Timeline of U.S. Involvement in Vietnam Conflict

1950 First shipment of American military aid to the French colonial administration in Vietnam arrives
1955 President Eisenhower sends first military advisors to South Vietnam to train the South Vietnamese Army
1956 At French exit the US Military Assistance Advisor Group (MAAG) assumes full responsibility for training South Vietnamese forces
1959 First two Americans are killed during a Viet Minh guerillas strike at Bien Hoa
1961 President Kennedy sends 100 Special Forces troops to South Vietnam
1961 A U.S. aircraft carrier arrives in Saigon and Vice President Johnson visits Saigon
1962 U.S. Air Force begins using Agent Orange to defoliate trails used by Viet Cong forces
1963 U.S. military advisors and Special Forces increase to 21,000
1964 U.S. destroyers USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy are reported attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin. U.S. Congress passes “Gulf of Tonkin” resolution authorizing President Johnson to wage all-out war against North Vietnam
1965 Retaliatory air-strikes begin against North Vietnam. Operation “Rolling Thunder” lasts three years. First U.S combat forces (2 Marine battalions) arrive in Danang, South Vietnam. Rapid escalation of force level ensues, which tops 200,000 by end of the year. U.S. Congress provides $2.4 billion for war effort with little dissent
1966 U.S. B-52s bomb North Vietnam for the first time. Bombing of Haiphong and Hanoi begins
1967 Major ground operations continue, including Operation Cedar Falls. Troop level reaches 486,000
1968 Communist forces conduct Tet Offensive with major attacks in almost all of South Vietnam’s 44 provinces. Battle of Hue lasts 26 days. Offensive is huge military defeat for the Communists but a political and psychological victory. Johnson scales back bombing of the North and commits the U.S. to a non-military solution to the war. U.S. troop level reaches 537,000.
1969 Secret bombing of Communist supply routes and base camps inside Cambodia begins. “Vietnamization” program initiated, shifting the burden of the war to the South Vietnamese Army and away for the U.S. First U.S. combat forces withdrawn.
1970 President Nixon orders more troops withdrawn reducing total to 280,000 by the end of the year. Invasion of Communist sanctuaries inside Cambodia by U.S. and South Vietnam forces
1971 Continued troops withdrawn as combat operations wind down. Air strikes continue with heaviest attacks on North Vietnam since 1968
1972 A seventh withdrawal of forces reduces troop level to 69,000 by mid-year. North Vietnamese launch major offensive across the DMZ into the South. In retaliation President Nixon orders the renewed bombing of the Hanoi and Haiphong areas. Bombing above the 20th parallel continues. U.S. mines the North Vietnam harbors
1973 By March all U.S. combat forces have been withdrawn from Vietnam and all U.S. prisoners released
1974 Just prior to Saigon’s capture by North Vietnamese forces, the last remaining U.S. personnel are evacuated from Vietnam.
1982 Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated to the 58,183 Americans killed during the war

Comments are closed.