Vietnam War

After the first World War, in an attempt to creating an independent Vietnam against the French and a nationalist government, Hồ Chí Minh petitions US President Woodrow Wilson for assistance, but is refused. The reason may be due to the Communist leanings of Hồ Chí Minh.

On March of 1945, Japan successfully defeats the French authority ruling Indochina resulting in Vietnam becoming a puppet state. After Japan’s surrender in August of the same year, 1945, the ruling Japanese administration in Indochina give Hồ Chí Minh control of the country of Vietnam.

Pre-Vietnam War Timeline

1945 Sep 26 – The first American casualty in Vietnam was Lt. Col. A Peter Dewey. He was mistakenly shot and killed having been taken for a Frenchman by the Việt Minh.
1950 May 1 – US President Harry Truman extends military assistance in the battle against the communists in Indochina. This signaled the beginning of US involvement in Vietnam. Naval, Air Force, and Army attaches were assigned during the same time.

Sep – The Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) helps the French in the effort of defeating Viet Minh communist forces. President Truman indicated that their deployment was not as combatants, but to protect the equipment the US lent to the French.

1953 Nov 20 – US General Douglas McArthur loans the French 12 Fairchild C119 airplanes to begin Operation Castor. The planes flew over Dien Bien Phu in the northwest of Vietnam.
1954 May 7 – The French are defeated in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu by the Viet Minh which ended the involvement of the French in Vietnam.

Apr 26-Jul 20 – In an attempt to maintain peace in Indochina and to unify Korea, the US, UK, China, and the Soviet Union meet in what is known as the Geneva Conference. One of the consequences of the conference was the separation of North and South Vietnam from each other.


Vietnam War Timeline

1955 Nov 1 – US President Dwight Eisenhower sends the Military Assistance Advisory Group to help in the training of the South Vietnam Army. This was considered the official involvement by the United States.
1956 July – Elections had been scheduled in the hopes of unifying North and South Vietnam. President Ngo Dinh Diem cancelled the elections to the dismay of Ho Chi Minh. This led to the rise in opposition by the Viet Cong, a faction helped by North Vietnam communists.

Sep – From 1954 through 1956, civilians from North Vietnam fled south. They numbered nearly 450,000. They hoped to escape the Viet Minh administration who was ruling the North.

1958 Dec – Laos is invaded by the North Vietnamese.
1960 Nov 6 – John F. Kennedy is elected president of the United States. Eisenhower gives his successor a warning regarding Vietnam and Laos.

Nov 11 – A failed coup attempt by the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) keeps President Ngo Dinh Diem in power.

Dec 20 – In an attempt to better fight the South Vietnam government and the US, the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, aka the Viet Cong, was formed. This was an organization used by the Communist in later years to fight the US forces.

1961 May – After a visit by Lyndon B Johnson (vice-president); President Kennedy sends US Army Special forces to assist in the training of South Vietnam soldiers.

June – President Kennedy meets with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna to discuss the attacks made by North Vietnam in Laos.

Oct – Because of the growing successful attacks by the NLF, Robert McNamara, the US Defense Secretary, deploys 200,000 US soldiers to Vietnam.

Dec 22 – The first casualty in the American forces dies in Vietnam, for many this marked the start of the Vietnam War.

1962 Jan – The US and South Vietnamese government put into action the Strategic Hamlet Program.

Feb 8 – President Kennedy forms the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. Their purpose was to improve US assistance to the South Vietnamese regime.

Feb 27 – Ngo Dinh Diem survives an assassination attempt by South Vietnamese Viet Cong pilots.

Jul 23 – An agreement is signed designating Laos as a neutral country. Fourteen nations including the United States, North & South Vietnam, Communist China, and the Soviets sign the agreement.

1963 Jan 2 – The Battle of Ap Bac, Vietcong forces rout the ARVN.

May 8 – Buddhist monks march in protest against President Diem’s government and are fired upon by South Vietnamese police.

Jun 11 – One of the Buddhist monks sets himself ablaze as part of the protest against the government.

Oct 2 – Defense Secretary McNamara informs the press the Kennedy administration intention of withdrawing US forces out of South Vietnam before 1965 ends.

Nov 1 – The Diem regime is overthrown by General Duong Van Minh, who was being backed by the United States. The next day, Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother, Ngô Ðình Nhu were assassinated.

Nov 22 – US President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

1964 Jan – General Duong Van Minh is placed under house arrest in a bloodless coup by Vietcong General Nguyen Khanh.

Apr – In New York City, more than 1000 students express their disapproval of the Vietnam War by burning their draft cards.

Apr 25 – Attack at Bien Hoa Air base by the Vietcong.

Jun – General William Westmoreland is named deputy commander of the MACV.

Aug 2 – Incident in the Gulf of Tonkin on the North Vietnam coast with USS Maddox involved.

Nov – Lyndon Johnson defeats Barry Goldwater in a landslide during the presidential elections of 1964.

1965 Feb 7 – A US air base in South Vietnam, Pleiku is attacked by the Viet Cong. Eight Americans died along with the wounding of 100.

Mar 2 – Operation Rolling Thunder is underway. This operation involved the sustained bombardment through the air by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force, US 2nd Air Division, and US Navy against North Vietnam. This took place through November 1968.

Mar 8 – Arrival of US Marines, the 3rd Marine Regiment and 3rd Marine Division arrive to protect Da Nang.

Mar 24 – Back in the US, the anti-war protest gains momentum with Teach-In programs broadcasted throughout the Nation’s Universities.

Nov 14 – Fighting at the Ia Drang Valley. First major encounter between the North Vietnamese and the US Army regulars. This battle lasts for five days.

Dec 31 – More than 200,000 US soldiers arrive, compare this to the initial 3500 deployed earlier of the same year.

1966 Dec 31 – After a year, more than 389,000 American troops are stationed in Vietnam. During that period, 6,000 Americans had been killed with 30,000 wounded.
1967 Jan 8 – Operation Cedar Falls. A US armed forces only operation with a “search and destroy” mandate to eliminate what was known as the “Iron Triangle.”

Apr 15 – Martin Luther King Jr. speaks out against the Vietnam war before 100,000 people at the UN Building in New York.

Apr – Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense, speaks on the futility of continued bombing of North Vietnam, saying that the consequences did not bode well for all concerned.

Oct 21 – Demonstrators numbering in the thousands march to the Pentagon in Washington DC to express their objection against the Vietnam War.

Dec 31 – US troops in Vietnam reach 485,000.

1968 Jan 30 – Military assault by North Vietnamese forces is launched against South Vietnam, the United States, and allies of the Republic of Vietnam.

Feb 28 – More American troops are requested by General William Westmoreland, he asks for 206,000.

Mar – 22,951 American soldiers die during combat.

Mar 16 – Hundreds of civilians, composed mainly of elderly men, women and children are massacred by an American platoon led by Lt. William Calley. The incident is famously known as the My Lai incident.

Mar 25 – Military advisors of President Lyndon Johnson insist on him finding a way to get America out of the war.

Apr 3 – Leader of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, presents a proposal to begin discussions of peace with the US and the South Vietnamese government. Despite this gesture, US troops continue to arrive in Vietnam.

Jun 23 – Vietnam is recognized as the longest war the United States of America has been in, ever.

Nov 6 – Richard Millhouse Nixon is elected as the 37th president of the United States. He defeated Hubert Humphrey (Democrat) and George Wallace (Independent).

1969 Jan 25 – Peace talks between North and South Vietnam begin in Paris. The United States is involved in the talks.

Mar – Combat deaths of American soldiers number more than 33,629, this equaled those lost in the Korean War.

Mar 18 – Because Cambodia and Laos had been used by the North Vietnamese as a base of operations and sanctuaries, President Nixon secretly signs-off on the target bombing of those installations in those two countries. This is known as Operation Menu.

May – Nixon announces his intent on the “Vietnamization”, train and transition South Vietnamese soldiers to do what the Americans had been doing, of the war. At this point, US troops numbered at 543,000. He later makes the promise to withdraw 25,000 US soldiers.

Sep 3 – Ho Chi Minh dies at the age of 79. According to his will, he wanted to have his body embalmed and to be placed on display at a mausoleum.

Nov 15 – Another anti-war protest in Washington DC takes place where more than 600,000 Americans rally at the Washington Monument.

Nov 16 – Nixon again makes the pledge to withdraw another 35,000 US soldiers out of the war in Vietnam.

Dec 15 – Another 50,000 of the US soldiers in Vietnam are scheduled to return home by April 1970, as promised by President Nixon.

* In 2000, de-classified records show that during the Johnson administration, the US Air Force had bombed rural areas near the South Vietnam-Cambodia border since 1964.

1970 Mar – More than 420,000 US soldiers are still in Vietnam, Nixon again promises to bring home over the next year another 150,000 soldiers.

Apr 30 – On a nationally televised announcement, President Nixon tells the American people that South Vietnamese and American forces had invaded Cambodia with the intent to cut off the aid being provided by Cambodia regime to the North Vietnamese government.

May 1 – In reaction to the announcement of the Cambodia invasion, a public demonstration ensues. The protest against the invasion is led by the students of Kent University.

May 4 – The National Guard was called in to help keep the peace at Kent University, as violence erupted, four students were shot, two were heading to class, and the other two were part of the protest group.

May 14 – Two more students fall victims to the anti-war protest, this time at Jackson State College in Mississippi. They were shot by the police.

1971 Mar – Lt. William Calley is charged with murder for his role at the My Lai incident that claimed lives of 22 Vietnamese civilians, he was sentenced to life in prison.

Apr 24 – Another protest march in Washington DC where more than 200,000 make their feelings known about their opposition to the war in Vietnam.

May – Both sides of Congress, House and Senate, vote to bring home all the troops currently in Vietnam by the end of the year.

Jul 1 – The voting age for all US citizens is lowered from 21 to 18 years of age, this was done through the ratification of the 26th Amendment.

1972 Mar 30 – The Peoples Army of Vietnam (North) enacts another military campaign against Republic of Vietnam (South) and US military. It was given the designation, Easter Offensive.

Mar 30 – As a response to the Easter Offensive by North Vietnam, Operation Linebacker is implemented by the United States. This involved the continuous and massive bombing of North Vietnam.

1973 Jan 15 – Offensive action against North Vietnam was to cease as ordered by Nixon.

Jan 27 – The involvement of the US Military in the Vietnam War officially ended with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. This event established a cease fire between the two Vietnams.

Feb – More than 600 American prisoners of war are released by the North Vietnamese.

Mar 29 – The United States last troop leave Vietnam, some military advisers and marines stay. More than three million Americans served in one way or another during the Vietnam War; of that number, one thousand were declared missing in action, 150,000 wounded, and up to 60,000 died.

Jun 4 – As the North Vietnamese government continued its attempt to unify the country under communist rule, U.S. Congress passes the Case-Church Amendment to prohibit the U.S. from intervention.

1974 Aug 29 – President Nixon, a strong advocate for supporting South Vietnam, resigns due to the Watergate scandal.
1975 Apr 21 – The North Vietnam wins the Battle of Xuan Loc.

Apr 29 – South Vietnam civilians tried to make a dash for it, impending doom in the form of North Vietnam was upon them. These civilians had been well aware of the invasion from the North and did not want to be a part of it, some succeeded to leave, others were not as fortunate. In 18-hours, over 1,000 Americans and 7,000 Vietnamese were flown out of Saigon.

Apr 30 – The end result was the eventual Fall of Saigon. Saigon was the capital of South Vietnam, it was captured by the Vietnam People’s Army. This date, is the official end of the Vietnam War. It is today known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Important Facts

The role of the United States ended on that Spring day in 1973, but the North Vietnamese government continued its attempt to unify the country under communist rule.

South Vietnam President Thieu had vehemently asked to make changes on specific details of the Paris Peace Accords. North Vietnam undermined the process by making known the details of the Peace Accord, thus causing embarrassment to both US and South Vietnam.

After the exit of the United States in its involvement in the Vietnam War, both North and South refreshed the war, declaring the Paris Peace Accord was no longer in effect.