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Digital History ID 3470

 

  • 1941: Ho Chi Minh forms the Viet Minh.
  • 1946: Viet Minh forces attack a French garrison in Hanoi beginning the first Vietnam War.
  • 1950: President Truman's National Security Council decides to provide military aid for the French war in Indochina.
  • 1954: Following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, an agreement is reached splitting Vietnam at the 17th parallel into a Communist North and a non-Communist South, pending nationwide elections in 1956.
  • 1955: Ngo Dinh Diem proclaims the Republic of South Vietnam and becomes its president.
  • April 1959: President Dwight D. Eisenhower commits the United States to maintaining South Vietnam's independence.
  • July 1959: Two U.S. advisors are the first Americans killed in a guerrilla attack 20 miles north of Saigon.
  • April 1960: North Vietnam begins mandatory military service as its troops infiltrate South Vietnam.
    By year's end, about 900 U.S. military personnel are in Vietnam.
  • Nov. 1960: Democrat John F. Kennedy defeats Republican Richard M. Nixon for president.
  • Dec. 1960: The National Liberation Front (the Viet Cong) is proclaimed.
  • May 1961: Kennedy sends 100 Special Forces troops, trained for guerrilla warfare, to Vietnam.
  • Dec. 1961: Secretary of State Dean Rusk says South Vietnam is in "clear and present danger" of communist conquest.
  • Feb. 1962: More American advisors and support personnel arrive. Kennedy warns that American advisors will return fire if attacked.
  • May 1962: In response to communists moving into Laos, U.S. sends 5,000 Marines and 50 fighter jets to Thailand.
  • Oct. 1962: U.S. discovers Soviet missile sites under construction in Cuba. Soviets agree to remove missiles, but crisis heightens fears of superpower conflict.
  • Jan. 1963: In battle of Ap Bac, South Vietnamese and Americans suffer worst defeat to date: five U.S. helicopters downed and three Americans killed.
  • Aug. 1963: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech during civil rights march in Washington.
  • Nov. 1963: South Vietnamese generals kill President Ngo Dinh Diem in a plot condoned by key American officials who felt Saigon could not win under his leadership. Three weeks later, Kennedy is assassinated. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson succeeds him.
  • 1964: North Vietnam begins infiltrating its regular army units into the South.
  • Aug. 1964: The Maddox, a U.S. destroyer, is slightly damaged by enemy boats in Tonkin Gulf. After a reported second attack--which many later concluded did not occur--Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving Johnson authority to intensify the war.
  • Oct. 1964: China explodes its first atomic bomb.
  • Nov. 1964: Johnson elected in landslide over Republican Barry Goldwater, who had pushed for an even tougher approach to Vietnam.
  • Dec. 1964: Bob Hope begins frequent visits to entertain the troops.
  • Jan. 1965: Johnson sends Congress a budget containing the biggest expansion of domestic welfare programs since the New Deal, reflecting his goal of providing funds for both the war and what was called the Great Society.
  • Feb. 1965: Viet Cong attack an American airfield at Pleiku. U.S. bombers attacked targets in North for the first time, in a reprisal for attacks on U.S. bases.
  • March 1965: First U.S. combat troops in South Vietnam land in Da Nang.
  • April 1965: As Johnson formally authorizes combat troops to be used for offensive operations, antiwar movements become more active.
  • Aug. 1965: Large scale race rioting, resulting from the arrest of a black motorist by a white officer, leaves 34 dead in Watts section of Los Angeles.
  • Oct. 1965: Antiwar sentiment continues to build; protests held in 40 U.S. cities.
  • Dec. 1965: American troop strength reaches 184,300; to date there are 636 U.S. deaths.
  • Jan. 1966: Congress is asked for $ 12.8 billion to help finance the war; merits of war debated in Congress, but the money eventually is approved.
  • June 1966: Johnson expands bombing to oil installations in Hanoi and Haiphong.
  • Summer 1966: Race riots break out in Chicago and several other northern cities. Riots escalate a year later.
  • Sept. 1966: U.S. announces that it is using chemicals to destroy enemy's jungle cover, thus introducing the herbicide Agent Orange into the conflict; thousands of American soldiers later say they developed cancer and other afflictions as a result of exposure.
  • April 1967: Boxing champion Muhammad Ali refuses induction into the armed forces, citing religious reasons. He tells reporters, "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong."
  • Oct. 1967: At least 50,000 protesters march on Pentagon. For first time, opinion polls find more Americans are against the war than support it.
  • Nov. 1967: Democrat Eugene McCarthy announces that he will run as a presidential candidate dedicated to ending the war.
  • Dec. 1967: U.S. military personnel in Vietnam reach 485,600; 16,021 killed to date.
  • Jan. 1968: North Vietnam launches massive Tet offensive, reaching all the way to U.S. Embassy in Saigon; despite heavy communist casualties, public relations victory goes to Hanoi, fueling antiwar movement.
  • Feb. 1968: Viet Cong and North Vietnamese kill 2,800 civilians in Hue. U.S. casualty rate reaches weekly high: 543 killed.
  • March 1968: Johnson announces he will not seek reelection. My Lai massacre of South Vietnamese civilians by American troops leaves hundreds of unarmed civilians dead.
  • April 1968: Rev. King, who had called for total withdrawal from Vietnam, is assassinated.
  • May 1968: Moves toward peace bring first substantive meeting between U.S. and North Vietnam in Paris. Bloodiest month of the war for U.S. casualties, 2,371 Americans killed.
  • June 1968: Robert F. Kennedy, a Democratic presidential candidate opposed to the escalation of the war in Vietnam, is assassinated.
  • Aug. 1968: Violence erupts between police and antiwar demonstrators at Democratic convention in Chicago.
  • Nov. 1968: Richard Nixon, who vowed to achieve peace with honor in Vietnam, defeats Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey in presidential election.
  • May 1969: U.S. proposes peace plan calling for troop withdrawal by both sides.
  • June 1969: Nixon announces that U.S. troops will begin unilateral withdrawal.
  • July 1969: Apollo 11 astronauts land on the moon.
  • Aug. 1969: Woodstock festival, a social and musical milestone, draws an estimated 500,000 to upstate New York.
  • Sep. 1969: North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh dies in Hanoi; successor pledges to continue war.
  • Nov. 1969: Details of the My Lai massacre become public.
  • Dec. 1969: First Vietnam War draft lottery, tying mandatory military service to date of birth, is held in U.S.
  • Feb. 1970: National Security Advisor Henry A. Kissinger begins secret peace talks in Paris; Nixon later appoints him secretary of State.
  • Mar. 1970: The United States begins bombing North Vietnamese sanctuaries and supply routes in Cambodia.
  • April 1970: U.S. and South Vietnamese troops invade Cambodia in effort to cripple enemy supply lines; it is last big operation of the war for the United States.
  • May 1970: Four students killed by National Guardsmen during antiwar protest at Kent State University in Ohio.
  • Dec. 1970: Congress prohibits using troops or advisors in Cambodia and Laos.
  • March 1971: Lt. William L. Calley Jr. convicted of premeditated murder in My Lai massacre.
  • June 1971: New York Times begins publishing top-secret Pentagon Papers, which explored the U.S. decision-making process regarding South Vietnam.
  • July 1971: The 26th Amendment lowers the voting age to 18.
  • Nov. 1971: Nixon announces that U.S. ground forces have taken a defensive role, leaving offensive attacks to the South Vietnamese.
  • Dec. 1971: U.S. military strength declines to 156,800. U.S. death toll, 45,626.
  • March 1972: North Vietnam begins a full-scale invasion of the South.
  • April 1972: In effort to pressure Hanoi on lagging peace talks, bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong resumes after four-year lull.
  • June 1972: Five men seized while breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building in Washington.
  • July 1972: Actress Jane Fonda, an anti-war activist, goes to Hanoi on a fact-finding mission, poses for pictures with North Vietnamese soldiers, becomes target of criticism in U.S.
  • Oct. 1972: National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger announces, "Peace is at hand." His announcement of a tentative accord turns out to be premature.
  • Nov. 1972: Nixon wins second term, defeating Democrat George S. McGovern.
  • Dec. 1972: The North Vietnamese walk out of the Paris peace talks; American bombers strike at Hanoi and Haiphong.
  • Jan. 1973: U.S., South Vietnam, Viet Cong and North Vietnam sign a cease-fire agreement.
  • March 1973: Last U.S. ground troops leave Vietnam.
  • Nov. 1973: Congress overrides presidential veto of War Powers Act, which limits president's ability to wage war without congressional approval.
  • Jan. 1974: North Vietnam orders major offensive to "liberate" South Vietnam.
  • April 1974: Cambodia falls to Communist Khmer Rouge rebels, who begin program of genocide that kills more than a million Cambodians.
  • Aug. 1974: Nixon resigns in Watergate scandal and is succeeded by Vice President Gerald R. Ford.
  • Sep. 1974: Ford offers clemency to Vietnam draft evaders and military deserters.
  • Apr. 29, 1975: Last U.S. military personnel killed, in rocket attack.
  • Apr. 30, 1975: North Vietnamese capture Saigon, ending the Vietnam War.
  • July 1975: North Vietnam annexes South Vietnam and disbands the National Liberation Front.
  • Dec. 1978: Vietnam invades Cambodia and occupies the country for a decade.
  • Nov. 1982: The Vietnam Memorial in Washington is dedicated.
  • Feb. 1994: The United States ends its 19-year trade embargo against Vietnam.
  • July 1995: The United States extends full diplomatic recognition to Vietnam.

NORTH VIETNAM KEY FIGURES

  • Vo Nguyen Giap: Architect of North Vietnam's military victory
  • Ho Chi Minh: Revered in North as father of the country
  • Ngo Dinh Diem: South Vietnamese President assassinated by his generals
  • Nguyen Cao Ky: Air force officer helped lead South in post-Diem era
  • Nguyen Van Thieu: Resigned South Vietnamese presidency shortly before war's end
  • Lyndon Johnson: Inherited presidency and unpopular war
  • Richard Nixon: Took office after nation had turned against war
  • William C. Westmoreland: Controversial U.S. commander
  • William Calley: Platoon leader found guilty in My Lai massacre. He was sentenced first to life, then to ten years in prison. He was freed by order of a civil court in 1974.
  • Robert McNamara: As defense chief, guided U.S. policy
  • Henry C. Lodge: Pushed air war in role as envoy and presidential advisor

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