Vietnam war 1 jpg

The Vietnam War – 1954-1980

  • Vietnam Gains Independence

    Vietnam Gains Independence
    Ho Chi Hinh declares vietnamese independence from France, proclaiming the Democratic republic of Vietnam (DRV).
  • First Indochina War

    First Indochina War
    This war between France and Northern Vietnam lasted from 1946 to 1954. The conflict led to the creation of the 17th parallel, which split vietnam between the French in the south (alongside the US) and the Viet Minh (Ho Chi Minh's followers) in the north.
  • U.S. Support

    U.S. Support
    In 1955 President Dwight D. Eisenhower, pledged his support to No Hingh Diem and South Vietnam. At this time, Southern Vietnam was capturing Viet Minh (Northern) sympanthizers (also known as Viet Cong).
  • Period: to

    Tension Escalates

    From 1957 to 1959, tension between the North Vietnam and South Vietnam rose signifigantly. Viet Cong (North) members began targeting various government officials and other Republic figures. In 1959, Viet Minh followers began attacking southern Vietnams army in firefights.
  • Operation Ranch Hand

    Operation Ranch Hand
    From 1961 to 1972, Agent Orange (chemical herbicides) were used by U.S. military forces during the war to eliminate forest cover for the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, as well as, eliminate the crops that might be used to feed them. Somewhere around 19 million gallons of herbicides were spread across 4.5 million acres of Vietnamese land.
  • Period: to


    The US dropped almost 400,000 tons of napalm (highly flammable gel) bombs in the decade between 1963 and 1973.
  • Thich Quang Duc

    Thich Quang Duc
    Protesting discrimination against Buddhist by the newly Catholic Southern Vietnam, Thich Quang Duc set himself ablaze (Self-immolation) on a street in Saigon. Four more monks and a nun set themselves ablaze protesting Diem as well. Diem continued to deny any sign of discrimination after this occurred (Some say this event led to his death). These instances of self-immolation continued throughout the 60's and one occurrence even outside of the pentagon by Norman Morrison.
  • Diem Killed

    Diem Killed
    Backed by the US, on November 2, 1963, Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu were captured and killed by a group of soldiers. This caused a mix of emotions among the people of South Vietnam. Three weeks later, President Kennedy was assonated and the US became more involved in the fight against Northern communist rebels.
  • Gulf of Tonkin Incident

    Gulf of Tonkin Incident
    On August 2, 1964, the U.S. destroyer Maddox exchanged shots with North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin.
  • Operation Rolling Thunder

    Operation Rolling Thunder
    U.S. planes began regular bombing raids, codenamed Operation Rolling Thunder, in February. On October 31, 1968, President Johnson stopped bombing in order to pursue a negotiation settlement with the Communists north. After Nixon, was elected bombing continued and in 1972 he launched Operation Linebacker.
  • More U.S. Soldiers Sent to Battle

    More U.S. Soldiers Sent to Battle
    On March 8 1965, Johnson sends U.S. combat forces into battle in Vietnam. By June, 82,000 combat troops were stationed in Vietnam, and General William Westmoreland was calling for 175,000 more by the end of 1965 to aid the struggling South Vietnamese army.
  • Pentagon Protest

    Pentagon Protest
    In October 1967, some 35,000 demonstrators staged a mass antiwar protest outside the Pentagon
  • Launch of the Tet offinsive

    Launch of the Tet offinsive
    On January 31, 1968, some 70,000 DRV forces under General Vo Nguyen Giap launched the Tet offensive (new year), a series of attacks on more than 100 cities and towns in South Vietnam. Though taken by surprise, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces managed to strike back quickly, and the communists were unable to hold any of the targets for more than a day or two. Despite heavy casualties, North Vietnam achieved a strategic victory with the Tet Offensive,
  • Battle of Khe Sanh

    Battle of Khe Sanh
    The Battle of Khe Sanh began on January 21, 1968,
  • Limiting Bombing

    Limiting Bombing
    On March 31, President Johnson declared that he was limiting the bombing of North Vietnam to the area below the 20th parallel (thus sparing 90 percent of Communist territory) and calling for negotiations to end the war. This marked a crucial turning point in the United States participation in the Vietnam War.
  • Vietnamization

    On November 3, 1969, Nixon announced his Vietnamization strategy to the American people in a nationally televised speech. This strategy included slowing backing out of the war and teaching South Vietnam to fight the war with less of their aid.
  • Anti-War Protest

    Anti-War Protest
    On November 15, 1969, the largest anti-war protest in American history took place in Washington, D.C., as over 250,000 Americans gathered peacefully, calling for withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam.
  • Invasion of Cambodia

    Invasion of Cambodia
    U.S. and South Vietnamese forces launch a limited "incursion" into Cambodia. These events led to numerous protest in the United States.
  • Kent State Shootings

    Kent State Shootings
    On May 4, twenty-eight guardsmen opened fire on a crowd of protesters, killing four students and wounding nine at Kent State (Ohio). Ten days later, at Jackson State (MS) police and patrolmen fired automatic weapons in a dorm, killing two students. These events sparked protests and violence on campuses, including several firebombings.
  • Pentagon Papers

    Pentagon Papers
    Anthony J. Russo and Daniel Ellsberg were behind of the biggest leaks of their time. In June 1971, the first pentagon papers were published by the New York times. These papers detailed the history of the Vietnam war, including official conversations between people of the highest level of the government.
  • The End of Draft Calls

    The End of Draft Calls
    Nixon ended draft calls in 1972, and instituted an all-volunteer army the following year. Before this, 20+% of soldiers in the war were drafted. Men eligible for the draft went through extreme measures to avoid being drafted, such as faking illnesses, fleeing to Canada, and marrying one another. In 1974, President Ford grants clemency to draft dodgers as long as they sign an oath of allegiance to the United States.
  • Christmas Bombings

    Christmas Bombings
    In December Nixon authorized a number of bombing raids against targets in Hanoi and Haiphong, that lasted for nearly two weeks. Known as the Christmas Bombings, the raids drew international condemnation.
  • Paris Peace Talks

    Paris Peace Talks
    January 1973, the United States and North Korea concluded a final peace agreement, ending open hostilities between the two nations. The peace agreement was formally signed on January 27, 1973
  • Operation Frequent Wind

    Operation Frequent Wind
    On this day, Operation Frequent Wind begins, one of the largest helicopter evacuations in history. With North Vietnam advancing, many Southern Vietnamese feared for their lives. Over the time span of two days, as many as 1,373 Americans and 5,595 South Vietnamese from the US embassy. At 7:53 on April 30th, the last US helicopter left holding 11 marines.
  • Vietnam Unifies

    Vietnam Unifies
    In 1976, South and North Vietnam were unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.