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 Stuart.

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

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 law.

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 talks.

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.

The Johnson 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
700-yard—square walled palace area seems to signal the collapse of heavy enemy
resistance, and the battle of Hue appears to be nearing its end.

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 stalemate."

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.


Operation Truong Cong Dinh and Operation People's Road begin. The objective of Operation People's Road is to provide security for engineers working on Route 4.

Clark Clifford replaces Robert McNamara as Secretary of Defense.

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.

General Westmoreland asks for 206,000 more American troops for Vietnam, and the request touches off a divisive internal debate within high levels of the Johnson Administration.

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 Saigon.

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 thought
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 in 1968.

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.

North Vietnamese infantrymen attack American troops near Kontum with flame throwers, grenades and machine guns in one of the most savage battles in months.

President Johnson announces: "I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party as your President."

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 miles.


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 representatives.

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.

A 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 lifted.

President Johnson designates Gen. Creighton W. Abrams as the next commander of American forces in South Vietnam, succeeding General Westmoreland.

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 soon thereafter.

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 Vietnam.

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 way.


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 way.

President Johnson proposes enlarging the formal peace talks to include the Vietcong and the South Vietnamese government.

President Johnson announces that the United States will cease all air, naval and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam as of Nov.


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.

The North Vietnamese begin shelling United States positions south of the demilitarized zone for the first time since the bombing halt.

Defense Secretary Clark M. Clifford warns South Vietnam that the peace talks may go on without them, unless they agree to participate.

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.


© 1940-1995 CBS, Inc. and The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.

If you use this Chronology, give proper credit to The New York Times Company, and as I had to retype this text, give credit to this site too.