How Many People Died in the Cold War?

The number of Americans who died in the Cold War is difficult to determine, but estimates are that nearly 400 died of Cold War-related instances. The Cold War was a political conflict rather than a military one, but soldiers lost their lives in attacks by hostile forces, secret operations, and accidents.

At least 389 soldiers were killed in the line of duty, as estimated by the American Cold War Veterans. Many of these casualties were the result of aircraft being shot down by the Communist forces of the Soviet Union. For example, in November of 1951, an American Navy P2V-3W was shot down near Vladivostok over the Sea of Japan by Soviet forces. The aircraft exploded off the coast, and the crew of 10 American soldiers was reported as missing. The aircraft was reported to have been gathering intelligence, although later it was claimed that the mission was related to weather reconnaissance.

There were also other hazards that Americans were exposed to during the conflict. An estimated 400,000 people were subject to harm from toxins, which killed more than half of those who were exposed to them. Several thousand soldiers also lost their lives during these years in training accidents and friendly-fire incidents.