Vietnam War Era Timeline

By: Aleck Rettew


Geneva Accords

July 21, 1954

The Geneva Accords were a collection of documents relating to Indochina and issues from the Geneva Conference of April-July, 1954, attended by representatives of Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, France, Laos, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union, the Viet Minh (the North Vietnamese), and the State of Vietnam (the South Vietnamese). The 10 documents--none of which were treaties binding the participants--consisted of 3 military agreements, 6 unilateral declarations, and a Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference.

Beginning of Vietnam War

November 1, 1955

The North Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong were fighting to reunify Vietnam. They viewed the conflict as a colonial war and a continuation of the First Indochina War against forces from France and later on the U.S. Beginning in 1950, American military advisors arrived in what was then French Indochina.

Vietnam War Era

November 1, 1955 - April 30, 1975

The timespan between the official start and end of the Vietnam War.

Assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem

November 2, 1963

Following the overthrow of his government by South Vietnamese military forces the day before, President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother are captured and killed by a group of soldiers. The death of Diem caused celebration among many people in South Vietnam, but also lead to political chaos in the nation. The United States subsequently became more heavily involved in Vietnam as it tried to stabilize the South Vietnamese government and beat back the communist rebels that were becoming an increasingly powerful threat.

Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

November 22, 1963

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, is assassinated while traveling through Dallas, Texas, in an open-top convertible. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson became President upon Kennedy's death, when he took the constitutionally prescribed oath of office onboard Air Force One at Dallas Love Field before departing for Washington, D.C.

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

August 7, 1964

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave broad congressional approval for expansion of the Vietnam War. During the spring of 1964, military planners had developed a detailed design for major attacks on the North, but at that time President Lyndon B. Johnson and his advisers feared that the public would not support an expansion of the war. By summer, however, rebel forces had established control over nearly half of South Vietnam, and Senator Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee for president, was criticizing the Johnson administration for not pursuing the war more aggressively.

USS Pueblo Affair

January 23, 1968

The seizure of the U.S. Navy ship and its 83 crew members, one of whom was killed in the attack, came less than a week after President Lyndon B. Johnson's State of the Union address to the United States Congress, just a week before the start of the Tet Offensive in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and only three days after 31 men of North Korea's KPA Unit 12 had crossed the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and killed 26 South Koreans in an attempt to attack the South Korean Blue House (executive mansion) in the capital Seoul.

TET Offensive

January 30, 1968 - September 23, 1968

One of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War, launched on January 30, 1968, by forces of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam against the forces of the South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States Armed Forces, and their allies. It was a campaign of surprise attacks against military and civilian command and control centers throughout South Vietnam.

My Lai Massacre

March 16, 1968

The Vietnam War mass killing of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968 committed by U.S. Army soldiers.

Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

April 4, 1968

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was known for his use of nonviolence and civil disobedience, was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.

Election of President Nixon

November 5, 1968

Winning one of the closest elections in U.S. history, Republican challenger Richard Nixon defeats Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Because of the strong showing of third-party candidate George Wallace, neither Nixon nor Humphrey received more than 50 percent of the popular vote; Nixon beat Humphrey by less than 500,000 votes.

Expansion of War into Cambodia

April 28, 1970

President Richard Nixon gives his formal authorization to commit U.S. combat troops, in cooperation with South Vietnamese units, against communist troop sanctuaries in Cambodia, triggering antiwar protests like those at Kent State and Jackson State.

Kent State Shooting

May 4, 1970

The shooting of unarmed college students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, by members of the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. Twenty-nine guardsmen fired approximately 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis. ome of the students who were shot had been protesting the Cambodian Campaign, which President Richard Nixon announced during a television address on April 30. Other students who were shot had been walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.

Jackson State Shooting

May 14, 1970

A group of protestingstudents were confronted by city and state police. Shortly after midnight, the police opened fire, killing two students and injuring twelve.[1] The event happened only 11 days after National Guardsmen killed four students at Kent State in Ohio, which had first captured national attention.

Paris Peace Accords

January 27, 1973

A peace treaty signed on January 27, 1973 to establish peace in Vietnam and end the Vietnam War.

Vietnam War Ends

April 30, 1975

North Vietnamese troops finally captured Saigon on April 30, 1975. South Vietnam surrendered the same day. After thirty years of conflict, Ho Chi Minh’s vision of a united, communist Vietnam had been realized.

Timeline Created by Aleck Rettew