Vietnam War Timeline

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1858-1884 - France invades Vietnam and makes Vietnam a colony.

October 1930 - Ho Chi Minh helps found the Indochinese Communist Party.

September 1940 - Japan invades Vietnam.

May 1941 - Ho Chi Minh establishes the Viet Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam).

September 2, 1945 - Ho Chi Minh declares an independent Vietnam, called the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

January 1950 - The Viet Minh receive military advisors and weapons from China.

July 1950 - The United States pledges $15 million worth of military aid to France to help them fight in Vietnam.

May 7, 1954 - The French suffer a decisive defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.

July 21, 1954 - The Geneva Accords creates a cease-fire for the peaceful withdrawal of the French from Vietnam and provides a temporary boundary between North and South Vietnam at the 17th parallel.

October 26, 1955 - South Vietnam declares itself the Republic of Vietnam, with newly elected Ngo Dinh Diem as president.

December 20, 1960 - The National Liberation Front (NLF), also called the Viet Cong, is established in South Vietnam.

November 2, 1963 - South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem is executed during a coup.

August 2 and 4, 1964 - North Vietnamese attack two U.S. destroyers sitting in international waters (the Gulf of Tonkin Incident).

August 7, 1964 - In response to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, the U.S. Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

March 2, 1965 - A sustained U.S. aerial bombing campaign of North Vietnam begins (Operation Rolling Thunder).

March 8, 1965 - The first U.S. combat troops arrive in Vietnam.

January 30, 1968 - The North Vietnamese join forces with the Viet Cong to launch the Tet Offensive, attacking approximately one hundred South Vietnamese cities and towns.

March 16, 1968 - U.S. soldiers kill hundreds of Vietnamese civilians in the town of Mai Lai.

July 1968 - General William Westmoreland, who had been in charge of the U.S. troops in Vietnam, is replaced by General Creighton Abrams.

December 1968 - U.S. troops in Vietnam reaches 540,000.

July 1969 - President Nixon orders the first of many U.S. troop withdrawals from Vietnam.

September 3, 1969 - Communist revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh dies at age 79.

November 13, 1969 - The American public learns of the Mai Lai massacre.

April 30, 1970 - President Nixon announces that U.S. troops will attack enemy locations in Cambodia. This news sparks nationwide protests, especially on college campuses.

June 13, 1971 - Portions of the Pentagon Papers are published in The New York Times.

March 1972 - The North Vietnamese cross the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the 17th parallel to attack South Vietnam in what became known as the Easter Offensive.

January 27, 1973 - The Paris Peace Accords are signed that provide a cease-fire.

March 29, 1973 - The last U.S. troops are withdrawn from Vietnam.

March 1975 - North Vietnam launches a massive assault on South Vietnam.

April 30, 1975 - South Vietnam surrenders to the communists.

July 2, 1976 - Vietnam is unified as a communist country, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

November 13, 1982 - The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. is dedicated.