Van died in a helicopter crash in 1972 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Distinguished Service Cross, the only recipient of that for the Vietnam War.
Sheehan's tragic biography of John Paul Vann is also a sweeping history of America's seduction, entrapment and disillusionment in Vietnam.
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Arlington National Cemetery was established in Virginia across the Potomac from Washington DC as the nation's preeminent military cemetery. The United States slid slowly into the position previously held by France in Indochina and became engulfed in a long war in Vietnam.