Chronology: The War 1968 |
The United States resumes
bombing after a New Year truce. Operation McLain, a pacification
program in Binh Dinh Province, continues. Operation Pershing II, also in
Binh Dinh Province, continues and is followed by Operation Jeb
North Vietnamese troops stage a series of attacks close to the
United States Marine stronghold at Khe Sanh, near the demilitarized zone
and the Laotian border.
The United States Army shifts 15,000 paratroops and other men to
the northern most area of South Vietnam to help the Marines there
meet what Gen.William Westmoreland describes as a "sizable invasion" by
the North Vietnamese.
The Communists begin the Tet (Lunar New Year) offensive with attacks on
major cities in the South. A Vietcong terrorist attack on the
United States Embassy in Saigon ends after a wild night that saw the
Vietcong terror squad take and hold a section of the embassy grounds
against initial attempts by U.S. rescue forces to fight their way in.
The Vietcong capture Hue, and a long siege begins there.
Vietcong forces hold pockets of Saigon and other areas after their
spectacular attacks on cities and American bases throughout South Vietnam.
President Nguyen Van Thieu declares a nationwide state of martial
Associated Press photographer Eddie Adams takes his renowned picture of
a South Vietnamese police chief executing a Vietcong officer with a single
shot to the head.
Vicious street fighting continues in many South Vietnamese towns and
cities, and the Vietcong attack three more province capitals as the Tet
offensive rages on.President Johnson responds to the new enemy
challenges in South Vietnam with a vow that "the enemy will fail again and
again" because "we Americans will never yield".
United States marines in Hue storm into enemy-held houses, throwing
canisters of tear gas and nonpoisonous nausea gas, but enemy forces don
gas masks and hold onto most of the city.
Secretary of State Dean Rusk says that the North Vietnamese and the
Vietcong, in carrying out their general offensive, spurned a month-long
diplomatic sounding by the United States aimed at starting peace
In Operation Tran Hung Dao, South Vietnamese troops are sent
into Saigon to help root out Vietcong guerrillas and bring the fighting
there to an end. Operation Maeng Ho 10, a South Korean operation in Binh
Dinh Province, is under way. Operation Napoleon/Saline, a Marine operation
in Quang Tn Province, is under way.
United States troops are also
in Saigon to end the fighting there.
The American-led camp at Lang
Vei, near the heavily defended United States
Marine stronghold at Khe
Sanh, falls after being assaulted by Soviet—made tanks.
Administration begins rushing 10,500 more combat troops to South Vietnam
to reinforce its stretched lines of defense and to cope with the threat of
another enemy assault on Vietnamese cities.
South Vietnamese troops
capture the Imperial Palace in Hue. The capture of the
walled palace area seems to signal the collapse of heavy
resistance, and the battle of Hue appears to be nearing its
The United States mission in Saigon concedes that the allied
effort to pacify the countryside has suffered a "considerable setback" as
a result of the Vietcong offensive.
CBS News Correspondent Walter
Cronkite returns from Saigon and reports that it seems "more certain than
ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a
Gen. Earle Wheeler sends his report on the Tet
offensive to President Johnson, concluding that although the enemy failed
in its objective to bring the war to an end, it has the will and
capability to continue fighting.
Truong Cong Dinh and Operation People's Road begin. The objective of
Operation People's Road is to provide security for engineers working on
Clark Clifford replaces Robert McNamara as Secretary of
Vietcong guerrillas storm into the capital of South
Vietnam's southernmost province, An Xuyen, and occupy a hospital for
several hours. In fighting that rages for most of the day, the hospital,
the American military compound and some public buildings are extensively
damaged. More than 1,000 homes are destroyed.
Westmoreland asks for 206,000 more American troops for Vietnam, and the
request touches off a divisive internal debate within high levels of the
The allied forces announce that they have
launched the largest offensive operation of the war to date in an effort
to capture or destroy the 8,000 to 10,000 enemy troops believed to be near
United States soldiers, led by Lt. William Calley under the
command of Captain Ernest L. Medina, massacre -a reported 347 men, women
and children in the hamlet of My Lai. The incident is not revealed
publicly for more than a year.
The Central Intelligence Agency
concludes that the enemy's strength in South Vietnam at the beginning of
the Tet offensive was significantly greater than United States officials
at the time.
It is reported that in a year-end report
submitted 29 days before the offensive, General Westmoreland predicted
that the allied war gains of the previous year would be increased manyfold
President Johnson announces his intention to appoint
General Westmoreland as Army Chief of Staff, replacing him as commander of
American forces in Vietnam sometime before July 2.
infantrymen attack American troops near Kontum with flame throwers,
grenades and machine guns in one of the most savage battles in
President Johnson announces: "I shall not seek and I will
not accept the nomination of my party as your President."
Johnson announces that he has ordered a halt in the air and naval
bombardment of most of North Vietnam and invites the Hanoi Government to
join him in a "series of mutual moves toward peace." It is also reported
that the President, without announcing it, has limited air strikes from
the demilitarized zone to the 19th parallel, a stretch of about 170
Operation Pegasus/Lam Son 207, an
offensive to relieve Khe Sanh, begins.
Operation Carentan II begins in
Quang Tn and Thua Thien Provinces. Operation
Burlington Trail, a sweep
in Quang Tin Province, is under way. Operation
Scotland II continues
around Khe Sanh.
North Vietnam and the United States exchange
public statements in which they agree to establish contact between their
CBS News correspondent Charles Collingwood
interviews North Vietnam's Foreign Minister, Nguyen Duy Trinh, who says
that his Government is prepared to meet with the United States.
major offensive aimed at relieving the isolated Marine fortress at Khe
Sanh is opened by American and South~ Vietnamese troops. Two days later,
the 76-day North Vietnamese siege of the base is officially declared
President Johnson designates Gen. Creighton W. Abrams as
the next commander of American forces in South Vietnam, succeeding General
President Johnson orders 24,500 military reservists
called to active duty to meet the needs of the Vietnam War and strengthen
the depleted Active Strategic Reserve.
Operation Delaware/Lam Son
216, a massive assault in the Ashau Valley, an enemy stronghold near the
Laotian border, begins.
The United States Command
says that the massive sweep into the Ashau Valley has cut off a major
infiltration route for the North Vietnamese.
The United States and
North Vietnam agree to begin formal talks in Paris in the next week or
Operation Allen Brook in southern Quang Nam
Province is under way. Operation Jeb Stuart III, airmobile operations
along the Quang Tn and Thua Thien Province borders, begins. Operation
Nevada Eagle continues in Thua Thien Province.
Operation Mameluke Thrust, a 1st Marine Division
operation in Quang Nam Province, is under way.
As part of a series of assaults across South Vietnam, the
Vietcong step up attacks on Saigon, lobbing mortar shells and
rockets on the city's Tan Son Nhut air base, the national police
headquarters, a power station and South Vietnamese military
installation.It is reported that a group of Americans with long
experience in South Vietnam's pacification program have prepared a report
suggesting that sweeping changes are needed if the allies want to win
control of the countryside.
Operation Toan Thang II continues in Saigon.
Gen. Westmoreland leaves Vietnam and returns to the United States as
Chief of Staff of the Army.
Americans abandon Khe Sanh. Hanoi says the United States was forced to
retreat from the base at Khe Sanh.
Operation Quyet Chien, operations in IV Corps, is under way.
B-52 bombers resume their missions north of the demilitarized zone.
They had been suspended in May.
President Johnson meets with South Vietnam President Thieu in Hawaii.
He says that United States support of the war will continue
unless North Vietnam agrees to some form of mutual de-escalation.
Operation Lam Son 245, ARVN operation in Thua Thien Province, is
under way. Operation Tien Bo, ARVN operation in Quang Duc
Province, is under way.
The North Vietnamese attack three of the four military regions of South
Police and National Guardsmen battle anti—war demonstrators in downtown
Chicago, about 100 are injured.
Operation Lam Son 261, ARVN operation in Thua
Thien and Quang Tn Provinces, is under
Operation Lam Son 271, ARVN operation in
Quang Tn Province, is under way.
Operation Henderson Hill, a Marine
search—and—clear operation in Quang Nam
Province, is under
President Johnson proposes enlarging the formal peace talks to
include the Vietcong and the South Vietnamese government.
Johnson announces that the United States will cease all air, naval and
artillery bombardment of North Vietnam as of
It is disclosed that United 'States
bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos will be stepped up to compensate
for the end of bombing in North Vietnam.
South Vietnamese President
Thieu says his government will not attend peace talks scheduled to begin
in Paris in a few days until North Vietnam agrees not to include the
National Liberation Front as a separate delegation.
Vietnamese begin shelling United States positions south of the
demilitarized zone for the first time since the bombing
Defense Secretary Clark M. Clifford warns South Vietnam that
the peace talks may go on without them, unless they agree to
Saigon announces that it is "prepared to participate"
in expanded Vietnam peace talks. American officials assure the South
Vietnamese Government that its negotiators will "take the lead" in talks
on South Vietnam's political future.
The Phoenix Program is
initiated to neutralize the Vietcong.
Operation Speedy Express begins. Operation
Taylor Common begins in Quang Nam Province. Operation Le Loi I, ARVN
pacification operation, begins.
Allies accuse the Vietcong of
breaking a Christmas truce. Two attacks are reported 536,000 United States
troops are in Vietnam at years end.
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