The conflict's roots took shape in July 1954, when France was forced out of Vietnam after one hundred years of colonial rule.
In the peace process, the country was partitioned into northern and southern sections, with a U.S.-supported government in the south and a communist republic in the north.
On December 20, 1960, the northern Communist Party formed the National Liberation Front (NLF), ( usually referred to as the Viet Cong) with the ultimate goal of reunifying the country.
In response, U.S. President John F. Kennedy began supplying military equipment and 2000 advisors in early 1961. In May 1961 Kennedy sent 400 Green Berets to train the South Vietnamese in counterinsurgency tactics. Dec 11, 1961 -- The USNS Core arrives in Saigon with the first US helicopter units, 33 Vertol H-21 C Shawnee and 400 crewmen.
January 12, 1962 -- The US Air Force launches Operation Ranch Hand to deny the Vietcong the use of the road and trails. Using a defoliating herbicide named Agent Orange ,over 10% of the vegetation in Vietnam is destroyed during the course of the war. The defoliant also causes severe disabilities among Vietnam veterans. July 23, 1962 -- U.S. Helicopters are ordered to shoot first when encountering hostile forces after two helicopters are shot down while ferrying South Vietnamese troops.
November 2, 1963 -- South Vietnam's President Diem is overthrown in a military coup. The coup takes place with the tacit approval of the United States. Diem was killed during the coup, despite assurances that he would not be. The United States had hoped that by overthrowing the unpopular Diem it could strengthen the opposition to the communist Viet Cong.
Matters escalated when three North Vietnam PT boats launched an attack against the U.S.S. Maddox , an American ship engaged in a reconnaissance mission in international waters in the Gulf of Tonkin, on August 2, 1964. The American ship fights off the PT boats, which launch 3 torpedos, none of which strike the Maddox. On August 3, the Maddox is joined by the U.S.Turner Joy in the Gulf. That night, it is reported that the Turner Joy was attacked. The NSA in 2005 issued a report that the second attack never happened. In the U.S. Congress, August 10 th - the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed, allowing for an expanded war effort. --authorized the President to &quot;take all necessary measures&quot; to repel attacks against US forces and to &quot;prevent further aggression&quot; in the area.The Resolution provided President Johnson with a blank check to take whatever action he deemed appropriate in South Vietnam. Despite hopes for a limited, &quot;controlled&quot; war, the conflict would drag itself out for another decade.
In early 1965, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson ordered the first of many sustained bombing missions over North Vietnam , which would be known as Operation Rolling Thunder ( began on March 2, 1965 and lasted until the end of October 1968). --100 US Air Force planes and 60 South Vietnamese planes. -- In all, the US flies 304,000 fighter bomber sorties and 2,380 B-52 bomber sorties over North Vietnam, loses 922 aircraft and drops 634,000 tons of bombs. In March of the same year, the first U.S. combat troops were sent to Vietnam.
March 8, 1965 – First American combat troops arrive – 3,500 US Marines land at Da Nang air base – freeing South Vietnamese troops for other tasks.
April 3-5, 1965 -- The first series of raids against bridges on the road to Hanoi begins. In the course of this raid, North Vietnamese MiGs (Russian-built fighter aircraft) attack US planes.
Despite superior U.S. firepower and technology, the North Vietnamese forces were successful in fighting a protracted, guerilla-style conflict.
The tunnel rats were American, Australian and New Zealander soldiers who performed underground search and destroy missions during the Vietnam War . Whenever troops would uncover a tunnel, Tunnel Rats were sent in to kill any buried enemy and to plant explosives to destroy the tunnels. No dead tunnel rats were left in a tunnel, dead or wounded they were all dragged out with commo wire, ropes, or by a comrade using a fireman's crawl.
In the course of the war, the Viet Cong created very extensive underground complexes
American fortunes changed for the worse with the Tet Offensive in 1968 , in which major South Vietnam cities and the U.S. embassy in Saigon were simultaneously attacked. It took nearly two weeks to completely rout the VC troops. The North Vietnamese lost an estimated 10,000 men and did not hold on to any of their objectives; however, historians disagree on the literal success of the offensive, but it proved to be a huge boost for North Vietnamese morale, and had the opposite effect on the South Vietnamese and U.S. forces.
As American service members fought in Vietnam, a different kind of war was taking place for American citizens back home, where the struggle was between the American people and their opposition to the fighting in Vietnam; and the American presidency's (beginning with J.F.K.) determination to halt the spread of communism.
Incidents such as the police riot in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention became more common, and even became tragic with the shootings of Kent State University student protestors in 1970.
Ultimately, lacking a credible plan for winning the war, the American government was forced to give in to the wishes of the American people and withdraw its troops from Vietnam. In early January 1973, the Nixon administration, the Paris Peace Agreement ended open hostilities between the U.S. and North Vietnam.
However, the South Vietnamese continued to battle the Communists from March 1973 until the fall of Saigon and the capture of the South Vietnamese presidential palace on April 30, 1975, which brought the war to a close.
So divisive was the conflict in Vietnam and America's involvement that relations among the government, the people and the military would be strained until they were reunified by the Gulf War 25 years later. As evidenced by numerous documentaries, books and films about the war, the hard lessons the U.S. learned in Vietnam are still very much in the public consciousness.
CONSEQUENCES: 1. The Vietnam War cost the United States 58,000 lives and 350,000 casualties . It also resulted in between one and two million Vietnamese deaths. 2. Congress enacted the War Powers Act in 1973, requiring the president to receive explicit Congressional approval before committing American forces overseas.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial -- One wall points toward the Washington Monument , the other in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial - the names are in chronological order - 58,249 names are on The Wall, including 8 women Vietnam Women’s Memorial - dedicated on November 11 , 1993 to the women of the United States who served in the Vietnam War, most of whom were nurses . A short distance away from the wall is another part of the memorial, a bronze statue known as The Three Soldiers - the soldiers are purposefully identifiable as Caucasian , African American , and Hispanic – this monument faces the Wall.
Consequences <ul><li>58,000 lives and 350,000 American casualties. </li></ul><ul><li>Between one and two million Vietnamese deaths. </li></ul><ul><li>Congress enacted the War Powers Act in 1973. </li></ul>