Vietnam War Timeline. By powlowdotu May 7, 1954 The French is defeated by Vietnam. The French suffer a decisive defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Jul 21, 1954 France withdraws from Vietnam. The Geneva Accords creates a cease-fire for the peaceful withdrawal of the French from Vietnam and provides a temporary boundary between North and South Vietnam at the 17th parallel. Oct 26, 1955 South Vietnam declares itself a republic. South Vietnam declares itself the Republic of Vietnam, with newly elected Ngo Dinh Diem as president. Dec 20, 1960 The NLF is established in Vietnam. The National Liberation Front (NLF), also called the Viet Cong, is established in South Vietnam. Nov 2, 1963 South Vietnamese president is executed. South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem is executed during a coup. Aug 2, 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident. (1) North Vietnamese attack two U.S. destroyers sitting in international waters. Aug 4, 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident. (2) North Vietnamese attack two U.S. destroyers sitting in international waters. Aug 4, 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resoution, granting President Lyndon B. Johnson full command of the U.S. Army to help "preserve the peace" in Southeast Asia. Mar 2, 1965 Operation: Rolling Thunder A sustained U.S. aerial bombing campaign of North Vietnam begins. Mar 8, 1965 First U.S. troops arrive in Vietnam. The first U.S. combat troops arrive in Vietnam. Jan 30, 1968 Tet Offensive is launched. The North Vietnamese join forces with the Viet Cong to launch the Tet Offensive, attacking approximately one hundred South Vietnamese cities and towns. Mar 16, 1968 Mai Lai massacre. U.S. soldiers kill hundreds of Vietnamese civilians in the town of Mai Lai. Jul 1, 1968 Abrams replaces Westmoreland as commanding officer of the troops. General William Westmoreland, who had been in charge of the U.S. troops in Vietnam, is replaced by General Creighton Abrams. Dec 1, 1968 U.S. troops in Vietnam reaches 540,000. U.S. troops in Vietnam reaches 540,000. Jul 1, 1969 First withdrawals from Vietnam. President Nixon orders the first of many U.S. troop withdrawals from Vietnam Sep 2, 1969 Ho Chi Minh dies. Communist revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh dies from a heart attack at age 79. His death wasn't announced until after 48 hours, for fear that it will demoralize the NLF. Apr 30, 1970 U.S. troops attack Cambodia. President Nixon announces that U.S. troops will attack enemy locations in Cambodia. This news sparks nationwide protests, especially on college campuses. Jun 13, 1971 Portions of the Pentagon Papers is published. Portions of the Pentagon Papers are published in The New York Times. Mar 12, 1972 Easter Offensive The North Vietnamese cross the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the 17th parallel to attack South Vietnam in what became known as the Easter Offensive. Jan 27, 1973 Official cease fire. The Paris Peace Accords are signed that provide a cease-fire. May 29, 1973 The last U.S. troops are wothdrawn. The last U.S. troops are withdrawn from Vietnam Period: Aug 2, 1974 to Aug 4, 1974 Gulf of Tonkin Incident. North Vietnamese attack two U.S. destroyers sitting in international waters.