America takes over the War 1963-1965
Operation Sunrise • March, 1962 • AKA Strategic Hamlets: build local hamlets up to “protect” the Vietnamese.
March 6, 1964: Sec. McNamara: “We will stay as long as it takes, we shall provide whatever help is required to win the battle against the communist insurgents”
Aug. 1964: LBJ: “I am not about to send American boys 9 or 10 thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.
Gulf of Tonkin Incident • Op Plan 34-A: CIA operation to antagonize the North Vietnamese.
Aug 2-4, 1964 • USS Maddox and Turner Joy report being “attacked” by North Vietnamese commandos in speed boats.
Aug. 4, 1964 • LBJ authorizes the bombing of the North in retaliation to the “incident”
Lt. Everett Alvarez • Navy Pilot shot down, 1st American POW
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution • Aug. 7, 1964: In response to the “incident” Congress passes (435-0 and 98-2) the GTR. • It was so broad, LBJ said it was like “grandma’s nightshirt”
November, 1964 • LBJ elected to his own term in the White House. • Landslide victory over Barry Goldwater.
Ben Hoa • Nov. 1, 1964: VC attack American airbase near Ben Hoa, 5 Americans killed 100 wounded.
Pleiku • February 6, 1965 - VC guerrillas attack the U.S. military compound at Pleiku in the Central Highlands, killing eight Americans, wounding 126 and destroying ten aircraft.
Saigon • March 29, 1965 - VC terrorists bomb the U.S. embassy in Saigon.
Operation Rolling Thunder • March 2, 1965 - Operation Rolling Thunder begins as over 100 American fighter-bombers attack targets in North Vietnam. Scheduled to last eight weeks, Rolling Thunder will instead go on for three years.
The U.S. will fly 3 million sorties and drop nearly 8 million tons of bombs • Four times the tonnage dropped during all of World War II, in the largest display of firepower in the history of warfare.
Combat troops • March 8, 1965 - The first U.S. combat troops arrive in Vietnam as 3500 Marines land at China Beach to defend the American air base at Da Nang. They join 23,000 American military advisors already in Vietnam
Attrition • Our strategy: kill more of them, than they kill of us. • Kill ratio: 13 to 1
Ia Drang • November 14-16 - The Battle of Ia Drang Valley marks the first major battle between U.S. troops and NVA. • 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) respond to the NVA threat by using helicopters to fly directly into the battle zone. • The two-day battle ends with NVA retreating into the jungle. 79 Americans are killed and 121 wounded. NVA losses are estimated at 2000.
Dec. 1965 • By year's end U.S. troop levels in Vietnam reached 184,300 • America has taken over the war.