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Iowans during the Vietnam War

Lesson Plan Item

General Information
Grade 11th Grade Class US History Length of Lesson 1 Class Period
Lesson Title Iowans during the Vietnam War
Unit Title The Vietnam War
Unit Compelling Question How did the Vietnam War impact American society?
Historical Context:

Pictured above is a U.S. Army military coat. This coat was worn by 2nd Lt. Robert Hibbs of the 2nd Battalion during the Vietnam War. Lt. Hibbs was in command of the 2nd Battalion on an observation mission to scout out Viet Cong companies. The company spotted an enemy company coming right for them. With 2nd Lt. Hibbs expertise, he prepared the men for an attack and emplaced two antipersonnel mines in their path. Once they got close, 2nd Lt. Hibbs detonated them. 2nd Lt. Hibbs was at the front lines to help his company retreat by throwing hand grenades at the charging Viet Cong. As the Battalion was retreating, they caught the second Viet Cong company by surprise. 2nd Lt. Hibbs charged right toward the Viet Cong and went to rescue the wounded US soldiers. While rescuing the wounded, 2nd Lt. Hibbs sacrificed himself so his comrades could escape. For his bravery and ultimate sacrifice, Lt. Robert Hibbs was given the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest honor a soldier can receive in the American Military. 

During the time of the Vietnam War (1964-1973), 115,000 Iowans were employed in the military. They played a major role in all aspects of the war from fighting in combat to National Guardsmen maintaining security within the United States. The Iowans that went to Vietnam were very young with the average age of men deployed being only 19 years old. Also, the majority of Iowans who went to Vietnam were from working class families. There were 5 Iowans who received the Congressional Medal of Honor, and only one, 2nd Lt. Robert J. Hibbs, received his postmortem. By the end of the war, there were 869 Iowans who had been killed in Vietnam including one of the very last soldiers to die, LCpl. Darwin Judge, who was killed on April 29, 1975. The war ended on April 30, 1975 with the fall of Saigon. The state of Iowa did not only send soldiers to Vietnam, but also food and supplies. Iowa produced corn for the Southeast Asia foreign aid program. Ordinance plants were reactivated in Burlington, Iowa. These ordinance plants made weaponry which helped the war effort. (iptv.org)

Iowa Public Television Resource and Additional Information: Click Here

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~ Sean Riley
Lesson Supporting Question How did Iowans play a part in the Vietnam War?
Lesson Overview

This lesson is about how Iowans played a role in the Vietnam War. The lesson focuses on an Iowan named Robert Hibbs who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam. The lesson shows a video of the Vietnam War with a lecture about Iowans during the Vietnam War and Robert Hibbs. The lesson also discusses the Medal of Honor and why it is such an accomplishment to win this award. At the end of the lesson, there is a short assignment relating to the artifact (Lt. Hibbs’ uniform) and Robert Hibbs’ actions during the Vietnam War. There is also a take home assignment which will be turned in the next class. The take home assignment involves students analyzing sources about Iowans during the Vietnam War. 


Primary Sources Used
Resources Needed







File ima_assignment_for_lesson_on_iowa_and_the_vietnam_war.docx, File iowans_in_the_vietnam_war_ima.pptx, File lt._robert_hibbs_analysis.docx
Lesson Target
  • Students will be able to evaluate the importance of Iowans during the Vietnam War.
  • Students will be able to independently obtain and analyze valuable information from a variety of resources found on an online database.
Lesson Themes Vietnam
Lesson Procedure
Step Procedure Time Differentiation plan / Additional Information
Part 1: Hook

I will start the PowerPoint Presentation on Iowa during the Vietnam War.

Link to the PowerPoint Presentation: Iowa and the Vietnam War 

I will begin class by showing the students a short video on the Vietnam War. (5 Minutes)


This video is about Iowan Veterans talking about their experience before and during the Vietnam War.

Part 2: PowerPoint Presentation and Worksheet

Transition: I will continue to the next slide which will begin discussing some general background information on the Vietnam War. 

Note: The information on Slide 3 should be review information with your students. This lesson is meant to dive deeper into the Vietnam War by looking at Iowa’s involvement in the war. A general lesson on the Vietnam War should be the first lesson of this unit. 

PowerPoint Presentation: (10-15 Minutes)

I will show the students the lecture on Iowans during the Vietnam War and 2nd Lt. Robert Hibbs. 

Slide 4: This slide explains the role Iowans played during the Vietnam War.

Slide 5: This slide gives general information on Lt. Robert Hibbs such as which military division he served with, and where he went to school.

Slide 6: This slide contains the IMA photograph of Lt. Hibbs’ uniform. On this slide, I would ask the class what they saw here. Also if they could point out anything that may differentiate his uniform from rather modern day military uniforms, or that of a private during the Vietnam War. 

Slide 7: This slide contains a summary of Lt. Hibbs acts of valor during the Vietnam War. This summary also explains that Hibbs sacrificed his life for his men, and due to this, was awarded the Medal of Honor. 

Slide 8: This slide contains information on the medal itself such as how it is earned, who gives out the medal, and why it is so special. 

Slide 9: Resources

After each slide, I would ask if anybody had any questions.

Transition: I would exit out of the PowerPoint Presentation, and begin passing out an in-class assignment and source on Lt. Hibbs and the Medal of Honor.

From here I would have the students get into groups. (How you group your students is up to you). 

Group Worksheet: (10-15 Minutes)

Instructions are provided on the worksheet itself. 

I will read the instructions with the students out loud.

This worksheet is meant to analyze the actions of Lt. Hibbs during the Vietnam War. 

Lt. Hibbs: Medal of Honor

Lt. Hibbs Analysis Activity 

Part 3: Closure/Final Assignment

Transition: I will collect all of the completed in-class worksheets, and pass out the final assignment. 

I will go over the directions of the final assignment with the students.


Final Assignment: (Remainder of Class)

For this assignment, I will give students various websites to look through outside of school. These websites include various information about Iowa’s involvement during the Vietnam War. This assignment is a formal formative assessment which means it will be graded when the students turn it in. 

Formative Assessment
(How will you use the formative assessments to monitor and inform instruction?)
  • Lt. Hibbs Analysis Activity: This assignment is an informal formative assignment where students will get into groups and work together to analyze the article on Lt. Hibbs. This means the assignment will not be graded. The students will have a series of questions to discuss and answer with their group. This assignment is due at the end of the class.
  • Final Assignment Link: This assignment is a formal formative assignment where students are expected to use the websites provided to write a half page paper on the question, “How did Iowans play a role in the Vietnam War?”. I also provide them a list of topics they could discuss. I also tell the students that they do not need to use the websites provided, but if they do not, then they must let me know which websites they are using to obtain their information. This assignment is worth 15 points, 5 for completion, 5 for answering the question with factual information, and 5 for grammar/spelling.
Summative Assessment
(How does the lesson connect to planned summative assessment(s)?)
Author Information
Author Sean Riley Reviewer Chad Christopher, History Education, University of Northern Iowa Created 02/18/2020 Last Edited 02/18/2020
Lesson Plan Development Notes: Teaching Methods, University of Northern Iowa, Fall 2019

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