Vietnam War (1959 -1975)

    The Vietnam War (known in Vietnam itself as "The America War") was a military conflict in present day Vietnam occurring from 1959 to April 30, 1975. 
     The conflict was a successful effort by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV or North Vietnam) and the indigenous National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, (also known as the Viet Cong, or more informally as the "Charlie", "VC" or "Cong") to impose on Vietnam a communist system, defeating the South Vietnamese Republic of Vietnam (RVN).
     To a degree, the Vietnam War was a "proxy war" between the U.S. and its Western allies on the side of the RVN, with the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China supporting the DRV on the other. As a result of this it is often considered part of the Cold War.
     The chief cause of the war was the failure of Vietnamese nationalists, in the form of the Viet Minh, to gain control of southern Vietnam both during and after their struggle for in
dependence from France in the First Indochina War of 1946–54.
      The U.S., in particular, deployed large numbers of military personnel to South Vietnam between 1954 and 1973. U.S. military advisors first became involved in Vietnam as early as 1950, when they began to assist French colonial forces. In 1956, these advisers assumed full responsibility for training the Army of the Republic of Vietnam or ARVN. President Kennedy increased America’s troop number from 500 to 16,000. Large numbers of American combat troops began to arrive in 1965. The last American troops left the country on April 30, 1975.
     At various stages the conflict involved clashes between small units patrolling the mountains and jungles, guerrilla attacks in the villages and cities, and finally, large-scale conventional battles. U.S. aircraft also conducted substantial aerial bombing campaigns, targeting both logistical networks and the cities and transportation arteries of North Vietnam. Large quantities of chemical defoliants were also sprayed from the air in an effort to reduce the cover available to enemy combatants.
     The Vietnam War was finally concluded on 30 April 1975, with the fall of the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon to North Vietnamese forces. The war claimed between 2 and 5.7 million Southeast Asian lives, a large number of whom were civilians.
  For a detailed outline of the Vietnam War log on to
Other Historical Events:
1960 – John F. Kennedy is elected President.
1963 – Martin Luther King delivers his "I Have a Dream" Speech in Washington, DC
1963 – John F. Kennedy is assassinated and Lyndon B. Johnson becomes President.
1964 – Lyndon B. Johnson defeats Barry Goldwater in the Presidential election.
1965 – U.S. Troop Levels Top 200,000
1966 –  Veterans from World Wars I and II, along with veterans from the Korean War, stage a protest rally in New York City. Discharge and separation papers are burned in protest of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
1967 – Calling the U.S. "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world," Martin Luther King publicly speaks out against U.S. policy in Vietnam. King later encourages draft evasion and suggests a merger between antiwar and civil rights groups.
1968 – Westmoreland Requests 206,000 More Troops
1968 – My Lai Massacre: On March 16, the angry and frustrated men of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division enter the village of My Lai. "This is what you’ve been waiting for — search and destroy — and you’ve got it," say their superior officers. A short time later the killing begins. When news of the atrocities surfaces, it will send shockwaves through the U.S. political establishment, the military’s chain of command, and an already divided American public.
1968 – With his popularity plummeting, and dismayed by Senator Eugene McCarthy’s strong showing in the New Hampshire primary, President Lyndon Johnson stuns the nation and announces that he will not be a candidate for re-election.
1968 – MLK Slain in Memphis
1968 – Robert Kennedy Assassinated
1968 – Running on a platform of "law and order," Richard Nixon just barely beats out Hubert Humphrey for the presidency. Nixon takes just 43.4 percent of the popular vote, compared to 42.7 percent for Humphrey. Third-party candidate George Wallace takes the remaining percentage of votes.
1969 – In an effort to destroy Communist supply routes and base camps in Cambodia, President Nixon gives the go-ahead to "Operation Breakfast." The covert bombing of Cambodia, conducted without the knowledge of Congress or the American public, will continue for fourteen months.
1970 – National Guardsmen open fire on a crowd of student antiwar protesters at Ohio’s Kent State University, resulting in the death of four students and the wounding of eight others. President Nixon publicly deplores the actions of the Guardsmen, but cautions: "when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy." Several of the protesters had been hurling rocks and empty tear gas canisters at the Guardsmen.
1971 -The New York Times publishes the Pentagon Papers, revealing a legacy of deception concerning U.S. policy in Vietnam on the part of the military and the executive branch. The Nixon administration, eager to stop leaks of what it considers sensitive information, appeals to the Supreme Court to halt the publication. The Court decides in favor of the Times and the First Amendment right to free speech.
1972 – Nixon Cuts Troop Levels by 70,000 – Responding to charges by Democratic presidential candidates that he is not moving fast enough to end U.S. involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon orders troop strength reduced by seventy thousand.
1972 – Break-In at Watergate Hotel
1972 – President Nixon Wins Reelection
1973 – A cease-fire agreement that, in the words of Richard Nixon, "brings peace with honor in Vietnam and Southeast Asia," is signed in Paris by Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho. The agreement is to go into effect on January 28.
1973  – End of Military Draft Announced
1973 –  Last American Troops Leave Vietnam
1973 – The Senate Armed Services Committee opens hearing on the U.S. bombing of Cambodia. Allegations are made that the Nixon administration allowed bombing raids to be carried out during what was supposed to be a time when Cambodia’s neutrality was officially recognized. As a result of the hearings, Congress orders that all bombing in Cambodia cease effective at midnight, August 14.
1974- Nixon Impeachment Hearings Begin – In May, the House Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon. Among the articles of impeachment is a resolution condemning Nixon for the secret bombing of Cambodia.

1974 -Nixon Resigns
1974 – With North Vietnamese forces in the South believed to be at their highest levels ever, South Vietnamese leaders gird themselves for a major Communist offensive.
1975-Communists Take Aim at Saigon -The North Vietnamese initiate the Ho Chi Minh Campaign — a concerted effort to "liberate" Saigon. Under the command of General Dung, the N.V.A. sets out to capture Saigon by late April, in advance of the rainy season.
1975 -Phnompenh Captured by Khmer Rouge
The Khmer Rouge accept the surrender of Cambodian leader Lon Nol on April 16. The Khmer Rouge’s victory ends five years of fighting in Cambodia and ushers in a period of genocide and forced "re-education" engineered by the dictator Pol Pot.
1975 – Ford Calls Vietnam War "Finished" – Anticipating the fall of Saigon to Communist forces, U.S. president Gerald Ford, speaking in New Orleans, announces that as far as the U.S. is concerned, the Vietnam War is "finished."
1975 – Last Americans Evacuate as Saigon Falls to Communists – South Vietnamese president Duong Van Minh delivers an unconditional surrender to the Communists in the early hours of April 30. North Vietnamese colonel Bui Tin accepts the surrender and assures Minh, "…only the Americans have been beaten. If you are patriots, consider this a moment of joy." As the few remaining Americans evacuate Saigon, the last two U.S. servicemen to die in Vietnam are killed when their helicopter crashes.


– Pham Van Dong Heads Socialist Republic of Vietnam

– As the National Assembly meets in July of 1976, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam names Pham Van Dong its prime minister. Van Dong and his fellow government leaders, all but one of whom are former North Vietnamese officials, take up residence in the nation’s new capital — Hanoi.
– Jimmy Carter Elected U.S. President
– Carter Issues Pardon to Draft Evaders- In a bold and controversial move, newly inaugurated president Jimmy Carter extends a full and unconditional pardon to nearly 10,000 men who evaded the Vietnam War draft.
– Vietnam Granted Admission to United Nations
– Relations Between Vietnam and China Deteriorate – Vietnam Invades Cambodia – Determined to overthrow the government of Pol Pot, Vietnam invades Cambodia. Phnompenh, Cambodia’s capital, falls quickly as Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge followers flee into the jungles.
– Swarms of Vietnamese refugees take to the sea in overcrowded and unsafe boats in search of a better life. The ranks of the "boat people" include individuals deemed enemies of the state who’ve been expelled from their homeland.

– Ronald Reagan Elected U.S. President
1982 – Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC Dedicated

Designed by Maya Ying Lin, a 22-year-old Yale architectural student, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial opens in Washington, DC. The quiet, contemplative structure consisting of two black granite walls forming a "V", lists the names of the 58,183 Americans killed in the Vietnam War. The memorial itself stirs debate as some think its presentation is too muted and somber, lacking the familiar elements of war-time heroics found in most war memorials.

Sources: and PBS