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 TimeLines of Liberty
American Wars - Vietnam

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American History American Wars War Statistics
Vietnam War  -  1961 - 1965

 The Vietnam War was never officially declared by the United States government. It is the longest war in American History. America at first resisted then committed to the resistance in Southeast Asia against Communism. The Soviet Union continued its expansion of Communism either by direct military incursions or supporting sympathetic regimes with military equipment. China provided aid when pressured by Communist regimes. Television will provide a window from our homes to the horrors of the battle field and will sway public opinion against the war, based on emotion rather than the support of world peace.

Page Two  -  1961 - 1962 - 1963 - 1964 - 1965

Pre-War - 1930-1960  -  The War - 1966-1970  -  The War - 1970-1975  -  Post War - 1976-2007
Page 1
                             Page 3                               Page 4                              Page 5
  Last updated January, 2007.  Unless stating the date, events within the year may not be in order.
1961 - Vietnam War  -  begins
1961 Jan. In January 1961 "wars of national liberation" throughout the world is pledged by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The statement encourages communists of North Vietnam in the armed struggle to unify the country under Ho Chi Minh.
1961 Jan. John F. Kennedy becomes the 35th President. Kennedy says, "...we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to insure the survival and the success of liberty." In reference to Southeast Asia, President Eisenhower tells JFK, "I think you're going to have to send troops..."
inexperienced in matters on Southeast Asia Kennedy's Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara recruits civilian strategists from the academic community that become crucial in White House strategy on Vietnam for several years. The United States wages a limited war, attempting to force a political settlement.  Opposed by the same determination, "...whatever the sacrifices, however long the struggle...until Vietnam is fully independent and reunified," states Ho Chi Minh, an enemy dedicated to victory.
1961 Feb. Combat advisors are sent in February, 1961, to begin the buildup of the U.S. military in Vietnam.
1961 May In May, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson visits South Vietnam and calls President Diem the 'Winston Churchill of Asia.'
1961 May President Kennedy ordered 100 'special forces' to South Vietnam on May 13th.
1961 May

In May 400 American 'Special Advisors' from the Green Beret are sent to South Vietnam. The advisors will train South Vietnamese soldiers in counter-insurgency to fight the Viet Cong Guerrillas. The role of the Green Berets is expanded in the establishment of the Civilian Irregular Defense Groups, (CIDG). The CIDG consisted of mountain men, the Montagnards, that set up fortified camps along the mountains to block North Vietnamese infiltration.

1961 Fall Successful attacks on South Vietnamese troops are carried out in the widening of the conflict by 26,000 Viet Cong troops. President Diem asks President Kennedy's administration for more military aid.
1961 Oct. Kennedy's top aides,  Maxwell Taylor and Walt Rostow, visit Vietnam, in October, to review the deterioration of the military situation. Taylor reports, "If Vietnam goes, it will be exceedingly difficult to hold Southeast Asia," advising the President to increase U.S. military advisors and sending 8000 combat personnel.
A massive show of force is recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary McNamara by sending to Vietnam six divisions (200,000 men). President Kennedy decides against any combat troops.
1961 Oct.

On the sixth anniversary of the Republic of South Vietnam, October 24, 1961, President Kennedy pledges to President Diem, "the United States is determined to help Vietnam preserve its independence..."

1961 Oct. President Kennedy sends additional military advisors and American helicopter units to transport and advise South Vietnamese troops. This involves Americans in combat operations. The President says, " prevent a Communist takeover of Vietnam which is in accordance with a policy our government has followed since 1954." justifying expanding U.S. military presence in Vietnam. Military advisors sent by President Kennedy will surpass 16,000.
1961 Dec. By December much of the countryside of South Vietnam is controlled by Viet Cong guerrillas. South Vietnamese troops are frequently ambushed.
1961 Dec. The cost to America in managing the conflict, and support of South Vietnam's army of 2000,000, rises to one million dollars each day.
1961 Dec. The Vietnam War official begins on December 11th, 1961. 33 helicopters and 400 air and ground crewmen are delivered by the arrival of the U.S. aircraft carrier "Core".
1961 Dec. SP4 James Davis of Livingston, Tennessee is killed by the Viet Cong (VC) on December 22nd. Vice President Johnson calls him, "The first American to fall in defense of our freedom in Vietnam"
1961 Info During 1961 President Kennedy will have sent 1364 American 'advisers' to South Vietnam.
Resulting from land reform not materializing, targets in South Vietnam were scheduled to be bombed by U.S. planes, but the operation was cancelled shortly before the planes had taken flight.
1962 - Vietnam War
1962 Jan. "Few generations in all of history have been granted the role of being the great defender of freedom in its maximum hour of danger. This is our good fortune..."says President Kennedy on January 11, 1962, during the State of the Union address.
1962 Jan. President Kennedy, without added comment, replies, "No," when asked if Americans were fighting in Vietnam, at a press conference on January 15th.
1962 Feb. The U.S. Military Assistance Command for Vietnam (MACV) is established on February 6th, replacing the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG-Vietnam) established in 1950.
1962 Feb. Attributing 'divine protection,' President Diem and his brother Nhu escape injury when two renegade South Vietnamese bomb the presidential palace in Saigon on February 27th. The two traitors were piloting American-made World War II era fighter planes.
1962 March Beginning in March rural populations in South Vietnam are uprooted from ancestral farmlands and relocated to villages that are defended by local militias. The Hamlet resettlement program is called Operation Sunrise. More than 50 Hamlets and villages are infiltrated and taken over by Viet Cong who intimidate village leaders killing some.
President Diem ordered air strikes against hamlets suspected to be Viet Cong controlled. U.S. pilots support the South Vietnamese Air Force participating in some of the bombings. Resulting civilian causalities deteriorate support for Diem and cause disdain for America.
1962 May President Kennedy ordered the immediate build-up of U.S. troops in Thailand on May 15th, 1962. The order increase U.S. troops in Thailand to 5,000 in response to communist attacks in Laos and their movement in the direction of Thailand.
1962 May In May, the Viet Cong operating in central Vietnam begin to organize into battalion-size units.
1962 May In May, Defense Secretary McNamara reports "we are winning the war," while visiting South Vietnam.
1962 July The Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos is signed in Geneva by the U.S. and 13 other nations, on July 23rd.  The agreement prohibits U.S. invasion of portions of the Ho Chi Minh trail that lie inside eastern Laos.
1962 Aug. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1962, is signed on August 1st by President Kennedy. The agreement provides "...military assistance to countries which are on the rim of the Communist world and under direct attack."
1962 Aug. In Khe Sanh a U.S. special Forces encampment is established in August to monitor infiltration using the Ho Chi Minh trail by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA).
1962 Dec. After a visit to Vietnam at President Kennedy's request, on December 2nd, US Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield becomes the first elected official to not make an optimistic public comment on the progress of the Vietnam war.
1962 Info During 1962 the number of U.S. advisers had increased to 9865. US pilots are secretly bombing South Vietnam attempting to destabilize the Diem government.
1963 - Vietnam War
1963 Jan. Three American helicopter crew members are killed when, on January 3rd, 350 Viet Cong
in the Battle of Ap Bac gains the victory over a larger force of American-equipped South Vietnamese forces in an attempt to seize a radio transmitter.  The victory for the Viet Cong makes front page news in America.
1963 Jan. President Diem had choosen his top officers of the SVA (South Vietnamese Army) for their loyalty rather than competence. He instructs them to avoid causalities, with the main mission to protect him from any political or military coups in Saigon.
1963 May Denied the right to display traditional flags during the celebration of Buddha's Birthday many Buddhists begin to riot throughout South Vietnam in May. In the Vietnamese city of hue police and the South Vietnamese Army shoot into a crowd of Buddhist demonstrators killing one woman and eight children. The demonstrations continue through August.
1963 May Mounting political pressure forces the Kennedy Administration to distance itself from the repressive family-run Diem government. One Buddhist leader tells U.S. officials in Saigon, "You are responsible for the present trouble because you back Diem and his government of ignoramuses,"
1963 June Continuing through June Buddhist demonstrations become more widespread. On June 16th several Buddhist monks in protest set themselves on fire. The American public and President Kennedy are shocked by the images of the immolations, captured by news photographers. Nhu's wife, Madame Nhu, on an American TV interview calls the Buddhist immolations a 'barbecue.' 
1963 June Martial law is imposed in June by President Diem. U.S. trained South Vietnamese special forces under the command of Nhu, Diems younger brother, crack down on the demonstrations and sanctuaries in cities across South Vietnam including Hue and Saigon.
1963 June Nhu's special forces crackdown, inflame the Buddhist population sparking further unrest and more demonstrations that will continue into August.
1963 June High level talks at the White House have turned to forcing Diem to reform.
1963 mid-63 15,500 Americans are stationed in Vietnam. Diem is losing his grip over Buddhist revolutionaries.
1963 July South Vietnamese General Tran Van Don, a Buddhist, on July 4th communicates with the CIA in Saigon concerning a possible coup again President Diem.
1963 Aug. Henry Cabot Lodge arrives in South Vietnam on August 22 as the new U.S. ambassador.
1963 Aug. On August 24th Ambassador Lodge interprets a U.S. State Department message to indicate that a coup against President Diem should be encouraged.
1963 Aug. President Kennedy instructs Ambassador Lodge to meet with President Diem. The meeting of August 26th is the first between Lodge and Diem. Being told to fire his brother Nhu and reform his government, Diem emphatically refuses to discuss such matters.
1963 Aug. Kennedy and top aides begin discussions, at times heated, on August 26th, whether the U.S. should support a military coup against South Vietnamese President Diem.
1963 Aug. After sending a message to Washington on August 29th; "...there is no possibility, in my view, that the war can be won under a Diem administration;" Lodge is given a free reign by the U.S. President to manage the developing events in Saigon. Mistrust and suspicion among the military conspirators cause the coup against Diem to wither out.
1963 Oct. In a mixed message of October 2nd, President Kennedy conveys to Lodge that "no initiative should now be taken to give any encouragement to a coup" however Lodge should "identify and build contacts with possible leadership as and when it appears."
1963 Oct. President Kennedy is informed on October 5th that the coup may be on again.
Rebel generals led by Duong Van "Big" Minh had asked for assurances that U.S. aid would continue after Diem's removal and that the U.S. would not interfere with the coup. The White House is pleased with the scenario that avoids direct involvement by the U.S. in the actual coup.
The CIA in Saigon signals to the rebel generals that U.S. forces will not interfere with an overthrow.
1963 Oct. A communication of October 25th to Ambassador Lodge seeks reassurances that the coup will succeed. The communiqué was prompted over concern by the Whitehouse of public opinion should the coup fail. 
1963 Oct. Ambassador Lodge reports back, on October 28th, that the coup is "imminent."
1963 Oct. Becoming nervous, the White House on October 29th instructs Lodge to postpone the coup. Lodge replies that the coup cannot be stopped without the betrayal of the conspirators.
1963 Nov. On November 1st, a routine meeting at the presidential palace between Lodge and Diem runs from 10 a.m. until noon. Ambassador Lodge promptly departs.
1963 Nov. At 1:30 p.m., on November 1st., during the traditional siesta time rebel troops sweep into Saigon to surround the presidential palace and seize police headquarters. Diem and Nhu are trapped inside the palace and refuse all requests to surrender. President Diem calls the rebel generals in a failed attempt to talk them out of the coup.
1963 Nov. Diem calls Ambassador Lodge to ask "...what is the attitude of the United States?" Lodge replies with, " is four thirty a.m. in Washington, and the U.S. government cannot possibly have a view." The Ambassador inquires as to Diem's safety and receives the reply from Diem, "I am trying to restore order."
1963 Nov. Diem and his brother Nhu were able to slip unnoticed from the palace at about 8 p.m. to find sanctuary in a suburban 'safe house' belonging to a wealthy Chinese merchant.
1963 Nov. At 3 a.m. on November 2nd, betrayed by an aide, Diem's location is given to the rebel generals. Diem and Nhu have moved on to keep their location unknown. Diem calls the generals at 6 a.m. Coming to the realization of the inevitable, Diem and Nhu, from inside a Catholic Church, offer to surrender.
1963 Nov. In the morning of November 2nd Diem and Nhu are taken into custody by rebel officers. They are placed in the back of an armored personnel carrier. While in route to Saigon the vehicle stops. President Diem and his brother Nhu are assassinated.
1963 Nov. News of the assassination of President Diem reaches the Whitehouse. When informed of Diem's death, witnesses say that President Kennedy turned white and immediately left the room. The President later records in his private diary, "I feel that we must bear a good deal of responsibility for it."
1963 Nov. The citizens of Saigon celebrate the removal of President Diem's regime.
1963 Nov. The turmoil of the unstable political situation was used by the Viet Cong to increase their hold to 40 percent of the rural population.
1963 Nov. General Duong Van Minh take the helm of leadership over South Vietnam on November 6th.
1963 Nov. On November 22nd, 1963, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is killed by an assassin's bullet in Dallas, Texas. 
1963 Nov. Aboard Air Force One, transporting President Kennedy's casket to Washington, D.C., Lyndon B. Johnson takes the "oath of office" as president. He declares, "We can never again stand aside, prideful in isolation. Terrific dangers and troubles that we once called "foreign" now constantly live among us..." Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson becomes the 36th President and the fourth president to cope with the Vietnam conflict. Johnson will retain some of Kennedy's policy advisors.
1963 Nov. During a meeting with Ambassador Lodge in Washington on November 24th, newly sworn in, President Johnson states he will not "lose Vietnam."
1963 Nov. On November 24th, President Johnson confirms the continued support to South Vietnam with military and economic aid.
1963 Info By the end of 1963 America has 16,300 American military advisors stationed in South Vietnam and has provided $500 million in U.S. aid.
A power vacuum followed the coup removing President Diem, with one coup following another as a series of military and civilian governments seize control of Vietnam over the next year or so. The country becomes dependent on the United States for for its existence.
1964 - Vietnam War
1964 Jan. The Junta, under General Minh, have ruled South Vietnam since the fall of President Diem. On January 30th, 1964, in a bloodless coup led by Maj. General Nguyen Khanh, the Junta government is overthrown. Maj. General Nguyen Khanh becomes the leader of South Vietnam.
1964 March Defense Secretary McNamara visits South Vietnam on March 6th. He says that General Khan "has our admiration, our respect and our complete support..." adding, "We'll stay for as long as it takes. We shall provide whatever help is required to win the battle against the Communist insurgents."  He will later advise President Johnson to increase military aid in order to shore up the weakened South Vietnamese army.
1964 March Mercenaries flying old American fighter planes, secretly backed by the U.S., begin to conduct bombing raids on the Ho Chi Minh trail, inside Laos.
1964 March On March 17th, President Johnson give approval to the Pentagon for only the planning stages when the U.S. National Security Council recommended the bombing of North Vietnam.
1964 March The focus of American Policy on South Vietnam by McNamara and other Johnson policy makers concentrate on the need to prevent a Communist victory in South Vietnam. They believe a defeat would damage the credibility of the U.S. globally. In becoming a test of U.S. resolve in fighting Communism, America's prestige and President Johnson's reputation are put jeopardy.
1964 March The United States' determination to increase military and economic aid to South Vietnam in its war against Communist insurgency is reiterated, on March 26th, in an address by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.
1964 May In May, work on a Congressional resolution to support the President's war policy is began by President Johnson's aides. As a result of the lack of Senate support the resolution is shelved but later to be used as the basis of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.
1964 May A trade embargo is imposed on May 4th against North Vietnam in response to their attacks on South Vietnam.
1964 mid-64 America's cost of managing the overall conflict and maintaining the South Vietnam Army has risen to two million dollars a day.
1964 mid-64 The Viet Cong (numbering 56,000) expanding their guerrilla war through South Vietnam receiving reinforcements of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars who use the Ho Chi Minh trail.
1964 mid-64 In response to the expanding guerrilla war and increase of North Vietnamese Army regulars President Johnson authorizes Operation Plan 34A. The plan consist of covert operations ran by the CIA that uses South Vietnamese commandos that harass and raid radar sites along the coast of North Vietnam in speedboats. Supported by Navy warships in the Gulf of Tonkin, among them is the USS Maddox which uses electronic surveillance to locate the radar sites.
1964 June Henry Cabot Lodge, in June, submits his resignation as U.S. Ambassador in Saigon to South Vietnam.
1964 June On June 20th General William Westmoreland is named to replace General Paul Harkins as commander of U.S. forces (MACV) in Vietnam. Westmoreland is a graduate of West Point  and a highly decorated veteran having served in both World War II and Korea.
1964 June President Johnson appoints General Maxwell D. Taylor on July 1st, to be the new U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam. Taylor had been chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During the next year he will have dealt with five governments in the politically unstable South Vietnam.
1964 June U.S. Military personnel announce, on July 8th, U.S. casualties in Vietnam, including 399 dead and 17 MIA, have risen to 1,387.
1964 July Over July 16th and 17th at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco Senator Barry Goldwater is chosen as the nominee for president. In his acceptance speech he says, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." As a staunch conservative and anti-communist Goldwater's campaign rhetoric will impact future White House decisions concerning Vietnam. President Johnson's aides attempt a balancing act trying to keep the President from appearing to be 'soft on Communism' while at the same time avoiding the label of 'war monger' concerning Vietnam.
1964 July On July 19th at a rally in Saigon, Prime Minister Nguyen Khanh calls for the expanding of the war into North Vietnam.
1964 July The capital of Dinh Tuong Province, Cai Be was attacked on July 20th by Viet Cong forces killing 11 South Vietnamese military personnel and a total of 40 civilians, 10 adults and 30 children.
1964 July It is announced on July 27th that 5,000 more US military advisers are being sent to South Vietnam. This brings the total of U.S. forces to 21,000.
1964 July As part of Operation Plan 34A in the Gulf of Tonkin, on July 31st, South Vietnamese commandos using unmarked speed boats conduct raids on two North Vietnamese military bases located on islands off the coast. The destroyer USS Maddox was not far off.
1964 Aug. The American destroyer U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin ten miles off the coast of North Vietnam is attacked on August 2nd. Three North Vietnamese patrol boats fire three torpedoes and use machine-guns with only one single round from a machine gun that actually strikes the Maddox; no causalities occur. One of the patrol boats are sunk with damage to the others when U.S. Navy fighters from the carrier Ticonderoga return fire. The Ticonderoga was led by Commander James Stockdale.
1964 Aug. At the White House, twelve house behind Vietnam time, on Sunday morning reports are being received. Reacting cautiously to the reports President Johnson decides against retaliation. He sends a diplomatic communication warning Hanoi of "grave consequences" for any further "unprovoked" attacks. The USS Maddox is ordered to resume operations in the Gulf of Tonkin. U.S. combat troops are put on alert. Targets in North Vietnam are selected should the need to attack occur.
1964 Aug. On August 3rd, USS Maddox and destroyer USS Turner sail vigorous zigzag maneuvers in the Gulf of Tonkin coming within eight miles of North Vietnam's coast. South Vietnamese commandos in speedboats continue harassment of North Vietnamese defenses along the coast.
1964 Aug. On August 4th, with bad weather affecting accuracy of surveillance instruments; crew members on both destroyers believing a torpedo attack, open fire on apparent targets without an actual sighting of any attacking boats. The "attack" becomes known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
1964 Aug. Though there were doubts concerning the validity of the second attack the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on August 4th, recommend retaliation with a bombing raid against North Vietnam.
No journalists were onboard either ship but press reports back in the U.S. embellished upon the second attack with eyewitness accounts.
1964 Aug. President Johnson decides on retaliation ordering the first bombing of North Vietnam by the United States.
1964 Aug. Without warning 64 U.S. navy fighter bombers attack oil facilities and naval targets in North Vietnam in Operation Pierce Arrow.
One hour after the attacks began, on August 5th, President Johnson, in a midnight appearance in television, says, "Our response for the present will be limited and fitting," continuing he says, "We Americans know, although others appear to forget, the risk of spreading conflict. We still seek no wider war."
During the attacks two Navy jets are shot down. 25 North Vietnamese boats are destroyed in the raids.
1964 Aug. Lt. Everett Alvarez of San Jose, California, becomes the first American Prisoner of War (POW). His plane is shot down over North Vietnam and he is taken to an internment center in Hanoi. Later the center is given the name "Hanoi Hilton" by the six hundred or so American airmen who were held as POWs during the war.
1964 Aug. Opinion polls show Americans supporting the President's bombing decision by 85 percent. There are numerous newspaper editorials published that support the President's decision.
1964 Aug. Following the Gulf of Tonkin incident Defense Secretary McNamara, along with Johnson's aides, on August 5th will lobby Congress, for a White House resolution to give the President a free reign in Vietnam. Congress sets aside its agenda to debate the issue.
1964 Aug. During an August 6th meeting in the Senate, Defense Secretary McNamara is confronted by Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon. A source in the Pentagon had 'tipped off' that the Maddox had been involved in South Vietnamese commando raids against North Vietnam and as such not a victim of an "unprovoked" attack. McNamara responded, the U.S. Navy "...played absolutely no part in, was not associated with, was not aware of, any South Vietnamese actions, if there were any..."
1964 Aug. Congress approves the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7th. The resolution give the president the power to take "All necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States. . .to prevent further aggression. . . (and) assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asian Collective Defense Treaty (SEATO) requesting assistance. . ."  The U.S. House votes unanimously with 414 votes in favor. In the Senate 88 votes were cast in support with the only dissenting votes cast by Senators Wayne L. Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska who states, "all Vietnam is not worth the life of a single American boy."
1964 Aug. Duong Van Minh is deposed as South Vietnam's chief of state in a coup on August 16th. General Nguyen Khanh takes the leadership position and establishes a new constitution that the U.S. Embassy helped to draft.
1964 Aug. Students and Buddhist militants begin on August 21st a series of escalating protests against General Khanh's military regime.  As a result General Khanh will resign to establish a triumvirate that included himself, General Minh and General Khiem. Saigon streets break out into chaos and violence during the instability of the government.
1964 Aug. On August 26th at the Democratic National Convention, President Johnson is nominated as the Democratic candidate for president. In a campaign speech the President says, "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 Fall-64 Secret peace talks with North Vietnam are rejected by the U.S.
1964 Sept. Top aides at the White House on September 7th discuss the future course of action in Vietnam.
1964 Sept. Two South Vietnamese generals stage a coup on September 13th and fail in the attempt.
1964 Oct. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev is removed on October 14 and is replaced by Leonid Brezhnev as leader of the U.S.S.R.
1964 Oct. China tests its first Atomic Bomb on October 16th. China has massed troops along it border with Vietnam in response to the U. S. escalation.
1964 Nov. The Viet Cong's first attack against an American force in Vietnam is on November 1st at the USAF air base about, 12 miles north of Saigon at Bien Hoa. Just before dawn the attack of mortar fire began, killing five Americans, 2 South Vietnamese and wounds nearly 75 others. Five B-57 jet bombers were destroyed along with other planes.
1964 Nov. All recommendations for a retaliatory air strike against North Vietnam are dismissed by President Johnson.
1964 Nov. On November 3rd in a land-slide victory, with 61 percent of the popular vote, President Johnson is elected to retain the Presidency. He lead over Barry Goldwater by 16 million votes. Democrats gain large majorities in both the House and Senate.
1964 Nov. The National Security Council that included Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, and Maxwell Taylor and advisors that included National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy recommend on November 28th to President Johnson an eventual escalation of bombing in North Vietnam. Debate will continue with a decision on December 1st.
1964 Dec. In December, armed with more sophisticated weapons from China and the Soviet Union, 10,000 North Vietnamese Army (NVA) soldiers arrive in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. They traveled by way of the Ho Chi Minh trail to shore up Viet Cong battalions and provide experienced leaders.
1964 Dec. After much debate that began three days before the Johnson administration and top advisors come to an agreement, on December 1st, to enact a two-stage plan for an eventual escalation of bombing in North Vietnam.
1964 Dec. On December 20th, another military coup by General Khanh and younger officers led by Nguyen Cao Ky and Nguyen Van Thieu, depose the older generals (among them General Minh) seizing control.
1964 Dec. The young officers are summoned to the U.S. Embassy by Ambassador Taylor, now, angry over the continuing instability and endless intrigues plaguing South Vietnam's government. Taylor warns them that Americans are "tired of coups."
The young officers, now in control of Vietnam are offended by Taylor's behavior. In the press General Khanh accuses Taylor and the U.S. of "colonialism" in its treatment of South Vietnam.
1964 Dec. On December 24th Viet Cong terrorists plant a bomb, timed to detonate at 5:45 p.m., during 'happy hour' in the bar of the Brinks Hotel, an American officers' residence in Downtown Saigon. The blast killed two Americans and wounded 58 others.
President Johnson dismissed all recommendations to retaliate with an air strike on North Vietnam.
1964 Info By the end of 1964, the number of American military advisors in South Vietnam had risen to 23,000. It is estimated that 170,000 Viet Cong/NVA fighters of the 'People's Revolutionary Army' where below the DMZ and had begun waging coordinated battalion-sized attacks against South Vietnamese troops in villages around Saigon.
1965 - Vietnam War
1965 Jan. U.S. Navy river patrols begin on South Vietnam's 3000 nautical miles of inland waterways in January as Operation Game Warden.
1965 Jan. President Lyndon B. Johnson is inaugurated on January 20th.
1965 Jan. In yet another coup on January 27th, General Khanh seized full control of South Vietnam's government.
1965 Jan. A memo of January 27th is sent, by National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, to President Johnson stating America's limited military involvement in Vietnam is not succeeding. it further states that the U.S. has reached a 'fork in the road' and must either soon escalate the war or withdraw from Vietnam.
1965 Feb. Soviet Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin arrives in Hanoi on February 4th for a visit.
1965 Feb. National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy visits South Vietnam on February 4th, for his first time.
1965 Feb. On February 6th, at the military barracks, where the Military Advisors were housed, at Pleiku in the Central Highlands  a Viet Cong guerilla assault was launched in the early morning hours, killing 8 Americans and wounding 126. Ten aircraft were destriyed in the attack.
1965 Feb. In retaliation for the February 6th guerilla attack at Pleiku, on February 8th President Johnson says, "I've had enough of this," and orders an air-strike on North Vietnam. Operation Flaming Dart has U.S. Navy jets from the carrier Ranger bombing a North Vietnamese army camp near Dong Hoi.
1965 Feb. Operation Flaming Dart commences on the 9th with U.S. Navy jets, from the carrier Ranger, bombing a North Vietnamese army camp near Dong Hoi. The bombing was in response to the February 6th attack on the U.S. military compound at Pleiku.
1965 Feb. The first U.S. combat troops are deployed to South Vietnam on February 9th.
1965 Feb. Though Johnson makes no speeches or statements on his decision, opinion polls taken shortly after the U.S. bombing indicate a 70 percent approval rating for the President with 80 percent approval for U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.
1965 Feb. In mid February plans are began for the implementation of bombing raids on North Vietnam called, Operation Rolling Thunder.
1965 Feb. Another military coup in Saigon on February 18th  finally ousts- General Khanh from power. Led by Dr. Phan Huy Quat a new combination military and civilian government is installed.
1965 Feb. On February 22nd with 6000 Viet Cong massed in the vicinity, General Westmoreland requests two battalions of U.S. Marines reinforcements to protect the American air base at Da Nang. Ambassador Taylor warns against a possible repeat of the mistakes made by the French that sent an ever-increasing number of soldiers into the jungles of a "hostile foreign country" where indistinguishable, are friend and foe. President Johnson approves the General's request in light of the "grave reservations" of the Ambassador.
1965 Feb. The North Vietnamese pressure Soviet Prime Minister Kosygin for unlimited military aid to counter the American "aggression." Giving in to their demands, Kosygin orders sophisticated Soviet surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) to North Vietnam that begin arriving in Hanoi within weeks.
1965 March Having began in February, conflicts flaring between the USA and the Viet-Kong continue into March.
1965 March Over 100 American fighter-bombers begin, on March 2nd, to attack various targets in North Vietnam.  The campaign, Operation Rolling Thunder, was scheduled to last eight weeks but will continue for the next three years.
1965 Info The first air strikes in Operation Rolling Thunder are against the Ho Chi Minh trail. The trail is bombarded heavily and often by American jets with little success in the attempt to stop or slow the supply line of tremendous reinforcements of soldiers and equipment from the North. Construction crews of women repair damage to the trail immediately after an attack. 500 American jets will be shot down in raids along the Ho Chi Minh trail during the entirety of the war.
1965 Info Over the course of the war 3 million American sorties will, in the largest display of firepower in warfare history, drop four times the tonnage of bombs as that dropped in all of World War II; nearly 8 million tons of ordnance.
The majority of the bombs were dropped in South Vietnam against NVA and Viet Cong positions, destroying numerous villages, that resulted in 3 million civilian refugees. Military targets in North Vietnam included fuel depots and factories. The North Vietnamese begin to minimize vulnerability to bomb damage by a decentralization of factories and supply bases.
1965 March The first U.S. combat troops arrive in Vietnam on March 8th as 3500 Marines land at China Beach to defend the air base at Da Nang. Dressed in full battle gear ready for full-scale action expecting enemy fire, the soldiers were met only by curious onlookers. One soldier observed, "The war was nowhere in sight."
1965 March On March 9th President Johnson authorized the use of Napalm. Napalm, an anti-personnel bomb, is a petroleum based bomb that shower hundreds of pellets that independently explode on impact.
1965 March A highly successful effort called "Operation Market Time" commences on March 11th. The operation is a joint, U.S. Navy and South Vietnamese Navy, effort to disrupt North Vietnamese supply routes on the sea. The North Vietnamese are forced to the more difficult land route of the Ho Chi Minh trail.
1965 March In protest of President Johnson announcing troop increases and the bombing of North Vietnam Alice Herz, 82 year-old survivor of Nazi camps, in Detroit, set herself on fire.
1965 March The U.S. Embassy in Saigon is bombed on March 29th by Viet Cong terrorists.
1965 April President Johnson on April 1st authorized two more Marine battalions and nearly 20,000 logistical personnel to Vietnam.
1965 April Combat troops are authorized by President Johnson to conduct patrols to root out the Viet Cong in the countryside. The decisions for the offensive operations is kept secret from the press and American public for two months.
1965 April On April 7th President Johnson delivers a speech, "Peace Without Conquest", at Johns Hopkins University offering aid and "unconditional discussions" to North Vietnam in exchange for  a ceasing of hostilities. Privately telling his aides, Johnson says, "Old Ho can't turn that down."
1965 April On April 8th Johnson's peace overture of "unconditional discussions" is rejected by, "Old Ho."
1965 April On April 17th, 15,000 students gather to protest the U.S. bombing campaign at the first major anti-war rally in Washington, D.C. The rally was sponsored by Students for a Democratic Society.
President Johnson, his advisors, the Pentagon, Washington bureaucrats, and weapons manufacturers come to be referred as "the Establishment," by the Student demonstrators.
1965 April President Johnson's aides, including National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, General Westmoreland, General Wheeler, foreign affairs advisor William Bundy, and Ambassador Taylor, met on April 20th in Honolulu, Hawaii to discuss coming to an agreement on a recommendation to the President to send another 40,000 combat soldiers to Vietnam.
1965 April On April 24th President Johnson makes the announcement that Americans in Vietnam are eligible for the extra "combat pay".
1965 April Prime Minister Robert Menzies announces on April 28th that Australia will contribute, making a substantial increase in the number of troops in South Vietnam. Saigon requested the military help but only after the Prime Minister, on behest of the Americans, asked Saigon to send the request.
1965 May 3500 men of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, arrive in Vietnam on May 3rd, becoming the first U.S. Army combat troops in Vietnam.
1965 May South Vietnamese troops in Phuoc Long Province north of Saigon are over-run on May 11th by Viet Cong who also push attacking areas in central South Vietnam.
1965 May The first seize-fire is announced on May 13th in the hopes that Hanoi will negotiate. Six more pauses in the Rolling Thunder bombing will occur with the same hopes. Each pause is ignored by the North Vietnamese with the pause used as a 'time out' to ready for future fighting; repairing air defenses and delivery of more troops and supplies over the Ho Chi Minh trail.
1965 May On May 13th the U.S. Special Forces camp at Phuoc Long is attacked by the Viet Cong. Wounded four times 2nd Lt. Charles Williams knocks out a VC Machine-gun and then guides rescue helicopters, earning the Congressional Medal of Honor.
1965 May The first seize-fire ends on May 19th with the U.S. resuming Operation Rolling Thunder, the bombing of North Vietnam.
1965 May On May 20th Hanoi offers again a peace proposal that had already been rejected by the U.S.
1965 June The first contingent of Australian Combat troops arrive in South Vietnam on June 2nd.
1965 June Nearly 1,500 Vietcong mount a mortar attack and overrun military headquarters and adjoining militia compound in the battle of Dong Xoai on June 10th.
1965 June In another of many military coups, on June 19th, Nguyen Van Thieu seize power in South Vietnam becomming official chief of state. Nguyen Cao Ky becomes Prime Minister of the government of the Republic of Vietnam.
1965 July Three aircraft are destroyed in an attack on July 1st, in a mortar attack by the Viet Cong against the air base at Da Nang.
1965 July Henry Cabot Lodge, on July 8th, is reappointed U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam.
1965 July Another series of meetings, to discuss the future course of action in Vietnam, is held from July 21st to the 28th has President Johnson meeting with top aides.
1965 July One F-4C Phantoms is shot down and three others damaged by antiaircraft missiles on July 24th while escorting a bombing raid at Kang Chi. This use of antiaircraft missiles against American planes is the first of the war.
1965 July President L.B. Johnson on July 28th announces at a noon press conference, he has ordered 44 combat battalions to South Vietnam increasing the numbers from 75,000 to 125,000. The monthly draft calls double to 35,000. "I have asked the commanding general, General Westmoreland, what more he needs to meet this mounting aggression. He has told me. And we will meet his needs. We cannot be defeated by force of arms. We will stand in Vietnam," proclaims President Johnson, "...I do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth, our finest young men, into battle. I have spoken to you today of the divisions and the forces and the battalions and the units, but I know them all, every one. I have seen them in a thousand streets, of a hundred towns, in every state in this union; working and laughing and building, and filled with hope and life. I think I know, too, how their mothers weep and how their families sorrow."
1965 July On July 29th the first 4,000 101st Airborne Division paratroopers arrive landing at Cam Ranh Bay.
1965 Aug. In August the number of American troops in Vietnam is 125,000.
1965 Aug. Combined Action Platoons are formed in August, to protect villages and rooting out Viet Cong guerrillas, using U.S. Marines and South Vietnamese militia units.
1965 Aug. Seven Marines were killed on August 3rd while searching for Viet Cong that attacked the air base at Da Nang with mortars. Later that day suspected Viet Cong villages near Da Nang are destroyed by a U.S. Marine rifle company and are filmed causing controversy when aired in America on CBS TV.
1965 Aug. President Lyndon B. Johnson submits a request of Congress for $1.7 billion more for the war.
1965 Aug. Storage tanks near Da Nang, holding two million gallons of fuel, are destroyed by the Viet Cong on August 5th.
1965 Aug. Major air strikes against the Viet Cong are conducted on August 8th.
1965 Aug. The first decisive victory giving U.S. troops a morale boost with Operation Starlight. From August 18th to the 24th the U.S. Marines conduct a preemptive strike against 1500 Viet Cong preparing to attack the U.S. airfield at Chu Lai. The Marines were tipped-off by a Viet Cong deserter. Supported by artillery and air bombers the Marines land by helicopter and by sea attacking a Viet Cong stronghold on the Van Tuong peninsula in Quang Ngai Province. 45 Marines were killed with 120 wounded. The Viet Cong loose 614 with 9 taken prisoner.
1965 Aug. A bill outlawing the burning of draft cards is signed on August 31st by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Even with the risk of a 5-year prison sentence and $1000 fine the act of burning ones draft card becomes vogue at anti-war rallies, attracting media attention.
1965 Sept. Following up on August's Operation Starlight U.S. Marines and South Vietnamese Forces execute Operation Pirahna, on September 7th, on the Batangan Peninsula, located 23 miles south of the Chu Lai Marine base.
1965 Oct. Anti-war protests were held in nearly 40 cities across America and internationally including Rome, Italy and London, England. The defiant act of draft card burning comes to America on October 15th, at a rally held by the student-ran National Coordinating Committee to End the War in Vietnam.
1965 Oct. The U.S. Special Forces camp at Plei Me is attacked on October 19th by the North Vietnamese Army.
1965 Oct. Just miles from Da Nang, on October 30th, the United States Marines repel wave after wave of Viet Cong forces. 56 guerrillas were killed, among them the body of a 13-year-old Vietnamese boy who had sold drinks to the Marines the day before. Found on the boy's body was a sketch of Marine positions.
1965 Oct. Supporting U.S. involvement in Vietnam, 25000 march in Washington, D.C. on October 30th, led by five Medal of Honor recipients.
1965 Nov. Outside his Pentagon office on November 2nd, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara witnessed the suicide protest of Quaker Norman Morrison as he set himself on fire.
1965 Nov. On November 9th in New York City, protesting the war in Vietnam, 22-year old Roger Allen LaPorte, a Catholic Worker member, sets himself on fire opposite the United Nations building.
1965 Nov. Lasting over two nights with November 14th marking the beginning, the first major battle between U.S. troops and the North Vietnamese Army regulars (NVA) is fought as the Battle of Ia Drang Valley, in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. Responding to the NVA threat Army troops of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) are dropped by helicopters directly into the battle zone to immediately engage in fierce fire fights. They are supported by heavy artillery and air strikes marking the first use of B-52 bombers to assist combat troops. The NVA retreat into the jungle with their losses estimated at nearly 2000. 79 Americans were killed with 121 wounded.
1965 Nov. Major Bruce P. Crandall in the battle of Battle of Ia Drang Valley (Above Entry) on November 14th, 1965, flew his helicopter into the battle zone to rescue troops with the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division (General Custer's regiment) that were about to be over-ran at Landing Zone X-Ray. He and his wing man Captain Edward W. Freeman were credited with saving 70 injured soldiers and providing supplies that allowed the regiment to hold the position. Nearly 42 years later he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on February 26th, 2007 by President George W. Bush.
1965 Nov. The day after America's success at Ia Drang on November 17th, reserve NVA troops and others that had retreated, ambush the U.S. 7th Cavalry of 400 soldiers that were sent by foot to occupy nearby Landing Zone 'Albany.' 155 Americans were killed and 124 were wounded.
1965 Nov. President Johnson is informed by the Pentagon on November 27th, that if planned sweep operations were to succeed, neutralizing the Viet Cong forces during the coming year, the number of troops would need to be increased by 260,000; bringing the total from 120,000 to 400,000. 64,300 would be added by the end of the year.
1965 Nov. On November 27th an anti-war march circles the White House then proceeds to the Washington Monument for a rally.
1965 Nov. Philippine President-elect Ferdinand Marcos announces on November 28th, that he will send troops to help fight in South Vietnam. Marcos was responding to President Johnson's call for "more flags" in Vietnam.
1965 Nov. Having just visited Vietnam, Defense Secretary McNamara privately warns, on November 30th, that America could be expect casualty rates of dead as high as 1000 per month.
1965 Dec. Another American seize-fire is held in December with the expected non-reaction from the North Vietnamese.
1965 Dec. Viet Cong terrorists bomb a hotel used by U.S. military personnel on December 4th, killing 8 and wounding 137 others.
1965 Dec. Defense Secretary McNamara tells President Johnson on December 7th, that the North Vietnamese apparently "believe that the war will be a long one, that time is their ally, and that their staying power is superior to ours." [Time will prove this to be true.]
1965 Dec. In the December 9th New York Times it is revealed that the U.S. military is unable to stop the flow of supplies and soldiers from North Vietnam despite the extensive bombing.
1965 Dec. Top aides meet with the President over December 18th, 19th and 20th discussing possible courses of action concerning Vietnam.
1965 Dec. Another seize-fire begins on Christmas day, the 25th, and lasts 37 days as the U.S. attempt to pressure North Vietnam to the peace table. The North Vietnamese call the seize-fire a "trick" and continue the Viet Cong terrorist activities in South Vietnam.
1965 Info By year's end U.S. troop levels in Vietnam reached 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 by the end of 1965 is under some degree of Viet Cong control.
With little dissent in the U.S. House and Senate the Congress had appropriate $2.4 Billion for the Vietnam war effort.
General William Westmoreland was Time Magazine's 1965 'Man of the Year.'
© Copyright 2005 Roger W Hancock 


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