An exhibition showcasing old photos taken during the Vietnam War has opened in Moscow, with the majority of items made public for the first time, Chairman of the Organization of Vietnam Veterans of Russia Nikolai Kolesnik told Sputnik Vietnam.

Kolesnik was deployed to Vietnam as part of the first group of Soviet missile officers. They came to the Southeast Asian nation in the spring of 1965. The 22-year-old sergeant was tasked with training soldiers of the 236th and 285th surface-to-air-missile regiments of the People’s Army of Vietnam. On August 11-12, Kolesnik took part in the second missile fight with US warplanes. His regiment shot down four aircraft.

“Photographs for the exhibition came from archives of Russian servicemen, veterans of the Vietnam War. The exhibition’s goal is to remind the younger generation how extreme America’s aggression against the Vietnamese people was, how much courage the Vietnamese displayed while protecting their motherland, and how massive our support to Vietnam was,” he told Sputnik Vietnam.

The Soviet Union’s military and technical assistance played a major role in Vietnam’s victory. Moscow deployed 2,000 tanks, 1,700 armored vehicles, 7,000 artillery weapons and mortar launchers, more than 700 combat planes, 158 surface-to-air missile systems and nearly 8,000 missiles to the Southeast Asian nation.

John McCain (bottom row, right) prior to a bombing mission in Hanoi

Approximately 11,000 Soviet troops, including privates, officers, and generals, took part in combat operations in Vietnam from 1965 until 1974. More than 2,000 of them received Soviet medals for their service, while more than 3,000 people were decorated by Vietnam.

Faded photographs, exhibited in Moscow, show the Russian missile officers and pilots who trained their Vietnamese counterparts, as well as soldiers of the People’s Army of Vietnam, self-defense forces and Russian experts posing next to downed US planes.

A Vietnamese doctor examines John McCain

Several images display prisoners of war, including US Senator John McCain. One photo shows McCain standing near a plane before an assault on a power plant in Hanoi. Another one depicts locals pulling McCain out of the Hanoi Lake. Another one was taken while he was examined by a Vietnamese doctor. The last one shows McCain standing near a plane at a Hanoi airfield before returning home after spending five years in captivity.

John McCain is pulled out of the Hanoi Lake on October 6, 1967

The opening of the exhibition attracted large crowds, with veterans of the Vietnam War, their children, and grandchildren, as well as Vietnamese diplomats present.

-Never seen before John McCain’s pictures from Vietnam War