Vietnam War Chronology

Vietnam War Era: People and Perspectives. Editor: Mitchell K Hall. ABC-CLIO, 2009.

May 1941 The Vietminh is formed; it is a broadly based but communist-led organization that seeks Vietnamese independence from France.

September 2, 1945 Ho Chi Minh publicly declares a provisional government and Vietnamese national independence.

November 23, 1946 The French bombard Haiphong.

October 1949 Communists defeat the Nationalists in the Chinese Civil War.

May 8, 1950 The United States agrees to provide France with military and economic assistance in Indochina.

May 7, 1954 French forces surrender to the Vietminh at Dien Bien Phu.

July 21, 1954 The Geneva Conference concludes with the signing of the Geneva Accords.

September 8, 1954 The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) is established.

October 26, 1955 Ngo Dinh Diem is elected president of South Vietnam.

July 20, 1956 The United States supports Diem’s refusal to hold national elections as the deadline established in the Geneva Accords passes.

October 1957 Small-scale civil war begins in South Vietnam between Diem’s forces and communist-led insurgents.

December 20, 1960 Formation of the National Liberation Front (NLF), a South Vietnamese communist-dominated coalition against President Ngo Dinh Diem.

February 6, 1962 The United States establishes Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) with General Paul Harkins as commander of American armed forces.

January 3, 1963 Battle of Ap Bac.

May-August 1963 Buddhist-led demonstrations occur in South Vietnam’s largest cities.

November 1, 1963 Ngo Dinh Diem is killed in a coup and replaced by Duong Van Minh.

November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

December 1963 The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) sends its first regular units into South Vietnam.

January 30, 1964 Nguyen Khanh overthrows Duong Van Minh as head of South Vietnamese government.

June 20, 1964 General William Westmoreland succeeds General Paul Harkins as commander of MACV.

August 2, 1964 North Vietnamese patrol boats attack the Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin near the North Vietnamese coast.

August 4-5, 1964 Both the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy report being under attack; U.S. naval aircraft conduct reprisal raids against North Vietnamese targets.

August 7, 1964 U.S. Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

October 1964 General Khanh resigns as South Vietnam’s president and is replaced by Tran Van Huong.

November 1, 1964 Vietcong forces attack Bien Hoa Air Base.

January 27-28, 1965 South Vietnamese president Tran Van Huong is ousted and General Khanh returns to power.

February 7, 1965 The Vietcong attack a U.S. military base near Pleiku. President Johnson orders retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnamese targets.

February 13, 1965 President Johnson orders a sustained bombing campaign against North Vietnam known as Operation Rolling Thunder. Actual bombing begins on March 2 and continues, with occasional pauses, until October 31, 1968.

February 25, 1965 South Vietnam’s Armed Forces Council replaces General Khanh as head of state with Air Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky.

March 8, 1965 The first U.S. combat troops arrive in Vietnam.

April 6, 1965 President Johnson authorizes U.S. forces to conduct offensive operations to support Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces.

April 7, 1965 President Johnson’s speech at Johns Hopkins University offers unconditional discussions with North Vietnam.

June 19, 1965 Air Marshal Ky becomes premier of the eighth South Vietnamese government since Diem was overthrown.

July 21-28, 1965 President Johnson makes a series of decisions that amount to committing the United States to a major war in Vietnam. Among the decisions he makes: draft calls are raised to 35,000 per month, 50,000 additional troops are sent to Vietnam with additional increases as the situation demands, and the air war against North Vietnam is expanded.

October 23, 1965 The battle of the Ia Drang Valley begins, the first major land battle between U.S. and North Vietnamese regular forces. It ends on November 20.

February 4, 1966 The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Senator J. William Fulbright, holds televised hearings on the Vietnam War.

February 6, 1966 President Johnson convenes a conference in Honolulu on the Vietnam War.

March-April 1966 Vietnamese Buddhists and students protest against the Saigon government.

January 8-26, 1967 Operation Cedar Falls takes place in the Iron Triangle region northeast of Saigon.

February 22, 1967 Operation Junction City begins in War Zone C near the Cambodian border. It concludes on April 1.

September 3, 1967 Nguyen Van Thieu is elected president of South Vietnam.

September 29, 1967 President Johnson offers to stop the bombing of North Vietnam if it will agree to start negotiations, known as the “San Antonio Formula.”

October 16-21, 1967 Antiwar activists hold antidraft demonstrations throughout the United States; the largest occurs at the Army Induction Center in Oakland, California.

October 21-23, 1967 In the March on the Pentagon, 100,000 people demonstrate against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C.

November 30, 1967 Senator Eugene McCarthy announces his candidacy to challenge President Johnson for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968.

January 20, 1968 North Vietnamese forces besiege an American Marine base at Khe Sanh. The siege is lifted on April 14.

January 30, 1968 NLF and North Vietnamese forces launch the Tet Offensive against cities throughout South Vietnam.

February 20, 1968 The Senate Foreign Relations Committee begins hearings on the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident.

February 28, 1968 General Earle Wheeler informs President Johnson that General Westmoreland needs an additional 206,000 troops.

March 12, 1968 Senator Eugene McCarthy pulls a near upset of President Johnson in the New Hampshire primary.

March 16, 1968 Senator Robert Kennedy announces his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on an antiwar platform.

A platoon of U.S. soldiers slaughters hundreds of unarmed villagers in the hamlet of My Lai.

March 25-26, 1968 Johnson reconvenes the “Wise Men,” who advise against additional troop increases and recommend a negotiated peace in Vietnam.

March 31, 1968 President Johnson announces a unilateral halt to all U.S. bombing north of the 20th Parallel and that he will seek negotiations with North Vietnam. He also announces his withdrawal from the presidential race.

May 12, 1968 Peace negotiations between the United States and North Vietnam begin in Paris.

June 5, 1968 Robert Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles.

June 10, 1968 General Creighton Abrams succeeds General Westmoreland as U.S. military commander in Vietnam.

August 26-29, 1968 The Democratic Party nominates Vice President Hubert Humphrey for president at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Riots occur between Chicago police and antiwar demonstrators.

October 31, 1968 President Johnson announces a complete bombing halt over North Vietnam, ending Operation Rolling Thunder.

January 25, 1969 The first four-way plenary session takes place in Paris among the United States, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the NLF.

March 18, 1969 President Nixon orders Operation Menu, the secret bombing of communist bases in Cambodia.

June 8, 1969 President Nixon announces that 25,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn by the end of August, the beginning of Vietnamization.

June 10, 1969 The NLF announces the formation of a Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) to rule in South Vietnam.

August 4, 1969 Secret negotiations begin in Paris between U.S. special envoy Henry Kissinger and North Vietnam’s Xuan Thuy.

September 2, 1969 Ho Chi Minh dies.

October 15, 1969 The Moratorium, the largest antiwar demonstration in American history, takes place across the country.

November 3, 1969 President Nixon’s “Silent Majority Speech” defends his Vietnam War policies.

November 15, 1969 The Mobilization draws more than 250,000 people to Washington, D.C., in protest of the Vietnam War.

March 18, 1970 General Lon Nol ousts Prince Norodom Sihanouk as Cambodia’s head of state.

March 27, 1970 ARVN forces attack communist bases inside Cambodia for the first time.

April 30, 1970 American forces invade the Fishhook region of Cambodia.

May 4, 1970 Ohio National Guard troops fire into a crowd of student demonstrators on the campus of Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine.

May 9, 1970 An estimated 80,000 young people, mostly college students, demonstrate peacefully in the nation’s capital, protesting the Kent State Massacre and calling for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Indochina.

May 20, 1970 More than 100,000 workers in New York City march in support of Nixon’s war policies.

June 24, 1970 The U.S. Senate repeals the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

June 30, 1970 U.S. ground forces end their role in the Cambodian operation.

August 19, 1970 The United States signs a pact with Cambodia to provide Lon Nol’s government with military aid.

January 1, 1971 Congress forbids the use of U.S. ground troops in Laos or Cambodia.

February 8, 1971 South Vietnamese forces invade Laos to cut supply routes down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Communist counterattacks drive them out of Laos and inflict heavy casualties. The invasion ends on March 24.

March 29, 1971 Lieutenant William Calley is convicted of mass murder. His sentence is later reduced and he is paroled after three years.

April 19-23, 1971 Vietnam Veterans Against the War stage a demonstration in Washington, D.C.

June 13, 1971 The New York Times begins publication of what becomes referred to as the Pentagon Papers.

October 3, 1971 Nguyen Van Thieu is reelected president of South Vietnam.

December 26, 1971 President Nixon orders the resumption of U.S. bombing of North Vietnam.

February 21, 1972 President Nixon begins his historic visit to China, which ends on February 27.

March 30, 1972 North Vietnam conducts its Easter Offensive, a three-pronged attack across the demilitarized zone, into the central highlands, and northwest of Saigon that ends on April 8.

May 8, 1972 President Nixon orders the mining of all North Vietnamese ports and the Linebacker bombing campaign.

May 20, 1972 President Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev meet in Moscow for a summit conference.

June 1972 General Fred Weyand replaces General Creighton Abrams as commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam.

September 15, 1972 South Vietnamese forces recapture Quang Tri City.

October 8-11, 1972 Secret meetings in Paris between Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho produce a tentative settlement of the war.

October 22, 1972 President Thieu rejects the proposed settlement.

December 14, 1972 The United States breaks off peace talks with the North Vietnamese.

December 18, 1972 President Nixon orders renewed mining of North Vietnamese harbors and Linebacker II bombing campaign, known as the “Christmas Bombing.”

December 28, 1972 Hanoi announces its willingness to resume negotiations if the United States will stop bombing above the 20th parallel; the bombing ends on December 31.

January 8-18, 1973 Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho resume negotiations in Paris and reach an agreement similar to the one reached the previous October.

January 23, 1973 President Nixon announces the signing of the Paris Accords, which go into effect on January 27, 1973.

January 27, 1973 The U.S. military draft ends.

February 1, 1973 Secret letter from Richard Nixon to Pham Van Dong promises postwar reconstruction aid to North Vietnam.

February 12, 1973 The release of U.S. prisoners of war begins.

February 21, 1973 A cease-fire formally ends the 20-year war in Laos.

March 29, 1973 The last U.S. troops and prisoners of war leave South Vietnam.

June 4, 1973 The U.S. Congress blocks all funds for any American military activities in Indochina, but the Nixon administration works out a compromise to permit continued U.S. bombing in Cambodia until August 15.

August 14, 1973 The U.S. bombing of Cambodia ends.

November 7, 1973 Congress enacts the War Powers Act over President Nixon’s veto.

February 1974 South Vietnam launches a military offensive against PRG-controlled areas west of Saigon.

August 9, 1974 Richard Nixon resigns the U.S. presidency. Gerald Ford is sworn in as president.

September 16, 1974 President Ford offers clemency to draft evaders and deserters.

January 6, 1975 NVA forces overrun Phuoc Long Province. When the United States does not react, Hanoi concludes that America will not reintroduce its military forces to save South Vietnam.

January 28, 1975 President Ford requests an additional $722 million in military aid for South Vietnam. Congress refuses his request.

March 1975 NVA forces launch an offensive in the central highlands.

March 12, 1975 Ban Me Thuot falls to the communists.

March 14, 1975 President Thieu orders the withdrawal of ARVN from the central highlands.

March 25, 1975 Hanoi launches its Ho Chi Minh campaign to “liberate” South Vietnam before the rainy season begins.

April 8-21, 1975 Communists win the last major battle of the Vietnam War at Xuan Loc, about 30 miles from Saigon.

April 12, 1975 President Nguyen Van Thieu resigns and flees South Vietnam.

April 17, 1975 The Khmer Rouge accept the Cambodian government’s surrender and occupy the capital city of Phnom Penh.

April 29-30, 1975 The last Americans and thousands of South Vietnamese are evacuated from Saigon.

April 30, 1975 Saigon falls to communist forces, ending the Vietnam War.