This Vietnam War timeline has been compiled by Alpha History authors. It spans the period from American escalation to the anti-war movement. If you would like to suggest an event or date or this timeline, please contact Alpha History.
January 1st: The Viet Cong launches a month-long offensive in South Vietnam, inflicting heavy casualties in Binh Gia, a town outside Saigon.
January 8th: South Korea agrees to send 2,000 military advisors to South Vietnam, to support American training programs there.
January 13th: The United States Air Force announces that two of its jets have been shot down over Laos by communist insurgents.
February 3rd: National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy visits South Vietnam. He later provides President Johnson with a pessimistic report on the situation there.
February 10th: A Viet Cong bomb kills 23 American servicemen in Qhi Nhon, central Vietnam. The Americans respond with another wave of air strikes.
February 12th: Four days of anti-US protests around the world sees American embassies, consulates and other buildings picketed or invaded.
February 13th: Operation Flaming Dart, another series of American bombing runs against North Vietnamese bases, is launched in retaliation for Viet Cong attacks.
February 15th: The communist government in Beijing promises to become involved in the war if American troops invade North Vietnam.
February 18th: South Vietnamese military officers stage a coup against General Nguyen Khanh. After several days of negotiation, Khanh agrees to step aside as head of the ruling military junta.
February 25th: The warring parties discuss terms for a possible peace deal. North Vietnam says it will negotiate peace only if US troops are withdrawn from South Vietnam. Saigon refuses to negotiate with Hanoi until it has ceased supplying the Viet Cong in South Vietnam.
March 2nd: The beginning of Operation Rolling Thunder, a campaign of sustained US bombing runs over North Vietnam. They would continue until late 1968.
March 5th: During talks with the South Vietnamese government, US general Harold Johnson tells them he has a “blank cheque” to defeat the communists in Vietnam.
March 6th: The first American combat troops – two battalions of Marines – arrive in Vietnam at ‘China Beach’, near Da Nang. More continue to arrive over the next 48 hours, bringing the total number of US Marines in Vietnam to 5,000.
March 9th: President Johnson signs an order authorising the use of napalm in Vietnam, ostensibly to clear vegetation.
March 26th: Alice Herz, an 82 year old woman from Detroit, commits suicide by self immolation in protest against the Vietnam War.
April 7th: Johnson delivers a public speech and promises $US1 billion of economic aid if North Vietnam agrees to a negotiated peace deal. Hanoi later rejects this offer.
June 8th: HMAS Sydney arrives at Da Nang, carrying a large contingent of Australian combat troops.
June 27th: US combat troops launch their first major ground offensive, into Viet Cong-held territory north of Saigon.
June 27th: A group of artists and writers publish an open letter in the New York Times, protesting against the war in Vietnam.
May 3rd: Cambodia severs diplomatic ties with the US.
August: South of Da Nang, a joint US-ARVN offensive called Operation Starlite inflicts heavy Viet Cong casualties.
October 15th: A series of anti-US protests take place in several cities around the world including London, Rome, Brussels and Stockholm.
November 2nd: Anti-war protestor Norman Morrison, 32, commits suicide outside the Pentagon.
December: President Johnson orders a pause in bombing runs against North Vietnam, to encourage negotiations.
January 8th: Operation Crimp, a joint US-Australian operation in Saigon, locates a Viet Cong tunnel network.
January 26th: Harold Holt becomes prime minister of Australia, after the retirement of Robert Menzies.
March 25th: A coalition of student, socialist and anti-war groups begin a series of protests against the Vietnam conflict. Dozens of cities around the world are affected, with up to 25,000 protesting in New York.
July 3rd: More than 4,000 protestors demonstrate outside the US embassy in London, leading to scuffles and arrests.
August 18th: The Battle of Long Tan, between Australian forces (17 dead) and the Viet Cong (245 dead).
November: A poll in Australia shows that 63% of people support conscription, but only 37% support sending conscripted soldiers to Vietnam.
January 8th: US forces launch Operation Cedar Falls, an attempt to shut down Viet Cong activity north of Saigon.
March: American aid to South Vietnam increases to $US700 million per annum.
April 4th: Civil rights leader Martin Luther King speaks against the Vietnam War in New York, telling church parishioners that “somehow this madness must cease”.
April 15th: An estimated 300,000 protestors attend the ‘Spring Mobe’ anti-war demonstration in New York.
June 1st: The Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) group is formed by several returned soldiers.
July: A report claims that of 464,000 US troops in Vietnam, barely one-tenth can be used for offensive operations.
September 3rd: Nguyen Van Thieu is elected president of South Vietnam.
October 21st: The ‘March on the Pentagon to confront the War Makers’ begins in Washington. As many as 100,000 demonstrators participate over the next three days.
November: General William Westmoreland tells the media that the enemy in Vietnam is “certainly losing”.
December: US troop numbers in Vietnam reach almost 487,000 men.