939: Vietnam first becomes independent of China.
1857: French begin occupation of Indochina.
1883: French finish conquest of Vietnam.
1893: France occupies Laos.
1941: Japan seizes Indochina. Ho Chi Minh forms Viet Minh.
1944: Viet Minh open resistance against Japan.
1945: Japan installs Bao Dai as puppet emperor. Ho Chi Minh forms government after Japan surrenders.
1946: French return to Indochina. Communists resist to open First Indochina War.
1949: China falls to Communists. Bao Dai returns to Vietnamese throne.
1950-1953: Korean War.
1954: Dien Bien Phu falls. French leave Vietnam. Geneva Accords settle matters for now.
1955: Ngo Dinh Diem deposes Bao Dai and takes over the South.
1956: Scheduled reunification elections cancelled. Peasant revolt in the North.
1957: North begins aiding southern communist cadres who remained after partition. Terror attacks begin, gradually escalating into open military activity.
1959: Construction of Ho Chi Minh Trail.
1960: National Liberation Front forms. North sets up Central Office for South Vietnam to run the war effort.
1961: Kennedy sends combat troops to Vietnam. Slows NLF progress for a while. US has 3,200 troops in Vietnam.
1962: US increases strength to 11,300.
1963: Buddhist protests. Diem killed in coup. Unstable military governments follow. Kennedy assassinated later.
1964: William Westmoreland takes over US effort. Gulf of Tonkin Incident and following Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Johnson reelected.
1965: Rolling Thunder begins after Pleiku attack. US ground offensives in South. Ia Drang. US troop strength increases from 23,000 to 184,000 throughout the year. Substantial protests in US.
1966: US troops conduct major offensives in the South. Strength at 385,000 at year's end. Elections for Constituent Assembly. North steps up infiltration effort and expands role in Laos.
1967: Nguyen Thieu wins Presidential election. US strength at 485,000 plus another 80,000 in Southeast Asia. Allies contribute an additional 72,000. Total communist strength maybe 300,000, including 70,000 northerners. Siege of Khe Sanh begins. Six Day War.
1968: Pueblo crisis. Tet Offensive wrecks Viet Cong but shakes US confidence in war effort also. Bombing halted. Westmoreland out. Eugene McCarthy forces LBJ out of Presidential race. Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey enter. Mini-Tet offensive. RFK assassinated. Soviets invade Czechoslovakia. Richard Nixon defeats Humphrey and George Wallace in November. US troops pass 600,000 mark in Southeast Asia.
1969: Communist offensive fails. American offensives fairly successful. US deaths surpass the Korean War total (33,629). Nixon Doctrine announced at Guam. Combines Vietnamization with troop withdrawals (down to 475,000). Silent Majority Speech. October Moratorium and November antiwar demonstrations. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho negotiations in Paris.
1970: Sihanouk overthrown in Cambodia. Civil War begins between Lon Nol government and Khmer Rouge. US invades Cambodia. Kent State and Jackson State. Limited air raids renewed. US strength to 335,000.
1971: Invasion of Laos fails. My Lai Massacre revealed. Thieu reelected in rigged elections. US strength falls to 157,000.
1972: Nixon visits China. North Vietnamese conventional offensive fails to force Southern collapse. Heavy bombing of North resumes (Linebacker). Haiphong mined. Watergate burglary. McGovern rides antiwar stance to Democratic nomination, but loses to Nixon in landslide. Peace agreement announced, then its collapse. More bombing of North (Linebacker II). 24,000 troops left in Vietnam.
1973: Peace agreement reached in January. US removes virtually all remaining troops. Congress cuts off funds for Indochina and passes the War Powers Act. October War.
1974: Nixon resigns over Watergate. Gerald Ford in.
1975: North Vietnamese offensive in South forces collapse of South Vietnamese government. Cambodia and Laos follow. Mayaguez Incident.
FOR FURTHER READING
Good histories of the war include George Herring, America's Longest War, and Stanley Karnow, America in Vietnam. See also The Vietnam War.
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