also survived and was captured by the Vietnamese, spending two years in a prisoner of war camp and cursing his former comrades for not finishing him off.[6]

When Snake-Eyes returned home a young lieutenant, the future Hawk, met him at the airport to break the news that his parents and sister had been killed in a crash with a car driven by a stoned-out veteran.[7] Back home the veterans faced heavy public hostility. Snake-Eyes found life back in America difficult due to the public backlash against the war and the soldiers who fought in it. He was often spat at and called a baby killer by strangers.[8] Collins was divorced by his wife who refused to even see him and he found few employers willing to take on a veteran.[9]

A memorial to those fallen was erected in Washington D.C.[10]

Devil's Due Comics continuity
Due to concerns regarding timeline and as part of Devil's Due's effort to maintain G.I. Joe's timelessness, several revisions were made to the comics' continuity. This becomes evident when Snake-Eyes's origin is recounted and finds him taking part in a non-specific Southeast Asian conflict.[11] The effect would be that any other characters who originally have ties to the Vietnam War would also find their background altered as a result of the editorial change.

Action Force (British) Comics continuity

The history of Snake-Eyes, Storm Shadow, Stalker, Wade Collins and Hawk was shared in this continuity.[12]

At one point during the conflict Storm Shadow and an eighteen year old soldier called Donald Jefferson were captured by General Loi. They were tortured and Jefferson died. Storm Shadow escaped, vowing vengeance.[13]

Another group who first met while serving were the future Action Force members Gung-Ho, Roadblock, Leatherneck and Wild Bill.[14] Gung-Ho also served in the Orpheus 45th Airborne Cavalry team, where he got on with all his comrades bar one called Rankine. During an operation over the Mekong Delta in 1972, the 45th's helicopter was shot down, with Gung-Ho seemingly the only survivor. He would later discover that his comrades had survived though isolated and were tricked into believing the war was still being fought.[15]

Wild Bill flew helicopters in Vietnam.[16] During one mission he was sent to pull out a seven-man patrol. Six men were rescued and Wild Bill wanted to go in for the seventh, but his commanding officer ordered them to withdraw and Wild Bill complied. He would remain haunted by the order for many years to come.[17]

Others who served in Vietnam as part of the US forces included Scarlett,[18] Duke[19] and Spirit.[20] Beach Head served as part of the forces from New Zealand[21] whilst Outback served with forces from Australia.[22]

Real world


The growing public backlash against the Vietnam War was to affect the G.I. Joe toyline. The original America's Movable Fighting Man moved from being a military man to an adventurer by 1969; the following year the line transformed into the Adventure Team, moving away from politically sensitive subject material.


Future A Real American Hero comics author Larry Hama served in the conflict in the United States Army Corps of Engineers from 1969 to 1971,[23] an experience that would aid in his editing of the 1986-1993 Marvel Comics series The 'Nam.

External links