This site may load slightly slowly at times because of the numerous images. Reload page if some images do not appear.

History Of The Vietnam War: Dateline


"If we allow Vietnam to fall, tomorrow we'll be fighting in Hawaii, and next week in San Francisco."
American President Lyndon B. Johnson

Anti Vietnam War protestors outside the Pentagon. 1967
2,000 BC to 200 AD The Viet people, a fusion of peoples from China and indigenous people from Vietnam, form in Red River Valley. Vietnamese historians claim the Dong Son culture as the start of the Vietnamese nation.

208 BC Trieu Da, a Chinese general, conquers Au Lac in the northern mountains of Vietnam. He builds a capital and makes himself emperor of what he calls Nam Viet.

111 BC Chinese armies reconquer Vietnam and incorporate it into the expanding Han empire. Vietnamese resistance continues sporadically.

 39 AD The most famous of several early Vietnamese revolts was led by the Trung sisters, both widows of local aristocrats. Their revolt was successful, and the older sister, Trung Trac, ruled an independent state for three years.

In Vietnam women have always been in the forefront in resisting foreign domination. Two of the most popular heroines are the Trung sisters who led the first national uprising against the Chinese, who had conquered them, in the year 40 A.D. The Vietnamese had been suffering under the harsh rule of a Chinese governor called To Dinh. Some feel that if the sisters had not resisted the Chinese when they did, there would be no Vietnamese nation today.
Over time the Trungs became the stuff of legends and poems and a source of pride for women who lived more restricted lives. Today, stories, poems,plays, postage stamps, posters and monuments still glorify the heroism of the Trung sisters. 
"All the male heroes bowed their heads in submission;Only the two sisters proudly stood up to avenge the country." 
15th century Poem 


43 to 203 China reconquers Vietnam. It is again ruled by the Han dynasty, but Vietnamese rebellions continue sporadically during Chinese rule.

939 The Chinese are finally driven out of Vietnam (now known as Dai Viet), and Ngo Quyen sets up an independent Vietnamese state.

982 Expansion to the south begins.

1260s–1270s The Mongol armies of Kublai Khan attack Vietnam to reintegrate it into the Chinese empire, but are defeated in several battles and driven back across the border.

1400 Vietnam battles the Kingdom of Champa south along the central coast near Da Nang. After decades of conflict, Vietnamese forces defeat the Chams and destroy their kingdom.

1500 Dai Viet conquers Anghor.

1535 Portuguese conduct the first-known Western visit of the region.

1500s–1600s Further expansion south to the Mekong and then westward begins to pit the Vietnamese against the waning Khmer state.

1613 Civil war between northern and southern Dai Viet.

1627 Alexandre de Rhodes, a French missionary, adapts Vietnamese language to Roman alphabet.

Chinese letters were used in Vietnam for a thousand-year period until the begining of 20th century. Alexandre de Rhodes (born at Avignon in 1591; died at Ispahan, Persia, in 1660), who spent six years in Vietnam (1624 - 1630) for his catholic missions, had done a lot to introduce a system of Roman writing into Vietnamese language. Continuing the efforts of Portuguese Jesuit missionaries like Francisco de Pina, Gaspar d'Amaral, Antonio Barbosa, etc. in romanizing the Vienamese language, Alexandre de Rhodes published the first Vietnamese Catechist and the first Vietnamese - Latin - Portuguese dictionary (Rome, 1651). This writing system is called "quoc ngu" (national language).

1802 Nguyen dynasty established, capital moved to Hue, country now known as Vietnam.

1820 Captain John White of Massachusetts is the first American to set foot in Vietnam.

1842 The Opium Wars give Europeans control over China through a series of unfair treaties.

1845 USS Constitution lands in Da Nang. A company of U.S. Marines moves overland to Hue and rescues a French bishop who had been captured by the Vietnamese. America’s first combat involvement in Vietnam. Exactly 120 years later, two battalions of U.S. Marines will return to Vietnam via Da Nang. 

After sunset on 26 May 1845, after sixteen hectic and fruitless days, Constitution departed, leaving things much as they had been. “Mad Jack,” in frustration, fired six shots from his starboard Paixhans guns at an unoffending little island off the harbor entrance. All but one missed.  
Lieutenant Dale very cogently summed up this first Navy-Marine Corps experience in Vietnam by writing in his journal that evening: “…it seems, I must say, to have shown a sad want of ‘sound discretion,’ in commencing an affair of this kind, without carrying it through to a successful conclusion.”

1847 French vessels bombard Da Nang. February

1859 French forces capture Saigon. February

1861 The French defeat the Vietnamese army and gain control of Gia Dinh and surrounding provinces.

1867 France had conquered all of southern Vietnam, which became the French colony of Cochinchina. 

1880 France divides up Vietnam into three regions: Tonkin, Annam, and Cochinchina.

1887 Cambodia joins the French holdings in Vietnam to form French Indochina (the Indochina)

1890 Ho Chi Minh born (Nguyen Tat Thanh). 

1893 Laos is added to French Indochina.

1900 Resistance against the French by Modernization Society led by Phan Boi Chau.

1911 Ho Chi Minh leaves Vietnam for a thirty-year exile.

1919 Nguyen Ai Quoc (Ho Chi Minh) emerges in Paris at the end of World War I and tries to petition President Woodrow Wilson for self-determination of Vietnam.

1920 VNQDD (non-Communist nationalists) attempts armed uprising against the French.

1920 Ho Chi Minh is one of the founding members of French Communist Party.

1924 Ho Chi Minh leaves Paris and moves to Moscow, where he becomes a full-time Communist agent.

1930 Indochinese Communist Party founded by Ho Chi Minh.

1932 Bao Dai returns to Vietnam from France and ascends the throne.

1940 Japan invades Vietnam, restricting local French administrators to figurehead authority.

Japanese troops in Saigon. 1940

1941 Communist activist Ho Chi Minh secretly returns to Vietnam after thirty years in exile and forms a nationalist organization known as the League for the Independence of Vietnam (Viet Minh).

1941 Japanese troops occupy Vietnam.The Vichy French colonial government is allowed by the Japanese to continue to administer Vietnam, and French repression continues.

1941–1945 The Viet Minh resists Japanese occupation with the help of the United States and China. Ho teams up with Vo Nguyen Giap. The Viet Minh army is developed.

1942 The U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS, the forerunner of the CIA) allies with Ho Chi Minh and his Viet Minh guerrillas to harass Japanese troops and to help rescue downed American pilots.

30 April 1945 Major Archimedes Patti of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) meets with Ho Chi Minh, who shows his support for America.

May–July 1945 Severe famine leads to 2 million deaths from starvation, out of a population of 10 million in Vietnam.

The great famine was never construed as a war crime by the Allies, yet the question of blame, alongside agency or lack of it, was an issue between the French and the Viet Minh in the immediate aftermath of the Japanese surrender and entered into propaganda recriminations. Indeed, as written into the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) declaration of independence, both Japan and France were jointly blamed for the disaster. South Vietnam (the Republic of Vietnam) also raised the famine issue in postwar reparation negotiations with Japan. - Source:

8 May 1945 Following the Nazi defeat, Chinese nationalists will move in and disarm the Japanese, north of the 17th parallel, while the British will move in and do the same in the south.

August 1945 Ho Chi Minh’s guerrillas occupy Hanoi and proclaim a provisional government in the north of Vietnam.

September 1945 The head of the OSS mission in Saigon, Colonel Peter Dewey, is shot by the Viet Minh, becoming the first American to die in Vietnam.

23 September 1945 French troops return to Vietnam and clash with Communist and nationalist forces and seize power in the south, with British help.

23 November 1946 French bombard Haiphong and occupy it, killing 6,000 Vietnamese civilians. Ho appeals for U.S. support for the last time. French-Viet Minh War begins.

4 February 1947 French opinion poll shows 36 percent favored use of force, 42 percent favored negotiations, 8 percent thought France should leave Indochina altogether.

April 1948 France recognizes an ‘‘independent’’ state of Vietnam in the south.

July 1949 The French establish the (South) Vietnamese National Army.

October 1949 Mao Zedong’s Communist forces victorious in China. U.S. leaders fear spread of Communism worldwide.

January 1950 The People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union recognize Ho Chi Minh’s Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

February 1950 The United States and Britain recognize Bao Dai’s French-controlled South Vietnam government. France requests U.S. military aid.

7 February 1950 Era of ‘‘McCarthyism’’ begins as Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin capitalizes on the hysterical fear of Communism in America.

8 May 1950 United States military involvement in Vietnam begins as President Harry Truman authorizes $15 million in military aid to the French. American military advisors will accompany the flow of U.S. tanks, planes, artillery, and other supplies to Vietnam. Over the next four years, the United States will spend $3 billion on the French war, and by 1954 will provide 80 percent of all war supplies used by the French.

30 June 1950 Communist North Korean army crosses the 38th Parallel. President Harry S Truman orders U.S. ground troops into Korea. In his message to the American people, Truman describes the invasion as a Moscow-backed attack by ‘‘monolithic world Communism.’’

27 September 1950 The United States establishes a Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in Saigon to aid the French army.

22 December 1950 Napalm is used for the first time in Vietnam against Viet Minh forces at Tien Yen.

November 1951 U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy visits Vietnam and declares, ‘‘In Indo-China we have allied ourselves to the desperate effort of the French regime to hang on to the remnants of an empire.’’

20 January 1953 Dwight D. Eisenhower increases U.S. military aid to the French in Vietnam to prevent a Communist victory. The Domino Theory will be used by a succession of presidents and their advisors to justify ever-deepening U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

3 March 1953 Soviet leader Josef Stalin dies and is succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev.

27 July 1953 The Korean War ends and an armistice is signed, dividing the country at the 38th parallel into Communist North and Democratic South.

20 November 1953 The French begin construction of a series of entrenched outposts protecting a small air base in the isolated jungle valley at Dien Bien Phu in northwest Vietnam. 

13 March 1954 50,000 Viet Minh under General Giap begin their assault against the fortified hills protecting the Dienbienphu air base.

 May 1954 Dienbienphu falls. More than 10,000 French soldiers surrender at Dienbienphu, depriving France of any bargaining power at Geneva. By now, an estimated 8,000 Viet Minh and 1,500 French have died. 

Lost cause: French troops at Dien Bien Phu
The French, seeking to destroy their enemy the Vietminh in a decisive battle, instead found themselves fighting for survival at Dien Bien Phu. Desperate for help, France’s president tried to persuade President Eisenhower to use American air power on their behalf. Eisenhower had to walk a fine line between looking like a strong anti-communist in public while avoiding getting the U.S. mired in an full-blown war in Vietnam that he felt would be a “tragedy”.

8 May 1954 The United States, Britain, China, Soviet Union, France, Vietnam (Viet Minh and representatives of Bao Dai), Cambodia, and Laos meet at the Geneva Conference on Indochina to negotiate a solution for Southeast Asia. The Geneva Accords divide Vietnam in half at the 17th parallel.

7 July 1954 Ngo Dinh Diem chosen premier of South Vietnam.

August 1954–May 1955 The first of the waves of North Vietnamese move to South Vietnam under the Geneva Accord. By May 1955, about 1 million refugees had fled south as opposed to some 90,000 Communists in the south going north. At the same time, nearly 10,000 Viet Minh fighters are instructed by Hanoi to quietly remain behind.

8 September 1954 South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) is formed.

11 October 1954 Following the French departure from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh returns after spending eight years hiding in the jungle. The Viet Minh formally assume control over North Vietnam.

1 January 1955 Direct U.S. aid to South Vietnam begins. Americans begin training the South Vietnamese army. 

12 February 1955 U.S. advisors begin training South Vietnamese troops.

July 1955 Ho Chi Minh visits Moscow and agrees to accept Soviet aid.

20 July 1955 South Vietnam refuses to take part in the unifying elections called for by the Geneva agreements, charging that free elections are impossible in the Communist North.

26 October 1955 The Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) is declared. Bao Dai installs Ngo Dinh Diem as president. The Republic of Vietnam is recognized by more than 100 countries.

December 1955 In North Vietnam, radical land reforms by Communists result in landowners being hauled before ‘‘people’s tribunals.’’ Thousands are executed or sent to forced labor camps by Ho Chi Minh.

The 5-phase land reform resulted in a bloodbath all over North Vietnam. Unfortunately, because of the techniques of falsification and censorship under the “closed door” policy implemented by Ho’s regime from 1954, the world was completely unaware of this catastrophe. Genuine information related to this land reform is extremely scarce, and even inaccurate and vague. As a result, it is almost impossible to establish a clear picture of this internecine massacre.
In South Vietnam, Nguyen Van Canh, a former Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Information and Amnesty (1969-70), sought an answer to this problem by interviewing returnees from Chieu Hoi programs and interrogating POWs, including communist cadres, soldiers, and officers from the North. These interviews and interrogations produced a great deal of valuable and reliable information. Ultimately Nguyen Van Canh was able to generate an estimate of 200,000 victims, which he divided into 2 main categories:
— 100,000 accused and murdered during the period before 1955, excluding another 40,000 victims who were sent to various concentration camps in the mountain areas. Here most of them died of malaria or other epidemic diseases. Those who were able to survive and were released became crippled mentally as well as physically. They have led a dog’s life ever since.
— 100,000 killed during phase 5, the last phase of the reform campaign, known as the Dien Bien Phu General Offensive, which ended in summer 1956. Thousands of others, most of them rich farmers and land owners, were sent to concentration camps for “reeducation.”
Of more than 200,000 victims executed, 40,000 (20%) were communist cadres, according to Nguyen Van Canh.

28 April 1956 An American Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) takes over the training of South Vietnamese forces. The French Military High Command disbands, and French troops leave South Vietnam.

January 1957 The Soviet Union proposes permanent division of Vietnam into North and South, with the two nations admitted separately to the United Nations.

8–18 May 1957 Diem pays a state visit to Washington, where President Eisenhower labels him the ‘‘miracle man’’ of Asia and reaffirms U.S. commitment.

October 1957 Viet Minh guerrillas begin a widespread campaign of terror in South Vietnam, including bombings and assassinations. By year’s end, over 400 South Vietnamese officials are killed.

March 1959 The armed revolution begins as Ho Chi Minh declares a ‘‘people’s war’’ to unite all of Vietnam under his leadership. Thus begins the Second Indochina War.

May 1959 Construction of the Ho Chi Minh trail begins. The trail will eventually comprise a 1500-mile-long network of jungle and mountain passes extending from North Vietnam’s coast along Vietnam’s western border through Laos, parts of Cambodia, funneling a constant stream of soldiers and supplies into the highlands of South Vietnam. 

April 1960 North Vietnam imposes universal military conscription with an indefinite tour of duty.

11–12 November 1960 A failed coup against President Diem by disgruntled South Vietnamese army officers brings a harsh crackdown against all enemies of the state. Kennedy wins close election versus Richard Nixon.

An attempted military coup against Ngo began in November 1960, when three battalions of South Vietnamese paratroopers and a unit of marines entered the capital, Saigon. Most of the men thought they were rescuing Ngo from a mutiny by his own guard at the presidential palace. They were led by Lieutenant Colonel Vuong Van Dong, a 28-year-old officer who had done part of his training in the United States, where he was regarded as brilliantly promising.
The rebels made straight for the palace and raked it with gunfire, smashing the windows. One machine-gun fired into Ngo’s bedroom and might have killed him in his bed if he had not happened to get up shortly before. He and his brother took refuge in the cellar, while the presidential guard resisted bravely. Trapped in the palace, Ngo lured the rebels into a ceasefire for negotiations in which he promised to reform the system while waiting for other army units to come to his aid. This they swiftly did. The rebels had failed to cut off the palace’s phone lines, which allowed Ngo to make calls to senior officers outside Saigon. They had also failed to block the roads leading into the city and two divisions of loyalist troops with tanks were able to make their way in. Four hundred people were killed in the ensuing battle, which the outnumbered rebels lost. 
Vuong got away to Cambodia by plane. Ngo, who accused the American Central Intelligence Agency of backing the coup attempt, survived for the time being. Another coup failed in 1962 but Ngo was deposed and murdered in 1963. The Vietnam War began two years later.

20 December 1960 The National Liberation Front (NLF) is established by Hanoi as its Communist political organization for Viet Cong (VC) guerrillas in South Vietnam.

January 1961 Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev pledges support for ‘‘wars of national liberation’’ throughout the world, encouraging North Vietnamese Communists to escalate their armed struggle to unify Vietnam.

January 1961 President Eisenhower warns us of a Military Industrial Complex in his farewell speech.

20 January 1961 John Fitzgerald Kennedy is inaugurated as the 35th U.S. president. He is advised in private by outgoing President Eisenhower that troops may be needed in Southeast Asia.

9 April 1961 President Diem is re-elected as president of South Vietnam. U.S. ambassador Frederick Nolting reveals that Diem ‘‘did not want combat troops in Vietnam.’’

May 1961 President Kennedy sends 400 Green Berets as Special Advisors to South Vietnam to train South Vietnamese soldiers in methods of counterinsurgency in the fight against VC guerrillas.

August 1961 VC launches several successful attacks on South Vietnamese troops. Diem then requests more military aid from the Kennedy administration.

11 October 1961 Kennedy announces that his aides Maxwell Taylor and Walt Rostow will visit Vietnam to examine the deteriorating situation. The president decides against sending any combat troops.

24 October 1961 The number of military advisors sent by Kennedy will eventually surpass 16,000.

16 November 1961 As a result of Taylor’s mission, President Kennedy decides to increase military aid to South Vietnam, without committing U.S. combat troops.

December 1961 VC guerrillas control much of the countryside in South Vietnam and frequently ambush South Vietnamese troops. The cost to America of maintaining the 200,000-man ARVN army and managing the overall conflict in Vietnam rises to a million dollars per day.

31 December 1961 U.S. military personnel in Vietnam total 3,200.

6 February 1962 MACV, the U.S. Military Assistance Command for Vietnam, is formed. It replaces MAAG-Vietnam, the Military Assistance Advisory Group, established in 1950.

27 February 1962 Two renegade South Vietnamese pilots flying American-made World War II–era fighter planes bomb the presidential palace in Saigon, killing three and wounding twenty. President Diem and his brother Nhu escape unharmed.

March 1962 Strategic Hamlet resettlement program begins.

The Strategic Hamlet Program was a pacification effort established in 1962 to separate and protect the rural population of South Vietnam from theViet Cong. Having swept an area clear of insurgents, villagers were moved into a hamlet protected by a local militia and fortified by a ditch, bamboo spikes and barbed wire. Once security had been established, social and economic initiatives were supposed to be implemented to compensate the resettled villagers and win popular support for the Government of Vietnam. However, in practice these vital socio-economic aspects of the program were often lacking. The death of President Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, in November 1963 effectively ended the program as a national strategy.

May 1962 Defense Secretary McNamara visits South Vietnam and reports, ‘‘[W]e are winning the war.’’

June 1962 Formation of SDS and the writing of the Port Huron statement.

23 July 1962 The Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos, signed in Geneva by the United States and thirteen other nations, prohibits U.S. invasion of portions of the Ho Chi Minh trail inside eastern Laos.

August 1962 A U.S. Special Forces camp is set up at Khe Sanh to monitor NVA infiltration down the Ho Chi Minh trail.

May 1963 Buddhists riot in South Vietnam after they are denied the right to display religious flags during their celebration of Buddha’s birthday.

June–August 1963 Buddhist demonstrations spread. Several Buddhist monks publicly burn themselves to death as an act of protest. Diem imposes martial law.

24 August 1963 President Kennedy and top aides begin three days of heated discussions over whether the United States should in fact support the military coup against Diem.

2 September 1963 President Kennedy describes Diem in an interview with Walter Cronkite as ‘‘out of touch with the people’’ and adds that South Vietnam’s government might regain popular support ‘‘with changes in policy and perhaps in personnel.’’

1 November 1963 The coup begins.

2 November 1963 Realizing the situation is hopeless, Diem and Nhu offer to surrender from inside a Catholic church. They are then taken into custody by rebel officers and placed in the back of an armored personnel carrier. While traveling to Saigon, the vehicle stops and Diem and Nhu are assassinated.

22 November 1963 President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas.

31 December 1963 South Vietnam has 16,300 American military advisors and received $500 million in U.S. aid during 1963.

30 January 1964 General Minh is ousted from power in a bloodless coup led by General Nguyen Khanh, who becomes the new leader.

March 1964 U.S.-backed mercenaries flying World War II American fighter planes start bombing the Ho Chi Minh trail inside Laos.

6 March 1964 Defense Secretary McNamara visits Vietnam and states that General Khanh has U.S. support, adding, ‘‘We’ll stay for as long as it takes.’

March 1964 McNamara advises President Johnson to increase military aid to the ARVN. Cost of the war in Vietnam rises to 2 million dollars per day.

May 1964 Work begins on a congressional resolution supporting the president’s Vietnam policy. The work is postponed because of lack of support in the Senate, but later surfaces as the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.

Summer 1964 Over 56,000 VC spread guerrilla war throughout South Vietnam, reinforced by NVA regulars pouring in via the Ho Chi Minh trail. Responding to this escalation, President Johnson orders U.S. Navy warships in the Gulf of Tonkin, including the destroyer USS Maddox, to conduct electronic surveillance.

1 July 1964 President Johnson appoints General William C. Westmoreland as the new U.S. military commander in Vietnam (MACV).

2 August 1964 Three North Vietnamese patrol boats attack the American destroyer USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin, ten miles off the coast of North Vietnam. They fire three torpedoes and machine-guns. A single machine-gun round hits the Maddox. There were no casualties.

2 August 1964 U.S. Navy fighters from the carrier Ticonderoga, led by Commander James Stockdale, attack the patrol boats, sinking one and damaging the other two.

2 August 1964 President Johnson reacts cautiously, sending a diplomatic message to Hanoi, warning of ‘‘grave consequences’’ from further ‘‘unprovoked’’ attacks and ordering the Maddox to resume operations in the Gulf of Tonkin. U.S. forces worldwide go on alert.

3 August 1964 USS Turner Joy and USS Maddox open fire on apparent targets without any actual enemy sightings. 

4 August 1964 Despite lack of information and possible doubts about the second attack, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend a retaliatory bombing raid against North Vietnam. American press reports embellish the second attack with spectacular eyewitness accounts, although no journalists had been present. President Johnson orders retaliatory bombing of North Vietnamese oil facilities and naval targets.

“If this country has been misled, if this committee, this Congress, has been misled by pretext into a war in which thousands of young men have died, and many more thousands have been crippled for life, and out of which their country has lost prestige, moral position in the world, the consequences are very great,” proclaimed in 1968 by Senator Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee and father of Vice President Al Gore.  
President Lyndon B. Johnson used the attacks to influence Congress to get militarily involved in Vietnam.  Historians now believe that the attack never happened.  Senator Frank Church, Democrat of Idaho said, “In a democracy you cannot expect the people, whose sons are being killed and who will be killed, to exercise their judgment if the truth is concealed from them.” 
Retired N.S.A. historian, Robert J. Hanyok, found in 2001 that the N.S.A. intentionally faked communications in the incident to create a false flag attack on August 4th, 1964.

4 August 1964 Lieutenant Everett Alvarez pilots one of two navy jets shot down during the bombing raids, and becomes the first American prisoner of war (POW) and the first inhabitant of the infamous POW camp called ‘‘Hanoi Hilton.’’

4 August 1964 In a midnight television appearance, President Johnson tells Americans, ‘‘We still seek no wider war.’’

5 August 1964 With opinion polls showing 85 percent public support, Johnson’s aides lobby Congress to pass a White House resolution giving the president a free hand in Vietnam.

7 August 1964 U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passes the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that allows the president ‘‘to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force,’’ to prevent further attacks against U.S. forces. 

26 August 1964 President Johnson is nominated at the Democratic National Convention, and states, ‘‘We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.’’

1964 China tests its first atomic bomb. China masses troops along its border with Vietnam as a message to the United States.

1 November 1964 A predawn mortar assault kills five Americans, two South Vietnamese, and wounds nearly a hundred others at Bien Hoa Air Base twelve miles north of Saigon.

3 November 1964 Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson is re-elected as president of the United States.

December 1964 More than 10,000 NVA soldiers arrive in the Central Highlands, carrying modern Chinese and Soviet weapons.

1 December 1964 President Johnson’s top aides, including Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, and Defense Secretary McNamara, recommend a policy of gradual escalation of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. 

20 December 1964 General Khanh, and young officers led by Nguyen Cao Ky and Nguyen Van Thieu, oust older generals including General Minh from the government and seize control.

24 December 1964 A VC car bomb set off during happy hour at the Brinks Hotel, an American officers’ residence in downtown Saigon, kills two Americans and wounds fifty-eight.

31 December 1964 American military advisor troop strength in South Vietnam is 23,000. An estimated 170,000 VC/NVA fighters have begun coordinated battalion-sized attacks against ARVN troops around Saigon.

27 January 1965 National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara send a memo to the president, stating that America’s limited military involvement in Vietnam is not succeeding, and that the United Sates has reached a ‘‘fork in the road’’ in Vietnam and must either soon escalate or withdraw.

6 February 1965 VC guerrillas attack the U.S. military compound at Pleiku in the Central Highlands, killing eight Americans, wounding 126, and destroying ten aircraft.

7–8 February 1965 President Johnson approves Operation Flaming Dart. Polls indicate a 70 percent approval rating for the President and an 80 percent approval of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Johnson now agrees to a long-standing recommendation from his advisors for sustained bombing against North Vietnam.

7–8 February 1965 In Hanoi, Soviet prime minister Kosygin is pressured by the North Vietnamese to provide unlimited military aid to counter the American ‘‘aggression.’’ The Soviets give North Vietnam surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

22 February 1965 President Johnson sends two battalions of U.S. Marines to protect the American air base at Da Nang from 6,000 VC massed in the vicinity.

2 March 1965 Operation Rolling Thunder begins with over 100 American fighter-bombers attacking the Ho Chi Minh Trail and targets in North Vietnam. Scheduled to last eight weeks, Rolling Thunder will go on for three years.

9 March 1965 President Johnson authorizes the use of napalm.

11 March 1965 Operation Market Time, a joint effort between the U.S. Navy and South Vietnamese navy, disrupts North Vietnamese supplies into the South. The operation is successful in cutting off coastal supply lines. North Vietnamese are forced to use the more difficult land route along the Ho Chi Minh trail.


29 March 1965 VC terrorists bomb the U.S. embassy in Saigon.

1 April 1965 President Johnson authorizes two more marine battalions and up to 20,000 logistical personnel. The president authorizes American combat troops to conduct patrols in the countryside. His decision to allow offensive operations is kept secret from the American press and public for two months.

7 April 1965 President Johnson delivers his ‘‘Peace without Conquest’’ speech at Johns Hopkins University, offering Hanoi ‘‘unconditional discussions’’ to stop the war in return for massive economic assistance in modernizing Vietnam.

17 April 1965 In Washington, 15,000 students gather to protest U.S. bombing.

20 April 1965 Johnson’s top military and civilian aides meet in Honolulu and recommend sending 40,000 more troops to Vietnam.

24 April 1965 President Johnson announces that Americans in Vietnam are eligible for combat pay.

3 May 1965 First army combat troops (173rd Airborne) arrive in Vietnam.

13 May 1965 First unilateral bombing pause initiated to spur negotiations.

19 May 1965 U.S. bombing of North Vietnam resumes.

18 June 1965 Nguyen Cao Ky takes power in South Vietnam as the new prime minister, with Nguyen Van Thieu functioning as official chief of state. They lead the tenth government in twenty months.

28 July 1965 President Johnson announces to the press that he will send forty-four combat battalions to Vietnam, increasing the U.S. military presence to 125,000 men. Monthly draft calls are doubled to 35,000.

3 August 1965 After seven marines were killed nearby, film crews record a marine company destroying suspected VC villages near Da Nang. CBS TV shows the film and generates controversy in America.

4 August 1965 President Johnson asks Congress for an additional $1.7 billion for the war.

18–24 August 1965 Marines conduct Operation Starlight as a preemptive strike against the VC at Chu Lai.

31 August 1965 A law is signed making draft-card burning a criminal act subject to a five-year prison sentence and $1,000 fine.

16 October 1965 Antiwar rallies occur in forty American cities and in international cities including London and Rome.

19 October 1965 NVA troops attack the U.S. Special Forces camp at Plei Me in a prelude to the Battle of Ia Drang Valley.

14–16 November 1965 The Battle of Ia Drang Valley marks the first major battle between U.S. troops and NVA inside South Vietnam. 

27 November 1965 More than 35,000 antiwar protesters circle the White House, then march on to the Washington Monument for a rally.

9 December 1965 The New York Times reports the United States is unable to stop the flow of North Vietnamese soldiers and supplies into the South, despite extensive bombing.

25 December 1965 The second unilateral pause in the bombing of North Vietnam is announced with hopes of encouraging a negotiated peace.

31 December 1965 U.S. troop levels in Vietnam reach 184,300. An estimated 90,000 South Vietnamese soldiers deserted in 1965, while an estimated 35,000 soldiers from North Vietnam infiltrated the South via the Ho Chi Minh trail. Up to 50 percent of the countryside in South Vietnam is now under some degree of VC control.

31 December 1965 General William Westmoreland is chosen as Time magazine’s 1965 ‘‘Man of the Year.’’

Westmoreland's handling of the war was far from brilliant
 All at once, too many Americans found it [the Vietnam War] too much to bear—or at least began to wonder whether it was worth it.... 'The enemy is fighting for American public opinion,' says U.S. Commander General William C. Westmoreland, 'and he is willing to pay a dear price to influence it. This is the way he expects to win the war—it is the only conceivable way he could win it.'  TIME, Oct. 6, 1967 

Military historian Lewis Sorley recounts the career of General William Westmorland, who led American forces in the Vietnam War from 1964-1968.  Mr. Sorley recounts Gen. Westmorland’s service prior to Vietnam, from his participation in World War II and the Korean War to his appointment as Superintendent at West Point.  The author contends that Gen. Westmoreland’s skillful self-promotion allowed him to assume leadership positions in the military that he was not qualified to maintain. Mr. Sorley focuses on Gen. Westmoreland’s tactics during the Vietnam War and argues that the War may have been won if not for Westmoreland’s poor decisions.

31 January 1966 President Johnson announces bombing will resume.

31 January 1966 Senator Robert F. Kennedy criticizes President Johnson’s decision to resume the bombing. His comments infuriate the president.

February 1966 The largely anti-war Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Senator J. William Fulbright, holds televised hearings examining America’s policy in Vietnam.

3 February 1966 Newspaper columnist Walter Lippmann attacks President Johnson’s strategy in Vietnam.

Lippmann wrote books on philosophy, politics, foreign policy and economics. In one of them, The Cold War, he early defined the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union while offering penetrating criticism of US policy as a "strategic monstrosity" that would lead to "recruiting, subsidizing and supporting a heterogeneous array of satellites, clients, dependents and puppets", inevitably forcing poor choices of having to either "disown our puppets, which would be tantamount to appeasement and defeat and the loss of face", or else back them "at an incalculable cost on an unintended, unforeseen and perhaps undesirable issue." Lippmann's prophetic warning was realised in the Vietnam war, which he opposed at considerable cost to his personal and political relationships.
Source: Salon 

26 March 1966 Antiwar protests are held in New York, Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco.

12 April 1966 B-52 bombers are used for the first time against North Vietnam.

13 April 1966 VC attack Tan Son Nhut airport in Saigon.

2 May 1966 Secretary of Defense McNamara privately reports that the North Vietnamese are infiltrating 4500 men per month into the South.

4 June 1966 More than 6,400 teachers and professors sign a three-page antiwar advertisement in the New York Times.

6 July 1966 Hanoi Radio reports that captured American pilots have been paraded though the streets of Hanoi through jeering crowds.

11 July 1966 Bombing raids intensify against the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos.

15 July 1966 Operation Hastings is launched by U.S. Marines and ARVN troops in Quang Tri Province. Largest combined action to date.

30 July 1966 Americans bomb NVA troops in the DMZ for the first time.

30 August 1966 Hanoi announces China will provide economic and technical assistance.

1 September 1966 While visiting Cambodia, French president Charles de Gaulle calls for U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.

12 September 1966 NVA supply lines and coastal targets attacked by more than 500 aircraft in the heaviest air raid of the war to date.

14 September– During Operation Attleboro, 20,000 U.S. and ARVN

24 November 1966 soldiers conduct a successful search-and-destroy mission fifty miles north of Saigon, near the Cambodian border.

3 October 1966 The Soviet Union announces it will provide military and economic assistance to North Vietnam. 

25 October 1966 President Johnson conducts a conference in Manila with America’s Vietnam Allies: Australia, Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, South Korea, and South Vietnam. The Allies pledge to withdraw from Vietnam within six months if North Vietnam will withdraw completely from the South.

26 October 1966 President Johnson visits Cam Ranh Bay.

12 November 1966 The New York Times reports that 40 percent of U.S. economic aid sent to Saigon is stolen, or winds up on the black market. 

8–9 December 1966 North Vietnam rejects a proposal by President Johnson for discussions concerning treatment of POWs and a possible exchange.

31 December 1966 U.S. troop levels reach 389,000 with 5,008 combat deaths and 30,093 wounded. American Allies fighting in Vietnam include 45,000 soldiers from South Korea and 7,000 Australians. An estimated 89,000 soldiers from North Vietnam infiltrated the South via the Ho Chi Minh trail in 1966.

8–26 January 1967 Operation Cedar Falls involves 16,000 American and 14,000 South Vietnamese soldiers clearing out VC from the Iron Triangle area, twenty-five miles northwest of Saigon.

10 January 1967 UN Secretary-General U Thant expresses doubts that Vietnam is essential to the security of the West.

10 January 1967 In his State of the Union address before Congress, President Johnson declares, ‘‘We will stand firm in Vietnam.’’

23 January 1967 Senator Fulbright advocates direct peace talks between the South Vietnamese government and the VC.

2 February 1967 President Johnson states there are no ‘‘serious indications that the other side is ready to stop the war.’’

13 February 1967 President Johnson resumes full-scale bombing of North Vietnam.

22 February 1967 The war’s largest operation, Junction City, targets the NVA’s Central Office headquarters in South Vietnam.

19–21 March 1967 President Johnson meets in Guam with South Vietnam’s prime minister Ky and pressures him to hold national elections.

April 1967 Antiwar protests in New York and San Francisco.

14 April 1967 Nixon visits Saigon and says that antiwar protests back in the United States are ‘‘prolonging the war.’’

15 April 1967 Antiwar demonstrations occur in New York and San Francisco, involving nearly 200,000. Martin Luther King declares that the war is undermining President Johnson’s Great Society social reform programs.

20 April 1967 U.S. bombers target Haiphong harbor in North Vietnam for the first time.

24 April 1967 General Westmoreland condemns antiwar demonstrators.

2 May 1967 British antiwar activist and philosopher Bertrand Russell organizes a mock war crimes tribunal in Stockholm to condemn the United States.

13 May 1967 A New York City fire captain leads a 70,000- person march in support of the war.

18–26 May 1967 U.S. and ARVN troops enter the DMZ for the first time and engage in a series of firefights with NVA.

June 1967 U.S. Mobile Riverine Force using U.S. Navy ‘‘Swift’’ boats and army troops attempt to halt VC usage of inland waterways in the Mekong Delta. June 1967 ‘‘Summer of Love’’ begins in Haight-Ashbury.

July 1967 Westmoreland requests an additional 200,000 reinforcements on top of the 475,000 soldiers already scheduled to be sent to Vietnam. Johnson agrees to only 45,000.

7 July 1967 North Vietnam decides to launch a widespread offensive against South Vietnam (Tet Offensive). 

18 August 1967 California governor Ronald Reagan says the United States should get out of Vietnam, citing the difficulties of winning a war when ‘‘too many qualified targets have been put off limits to bombing.’’

21 August 1967 The Chinese shoot down two U.S. fighter-bombers that accidentally crossed their border during air raids in North Vietnam along the Chinese border.

1 September 1967 North Vietnamese prime minister Pham Van Dong publicly states Hanoi will ‘‘continue to fight.’’

October 1967 Antiwar demonstrators march on the Pentagon. 

21–23 October 1967 ‘‘March on the Pentagon’’ draws 55,000 protesters. In London, protesters try to storm the U.S. embassy. 

31 October 1967 President Johnson reaffirms his commitment to maintain U.S. involvement in South Vietnam.

17 November 1967 President Johnson tells the American public on TV that progress is being made.

29 November 1967 Robert McNamara resigns as Defense Secretary during a press briefing.

30 November 1967 Antiwar democrat Eugene McCarthy announces he will be a candidate for president, opposing Lyndon Johnson.

4 December 1967 Four days of antiwar protests begin in New York. Among the 585 protesters arrested is ‘‘baby doctor’’ Benjamin Spock.

6 December 1967 VC murder 252 civilians in the hamlet of Dak Son.

23 December 1967 Johnson makes his second and final presidential visit to Vietnam.

31 December 1967 U.S. troop levels reach 463,000, with 16,000 combat deaths to date. Over a million American soldiers have served in Vietnam, most in support units. An estimated 90,000 soldiers from North Vietnam infiltrated into the South via the Ho Chi Minh trail in 1967, bringing overall estimated VC/NVA troop strength throughout South Vietnam to 300,000.

31 January 1968 Tet Offensive is launched as Communists attack over a hundred cities and towns throughout South Vietnam. 

February 1968 Walter Cronkite admits that it does not look like we are winning in Vietnam.

Both in Vietnam and Washington to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. For it seems now more certain than ever, that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. 
To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. 
But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.

1 February 1968 In Saigon, a suspected VC guerrilla is shot in the head by South Vietnam’s police chief General Nguyen Ngoc Loan.

2 February 1968 President Johnson calls the Tet Offensive ‘‘a complete failure.’’

24 February 1968 U.S. Marines defeat the NVA in the Battle of Hue.

27 February 1968 Walter Cronkite reports war is stalemated.

28 February 1968 General Westmoreland asks President Johnson for an additional 206,000 soldiers and mobilization of reserve units.

2 March 1968 Hue is retaken after a month of fighting by the ARVN and U.S. Marines in the heaviest fighting of the Tet Offensive.

10 March 1968 The New York Times breaks the news of Westmoreland’s troop request. Secretary of State Dean Rusk is grilled by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the troop request and the overall effectiveness of Johnson’s war strategy.

12 March 1968 Public opinion polls taken after the Tet Offensive revealed Johnson’s overall approval rating has slipped to 36 percent, while approval of his Vietnam War policy slipped to 26 percent.

14 March 1968 Senator Robert F. Kennedy offers to stay out of the presidential race if Johnson will renounce his Vietnam strategy and appoint a committee, including Kennedy, to chart a new course in Vietnam. Johnson turns down the offer.

16 March 1968 Robert F. Kennedy announces his candidacy for the presidency. Polls indicate Kennedy is now more popular than President Johnson.

16 March 1968 Over 300 Vietnamese civilians are slaughtered in My Lai. 

26 March 1968 The ‘‘Wise Men’’ gather at the White House and most advocate U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.

31 March 1968 Feeling betrayed, Johnson announces he will not seek reelection.

11 April 1968 Defense Secretary Clifford announces that General Westmoreland’s request for 206,000 additional soldiers will not be granted.

23 April 1968 Antiwar activists at Columbia University seize five buildings. 

27 April 1968 200,000 New York students refuse to attend classes as a protest. 

10 May 1968 Peace talks begin in Paris.

5 June 1968 Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles after winning the California Democratic primary.

1 July 1968 General Creighton W. Abrams replaces General Westmoreland as commander of MACV and U.S. ARV.

1 July 1968 The Phoenix program is established to destroy VC infrastructure in South Vietnam. 

19 July 1968 President Johnson and South Vietnam’s president Thieu meet in Hawaii.

8 August 1968 The Republican Party chooses Richard M. Nixon as the Republican presidential candidate. He promises ‘‘an honorable end to the war in Vietnam.’’

28 August 1968 During the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, more than 26,000 police and national guardsmen confront 10,000 antiwar protesters.

October 1968 Operation Sealord begins the largest combined naval operation of the entire war as over 1,200 U.S. Navy and South Vietnamese navy gunboats and warships target NVA supply lines extending from Cambodia into the Mekong Delta.

Operation Sealion 1968

31 October 1968 Operation Rolling Thunder ends as President Johnson announces a complete halt of U.S. bombing of North Vietnam in the hope of restarting the peace talks.

5 November 1968 Republican Richard M. Nixon narrowly defeats Democrat Hubert Humphrey in the U.S. presidential elections.

27 November 1968 President-elect Nixon asks Harvard professor Henry Kissinger to be his national security advisor.

31 December 1968 U.S. troop levels reach 495,000 with 30,000 American deaths to date.

20 January 1969 Richard M. Nixon is inaugurated as the thirty seventh U.S. president.

25 January 1969 Peace talks open in Paris, attended by the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and the VC.

4 March 1969 VC offensives in the South prompt President Nixon to threaten to resume bombing North Vietnam in retaliation.

March 1969 Letters from Vietnam veteran Ronald Ridenhour result in a U.S. Army investigation into the My Lai massacre.

17 March 1969 President Nixon authorizes the secret bombing of Cambodia by B-52s in Operation Menu, targeting North Vietnamese supply sanctuaries.

9 April 1969 At Harvard University, 300 antiwar students seize the administration building.

30 April 1969 U.S. troop levels peak at 543,400, with a total of 33,641 Americans killed. 

May 1969 The New York Times breaks the news of the secret bombing of Cambodia. As a result, Nixon orders FBI wiretaps of four journalists and thirteen government officials to determine the source of news leak.

10–20 May 1969 In the A Shau Valley near Hue, the 101st Airborne fight a ten-day battle at ‘‘Hamburger Hill.’’ Prompts change in strategy.

8 June 1969 Nixon meets Thieu at Midway Island and informs him U.S. troop levels are going to be sharply reduced. During a press briefing with Thieu, Nixon announces Vietnamization of the war and a U.S. troop withdrawal of 25,000 men. 

27 June 1969 Life magazine displays portrait photos of all 242 Americans killed in Vietnam during the previous week.

17 July 1969 Secretary of State William Rogers accuses Hanoi of mistreating American POWs.

25 July 1969 The ‘‘Nixon Doctrine’’ is made public. It advocates U.S. military and economic assistance to nations around the world struggling against Communism.

30 July 1969 President Nixon visits U.S. troops and President Thieu in Vietnam. This is Nixon’s only trip to Vietnam during his presidency.

August 1969 Woodstock music festival takes place in New York State.

4 August 1969 Henry Kissinger conducts his first secret meeting in Paris with representatives from Hanoi.

3 September 1969 Ho Chi Minh dies of a heart attack at age seventy-nine.

5 September 1969 The U.S. Army brings murder charges against Lt. William Calley concerning the massacre of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai in March of 1968. 

5 September 1969 Nixon starts Draft Lottery.

16 September 1969 President Nixon orders the withdrawal of 35,000 soldiers from Vietnam and a reduction in draft calls.

 October 1969 An opinion poll indicates 71 percent of Americans approve of President Nixon’s Vietnam policy.

15 October 1969 Moratorium peace demonstration is held in Washington and several U.S. cities.

15 November 1969 Mobilization peace demonstration draws an estimated 250,000 in Washington for the largest antiwar protest in U.S. history. 

15 December 1969 President Nixon orders an additional 50,000 soldiers out of Vietnam.

31 December 1969 More than 115,000 troops have been sent home. American lives lost stands at 40,024.

2 February 1970 B-52 bombers strike the Ho Chi Minh trail in retaliation for the increasing number of VC raids throughout the South.

18 March 1970 Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia is removed by General Lon Nol. Pol Pot will later oust Lon Nol and begin radical ‘‘reforms’’ that result in the death of 2,000,000 people (the Killing Fields).

20 April 1970 President Nixon announces the withdrawal of another 150,000 troops.

30 April 1970 President Nixon shocks Americans by announcing a U.S. incursion into Cambodia.

1 May 1970 President Nixon calls antiwar students ‘‘bums blowing up campuses.’’

2 May 1970 American college campuses erupt in protest over the invasion of Cambodia.

4 May 1970 Four students killed at Kent State University in Ohio. 


Suddenly, they turned around, got on their knees, as if they were ordered to, they did it all together, aimed. And personally, I was standing there saying, they're not going to shoot, they can't do that. If they are going to shoot, it's going to be blank.

The shots were definitely coming my way, because when a bullet passes your head, it makes a crack. I hit the ground behind the curve, looking over. I saw a student hit. He stumbled and fell, to where he was running towards the car. Another student tried to pull him behind the car, bullets were coming through the windows of the car.

As this student fell behind the car, I saw another student go down, next to the curb, on the far side of the automobile, maybe 25 or 30 yards from where I was lying. It was maybe 25, 30, 35 seconds of sporadic firing.

The firing stopped. I lay there maybe 10 or 15 seconds. I got up, I saw four or five students lying around the lot. By this time, it was like mass hysteria. Students were crying, they were screaming for ambulances. I heard some girl screaming, "They didn't have blank, they didn't have blank," no, they didn't

9 May 1970 Protests shut down 400 colleges.

3 June 1970 NVA begins a new offensive toward Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The U.S. provides air strikes to prevent the defeat of Lon Nol’s inexperienced young troops.

22 June 1970 American usage of jungle defoliants in Vietnam is halted.

24 June 1970 The U.S. Senate repeals the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution.

30 June 1970 U.S. troops withdraw from Cambodia.

11 August 1970 South Vietnamese troops take over the defense of border positions from U.S. troops.

24 August 1970 Heavy B-52 bombing raids occur along the DMZ.

5 September 1970 Operation Jefferson Glenn, the last U.S. offensive in Vietnam, begins in Thua Thien Province.

24 October 1970 South Vietnamese troops begin a new offensive into Cambodia.

12 November 1970 My Lai massacre trial begins.

20 November 1970 American troop levels drop to 334,600.

25 November 1970 Unsuccessful raid on POW camp near Hanoi.

10 December 1970 President Nixon warns Hanoi that more bombing raids may occur if North Vietnamese attacks continue against the South.

31 December 1970 American troop levels drop to 280,000 by year’s end.

4 January 1971 President Nixon announces, ‘‘The end is in sight.’’

30 January 1971 Operation Lam Son 719, an all–South Vietnamese ground offensive, occurs as 17,000 South Vietnamese soldiers attack 22,000 NVA inside Laos in an attempt to sever the Ho Chi Minh trail. Aided by heavy U.S. artillery and air strikes, ARVN troops advance but are unsuccessful.

March 1971 Opinion polls indicate Nixon’s approval rating among Americans has dropped to 50 percent, while approval of his Vietnam strategy has slipped to just 34 percent.

1 March 1971 The Capitol building in Washington is damaged by a bomb apparently planted in protest of the invasion of Laos.

10 March 1971 China pledges complete support for North Vietnam’s struggle against the United States.

29 March 1971 Calley is found guilty. 

April 1971 500,000 people protest in Washington, D.C.

1 April 1971 President Nixon orders Calley released pending his appeal. 

19 April 1971 Vietnam Veterans Against the War begin a week of nationwide protests.

24 April 1971 Another mass demonstration is held in Washington, attracting nearly 200,000.

29 April 1971 Total American deaths in Vietnam surpass 45,000.


30 April 1971 The last U.S. Marine combat units depart Vietnam. 

3–5 May 1971 A mass arrest of 12,000 protesters occurs in Washington.

13 June 1971 The New York Times begins publication of the Pentagon Papers.

18 June 1971 The Washington Post begins its publication of the Pentagon Papers. Nixon attempts to stop the publication, and the case ends up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

28 June 1971 The source of the Pentagon Papers leak, Daniel Ellsberg, surrenders to police.

30 June 1971 The U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of the New York Times and Washington Post publication of the Pentagon Papers.

15 July 1971 President Nixon makes a major diplomatic breakthrough and announces he will visit Communist China in 1972.

17 July 1971 Nixon aides John Ehrlichman and Charles Colson establish the Plumbers in the White House to investigate Daniel Ellsberg and plug various news leaks.

18 August 1971 Australia and New Zealand announce the pending withdrawal of their troops from Vietnam.

9 October 1971 The U.S. 1st Air Cavalry Division soldiers refuse to go on a mission.

17 December 1971 U.S. troop levels drop to 156,800.

26–30 December 1971 Heavy bombing of military installations in North Vietnam.

25 January 1972 President Nixon announces a proposed eight point peace plan for Vietnam and also reveals that Kissinger has been secretly negotiating with the North Vietnamese. However, Hanoi rejects Nixon’s peace overture.

21–28 February 1972 President Nixon visits China and meets with Mao Zedong and Prime Minister Zhou En lai.

10 March 1972 The U.S. 101st Airborne Division leaves Vietnam.

23 March 1972 The United States stages a boycott of the Paris peace talks.

4 April 1972 Nixon authorizes a massive bombing campaign in North and South Vietnam.

15 April 1972 Hanoi and Haiphong harbors are bombed by the United States.

15–20 April 1972 Protests against the bombings erupt in America.

27 April 1972 Paris peace talks resume.

30 April 1972 U.S. troop levels drop to 69,000.

1 May 1972 South Vietnamese abandon Quang Tri City to the NVA. 

8 May 1972 Nixon orders mining of North Vietnam’s harbors and initiates Operation Linebacker I. The announcement brings international condemnation and ignites more antiwar protests in America.

8 May 1972 South Vietnamese pilots accidentally drop napalm on South Vietnamese civilians, including children.

22–30 May 1972 Nixon visits Soviet Union to establish better diplomatic relations with the Communist nation.

June 1972 Break-in at Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.

9 June 1972 Senior U.S. military advisor John Paul Vann is killed.

17 June 1972 Five burglars are arrested inside the Watergate building in the Democratic National Committee offices in Washington.

28 June 1972 South Vietnamese troops begin a counteroffensive to retake Quang Tri Province.

14 July 1972 Democrats choose antiwar senator George McGovern of South Dakota as their presidential nominee.

18 July 1972 During a visit to Hanoi, actress Jane Fonda broadcasts antiwar messages via Hanoi Radio

 1 August 1972 Henry Kissinger meets again with Le Duc Tho in Paris.

29 September 1972 Heavy U.S. air raids against airfields in North Vietnam destroy 10 percent of their air force.

8 October 1972 The stalemate between Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho finally ends as both sides agree to major concessions.

22 October 1972 Operation Linebacker I ends.

24 October 1972 President Thieu publicly denounces Kissinger’s peace proposal.

26 October 1972 Radio Hanoi reveals terms of the peace proposal and accuses the United States of attempting to sabotage the settlement.

7 November 1972 Richard M. Nixon wins the presidential election in the biggest landslide to date in U.S. history.

30 November 1972 American troop withdrawal from Vietnam is completed, although there are still 16,000 army advisors and administrators remaining to assist South Vietnam’s military forces. 

18 December 1972 Operation Linebacker II (the ‘‘Christmas bombings’’) begins. The bombing is denounced by many American politicians, the media, and various world leaders including the Pope.

26 December 1972 North Vietnam agrees to resume peace negotiations within five days of the end of bombing.

29 December 1972 Operation Linebacker II ends.

23 January 1973 President Nixon announces that an agreement has been reached that will ‘‘end the war and bring peace with honor.’’

27 January 1973 Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird announces the end of the draft.

27 January 1973 Lieutenant Colonel William B. Nolde becomes the last American soldier to die in combat in Vietnam.

12 February 1973 Operation Homecoming begins with the release of 591 American POWs.

29 March 1973 The withdrawal of all American troops from South Vietnam is complete. 

29 March 1973 The release of 590 American POWs.

1 April 1973 Captain Robert White, the last-known American POW, is released.

30 April 1973 The Watergate scandal results in the resignation of top Nixon aides, H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman.

22 May 1973 Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho end their talks on implementation of the Vietnam truce agreement.

19 June 1973 U.S. Congress passes the Case-Church Amendment, which forbids any further U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia.

1 July 1973 U.S. Congress votes to end all bombing in Cambodia after August 15.

16 July 1973 The U.S. Senate Armed Forces Committee begins hearings into the secret bombing of Cambodia during 1969–1970.

17 July 1973 Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger testifies about bombing raids in Cambodia. This results in first call for Nixon’s impeachment.

14 August 1973 U.S. bombing of Cambodia halted.

22 August 1973 Henry Kissinger is appointed by President Nixon as the new secretary of state, replacing William Rogers.

22 September 1973 Henry Kissinger replaces William Rogers as secretary of state and retains national security advisor post.

10 October 1973 Political scandal results in the resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew. He is replaced by Congressman Gerald R. Ford.

7 November 1973 Congress passes the War Powers Resolution requiring the president to obtain the support of Congress within ninety days of sending American troops abroad.

7 November 1973 U.S. Congress overrides presidential veto of War Powers Act.

9 May 1974 Congress begins impeachment proceedings against President Nixon stemming from the Watergate scandal.

9 August 1974 Richard M. Nixon resigns the presidency as a result of Watergate. Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as the thirty-eighth U.S. president.

September 1974 The U.S. Congress appropriates only $700 million for South Vietnam. This leaves the South Vietnamese army underfunded and results in a decline of military readiness and morale. 

16 September 1974 President Gerald R. Ford announces a clemency program for draft evaders and military deserters. The program runs through March 31, 1975, and requires fugitives to take an oath of allegiance and also perform up to two years of community service. Out of an estimated 124,000 men eligible, about 22,500 take advantage of the offer.

16 September 1974 President Ford signs a proclamation offering clemency to Vietnam War–era draft evaders and military deserters.

October 1974 North Vietnam decides to launch an invasion of South Vietnam in 1975.

19 November 1974 William Calley is freed after serving a little more than three years under house arrest following his conviction in the My Lai massacre.

13 December 1974– In violation of the Paris treaty, North Vietnamese 6 January 1975 attack South Vietnamese positions.

18 December 1974 Based on President Ford’s ineffective response and his hamstringing by Congress, North Vietnam’s leaders meet in Hanoi to form a plan for final victory.

8 January 1975 North Vietnamese politburo orders major offensive to ‘‘liberate’’ South Vietnam by NVA crossborder invasion.

14 January 1975 Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger testifies to Congress that the United States is not living up to its earlier promise to South Vietnam’s president Thieu of ‘‘severe retaliatory action’’ in the event North Vietnam violated the Paris peace treaty.

21 January 1975 President Ford tells a press conference that the United States is unwilling to reenter the war.

5 February 1975 NVA General Van Tien Dung crosses into South Vietnam to take command of the final offensive.

9 March 1975 The Battle of An Loc begins.

10 March 1975 25,000 NVA attack Ban Me Thuot, II Corps, which falls to NVA attack. The next day, half of the 4,000 South Vietnamese soldiers defending it surrender or desert.

14 March 1975 President Nguyen Van Thieu decides to abandon the Highlands region and two northern provinces and orders withdrawal of ARVN forces.

As NVA General Van Tien Dung, who was to lead the final cross-border assault to overrun South Vietnam, noted at a Politburo conference on January 8, 1975, "It was obvious that the United States...could hardly return....To fully exploit this great opportunity we had to conduct large-scale annihilating battles to destroy and disintegrate the enemy on a large scale." The groundwork for the final NVA blitzkreig had been laid.
General Smith has detailed the consequences of that betrayal, as in March 1975 President Nguyen Van Thieu made the fateful decision to abandon the Central Highlands, and the whole South Vietnamese defense structure began to unravel. But not all of the ARVN collapsed. The 18th ARVN Infantry Division at Xuan Loc, some 40 miles northeast of Saigon, put up a valiant struggle.
From March 17, 1975, to April 5, 1975, the 18th ARVN Division held its ground, virtually destroying the 6th, 7th and 341st NVA divisions in the process. Only when the NVA brought in its 325th Division and also began moving its 10th and 304th divisions into place did the 18th ARVN Division finally give way. But it was too late, and by the last week in April NVA divisions were at the gates of Saigon. It was obvious to all that the end was at hand.

18 March 1975 NVA leaders meet and decide to accelerate their offensive to achieve total victory before May 1.

19 March 1975 Quang Tri Province, I Corps, falls to NVA attack.

26 March 1975 City of Hue falls to NVA attack after a three-day siege.

30 March 1975 More than 100,000 South Vietnamese soldiers surrender after being abandoned by their commanding officers. Da Nang falls. 

1 April 1975 Cities of Qui Nhon, Tuy Hoa, and Nha Trang are abandoned by the South Vietnamese, yielding the entire northern half of South Vietnam to the North Vietnamese.

1 April 1975 Cambodian president Lon Nol abdicates. U.S. Navy operation Eagle Pull commences to evacuate U.S. embassy staff from Phnom Penh.

14 April 1975 American airlift of homeless children to the United States from South Vietnam ends. A total of about 14,000 arrived.

17 April 1975 Cambodia falls as Khmer Rouge troops capture Phnom Penh and government forces surrender.

20 April 1975 U.S. ambassador Graham Martin meets with President Thieu and pressures him to resign, given the gravity of the situation and the unlikelihood that Thieu could ever negotiate with the Communists.

21 April 1975 President Thieu resigns. 

23 April 1975 More than 100,000 NVA soldiers advance on Saigon, which is now overflowing with refugees.

27 April 1975 NVA troops encircle Saigon, which is defended by some 30,000 ARVN troops, many of whose leaders have fled. NVA starts rocketing the city. 

28 April 1975 ‘‘Big’’ Minh becomes the new president of South Vietnam and appeals for a cease-fire. The NVA ignores this request.

29 April 1975 NVA begins attack on Saigon, shelling Tan Son Nhut Air Base, killing two marines. President Ford activates Operation Frequent Wind to evacuate 7,000 Americans and South Vietnamese from Saigon.

29–30 April 1975 U.S. Navy conducts Operation Frequent Wind to evacuate all U.S. personnel and selected South Vietnamese from Vietnam. Three U.S. aircraft carriers off the coast of Vietnam process the incoming refugees. 

30 April 1975 The final ten marines from U.S. embassy depart by chopper at 8:35 a.m.

30 April 1975 NVA captures the presidential palace by 11 a.m. 

30 April 1975 President Minh broadcasts a message of unconditional surrender. 

April–August 1975 Research shows an extremely strong probability that at least 65,000 Vietnamese perished as victims of political executions in the eight years after Saigon fell.

28 May 1975 35,000 NVA prepare to attack Da Nang, and artillery fire falls on the city.

2 June 1975 Official Communist Party newspaper Saigon Gai Phong declares that the Southerners must pay their ‘‘blood debt’’ to the revolution.

1975–1978 Border tension with the Communist government in Cambodia escalated rapidly after the fall of Saigon, and tension remained high throughout the Pol Pot regime’s forced relocation and mass murders of their population.

1975–1985 A massive exodus from Vietnam began with the change in government—2 million people tried to escape.

1976 The first Vietnamese ‘‘boat people’’ come ashore on the northern beaches of Australia, after traveling 4,800 km in leaky fishing boats. Over the next decade, tens of thousands of Vietnamese will flee Vietnam as boat people.

1976 South Vietnam and North Vietnam are united in a new Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

20 September 1977 Vietnam admitted to United Nations. 

1978 Vietnamese prime minister Pham Van Dong declared that a million people who had ‘‘collaborated with the enemy’’ (about 7 percent of the South Vietnamese population) had been returned to civilian life from reeducation camps and jail.

21 December 1978 The Vietnamese PAVN forces invade Cambodia and install a pro-Vietnamese government. They will remain for twelve years, with the last Vietnamese troops leaving Cambodia in 1990.

17 February 1979 China launches invasion of Vietnam, with Chinese suffering approximately 50,000 casualties.

5 March 1979 Chinese forces withdraw from Vietnam under a UN-brokered agreement. With this, General Vo Nguyen Giap has defeated the Japanese, the French, the Americans, the Cambodians, and the Chinese.

December 1986 Doi Moi, ‘‘New Openness,’’ declared. Free market economy reforms begin. 

1991 Cold War ends with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

1994 United States removes a trade embargo against Vietnam.

1995 Vietnam and the United States agreed to exchange low-level diplomats, although full diplomatic relations (which involves opening embassies and appointing ambassadors) had not yet been established.

November 2000 Outgoing president Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president to visit Vietnam since the Vietnam War.


Was South Vietnam Police Chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan A Bad Guy?


Search This Site

Popular Articles On This Site

History In Pictures On......

facebook history images ictures
plus google history pictures
Pinterest history in pictures
Twitter History Pictures

Pictorial History