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Vietnam War Timeline

  • May 6, 1428

    Gain Independence from China

    All through the 1400's China controlled Vietnam until a military leader, Le Loi, gathered rebels together and fought for independence. When the rebels won, Le Loi became the new emperor. This is event is important because Vietnam was able to gain independence from another country ruling it.
  • Gain Independence from France

    In the 1800's Vietnam lost their independence to France. The French forced the Vietnamese to give complete control of their country to them in 1883. The French decided to combine Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to for French Indochina. This year event is important because after gaining freedom 400 years prior, the Vietnamese lost it again to France.
  • Start of Vietminh

    In World War 2 the Japanese took over the French Indochina which included Vietnam but they decided to keep the French-style government. However, when Japan surrendered in the war, a Vietnamese man named Ho Chi Minh decided it was the perfect opportunity to gain Vietnam's independence back. He organized a resistance called the League for the Independence of Vietnam (or Vietminh). When Japan did eventually surrender to the allied powers Vietnam declared their independence.
  • France and Vietnam at War Again

    Once again France and Vietnam were at war again fighting over Vietnam's independence. Before when Ho Chi Minh and his 'league' gained Vietnam's independence the US President supported him because of his efforts. However, when France and Vietnam went to war again he supported the French because of their European ties. Ho Chi Minh had ties to communist allies like China which Truman didn't want to support. This is important because it is when the US declared who they were supporting, the French.
  • Communist Alliance Forms

    In the year 1950 the Communist Chinese wanted to limit the US's power in the Vietnam region. They supported the Vietminh in becoming communist and didn't want the United States to stand in their way. This alliance upset the Americans so a cease-fire was announced which divided the country into two along the 17th parallel, North Vietnam and South Vietnam. In the north the Vietminh had complete control without any argument, where as in the south a French style government was used.
  • Alliance Continued

    This alliance is important because it triggered the cease-fire which ended up dividing the country of Vietnam along the 17th parallel. This also established that the Vietminh were no longer allied with the United States but instead wanted to go the Communist route.
  • Battle: Dien Bien Phu

    When France and Vietnam were at war the United States provided money to the French for the cost of war. However the cost was getting extremely high because of the Vietminh's battle strategies. In a last effort the French tried one last attempt but found themselves out-numbered almost 3:1. Hoping the US would come to the rescue the French general told his men not to worry. However, Presisdent Eisenhower didn't want his men to fight so soon after the Korean war. With no help the French were forced
  • Dien Bien Phu continued

    to surrender on May 7th, 1954.
  • The Geneva Conference

    A day after the French had surrendered both sides met in Geneva Switzerland to map out what would happen to the French Indochina. France, the Vietminh, Communist China, the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, Laos and Cambodia all joined the meeting. This event was important because it called for the cease-fire in Vietnam and split the country along the 17th parallel.
  • A planned date

    In the Geneva Conference the planned date in July of 1956 was when a re-election for the entire country of Vietnam would have taken place however the United States refused to agree to it. They believed that Vietnam's mostly communist public would vote in favor of Communism. This planned date was important becasue if it would have happened President Eisenhower believed Ho would have won at a ration of 4:1 making the entire country of Vietnam Communist!
  • Over Throw Ngo Dinh Diem

    President Eisenhower chose Ngo Dinh Diem to be the leader of South Vietnam however that decision didn't side well with many people in South Vietnam. People believed his land policies only favored the rich and his brutal torture tactics on opposition was also hated. The Vietminh who had stayed in the south now had assistance from the locals wanting to over throw Diem. In 1960 south Vietnam formed the National Liberation Front or Vietcong to overthrow the Diem regime.
  • Over Throw Ngo Dinh Diem continued

    This is important because most of the Vietcong members were communist living in South Vietnam which the United States wanted to avoid in the first place.
  • President Kennedy has Different Ideas

    When Kennedy took office he was on board with the Domino Theory- to stop Communism from spreading. He wanted to aid South Vietnam in stopping the Vietcong which meant more US soldiers. The number of officers training in South Vietnam when Kennedy took office was around 700 which he quickly changed to 16,000. Not only did he add more men to aid he directed them to defend in direct combat which made the death tolls climb. This is important because the US was now supporting S. Vietnam with men.
  • Diem killed

    After Buddhist monks in South Vietnam refused to follow Diem's rule and were thrown in prison or killed the United States threatened to stop supporting Diem. However, when Diem refused to comply US leaders encouraged a small group of South Vietnam officers to assinate him. In November of 1963 the assasination killed Diem and his brother which upset US advisers who were planning on flying Diem out of the country. This is important because the Diem regime was had finally ended with is death.
  • The Tonkin Gulf Resolution

    In August of 1964 President Johnson announced to the public that two US ships had been attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin. In response to this Johnson asked Congress for permission to use military force to stop any further aggression. Congress then decided to give the president authority to take "all necessary meansures to repel any armed attack against forces of the United States". This was important because it gave President Johnson a way to progress the war.
  • Operation Rolling Thunder

    Operation Rolling Thunder was an air campaign that targeted military sites in North Vietnam. Most specifically Johnson wanted to destroy the Ho Chi Minh Trail which was a complex trail used by north Vietnam to transport supplies and to communicate back and forth. Johnson often had roads and bridges bombed which only slowed the Vietcong down because they either rebuilt the bridge or did without it. However, this was important because it showed north Vietnam that the US was not going to give up.
  • American Forces in Vietnam

    After the Tonkin Gulf Resolution Johnson's secret service sent out a draft for the war in Vietnam. In total 2.6 million Americans served in Vietnam with suprising diversity. African Americans and Hispanic men served in the earlier years of the war in high numbers because of the draft registration. A stat. from the book says that "In 1965, for example, African Americans accounted for almost 24 percent of all battle deaths, even though they made up only 11 percent of the US population."
  • Protests in the United States

    On April 17, 1965 approximately 20,000 people marched to Washington DC to protest the US bombing campaign. By using civil rights tactics used during that time it drew far more people than expected and started the antiwar movement. This is important because US citizens were publically showing their disagreement to Congress allowing Johnson to bomb Vietnam without talking with them first.
  • Tet Offensive

    On January 30 it marks the start of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. In years past fighting usually stopped to celebrate the day peacefully. However in 1968 when US and South Vietnam soldiers were sleeping NLF guerrillas and North Vietnam troops attacked with suprise. This attack was important because it showed the US that no where in South Vietnam was safe not even the capitol, Saigon. By attacking successfully and with suprise North Vietnam was able to hurt the US's confidence.
  • Nixon's end-the-war Plan

    When Nixon took office he had an end-the-war plan that had two main goals. One of them being to slowly have American soldiers pull out of the fighting and to gradually hand the fighting over all to the South Vietnamese. He hoped this would produce a stable anti-communist South Vietnam and that the US wouldn't be defeated. His second goal was to gradually come to a peace agreement with North Vietnam. Both of these goals he called Vietnamization.
  • Kent State University protest

    When the public got word of the bombings in Cambodia protestors were outraged especially on college campuses. On May 4th, 1970 protestors at Kent State University set fire to their ROTC building. In reaction to this, National Guard Troops shot into a group of students killing 4 and injuring 9 others. Events like this happened on other campuses which is important because students and staff members later when on strike to protest the brutality.
  • Congress repeals Tonkin Gulf Resolution

    Congress was also suprised to hear about the bombings in Cambodia because they too believed the US's involvement was slowly coming to an end. In December of 1970 Congress repealed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution because they were beginning to doubt Nixon's constitional right to extend the war. This is important because Congress now had it's constitutional right back to declare war.
  • Pentagon Papers

    In February of 1971 the New York Times starting publishing secret official documents known as the Pentagon Papers. The printings showed that the American public were misled in the course of the war which upset a lot of people. This is important because Americans were now starting to question their government and the real reasons why they had been fighting in Southeast Asia all this time.
  • The Fighting Continues

    North Vietnam hoped to find weaknesses in Nixon's Vietnamization strategy so they had a major invasion of South Vietnam. Although Nixon bombed more targets in North Vietnam and the Haiphong Harbor which allowed Soviet ships to send supplies, North Vietnam had more power than ever and more territory than ever in South Vietnam. This is all important because Nixon's strategies have still yet to work because of the North's endurance.
  • A cease fire is called

    After heavily bombing North Korea for two weeks straight and getting no where Nixon agreed to meet yet again with officials to discuss talks about an agreement. On January 27, 1973 a cease fire was finally declared with both sides feeling like they had small victories. The US would withdraw troops out of Vietnam and would help rebuild the country and both sides agreed to a prisoner exchange. This meeting and cease fire was important because it finally stopped fighting in Vietnam but did not
  • A cease fire is called continued

    ... but it did not address what political system Vietnam would now follow, Democracy or Communism.
  • Saigon's military collapses

    In January of 1975 Northern Vietnam overran small parts of South Vietnam including the capitol city Saigon. This was important because American citizens were still living in the city and needed a way of evacuation because of the rebels at the US embassy.
  • Saigon surrender

    When North Vietnam attacked Saigon the US military flew some 120,000 Vietnamese who had worked with the Americans to the US. This is important because days later on April 30, 1975 the government of Saigon surrendered unconditionally to the Northern rebels. However the US was no longer involved in the Vietnam War.