Major Events of the Vietnam War

  • President Johnson Returns

    President Johnson Returns
    Vice President Johson returns to the United States from a visit to Southeast Asia and gives a report to Kennedy about his trip. He says that the US must help the countries of Southeast Asia.
  • President Meeting

    President Meeting
    The president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem and the US president John F Kennedy meet and Kennedy increases the number of american advisors in Vietnam from 340 to 805.
  • First US Helicopters Arrive

    First US Helicopters Arrive
    The first US helicopters arrive in Vietnam, carrying 400 soldiers.
  • Agent Orange

    Agent Orange
    The US bering to drop Agent Orange, a defoliating herbicide, the prevent the use of some roads and trails by Viet Cong
  • Declaration of Neutrality in Laos

    Declaration of Neutrality in Laos
    The Declaration of Neutrality in Laos is signed in Geneva for the reestablishment of Laotian neutrality.
  • US Helicopters Ordered to Shoot First

    US Helicopters Ordered to Shoot First
    US helicopters are ordered to shoot first when encountering hostile forces after two of their helicopters were shot down.
  • South Vietnamese Fire on Buddhists

    South Vietnamese Fire on Buddhists
    South Vietnamese troops , enforcing a ban on the Buddhist multi-colored flag, fire upon 20,000 Buddhists at Hue.
  • Monk Sets Himself on Fire

    Monk Sets Himself on Fire
    Buddhist Monk Quang Duc sets himself on fire in protest against Diem government policies.
  • Diem Troops Attack Buddhists

    Diem Troops Attack Buddhists
    Troops loyal to Diem attack Buddhist temples and sanctuaries throughout the country. President Kennedy denounces the attacks.
  • Diem is Overthrown

    Diem is Overthrown
    South Vietnam's president, Ngo Dinh Diem, is overthrown by a military coup. Diem, along with being overthrown by the coup, was also killed.
  • Viet Cong Seize Hamlets

    Viet Cong Seize Hamlets
    Five hundred Viet Cong troops cross the border and seize three strategic hamlets. They are forced to withdraw after a 14 hour gun fight with ARVN (the South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam). They lose 100 men, while ARVN loses 4.
  • US Sends More Troops

    US Sends More Troops
    The US sends 5,000 more troops into Vietnam.
  • U.S.S. Maddox Attacked

    U.S.S. Maddox Attacked
    The U.S.S. Maddox is attacked by North Vietnamese PT boats. The Maddox had been sailing in the Gulf of Tonkin since July 28, 1964, to support covert South Vietnamese forces operating against North Vietnamese shore installations. The American ship fights off the PT boats, which launch 3 torpedos, none of which strike the Maddox.
  • US Aircraft Attack North Vietnam

    US Aircraft Attack North Vietnam
    In response to the attack on the U.S.S. Maddox, President Johnson ordersan attack by US aircraft on North Vietnam. F-8 Crusader A-4 Skyhawks and Skyraiders take part in the attack.
  • US Senate Approves Tonkin Gulf Resolution

    US Senate Approves Tonkin Gulf Resolution
    The United States Senate approves the Tonkin Gulf Resolution authorizing the President to "take all necessary measures" to repel attacks against US forces and to "prevent further aggression" in the area. The Resolution provides President Johnson with a blank check to take whatever action he deems appropriate in South Vietnam. It is the only congressional action, other than approving military funding, ever taken during the Vietnam War to authorize American actions during the war.
  • South Vietnam Defeated in Battle

    South Vietnam Defeated in Battle
    A six day battle around the village of Binh Gia ends with the defeat or ARVN (South Vietnam)
  • US Heli Base Attacked

    US Heli Base Attacked
    Viet Cong troops attack a helicopter base at Camp Halloway. The troops blow up the barracks of US military advisors at Pleiku, killing 8 and wounding 126.
  • Rolling Thunder

    Rolling Thunder
    The US launches Rolling Thunder, in which 100 US Air Force planes and 60 South Vietnamese planes bomb North Vietnam. Rolling Thunder continues on and off from now until 1968.
  • Marines Land at Da Nang

    Marines Land at Da Nang
    3,500 US Marines land at Da Nang to help provide security for the Da Nang Air Base.
  • First Anti-War Campus Sit In

    First Anti-War Campus Sit In
    In the US, the first anti-Vietnam War campus sit-in takes place at the University of Michigan.
  • First Series of Raids Against Hanoi Road

    First Series of Raids Against Hanoi Road
    The first series of raids against bridges on the road to Hanoi begins. In the course of this raid, North Vietnamese MIGS (Russian-built fighteraircraft) attacks US planes.
  • US Suspends Air Raids

    US Suspends Air Raids
    The US suspends air raids on North Vietnam, hoping for a peaceful overture from the North Vietnamese.
  • US Resumes Air Raids

    US Resumes Air Raids
    The North Vietnamese don't respond to the US peace initiative and suspention of bombing, so the US resumes bombing them.
  • Australian Troops go into Vietnam

    Australian Troops go into Vietnam
    Eight hundred Australian troops depart for Vietnam. The Australian forcescenter around the 1st Australian Task Force (ATF), headquartered in theNui Dat Rubber plantation in Phuoc Tuy Province, southeast of Saigon. TheAustralian forces are later supplemented with troops from New Zealand. In the course of war, 47,424 Australian troops serve in Vietnam, 494 of whom are killed and 2,368 of whom are wounded. In addition, 35 New Zealanders are killed and 135 are injured.
  • US Troops Officially Engaged in Combat

    US Troops Officially Engaged in Combat
    The US State Department announces that American troops are engaged in combat.
  • First B-52 Raids

    First B-52 Raids
    The first B-52 raids are launched against Viet Cong.
  • First Major US Offensive

    First Major US Offensive
    The first major US offensive action of the war is taken by 3000 troopsof the 173rd Airborne Division and 800 Australian troops. The troops are to sweep Zone D, north of Saigon. The sweep fails to make any contact withthe Viet Cong.
  • First Medal Of Honor Awarded

    First Medal Of Honor Awarded
    US Marine Corps Lieutenant Frank Reasoner of Kellog, Idaho becomes the first marine in Vietnam to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. The medal is awarded posthumously, since Reasoner is killed in an ambush.
  • SAM Missiles Engage US Planes

    SAM Missiles Engage US Planes
    Ground to air missiles fire at four US Phantoms over Vietnam, shooting down one and damaging three. This marks the first time that US planes are attacked by surface to air missiles (SAM).
  • US Forces Increase to 125,000

    US Forces Increase to 125,000
    President Johnson announces an increase in US military forces in Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000. He also announces an increase in the monthly draft from 17,000 to 35,000. On July 29th, the first 4,000 paratroopers of the 101st airborne division arrive in Vietnam.
  • Operation Starlite Begins

    Operation Starlite Begins
    Operation Starlite, the first major action fought by only US forces, takes place. US marines numbering 5,500 destroy a Viet Cong base area nearVan Tuong. The attack is preceded by a massive artillery and air assault. US forces successfully capture the Vietcong positions and rout the Communist forces. The US marines lose 45 and claim to kill 668 Viet Cong.
  • US Attacks in Central Highlands

    US Attacks in Central Highlands
    The US 1st Cavalry Division joins the South Vietnamese in an attack in the Central Highlands.
  • US Raid Hits 115 Targets In North Vietnam

    US Raid Hits 115 Targets In North Vietnam
    In one of the heaviest raids of the war, US aircraft raid 115 points in North Vietnam to interdict supply lines.
  • Bombing Halts

    Bombing Halts
    The United States halts the bombing of North Vietnam. During the halt, the US engages in a massive peace offensive aimed at finding a diplomatic settlement to the war. The North Vietnamese do not recipricate and, after 37 days, President Johnson announces that the bombing will resume.
  • Operation Masher

    Operation Masher
    In the largest search and destroy mission up to that point in the war, Operation Masher, 2,389 Viet Cong casualties are reported. The name of the operation is changed from Operation Masher to White Wing at the insistence of the President. The operation combined US and Vietnamese troops in sweeps and amphibious assaults. Operation Masher continued until March 6.
  • US Base Wiped Out

    US Base Wiped Out
    Enemy troops wipe out the US Special forces camp at A Shau. US Marine Corps helicopters manage to rescue 12 of the 17 Green Berets and 172 ofthe 400 South Vietnamese.
  • First B-52 Raids on North Vietnam

    First B-52 Raids on North Vietnam
    The US launches the first B-52 raids on North Vietnam, targeting the Mugia Pass. That same day, the Viet Cong launch a rocket attack on Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, which kills 7 US troops and destroys 2 helicopters and 3 transport aircraft.
  • US Attacks Facilities Near Hanoi

    US Attacks Facilities Near Hanoi
    US planes attack fuel storage facilities around Hanoi and Haiphong, marking the first time that facilities around Hanoi are hit.
  • Operation Hasting

    Operation Hasting
    A force of 8,500 Marines and 2,500 South Vietnamese troops launch OperationHasting. The operation's goal is to thwart the North Vietnamese 324 B Division'sefforts to take control of Quang Tri Province. Operation Hasting lasted until August 3.
  • Heaviest Air Raid of the War

    Heaviest Air Raid of the War
    Five hundred US Air Force planes bomb targets in North Vietnam in the heaviest air raid of the war.
  • Operation Attleboro

    Operation Attleboro
    Operation Attleboro begins with a search and destroy mission led by the196thLight Infantry Brigade in the area north of its base camp at Tay Ninh. OnNovember 1, after a month and a half of uneventful patrolling, US troop run into elements of the 9th Viet Cong Division in the dense jungles northwes of Dau Tieng. The Viet Cong fight tenaciously to defend their base camp.US forces are reinforced to face the stubborn Viet Cong opposition. When the battle is over, the Viet Cong are forced to withdraw
  • Record Number of US Planes Downed

    Record Number of US Planes Downed
    Fuel dumps and truck parks are hit around Hanoi. A record eight US planesare downed, bringing US aircraft losses over North Vietnam to a total of 435 planes.
  • Operation Cedar Falls

    Operation Cedar Falls
    After the success of Operation Attleboro, Operation Cedar Falls is launched.The goal of the operation is to rout out Viet Cong base camps in the Iron Triangle. Americans commanders hoped that the Vietcong forces will standand fight. The operation is designed as a classic Hammer and Anvil operation,and includes a number of US and ARVN divisions. The operation is successful in uncovering large caches of arms and other equipment. The Viet Cong do not choose to fight, but 750 Vietcong are killed.
  • Operation Juntion City

    Operation Juntion City
    Operation Junction City, the largest US operation of the war, is launched. Four US divisions, as well as additional brigades, are involved in a massive search and destroy mission along the Cambodian Border. American troops overun much of the area before encountering resistance. There are three major battles, each intiated by the Viet Cong: the first, at Ap BauBang; the second, at Fire Support Base Gold and the third at Ap Gu. In each battle, the Vietcong attack US forces and are beaten.
  • Massive Anti-War Demonstrations Held Throughout US

    Massive Anti-War Demonstrations Held Throughout US
    Massive demonstrations are held throughout the US against the war. Protestors in Central Park, New York City, burn 200 draft cards.
  • First Bombing of Haiphong

    First Bombing of Haiphong
    US aircraft bomb Haiphong for the first time, with 86 planes taking part in the raid. Previously raids on Haiphong had been detered by the fear of hitting foreign ships.
  • US Victory in Hills Around Khesan

    US Victory in Hills Around Khesan
    In one of the fiercest battles of the war, US marines defeat North Vietnamese troops on the hills near the airstrip at Khe Sanh. The US troops benefit from massive air support. During the battle, 160 US servicemen are killedand 764 men wounded - half the effective fighting force. The Communists lose over 940 men as the US forces capture their position.
  • Base Camp at Con Thien Attacked

    Base Camp at Con Thien Attacked
    The US base camp at Con Thien is attacked by North Vietnamese troops.The North Vietnamese assault is turned back after 44 Marines and 177 North Vietnamese troops are killed.
  • Operation Kingfisher

    Operation Kingfisher
    A 130-man company of the 173rd US Airborne Brigade is nearly wiped out in an ambush near Dak To, Kontum Province. By the end, 80 Americans arekilled and 34 are wounded. Operation Kingfisher lasted from now until October 31.
  • Fire Breaks Out on U.S.S. Forrestall

    Fire Breaks Out on U.S.S. Forrestall
    A fire breaks out on aircraft carrier Forrestall off the coast of NorthVietnam, killing 134 crewmen and injuring 62.
  • Battle of Que Son

    Battle of Que Son
    In a 4-day battle in Que Son Valley, 114 men of the US 5th Marine Regiment are killed.
  • Viet Cong Repelled at Loc Ninh

    Viet Cong Repelled at Loc Ninh
    US special forces at Loc Ninh are attacked by the Viet Cong's 273rd Regiment. The special forces are quickly reinforced, and more than 900 Viet Cong are killed during the attack. The attack lasted 4 days.
  • Bloody Battle Near Dak To

    Bloody Battle Near Dak To
    One of the bloodiest battles of the war takes place in the Central Highlands near Dak To. About 4,500 troops of the US 4th Division and 173rd Airborne Brigade face off 6,000 North Vietnamese troops of the 174th regiment. The North Vietnamese are forced to withdraw, with 1,455 dead troops. US casualities number 285 killed and 985 wounded.
  • Year Ends With Heavy US Presence in Vietnam

    Year Ends With Heavy US Presence in Vietnam
    The year ends with 500,000 US troops in Vietnam. In 1967 alone, 9,353 troops are killed in the war.
  • Battle of Khe Sanh

    Battle of Khe Sanh
    The Battle of Khe Sanh begins on January 20th. The North Vietnamese, hoping to recreate their 1954 victory over the French at Dien Bien Phu, begin intense shelling of the US base camp at Khe Sanh, located 14 miles below the DMZ. The Marines base can only be reinforced by air, and the Americans land 5,000 bombs daily in defense of the troops in Khe Sanh. In early April,Operation Pegasus is launched to relieve Khe Sanh, finally lifting the seigeon April 14th.
  • Tet Offensive

    Tet Offensive
    On the first day of the Tet (lunar New Year) truce, the Viet Cong launch their biggest offensive of the war. One thousand Viet Cong troops infiltrate the city of Saigon. The Communist troops capture the Citadel at Hue and seize part of the US embassy in Saigon. It takes nearly two weeks to completely rout out the Viet Cong troops. The attack is a military disaster for the Communists: they lose over 10,000 men and do not manage to hold any of their objectives.
  • Westmoreland Demands More Troops

    Westmoreland Demands More Troops
    General Westmoreland's report to the President states that, despite the failure of the Tet Offensive, the Communists have the initiative. In orderto regain control, Westmoreland requests another 200,000 troops. This would require a call up of the reserves, and the decision is delayed. When thedecision is ultimately reached to deny the request, it represents a realization that the war can not be won by military means.
  • My Lai Massacre

    My Lai Massacre
    A unit of Charlie Company 1st Battalion 20th Infantry slaughter between 200 and 500 unarmed villagers in the hamlet of My Lai. Led by Lieutenant William Calley, the platoon is ordered to enter the village firing.
  • Johnson Announces He Will Not Run Again

    Johnson Announces He Will Not Run Again
    President Johnson announces a unilateral bombing halt. At the end ofthe speech, Johnson stuns the nation by announcing that he will not runfor a second full term as president.
  • Second Communist Offensive

    Second Communist Offensive
    The Communists launch another offensive against South Vietnamese cities.In the course of the offensive, 5,270 Communists, 154 Americans and 326 South Vietnamese are killed.
  • B-52 Raids Near Cambodian Border

    B-52 Raids Near Cambodian Border
    B-52 bombers conduct heavy raids against targets near the Cambodian border. These raids reflect a pattern of increased bombing in South Vietnam along supply lines since the end of the bombing of North Vietnam.
  • Communists End Tet Ceasefire

    Communists End Tet Ceasefire
    Communist forces end a Tet ceasefire, with attacks on Saigon and 115 other cities. Attacks take place throughout Vietnam, killing 453 US soldiers in the first week, 336 in the second and 351 in the third.
  • Secret Bombing of Cambodia

    Secret Bombing of Cambodia
    The US starts the secret bombing of Cambodia.
  • Hamburger Hill

    Hamburger Hill
    US and South Vietnamese troops fight for Ap Bia Mountain. The ten-day battle is one of the fiercest of the war. After 56 Americans are killed and 420 are wounded, the troops capture the hill and kill 597 Vietnamese.The hill is recorded in history as Hamburger Hill, and the actions there are widely criticized in the US. The battle is one of the last major actions of its type in the war. The battle lasted 10 days.
  • Battle at Que Son Valley

    Battle at Que Son Valley
    A fierce battle breaks out in the Que Son Valley, 30 miles south of DaNang. More than 60 Americans are killed in the fighting. The battle lasted 9 days.
  • Bombs Dropped Near the DMZ

    Bombs Dropped Near the DMZ
    Thirty-five B-52s drop more than one thousand tons of bombs on North Vietnamese targets near the DMZ (demilitarized zone) between North and SouthVietnam
  • Largest Anti-War Protest

    Largest Anti-War Protest
    More than 250,000 protesters gather in Washington, D.C., in the largest anti-war demonstration to occur during the Vietnam war.
  • Pres. Nixon Begins Withdrawal

    Pres. Nixon Begins Withdrawal
    Nixon begins withdrawing troops from Vietnam. By the end of the year, US troops are down to 479,000. In 1969, 9,414 Americans are killed in Vietnam.