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This Month in the Vietnam War: February 1962 -1975

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February 6, 1962 - MACV, the U.S. Military Assistance Command for Vietnam, is formed. It replaces MAAG-Vietnam, the Military Assistance Advisory Group which had been established in 1950.

February 27, 1962 - The presidential palace in Saigon is bombed by two renegade South Vietnamese pilots flying American-made World War II era fighter planes. President Diem and his brother Nhu escape unharmed. Diem attributes his survival to "divine protection."


Brit-Eklund.jpgBritt Ekland


February 4, 1965 - National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy visits South Vietnam for the first time. In North Vietnam, Soviet Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin coincidentally arrives in Hanoi.

February 6, 1965 - Viet Cong guerrillas attack the U.S. military compound at Pleiku in the Central Highlands, killing eight Americans, wounding 126 and destroying ten aircraft.

February 7-8, 1965 - "I've had enough of this," President Johnson tells his National Security advisors. He then approves Operation Flaming Dart, the bombing of a North Vietnamese army camp near Dong Hoi by U.S. Navy jets from the carrier Ranger. Johnson makes no speeches or public statements concerning his decision. Opinion polls taken in the U.S. shortly after the bombing indicate a 70 percent approval rating for the President and an 80 percent approval of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Johnson now agrees to a long-standing recommendation from his advisors for a sustained bombing campaign against North Vietnam.

In Hanoi, Soviet Prime Minister Kosygin is pressured by the North Vietnamese to provide unlimited military aid to counter the American "aggression." Kosygin gives in to their demands. As a result, sophisticated Soviet surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) begin arriving in Hanoi within weeks.

February 18, 1965 - Another military coup in Saigon results in General Khanh finally ousted from power and a new military/civilian government installed, led by Dr. Phan Huy Quat.

February 22, 1965 - General Westmoreland requests two battalions of U.S. Marines to protect the American air base at Da Nang from 6000 Viet Cong massed in the vicinity. The President approves his request, despite the "grave reservations" of Ambassador Taylor in Vietnam who warns that America may be about to repeat the same mistakes made by the French in sending ever-increasing numbers of soldiers into the Asian forests and jungles of a "hostile foreign country" where friend and foe are indistinguishable.


Britt-Ekland2.jpgBritt Ekland


February 1966 - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Sen. J. William Fulbright, holds televised hearings examining America's policy in Vietnam. Appearing before the committee, Defense Secretary McNamara states that U.S. objectives in Vietnam are "not to destroy or overthrow the Communist government of North Vietnam. They are limited to the destruction of the insurrection and aggression directed by North Vietnamese against the political institutions of South Vietnam."

February 3, 1966 - Influential newspaper columnist Walter Lippmann lambastes President Johnson's strategy in Vietnam, stating, "Gestures, propaganda, public relations and bombing and more bombing will not work." Lippmann predicts Vietnam will divide America as combat causalities mount.

February 6-9, 1966 - President Johnson and South Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky meet in Honolulu.


1967-Impala-Sport-Coupe.jpg1967 Chevy Impala Ad


February 2, 1967 - President Johnson states there are no "serious indications that the other side is ready to stop the war."

February 8-10, 1967 - American religious groups stage a nationwide "Fast for Peace."

February 8-12, 1967 - A truce occurs during Tet, the lunar New Year, a traditional Vietnamese holiday.

February 13, 1967 - Following the failure of diplomatic peace efforts, President Johnson announces the U.S. will resume full-scale bombing of North Vietnam.

February 22-May 14, 1967 - The largest U.S. military offensive of the war occurs. Operation Junction City involves 22 U.S. and four South Vietnamese battalions attempting to destroy the NVA's Central Office headquarters in South Vietnam. The offensive includes the only parachute assault by U.S. troops during the entire war. During the fighting at Ap Gu, U.S. 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry is commanded by Lt. Gen. Alexander M. Haig who will later become an influential White House aide. Junction City ends with 2728 Viet Cong killed and 34 captured. American losses are 282 killed and 1576 wounded. NVA relocate their Central Office headquarters inside Cambodia, thus avoiding capture.


Britt-Ekland3.jpgBritt Ekland


February 1, 1968 - In Saigon during Tet, a suspected Viet Cong guerrilla is shot in the head by South Vietnam's police chief Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan, in full view of an NBC news cameraman and an Associated Press still photographer. The haunting AP photo taken by Eddie Adams appears on the front page of most American newspapers the next morning. Americans also observe the filmed execution on NBC TV.

Another controversy during Tet, and one of the most controversial statements of the entire war, is made by an American officer who states, 'We had to destroy it, in order to save it,' referring to a small city near Saigon leveled by American bombs. His statement is later used by many as a metaphor for the American experience in Vietnam.

February 2, 1968 - President Johnson labels the Tet Offensive "a complete failure." For the North Vietnamese, the Tet Offensive is both a military and political failure in Vietnam. The "general uprising" they had hoped to ignite among South Vietnamese peasants against the Saigon government never materialized. Viet Cong had also come out of hiding to do most of the actual fighting, suffered devastating losses, and never regained their former strength. As a result, most of the fighting will be taken over by North Vietnamese regulars fighting a conventional war. Tet's only success, and an unexpected one, was in eroding grassroots support among Americans and in Congress for continuing the war indefinitely.

February 8, 1968 - 21 U.S. Marines are killed by NVA at Khe Sanh.

February 27, 1968 - Influential CBS TV news anchorman Walter Cronkite, who just returned from Saigon, tells Americans during his CBS Evening News broadcast that he is certain "the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate."

February 28, 1968 - Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Wheeler, at the behest of Gen. Westmoreland, asks President Johnson for an additional 206,000 soldiers and mobilization of reserve units in the U.S.


Douglas-RB-66C-Destroyer.jpgDouglas RB-66C Destroyer


February 23, 1969 - Viet Cong attack 110 targets throughout South Vietnam including Saigon.

February 25, 1969 - 36 U.S. Marines are killed by NVA who raid their base camp near the Demilitarized Zone.


Britt-Ekland4.jpgBritt Ekland


February 2, 1970 - B-52 bombers strike the Ho Chi Minh trail in retaliation for the increasing number of Viet Cong raids throughout the South.

February 21, 1970 - Although the official peace talks remain deadlocked in Paris, behind the scenes, Henry Kissinger begins a series of secret talks with North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho, which will go on for two years.


1970-Buick-GSX.jpg1970 Buick GSX


February 21-28, 1972 - President Nixon visits China and meets with Mao Zedong and Prime Minister Zhou Enlai to forge new diplomatic relations with the Communist nation. Nixon's visit causes great concern in Hanoi that their wartime ally China might be inclined to agree to an unfavorable settlement of the war to improve Chinese relations with the U.S.



Britt-Ekland5.jpgBritt Ekland


February 12, 1973 - Operation Homecoming begins the release of 591 American POWs from Hanoi.


M48-Patton.jpgM48 Patton


February 5, 1975 - NVA military leader General Van Tien Dung secretly crosses into South Vietnam to take command of the final offensive.


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1 hour ago, Donster said:

February 2, 1967 - President Johnson states there are no "serious indications that the other side is ready to stop the war."

Correct and with the President and congress dictating the battle, why would they want to surrender?  War is not for the political class to wage, war should be left to the warriors.  When the political class decides there is to be war, they should let the warriors do what they do best.

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In the case of Vietnam, the military (dominated by WW2 generals) didn't know how to fight the kind of war the situation required.  Even the Army's own Official History acknowledges that the strategic planning and tactical doctrine was wrong.  The war should have remained in the hands of advisors backed up with tactical airpower and naval forces.  The US generals of the day didn't believe in that kind of warmaking.  You can't win a battle of attrition against a government with endless supplies of bodies and the willingness to expend those bodies.


Case in point: when we actually got around to bombing the North with real bombers the Air Force generals mandated that the bombers use the same approach and technique in every mission.  Result: we lost something like 20 B-52s because the NVA was able to position AA defenses along those predictable routes.  It wasn't until the bomber crews staged a near mutiny that realistic attack scenarios were used which combined Air Force and Navy tactical strikes on AA sites with less obvious bomber routes.  The North went back to the bargaining table soon after.



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Quite true, Jim.  The battle is best managed by the commander on the battlefield.

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