Vietnam: Timeline of Events to 1974
(Source: see http://timelinhes.ws/countries/VIETNAMA.HTML
600-700BC The Dragon Lord of the Lac, from whom all Vietnamese
are said to be descended, served as protector of the Hung kingdom.
380BC-700AD The site
at Tra Kieu is believed to be Simhapura, the former capital of an Indianized
c100-1000 AD In Vietnam
the city of Hoi An was the
principal port of the seafaring Champa kingdom, that embraced Indian culture.
The kingdom withstood attacks from the Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmers and Mongols.
600-700AD Hoi An was a port site of the Cham kingdoms of
It may date back to the 2nd century BC.
1162-1227 Genghis Khan was born in the Hentiyn Nuruu
mountains north of Ulan Bator. His
given name was Temujin, "the ironsmith." He seized control over 5
million square miles that covered China,
and most of Korea
"In Search of Genghis Khan" is a book by Tim Severin. He was
succeeded by his son Ogedai, who was succeeded by Guyuk. Ogedai ignored
numerous pleas from his brother Chaghatai to cut down on his drinking and died
of alcoholism as did Guyuk.
1400-1500 The Vietnamese from the north pushed the Chams
south and opened the port of Hoi
An to foreign traders.
1400-1600 Hoi An flourished at the end of the 2nd Cham
(Vijaya) Empire of this time. It attracted Japanese, then Portuguese, Dutch and
was founded as the royal capital of the Nguyen dynasty that united Vietnam.
Palaces, tombs and monuments are located along the banks of the Perfume
1882 Apr 25, French
commander Henri Riviere seized the citadel of Hanoi.
Capt. Henri Reviere was later beheaded
after he attempted to seize the coal deposits at Ha long Bay. The outraged
French proceeded to colonize Vietnam.
1884 Jun 23, A
Chinese Army defeated the French at Bacle, Indochina.
1890 May 19, Ho Chi
Minh, revolutionist and leader of North Vietnam,
was born. He fought the Japanese, French and United
States to gain independence for his country.
1920 Dec 30, Ho Chi
Minh helped found the Communist Party of France on December 30, 1920, while a student there. Known
then as Nguyen Ai Quoc, Ho went on to Moscow
in 1923 for training in revolutionary strategy by the Communist International.
After several years in the Soviet Union and China,
Ho returned to Vietnam
to lead his nation's revolutionary movement.
1941 Jul 21, France
demand for military control of Indochina.
1941 Jul 28, A
Japanese army landed in Cochin, China
(modern day Vietnam).
1941 The Viet Minh, a
nationalist movement led by Communists, was founded. Pham Van Dong was a
1942 After capturing
and imprisoning Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh in 1942, the Chinese
Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek was pressured into releasing him by America's
Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The OSS
was formed during WWII to engage in intelligence operations and was the
forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Ho Chi Minh was leading
Vietnamese resistance against the Japanese and was captured while in China
setting up his Communist-inspired Viet Minh movement. The OSS
sought his release so he could continue his fight against the Japanese. The
Viet Minh also benefited from U.S.
arms and equipment.
1943-1945 Ho Chih Minh worked for American intelligence
during this time rescuing downed American pilots and reporting on Japanese
troop movements. His story was later told in the 1998 book: "Our Ho: Fact
and Fiction" by Alan Trustman.
1945 Aug 22, Conflict
began when a group of Free French parachute into southern Indochina,
in response to a successful coup by communist guerilla Ho Chi Minh.
1945 Sep 2, Ho Chi
Minh promulgated the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence and unity from the
north to the south. He was known to have written letters to President Truman
asking for humanitarian assistance and advocated political rather than military
action. His letters went unanswered.
1945 Sep 12, French
troops landed in Indochina.
1945 Sep 23, The
first American died in Vietnam
during the fall of Saigon to French forces.
1945 In Vietnam Bao
Dai abdicated his throne in the city of Hue
with the approach of the Viet Minh guerrillas. He moved to China
and then became an advisor to Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi
until 1949 when the French set him up as chief of state of Vietnam.
1945 The Viet Minh
formed a provisional government in a bid for independence and Pahm Van Dong
served as finance minister.
1945-1946 Ho Chi Minh repeatedly tried to enlist American
support for an independent Vietnam.
1946 Jan 6, Ho Chi
Minh won North Vietnamese elections.
1946 Mar 2, Ho Chi
Minh was elected president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
1946 Jun 25, Ho Chi
Minh traveled to France
for talks on Vietnamese independence.
1946 Dec 15, Vietnam
leader Ho Chi Minh sent a note to the new French Premier, Leon Blum, asking for
1946 Dec 20, Viet
Minh and French forces fought fiercely in the Annamite section of Hanoi.
1946 Dec 28, The
French declared martial law in Vietnam.
1947 Jan 9, French General Leclerc broke off all talks
Ho Chi Minh.
1948 Nov 22, Ho Chi
Minh's Democratic Republic of Vietnam requested admittance to the UN.
1949 Jun 13, Vietnam
state was established at Saigon with Bao Dai as chief of
state. Installed by the French, Bao Dai entered Saigon
to rule Vietnam.
1949 Jun 14, The
State of Vietnam was formed.
1949 Dec 10, 150,000
French troops massed at the border in Vietnam
to prevent a Chinese invasion.
1950 Jan 19,
Communist Chinese leader Mao recognized the Republic
1950 Jan 31, Paris
protested the Soviet recognition of Ho Chi Minh's Democratic Republic of
1950 Feb 7, The United
States recognized Vietnam
under the leadership of Emperor Bao Dai, not Ho Chi Minh who was recognized by
Pres. Harry Truman sent military personnel to Vietnam
to aid French forces.
1952-1991 Howard Simpson (d.1999), foreign service officer,
served in Vietnam
and later wrote: "Tiger in the Barbed Wire: An American in Vietnam,
1954 May 7, The Battle of Dien Bien Phu
in Vietnam ended after 55 days with Vietnamese
insurgents overrunning French forces and the US began to get involved. Vietnamese
insurgents expelled the French but the country was divided into a communist
north and a pro-US south. In the 8 years of the French Indochina War some 52,000 French soldiers were
Vietnam was soon partitioned between a regime in Hanoi led by Ho Chi Minh and an anti-communist
regime in Saigon under Ngo Dinh Diem. Howard Simpson later
wrote: "Dien Bien
Phu: The Epic Battle America Forgot."
1954 Jul 13, In Geneva,
the United States,
reached an accord on Indochina, dividing Vietnam
into two countries, North and South, along the 17th parallel.
1954 Jul 21, At Geneva
surrendered North Vietnam
to the Communists. The French signed an armistice, the Geneva Accords, with the
Viet Minh that ended the war but divided Vietnam
into two countries. This led to almost a million anti-Communists in the north
to flee to the south.
1954 Oct 22, As a
result of the Geneva accords
granting Communist control over North Vietnam,
U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized a crash program to train the
South Vietnamese Army.
1955 The US
aided the South Vietnamese government under Ngo Dinh Diem.
1956 Jun 8, The first American of record to die in
Vietnam was Air Force Tech Sergeant Richard B.
Fitzgibbon Jr. His son, Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, died in Vietnam Sep 7, 1965.
1956-1963 The US
installed and supported the regime of South
Vietnam under Pres. Diem.
1959 May 19, The formation of the Peoples' Army of
Vietnam's Military Transportation Group 559 on May 19, 1959, the 69th birthday of Vietnamese
revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh, ultimately resulted in the creation of the Ho
Chi Minh Trail. The trail was intended to facilitate the infiltrating of troops
and transporting supplies from North Vietnam to support the revolution in South Vietnam.
1959 The US
sent advisors to Vietnam.
1961 Dec 11, A U.S. aircraft carrier carrying Army helicopters
arrived in Saigon -- the first direct American military
support for South Vietnam's battle against Communist guerrillas.
1962 Feb 8, The U.S.
Defense Department reported the creation of the Military Assistance Command in South
1962 Feb 18, Robert
F. Kennedy said that U.S.
troops would stay in Vietnam
until Communism was defeated.
1962-1972 In Vietnam
giant US tanker
planes sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange on the once lush DMZ in
order to eradicate the enemy's jungle cover. Some 12 million gallons of Agent
Orange were sprayed over parts of southern and central Vietnam
from 1961-1971. The total included some 375 pounds of dioxin. In 1998 a
nationwide survey was planned to count the victims.
1963 Aug 24, Pres. Kennedy allowed a cable to be
sent to Ambassador Lodge in Vietnam that backed a military coup against Pres.
Diem. Pres. Kennedy gave tacit approval for a coup against Pres. Ngo Dinh Diem
Vietnam. Diem was killed
1964 Jul 14, The United
States sent 600 more troops to Vietnam.
1964 Jul 27,
President Lyndon Johnson sent an additional 5,000 advisers to South
1964 Nov 14, The U.S.
First Cavalry Division battled with the North Vietnamese Army in the Ia Drang
Valley, the first ground combat for American troops.
1965 Mar 6, The U.S.
announced that it would send 3,500 troops to Vietnam.
1965 Jul 28,
President Johnson announced he was increasing the number of American troops in South
Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000.
1966 Jan 12, US
President Johnson said in his State of the Union address that the United
States should stay in South
Vietnam until Communist aggression there was
1967 Feb 23, American
troops began the largest offensive of the war, near the Cambodian border. In
1967 Apr 28, Gen.
William C. Westmoreland told Congress the United
States "would prevail in Vietnam."
1967 Jul 30, General
William Westmoreland claimed that he is winning the war in Vietnam
but needed more men.
1967 Aug 3, President
Lyndon B. Johnson announced plans to send 45,000 more troops to Vietnam.
1967 Sep 23, Soviets
signed a pact to send more aid to Hanoi.
1967 Oct 21, Tens of
thousands of Vietnam War protesters marched in Washington,
D.C. 35,000 people assembled outside the
Pentagon to protest the war in Vietnam.
The "March on the Pentagon," protesting American involvement in Vietnam
, drew 50,000 protesters.
1967 Oct 26, US Navy pilot John McCain, later US
Senator, was shot down in his A-4 over North Vietnam and spent 5 ½ years in
prison, two in solitary confinement. He signed a confession following torture
admitting to being a war criminal and in 1999 published the family saga
"Faith of My Fathers." The 1995 book "The Nightingale's
Song" by Robert Timberg was about McCain.
1967 The Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) was formed by Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
1968 Jan 30, The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese
Communist forces launched a surprise offensive during the Tet holiday truce
that became known as the Tet Offensive. They attacked more than 100 cities in South Vietnam and there was many US casualties.
1968 Jan 31, In Vietnam, the Tet Offensive began as Viet Cong and
North Vietnamese soldiers attacked strategic and civilian
locations throughout South Vietnam. The Viet Cong seized part of the US embassy in Saigon for 6 hours.
1968 Feb 8, Robert F. Kennedy said that the U.S. cannot win the Vietnam War.
1968 Feb 13, The U.S. sent 10,500 more combat troops to Vietnam.
1968 Mar 9, General
William Westmoreland asked for 206,000 more troops in Vietnam.
1968 Mar 16, LBJ
decided to send 35-50,000 more troops to Vietnam.
1968 Mar 16, US
troops under the command of Lt. William L. Calley Jr. massacred Vietnamese
civilians at My Lai. 504  villagers were massacred.
Hugh Thompson, a helicopter pilot, observed the end of the massacre. He landed
between some remaining villagers and his
fellow soldiers and ordered his gunner to fire on American troops if necessary.
With 2 other gunships he airlifted to safety a dozen villagers. He and his
gunner were awarded the Soldier's Medal in 1998. The atrocity was exposed by
Ron Ridenhour (d.1998 at 52), a door gunner on an observation helicopter, who
flew over the village a few days after the event. He waited several months
until he was out of the service before reporting the event to state and
officials. In 1999 Trent Angers authored "The Forgotten
Hero of My Lai: The Hugh Thompson Story."
1968 Mar 16, Lt.
Calley led 105 men of Company C into My Lai and at least
350 of 700 civilians were killed. Other killings by B company occurred nearby.
Col. Oran K. Henderson (d.1998 at 77) was on his first day as commanding
officer of the new 11th Infantry Brigade and watched from a command helicopter.
The Army later charged 25 officers and enlisted men in the massacre but only
Lt. Calley was convicted.
1968 Mar 17, The
siege of Khe Sanh was the longest and bloodiest battle of the Vietnam War.
1968 Mar 22, Gen'l. William Westmoreland was
relieved of his duties in the wake of the Tet disaster. He was succeeded by
Gen'l. Creighton Abrams. Abrams reversed Westmoreland's strategy. He ended
major "search and destroy" missions and focused on protecting
population centers. William Colby took charge of the pacification campaign.
1968 Mar 31, Pres. Johnson announced that he would
not run for reelection and declared a partial bombing halt in Vietnam. The stock market soared.
1968 May 13, Peace
talks between the U.S.
and North Vietnam
began in Paris.
1969 Feb 23, Pres. Nixon approved the bombing of Cambodia. [see Mar 18]
1969 Jul 7, The first U.S. troops to withdraw from South Vietnam left Saigon.
1969 Sep 3, Ho Chi Minh, the leader of North Vietnam, died. [see Sep 2]
Oct 12, President
Richard Nixon announced the pullout of 40,000 more American troops in Vietnam
1970 In Cambodia Prince Sihanouk was toppled in a
right-wing coup and he joined the Khmer Rouge in a resistance war. The US and
Vietnamese forces invaded and drove the Viet Cong from border sanctuaries deep
into Cambodia where they joined with the weak and
isolated Khmer Rouge. A full scale civil war began.
1971 Jan 1, The United States began a second decade of involvement in Vietnam.
1971 Jul 9, The United
States turned over complete responsibility
of the Demilitarized Zone to South Vietnamese units.
1971 Nov 12, Pres.
Nixon announced that he would withdraw 45,000 more troops from Vietnam
by Jan. [Feb]1972.
1972 Feb 24, Hanoi
negotiators walked out of the peace talks in Paris
to protest U.S.
air raids on North Vietnam.
1972 Apr 30, The
North Vietnamese launched an invasion of the South.
1972 Aug 11, The last U.S. ground forces withdrew from Vietnam. [see Aug 12]
1972 Oct 26, National security adviser Henry
Kissinger declared, "Peace is at hand" in Vietnam.
1972 Dec 18, US Pres. Nixon ordered the heaviest bombing
Vietnam that began on this day over Hanoi. "Operation Linebacker II"
lasted 11 days and killed over 1600 civilians with 70 US airmen killed or captured. (The
bombardment ended 12 days later.) President Nixon declared that the bombing of North Vietnam would continue until an accord was
1973 Jan 8, Secret
peace talks between the United States
and North Vietnam
resumed near Paris.
1973 Jan 15,
President Nixon announced the suspension of all U.S.
offensive action in North Vietnam,
citing progress in peace
1973 Oct 16, Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho were
named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize; however, the Vietnamese
official declined the
1973 The Vietnam War resulted in the death of
58,153 (58,167) Americans, 1.1 [1.2] million North Vietnamese and Southern resistance
fighters (Viet cong), and 2 million civilians.
1974 Apr 28, The last
Americans were evacuated from Saigon. [see Apr 29, 1975]
1975 Apr 27, Saigon
was encircled by North Vietnamese troops.
1975 Apr 4, More than
1 million people fled from the close of the war to the early 1980s since the
first boat people landed in Malaysia
on this date.
1975 Apr 29, U.S.
Forces pulled out of Vietnam.
embassy in Vietnam
was evacuated as North Vietnamese forces fought their way into Saigon.
Just hours after the last American was lifted out by helicopter from the roof
of the embassy, James Reston of the NY Times issued an apologia for the press.
1975 Apr 30, The city
of Saigon fell to the North
Vietnamese and National Liberation Front forces. The last American forces evacuated
Saigon as South Vietnam
surrendered unconditionally to the Communist North Vietnamese. North Vietnamese
troops entered the Independence Palace of South Vietnam in Saigon
and the Vietnam war was over. Graham Martin, the US
ambassador to South Vietnam,
made a hasty departure. The city was renamed Ho Chi Minh
City and Nguyen Huu Tho was the first mayor. The war
left 58,200 Americans dead, 153,300 wounded, and 2,124 missing in action. The
Communists listed 1 million dead, 300,000 missing and 2 million dead civilians.
President Gerald Ford, closing a chapter in United
States history,called upon Americans
"to avoid recriminations about the past, to look ahead to the many goals
1975 May 7, President
Ford formally declared an end to the "Vietnam
1978 Dec 25, Vietnam
It was the first full-scale war between the two countries since
1917. 400 people were killed in initial clashes.
1979 Jan 5,
Vietnamese troops occupied Phnom Penh
and the Cambodian ruler Pol Pot is ousted from power.
1979 Jan 7, The Vietnamese army captured the
Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh overthrowing the Khmer Rouge government. The People's Party, a Hanoi
installed Khmer Rouge faction, took power with Hun Sen as prime minister. This finally
ending the mass genocide depicted in the 1984 film The Killing Fields. The
Khmer Rouge retreated into sanctuaries along the Thai border, set up bases and
picked up support from Thailand
introduced doi moi, a policy of economic renovation, and sparked massive
1986-1991 Nguyen Van Linh (d.1998) served as the Communist
party general-secretary. He urged free-market policies and wrote a newspaper
column titled "Things That Must Be Done Immediately." He ended
collective farming and loosened government controls over state factories. He
ended the decade long occupation of Cambodia
and normalized relations with China.
1989 Vietnam withdrew the last of 26,000 troops from Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge seized the gem mining
town of Pailin to finance their operations.
1995 Jul 11, Full diplomatic relations were
established between the United States and Vietnam.
1995 Vietnam joined the Association of Southeast Asian