B-52s Bomb North Vietnam
In an effort to disrupt movement along the Mugia Pass -- the main route used by the N.V.A. to send personnel and supplies through Laos and into South Vietnam -- American B-52s bomb North Vietnam for the first time.
South Vietnam Government Troops Take Hue and Danang
LBJ Meets With South Vietnamese Leaders
President Lyndon Johnson meets with South Vietnamese premier Nguyen Cao Ky and his military advisors in Honolulu. Johnson promises to continue to help South Vietnam fend off aggression from the North, but adds that the U.S. will be monitoring South Vietnam's efforts to expand democracy and improve economic conditions for its citizens.
Veterans Stage Anti-War Rally
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.
C.O.R.E. Cites "Burden On Minorities and Poor" in Vietnam
The Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.) issues a report claiming that the U.S. military draft places "a heavy discriminatory burden on minority groups and the poor." The group also calls for a withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Vietnam.
Operation Cedar Falls Begins
In a major ground war effort dubbed Operation Cedar Falls, about 16,000 U.S. and 14,000 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.
Bunker Replaces Cabot Lodge as South Vietnam Ambassador
Martin Luther King Speaks Out Against War
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.
Dow Recruiters Driven From Wisconsin Campus
University of Wisconsin students demand that corporate recruiters for Dow Chemical -- producers of napalm -- not be allowed on campus.
McNamara Calls Bombing Ineffective
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, appearing before a Senate subcommittee, testifies that U.S. bombing raids against North Vietnam have not achieved their objectives. 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.
Sihanouk Allows Pursuit of Vietcong into Cambodia
North Vietnamese Launch Tet Offensive
In a show of military might that catches the U.S. 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. The U.S. military's assessment of the war is questioned and the "end of the tunnel" seems very far off.
Battle for Hue
The Battle for Hue rages for 26 days as U.S. and South Vietnamese forces try to recapture the site seized by the Communists during the Tet Offensive. Previously, a religious retreat in the middle of a war zone, Hue is nearly leveled in a battle that leaves nearly all of its population homeless. Following the U.S. and A.R.V.N. victory, mass graves containing the bodies of thousands of people who had been executed during the Communist occupation are discovered.
Westmoreland Requests 206,000 More Troops
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.
LBJ Announces He Won't Run
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.
MLK Slain in Memphis
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. Averell Harriman representing the United States, and former Foreign Minister Xuan Thuy heading the North Vietnamese delegation.
Robert Kennedy Assassinated
Upheaval at Democratic Convention in Chicago
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 crack down on antiwar protests. As the nation watches on television, the area around the convention erupts in violence.
Richard Nixon Elected President
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.
Nixon Begins Secret Bombing of Cambodia
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.
Policy of "Vietnamization" Announced
Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird describes a policy of "Vietnamization" when discussing a diminishing role for the U.S. 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.
Ho Chi Minh Dies at Age 79
News of My Lai Massacre Reaches U.S.
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 are made public, the Army has already charged Calley with the crime of murder.
Massive Antiwar Demonstration in DC
Sihanouk Ousted in Cambodia
Prince Sihanouk's attempt to maintain Cambodia's neutrality while war wages in neighboring Vietnam forces him to strike opportunistic alliances with China, and then the United States. The vacillating weakens his government, leading to a coup orchestrated by his defense minister, Lon Nol.
Kent State Incident
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.
Kissinger and Le Duc Begin Secret Talks
Number of U.S. Troops Falls to 280,000
Lt. Calley Convicted of Murder for My Lai
Pentagon Papers Published
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.
Nixon Announces Plans to Visit China
In a move that troubles the North Vietnamese, President Nixon announces his intention to visit the People's Republic of China. Nixon's gesture toward China is seen by the North Vietnamese as an effort to create discord between themselves and their Chinese allies.
Thieu Re-elected in South Vietnam
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.
Secret Peace Talks Revealed
B-52s Bomb Hanoi and Haiphong
In an attempt to force North Vietnam to make concessions in the ongoing peace talks, the Nixon administration orders the 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.
Break-In at Watergate Hotel
Kissinger Says "Peace Is At Hand"
Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho reach agreement in principle on several key measures leading to a cease-fire in Vietnam. Kissinger's view that "peace is at hand" is dimmed somewhat by South Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu's opposition to the agreement.
President Nixon Wins Reelection
Cease-fire Signed in Paris
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.
End of Military Draft Announced
Last American Troops Leave Vietnam
Hearings on Secret Bombings Begin
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.
Kissinger and Le Duc Tho Win Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Henry Kissinger of the United States and Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam. Kissinger accepts the award, while Tho declines, saying that a true peace does not yet exist in Vietnam.
Thieu Announces Renewal of War
Report Cites Damage to Vietnam Ecology
According to a report issued by the National Academy of Science, use of chemical herbicides during the war has 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 in individuals exposed to them.
Communists Take Mekong Delta Territory
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.
Communists Plan Major Offensive
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.
Communist Forces Capture Phuoc Long Province
The South Vietnamese Army loses twenty planes in a failed effort to defend Phuoc Long, a key province just north of Saigon. North Vietnamese leaders will interpret the U.S.'s complete lack of response to the siege as an indication that they can move more aggressively in the South.
Hue Falls to Communists
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.
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.
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."
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.