USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION
A CHRONOLOGY OF AMERICAN INVOLVEMENT MAY 7, 1954 Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh forces defeat the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, effectively ending the 7½-year Indochina War.
JULY 1954 At a conference in Geneva, world powers agree to a divided Vietnam. Communists, led by Ho Chi Minh, control the North. The United States eventually supports an anticommunist government led by Ngo Dinh Diem in the South. SEPT. 10, 1960 Le Duan replaces Ho Chi Minh as general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam. NOV. 8, 1960 John F. Kennedy defeats Richard Nixon in the U.S. presidential election; Lyndon Johnson becomes vice president. DEC. 20, 1960 Southern revolutionaries, backed by North Vietnam, form the National Liberation Front, known in Saigon and Washington as the Viet Cong. JUNE 11, 1963 Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc sets himself on fire in Saigon to protest h repression in South Vietnam, sparking r outrage around the world and bringing o attention to the developing conflict. a
NOV. 2, 1963 President Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu are killed during a coup by dissident generals of the South Vietnamese Army.
JAN. 31, 1968 In the Tet Offensive, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops launch surprise attacks against targets throughout South Vietnam.
NOV. 22, 1963 Kennedy is assassinated, and Johnson is sworn in as president.
FEBRUARY 1968 In the ancient imperial capital of Hue, communist forces execute at least 2,800 people, mostly South Vietnamese civilians.
AUG. 2-4, 1964 A confrontation in the Gulf of Tonkin leads Johnson to seek congressional approval for direct U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. MARCH 8, 1965 First Marines land in Danang.
MARCH 16, 1968 Over the course of four hours, American soldiers kill more than 500 unarmed civilians in and around the hamlet of My Lai. MARCH 31, 1968 Johnson announces he will not run for re-election. NOV. 5, 1968 Nixon is elected president, promising to end the war in Vietnam.
NOV. 14-18, 1965 In the Ia Drang Valley, American troops fight their first large-scale battles against the North Vietnamese Army. APRIL 15 AND OCT. 21, 1967 Hundreds of thousands of antiwar protesters gather for demonstrations in New York and Washington, D.C.
OCT. 15, 1969 The first Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, a series of mass demonstrations across the United States, takes place; a second happens on Nov. 15.
Protesters at the United States Capitol in 1969
FEB. 8 - MARCH 25, 1971 The South Vietnamese launch Operation Lam Son 719 against North Vietnamese forces in Laos. The mission is a failure, resulting in a hasty retreat. MARCH 30 – OCT. 22, 1972 The Easter Offensive invasion by North Vietnamese forces is successfully repelled by South Vietnamese forces. JAN. 27, 1973 A cease-fire agreement is reached between U.S. and North Vietnam. U.S. POWs begin to return home. MARCH 29, 1973 Last U.S. combat troops leave South Vietnam.
APRIL 30, 1975 Saigon falls. NOV. 13, 1982 The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C. AFP/GETTY IMAGES
NOV. 3, 1969 Nixon goes on television to call for national solidarity on the Vietnam War effort, appealing to a “silent majority” to support his policies. ASSOCIATED PRESS
AUG. 9, 1974 Nixon leaves office.
SUMMER 1967 TO SPRING 1968 U.S. forces face relentless attacks from the North Vietnamese in remote “border battles” at Dak To, Con Thien and Khe Sahn. The North’s aim is to draw troops away from cities in the South ahead of the Tet Offensive.
Dak To, 1967
MALCOLM BROWNE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
MAY 4, 1970 Four days after Nixon announced the expansion of the war into Cambodia, National Guard troops fire on protesters at Kent State University in Ohio. Four students are killed and nine wounded.
JULY 1995 Under President Bill Clinton, the U.S. normalizes relations with Vietnam.
SOURCE: Florentine Films and USA TODAY research. Edited by USA TODAY.