Vietnam War Timeline


Emergence of Ho Chi Minh

1941 - 1955

Ho Chi Minh led the Viet Minh independence movement and helped to establish the Democratic Republic of Vietnam by defeating the French Union. Although he stepped down from power due to health problems in 1955, he was a visible figurehead for the Vietnamese who fought for his cause.

First Indochina War/U.S. role in war

December 19, 1946 - August 1, 1954

The First Indochina War was a war between the French and Viet Minh in the South. The U.S. supported the French in their battle against Viet Minh, which was supported by the Soviet Union and China. The U.S. delivered navy and Air Force assistance, as well as CIA operations nearing the end of the war.

Eisenhower and "Domino Theory"

April 7, 1954

The domino theory was promoted by the U.S. government, and it theorized that if one state in a particular region became communist, then the countries around that state would also become communist in a domino effort. The domino theory was used by the U.S. government to justify American intervention in the Cold War and elsewhere.

Geneva Peace Conference and the Geneva Accords

April 26, 1954 - July 20, 1954

The Geneva Conference was a meeting between the Soviet Union, the US, France, the UK, and China that was trying to find a way to unify Vietnam. Different countries that had questions were also represented, and this included countries that sent troops to the Korean War via the UK and other countries that helped to end the First Indochina War between France and the Viet Minh.

Anti-War protests

1964 - 1975

The U.S. began demonstrations which became stronger as the years of the Vietnam War progressed. Those who protested include mothers, students, hippies, journalists, and educators. The protests varied from nonviolent forms to extremely violent demonstrations.

Gulf of Tonkin Incident/Resolution

August 2, 1964

After North Vietnamese torpedoes hit the U.S. destroyer Maddox, two days later, the Maddox and another destroyer ship reported that they were under attack again, although this information was later found to be false. Johnson authorized retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnam and accused them of aggression, although he did not look at why North Vietnam attacked with torpedoes in the first place.

Tet Offensive/Impact on Perception of War and Johnson's Presidency

January 30, 1968 - September 23, 1968

The Tet offensive was started by the Viet Cong and set North Vietnam against South Vietnam, the U.S., and allies. The attacks were by surprise on military and civilian commands and control centers during a time where no attacks were allowed. Although there was a prior agreement for a cease-fire during the Tet Lunar New Year celebrations, North Vietnam launched many attacks on South Vietnam.

Nixon and Vietnamization

January 28, 1969

Vietnamization was an idea of the Nixon administration to train South Vietnamese forces to take on a more aggressive combat role while reducing the number of U.S. combat troops. Although the idea was to reduce ground troops, the U.S. still approved of support to South Vietnam by the U.S. air force under the policies of U.S. foreign military organizations.

Kent State Shootings

May 4, 1970

The Kent State massacre was when unarmed college students were shot by the Ohio National Guard. Some of the students were protesting against Richard Nixon's idea of the Cambodian campaign. The response to the shootings were that 4 million students were on strike, and many universities, colleges, and high schools were closed throughout the U.S. Public opinion stirred about the U.S.'s role in the Vietnam War.

Nixon & "Peace with Honor"

January 23, 1973

"Peace with Honor" was a way to describe the Paris Peace Accords that ended the Vietnam War. The phrase came from a speech Nixon gave that at one point, said, "I pledge to you that we shall have an honorable end to the war in Vietnam." Although the plan said that the North Vietnamese would release U.S. prisoners and U.S. troops would withdraw from South Vietnam, Saigon was attacked by the North Vietnamese after the last U.S. soldier left Vietnam.