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A Vietnam War Timeline [Note: Reports later indicated that his death was due to a case of mistaken identity -- he had been mistaken for a Frenchman. France recognizes Vietnam as a "free state" within the French Union. French troops replace Chinese in the North.
The End of the Line 1957
Following months of steadily deteriorating relations, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam launches its first consorted attack against the French. French General Etienne Valluy attempts, and fails, to wipe out the Vietminh in one stroke. As part of the agreement the French pledge to assist in the building of a national anti-Communist army. Included in the aid package is a military mission and military advisors.
A force of 40, heavily armed Vietminh lay seige to the French garrison at Dienbienphu. Using Chinese artillery to shell the airstrip, the Vietminh make it impossible for French supplies to arrive by air. It soon becomes clear that the French have met their match. You knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly.
Delegates from nine nations convene in Geneva to start negotiations that will lead to the end of hostilities in Indochina.
Vietnam War Timeline
The idea of partitioning Vietnam is first explored at this forum. Geneva Convention Agreements Announced: As part of the agreement, a provisional demarcation line is drawn at the 17th parallel which will divide Vietnam until nationwide elections are held in The United States does not accept the agreement, neither does the government of Bao Dai.
Britain, France, and United States covertly urge Diem to respect Geneva accords and conduct discussions with the North. Diem Becomes President of Republic of Vietnam: Communist insurgent activity in South Vietnam begins. Guerrillas assassinate more than South Vietnamese officials. Thirty-seven armed companies are organized along the Mekong Delta. Terrorist Bombings Rock Saigon: The Trail will become a strategic target for future military attacks.
Buis and Master Sargeant Chester M. Kennedy narrowly defeats Richard Nixon for the presidency. Diem government dubs them "Vietcong. Vice President Johnson Tours Saigon: US Air Force begins using Agent Orange -- a defoliant that came in metal orange containers-to expose roads and trails used by Vietcong forces.
Buddhists Protest Against Diem: Tensions between Buddhists and the Diem government are further strained as Diem, a Catholic, removes Buddhists from several key government positions and replaces them with Catholics. In a show of protest, Buddhist monks start setting themselves on fire in public places. With tacit approval of the United States, operatives within the South Vietnamese military overthrow Diem. He and his brother Nhu are shot and killed in the aftermath.
In a bloodless coup, General Nguyen Khanh seizes power in Saigon. South Vietnam junta leader, Major General Duong Van Minh, is placed under house arrest, but is allowed to remain as a figurehead chief-of-state. Gulf of Tonkin Incident: The attack comes after six months of covert US and South Vietnamese naval operations. A second, even more highly disputed attack, is alleged to have taken place on August 4.
Debate on Gulf of Tonkin Resolution: The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is approved by Congress on August 7 and authorizes President Lyndon Johnson to "take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression. The Resolution allows Johnson to wage all out war against North Vietnam without ever securing a formal Declaration of War from Congress. The nearly continuous air raids would go on for three years.
Marines Arrive at Danang: Scattered Vietcong gunfire is reported, but no Marines are injured. Heavy Fighting at Ia Drang Valley: The first conventional battle of the Vietnam war takes place as American forces clash with North Vietnamese units in the Ia Drang Valley.
The US 1st Air Cavalry Division employs its newly enhanced technique of aerial reconnaissance to finally defeat the NVA, although heavy casualties are reported on both sides.
The practice of protesting US policy in Vietnam by holding "teach-ins" at colleges and universities becomes widespread. The first "teach-in" -- featuring seminars, rallies, and speeches -- takes place at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in March.
In May, a nationally broadcast "teach-in" reaches students and faculty at over campuses. Veterans Stage Anti-War Rally: Discharge and separation papers are burned in protest of US involvement in Vietnam.
In a major ground war effort dubbed Operation Cedar Falls, about 16, US and 14, South Vietnamese troops set out to destroy Vietcong operations and supply sites near Saigon.
A massive system of tunnels is discovered in an area called the Iron Triangle, an apparent headquarters for Vietcong personnel. King later encourages draft evasion and suggests a merger between antiwar and civil rights groups. University of Wisconsin students demand that corporate recruiters for Dow Chemical -- producers of napalm -- not be allowed on campus.
McNamara Calls Bombing Ineffective: McNamara maintains that movement of supplies to South Vietnam has not been reduced, and neither the economy nor the morale of the North Vietnamese has been broken. In a show of military might that catches the US military off guard, North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces sweep down upon several key cities and provinces in South Vietnam, including its capital, Saigon.
Within days, American forces turn back the onslaught and recapture most areas. From a military point of view, Tet is a huge defeat for the Communists, but turns out to be a political and psychological victory.
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February Battle for Hue: Previously, a religious retreat in the middle of a war zone, Hue was nearly leveled in a battle that left nearly all of its population homeless. Following the US and ARVN victory, mass graves containing the bodies of thousands of people who had been executed during the Communist occupation are discovered.
A short time later the killing began. May Paris Peace Talks Begin: Following a lengthy period of debate and discussion, North Vietnamese and American negotiators agree on a location and start date of peace talks. Talks are slated to begin in Paris on May 10 with W. As the frazzled Democratic party prepares to hold its nominating convention in Chicago, city officials gear up for a deluge of demonstrations.
Mayor Richard Daley orders police to crackdown on antiwar protests. As the nation watched on television, the area around the convention erupts in violence. November Richard Nixon Elected President: Running on a platform of "law and order," Richard Nixon barely beats out Hubert Humphrey for the presidency.
Nixon takes just Third-party candidate George Wallace takes the remaining percentage of votes. In an effort to destroy Communist supply routes and base camps in Cambodia, President Nixon gives the go-ahead to "Operation Breakfast.
Policy of "Vietnamization" Announced: Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird describes a policy of "Vietnamization" when discussing a diminishing role for the US military in Vietnam. The objective of the policy is to shift the burden of defeating the Communists onto the South Vietnamese Army and away from the United States.
Through the reporting of journalist Seymour Hersh, Americans read for the first time of the atrocities committed by Lt. William Calley and his troops in the village of My Lai. At the time the reports were made public, the Army had already charged Calley with the crime of murder.
Such vacillating weakened his government, leading to a coup orchestrated by his defense minister, Lon Nol. President Nixon publicly deplores the actions of the Guardsmen, but cautions: A legacy of deception, concerning US policy in Vietnam, on the part of the military and the executive branch is revealed as the New York Times publishes the Pentagon Papers. The Nixon administration, eager to stop leaks of what they consider sensitive information, appeals to the Supreme Court to halt the publication.
The Court decides in favor the Times and allows continued publication. Nixon Announces Plans to Visit China: Responding to charges by Democratic presidential candidates that he is not moving fast enough to end US involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon orders troop strength reduced by seventy thousand.
In an attempt to force North Vietnam to make concessions in the ongoing peace talks, the Nixon administration orders heavy bombing of supply dumps and petroleum storage sites in and around Hanoi and Haiphong.
The administration makes it clear to the North Vietnamese that no section of Vietnam is off-limits to bombing raids. Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho reach agreement in principle on several key measures leading to a cease-fire in Vietnam. The agreement is to go into effect on January As a result of the hearings, Congress orders that all bombing in Cambodia cease effective at midnight, August Kissinger accepts the award, while Tho declines, saying that a true peace does not yet exist in Vietnam.
According to a report issued by The National Academy of Science, use of chemical herbicides during the war caused long-term damage to the ecology of Vietnam. Subsequent inquiries will focus on the connection between certain herbicides, particularly Agent Orange, and widespread reports of cancer, skin disease, and other disorders on the part of individuals exposed to them. With North Vietnamese forces in the South believed to be at their highest levels ever, South Vietnamese leaders gird themselves for an expected Communist offensive of significant proportions.