The Vietnam War

Event Date Location Significance
Democratic Republic of Vietnam established1945VietnamWith defeat and withdrawal of Japanese, Ho Chi Minh leads new state with 15,000 French soldiers present
Ho retreats to hills1947VietnamFrench seek to depose Ho who leads Viet Minh troops in opposition to French colonial presence
French suffer huge defeat as 12,000 troops surrender and withdraw from IndochinaMay 7, 1954DienbienphuAlthough U.S. paid 80% of French costs, Eisenhower refused to send troops to Vietnam
Geneva Accords establish temporary division of Vietnam at 17th parallelJuly 1954Geneva, SwitzerlandVietnam is divided into two nations with Ho leading the north and Ngo Dinh Diem leading the "free" South. Promise of free elections in 1956
Diem opponents form National Liberation Front (NLF)1960South VietnamCommunists and others attempt to overthrow Diem and unify Vietnam
Diem overthrown and assassinatedNovember 2, 1963SaigonWith U.S. approval and support, Diem is replaced with military junta. 16,000 American military advisors in Vietnam
Gulf of Tonkin ResolutionAugust 5, 1964Washington, D.C.Following conflict between U.S. destroyers and North Vietnamese gunboats, Pres. Johnson is given authority to "prevent further aggression." Measure passes Congress 416-0 in House and 88-2 in Senate
Johnson defeats Goldwater for presidencyNovember 1964U.S.Portrayed as peace candidate, Johnson scores huge victory with 61% of the vote
Johnson orders bombing of North Vietnam after attack at Pleiku kills 7 U.S. soldiersFebruary 1965VietnamIn retaliation for Communist attack on U.S. unit, LBJ authorizes attack, but stops short of all-out bombing
20,000 U.S. troops sent to support South VietnamApril 1, 1965Violating his promises, LBJ raises U.S. troop level to 100,000 to fight Viet Cong
Tet Offensive beginsJanuary 31, 1968VietnamViet Cong forces launch massive attack on American positons throughout Vietnam. LBJ's popularity ratings drop to 35%
My Lai MassacreMarch 16, 1968VietnamLt. William Calley leads unit which kills at least 175 unarmed Vietnamese civilians. Calley is later court-martialed and convicted, though none of his superiors are charged
LBJ announces withdrawal from 1968 presidential raceMarch 31, 1968White House, Washington, D.C. Johnson announces end of bombing and calls for peace talks after embarassing performance in New Hampshire primaries
Paris Peace talks beginMay 1968ParisLongest war in U.S. history begins winding down
Nixon defeats Humphrey and WallaceNovember 1968U.S.Nixon wins with 43.4% of popular vote
U.S. begins secret bombing of North Vietnam and CambodiaMarch 1969
Nixon avoids antiwar protests by not telling Congress or people about bombings
Nixon announces withdrawal of 60,000 U.S. ground troopsSeptember 1969
First reduction of U.S. troops since start of war
U.S. troops enter CambodiaApril 1970CambodiaDespite Nixon pledges that U.S. troops were withdrawing from Vietnam, Cambodia invasion and bombing brought huge domestic opposition
Kent State MassacreMay 4, 1970OhioNational Guard forces kill four students protesting Vietnam involvement
Congress repeals Tonkin Gulf ResolutionJune 24, 1970Washington, D.C.In 81-10 vote, Senate repeals authorization of U.S. involvement
Laos invadedFebruary 1971LaosU.S. and South Vietnamese forces make incursion to "protect withdrawal of U.S. forces"
Pentagon Papers releasedJune 1971New YorkNew York Times begins publication of secret war study
North Vietnamese troops invade SouthMarch 1972VietnamU.S. responds by widespread bombing of North, including bombing of Hanoi and mining of Haiphong Harbor
Largest bombing of North VietnamDecember 17, 1972North VietnamAmerican B-52s begin largest bombing of war, losing 15 B-52s
Cease-fire accord achievedJanuary 27, 1973ParisAll fighting to stop and American prisoners of war to be released by North Vietnam
Nixon resigns presidencyAugust 1974White House, Washington, D.C.Under pressure from members of his own party, Nixon ceases fight over Watergate scandal
North Vietnamese forces take SaigonApril 30, 1975Saigon, South VietnamCommunist forces occupy South, renaming Saigon Ho Chi Minh City. U.S. troops evacuate American embassy as South Vietnamese flee

Vietnam War Statistics