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4 Jan 61
Prince Boun Oum organizes a pro-Western government in Laos; North Vietnam and the USSR send aid to the Communist insurgents.
Jan 61
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev pledges support for "wars of national liberation" throughout the world, encouraging North Vietnamese Communists to escalate their armed struggle to unify Vietnam.
20 Jan 61
John Fitzgerald Kennedy is inaugurated as the 35th U.S. President. He declares "...we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to insure the survival and the success of liberty." He is advised in private by outgoing President Eisenhower that troops may be needed in Southeast Asia.
The Kennedy administration sets up a limited war to force a political settlement against an enemy dedicated to total military victory.
9 Apr 61
President Diem is re-elected as President of South Vietnam. US Ambassador Frederick Nolting reveals that Diem, "did not want combat troops in Vietnam".
10 Apr 61
First defoliation test mission is flown in Vietnam
5 May 61
President Kennedy at a press conference declares that if necessary the use of US forces would be considered "to help South Vietnam resist communist pressures".
11-13 May 61
Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson visits President Diem in South Vietnam.
16 May 61
A 14 nation conference in Geneva affirms Laos neutrality.
May 61

President Kennedy sends 400 Green Berets as 'Special Advisors' to South Vietnam to train South Vietnamese soldiers in methods of 'counter-insurgency' in the fight against Viet Cong guerrillas. The role of the Green Berets soon expands to establish Civilian Irregular Defense Groups (CIDG) made up of Montagnards in a series of fortified camps in the mountains along North Vietnamese infiltration routes.

July 1961
Britain announces that they will seek to join the EEC (European Economic Community, making Australia and New Zealand feel somewhat isolated.
Aug 61
26,000 Viet Cong launch several successful attacks on South Vietnamese troops. Diem then requests more military aid from the Kennedy administration.
1-4 Sep 61
Viet Cong forces carry out a series of attacks in Kontum Province, South Vietnam.
18 Sep 61
A Viet Cong battalion seizes the provincial capital of Phuoc Vinh, some 55 miles (89km) from Saigon.
8 Oct 61
The Lao factions agree to form a neutral coalition headed by Souvanna Phouma, but fail to agree on the apportionment of cabinet posts.
11 Oct 61

Kennedy announces his aides Maxwell Taylor and Walt Rostow will visit Vietnam to examine the deteriorating situation. "If Vietnam goes, it will be exceedingly difficult to hold Southeast Asia," Taylor reports to the President. He advises Kennedy to expand the number of U.S. military advisors and to send 8,000 combat soldiers (a brigade). Defense Secretary McNamara and the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend sending six divisions (200,000 men) to Vietnam. However, the President decides against sending any combat troops.

24 Oct 61
On the sixth anniversary of the Republic of South Vietnam, President Kennedy sends a letter to President Diem and pledges "the United States is determined to help Vietnam preserve its independence..." President Kennedy sends additional military advisors along with American helicopter units to transport and direct South Vietnamese troops in battle, thus involving Americans in combat operations. Kennedy justifies the expanding U.S. military role as a means "...to prevent a Communist takeover of Vietnam which is in accordance with a policy our government has followed since 1954." The number of military advisors sent by Kennedy will eventually surpass 16,000.
16 Nov 61
As a result of Taylor's mission, President Kennedy decides to increase military aid to South Vietnam, without committing US combat troops.
Dec 61
Indonesia proclaims that they would reclaim Dutch New Guinea by the end of 1962.
Dec 61
Viet Cong guerrillas control much of the countryside in South Vietnam and frequently ambush South Vietnamese troops. The cost to America of maintaining the 200,000 man ARVN army and managing the overall conflict in Vietnam rises to a million dollars per day.
31 Dec 61
US military personnel in Vietnam total 3,200.
8 Jan 62
Viet Cong Ambush, Kill American
8 Jan 62

J.F.K., Clay Agree on Berlin Policy

8 Jan 62
West Irian Ultimatum - Leave or We’ll Invade, Sukarno Tells Dutch
8 Jan 62
Reserves Not Ready, Arends Says
8 Jan 62
Nehru Loses Temper at Rally
11 Jan 62
President Kennedy's State of the Union says, "Few generations in all of history have been granted the role of being the great defender of freedom in its maximum hour of danger. This is our good fortune..."
15 Jan 62

During a press conference, President Kennedy is asked if any Americans in Vietnam are engaged in the fighting. "No," the President responds without further comment.

16 Jan 62
Dutch Navy Sinks Indonesia Invaders
16 Jan 62
U.S. Must Take Risks in S.E. Asia: Kennedy
16 Jan 62
Space Balloon Fizzles
16 Jan 62
Indonesians, Dutch Clash in Jungles
6 Feb 62
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.
9 Feb 62
Pick U.S. Viet Chief - Full General to Head Units
9 Feb 62
British OK Christmas Isle A-Test
9 Feb 62
Paris Police Battle Red Mobs; 8 Killed
10 Feb 62
No Combat in Vietnam: Harkins
10 Feb 62
Bar Red Squeeze on Air Corridor
10 Feb 62
Kennedy’s End Visit to Japan
10 Feb 62
Paris Workers Stage Strike in Protest of Police 'Brutality'
10 Feb 62
German Mine Toll Increases to 287
10 Feb 62
Seize $1.5 Million in Fake Bills
15 Feb 62
U.S. to Return Fire If Fired on: Kennedy
15 Feb 62
French Troops Battle Moslem Mobs in Oran
15 Feb 62
R. Kennedy Parries Quiz in Indonesia
15 Feb 62
Water Breaks Dike, Sweeps Idaho Town
18 Feb 62
U.S. Set For Any Threat: McNamara
18 Feb 62
Officials Doubt Viet War to Flare Into 2d 'Korea'
18 Feb 62
SAS Man in Patrol
27 Feb 62
Two renegade South Vietnamese pilots flying American-made World War II era fighter planes bomb the presidential palace in Saigon, killing 3 and wounding 20. President Diem and his brother Nhu escape unharmed.
28 Feb 62
French rush reserves to Algiers.
28 Feb 62
Army Approves 5-Year Tours
28 Feb 62
Discoverer Lofted Into Polar Orbit
March 62

Operation Sunrise begins the Strategic Hamlet resettlement program whereby scattered rural populations in South Vietnam are resettled into fortified villages defended by local militias.

Viet Cong infiltrate over 50 of the hamlets who kill or intimidate village leaders. As a result, Diem orders bombing of suspected Viet Cong-controlled hamlets. The air strikes by the South Vietnamese Air Force are supported by U.S. pilots, who fly of the missions. Civilian causalities erode popular support for Diem and result in growing peasant hostility toward America, which is largely blamed for the unpopular resettlement program as well as the bombings.

10 Mar 62
Join in Missions - Report U.S. Pilots Train Viets on Combat Flights
10 Mar 62
Plan 'Ready' Units
10 Mar 62
10 Terrorists Slain in Oran Gun Battle
10 Mar 62
Fisher Denies Split With Liz
May 62
Viet Cong organize themselves into battalion-sized units operating in central Vietnam.
May 62
Defense Secretary McNamara visits South Vietnam and reports "we are winning the war."
23 Jul 62
The Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos signed in Geneva by the U.S. and 13 other nations, prohibits U.S. invasion of portions of the Ho Chi Minh trail inside eastern Laos.
1 Aug 62
President Kennedy signs the Foreign Assistance Act of 1962 which provides "...military assistance to countries which are on the rim of the Communist world and under direct attack."
August 62
A U.S. Special Forces camp is set up at Khe Sanh to monitor North Vietnamese Army (NVA) infiltration down the Ho Chi Minh trail.
3 Jan 63
350 Viet Cong fighters defeat a large force of American-equipped South Vietnamese troops attempting to seize a radio transmitter in the Battle of Ap Bac. Three American helicopter crew are killed.
May 63
Buddhists riot in South Vietnam after they are denied the right to display religious flags during their celebration of Buddha's birthday. In Hue, South Vietnamese police and army troops shoot at Buddhist demonstrators, resulting in the deaths of one woman and eight children. Political pressure mounts on the Kennedy administration to disassociate itself from Diem's family-run government.
Jun-Aug 63
Buddhist demonstrations spread. Several Buddhist monks publicly burn themselves to death as an act of protest. Diem imposes martial law. South Vietnamese special forces under control of Diem's younger brother Nhu wage violent crackdowns against Buddhist sanctuaries in Saigon, Hue and other cities, sparking wiidespread anti-Diem demonstrations. Madame nNhu refers to "barbeques" on TV.
4 Jul 63
South Vietnamese General Tran Van Don, a Buddhist, contacts the CIA in Saigon about the possibility of staging a coup against Diem.
22 Aug 63
New U.S. ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge arrives in South Vietnam.
24 Aug 63
Ambassador Lodge interprets a U.S. State Department message to indicate he should encourage a military coup against President Diem.
26 Aug 63
Ambassador Lodge meets President Diem for the first time. Under instructions from President Kennedy, Lodge tells Diem to fire his brother, the much-hated Nhu, and to reform his government. But Diem arrogantly refuses even to discuss such matters with Lodge.
26 Aug 63
President Kennedy and top aides begin three days of heated discussions over whether the U.S. should in fact support the military coup against Diem.
29 Aug 63
A Lodge message to Washington states "...there is no possibility, in my view, that the war can be won under a Diem administration." Kennedy then gives Lodge a free hand to manage the unfolding events in Saigon. However, the coup against Diem fizzles due to mistrust and suspicion within the ranks of the military conspirators.
2 Sep 63
President Kennedy describes Diem in an interview with Walter Cronkite as "out of touch with the people" and adds that South Vietnam's government might regain popular support "with changes in policy and perhaps in personnel." He also comments, "If we withdrew from Vietnam, the Communists would control Vietnam. Pretty soon, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaya, would go..."
2 Oct 63
President Kennedy sends Ambassador Lodge a mixed messaged that "no initiative should now be taken to give any encouragement to a coup" but that Lodge should "identify and build contacts with possible leadership as and when it appears".
5 Oct 63

Lodge informs President Kennedy that the coup against Diem appears to be on again.

5 Oct 63
Rebel generals under Duong Van "Big" Minh ask for assurances that U.S. aid to South Vietnam will continue after Diem's removal and that the U.S. will not interfere with the actual coup. President Kennedy concurs and the CIA in Saigon then signals the conspirators that the United States will not interfere with the overthrow of President Diem.
25 Oct 63
Prompted by concerns over public relations fallout if the coup fails, a worried White House seeks reassurances from Ambassador Lodge that the coup will succeed.
28 Oct 63
Ambassador Lodge reports a coup is "imminent."
29 Oct 63
An increasingly nervous White House now instructs Lodge to postpone the coup. Lodge responds it can only be stopped by betraying the conspirators to Diem.
1 Nov 63
10 a.m.
Ambassador Lodge meets with President Diem from 10 a.m. until noon at the presidential palace, then departs.
1 Nov 63
1:30 p.m.

The coup begins. Mutinous troops surround the presidential palace and seize police headquarters. Diem and his brother Nhu inside the palace reject appeals to surrender. Diem telephones the rebel generals and unsuccessfully attempts to talk them out of the coup.

1 Nov 63
4:30 p.m.
Diem calls Lodge and asks about the attitude of the United States. Lodge responds "...it is four thirty a.m. in Washington, and the U.S. government cannot possibly have a view." He expresses concern for Diem's safety, to which Diem responds "I am trying to restore order."
1 Nov 63
8 p.m.
Diem and Nhu escape from the palace unnoticed and go to a safe house in the suburbs owned by a wealthy Chinese merchant.
2 Nov 63
3 a.m.
A Diem aide betrays his location to the generals. The hunt for Diem and Nhu now begins.
2 Nov 63
6 a.m.

Diem telephones the generals. Realizing the situation is hopeless, Diem and Nhu offer to surrender from inside a Catholic church. Diem and Nhu are then taken into custody by rebel officers and placed in the back of an armored personnel carrier. While traveling to Saigon, the vehicle stops and Diem and Nhu are assassinated.

2 Nov 63
6 a.m.
A White House meeting is interrupted with the news of Diem's death. According to witnesses, Kennedy turns pale and leaves the room.
2 Nov 63
7 a.m.
Saigon celebrates the downfall of Diem's regime. But the coup results in a power vacuum and teh country becomes totally dependent on the United States for its existence.
22 Nov 63
President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas.
22 Nov 63
Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as the 36th U.S. President. He makes a key mistake by retaining many of the same policy advisors who served Kennedy, and who were loyal to JFK but not LBJ.
LBJ'S WAR BEGINS 1963-1964
24 Nov 63

President Johnson tells Ambassador Lodge in Washington that he will not "lose Vietnam".

31 Dec 63
South Vietnam has 16,300 American military advisors and received $500 million in U.S. aid during 1963.
30 Jan 64
General Minh is ousted from power in a bloodless coup led by General Nguyen Khanh who becomes the new leader.
Mar 64
U.S.-backed mercenaries flying WWII American fighter planes start bombing the Ho Chi Minh trail inside Laos.
6 Mar 64
Defense Secretary McNamara visits Vietnam and states that Gen. Khanh has U.S. support, adding, "We'll stay for as long as it takes."
Mar 64
McNamara advises President Johnson to increase military aid to the ARVN. U.S. policy makers focus on preventing a Communist victory, believing it would damage the U.S. credibility.
Mar 64
The US cost of the war in Vietnam rises to two million dollars per day.
17 Mar 64
The U.S. National Security Council recommends the bombing of North Vietnam. President Johnson approves planning by the Pentagon.
May 64
Work begins on a Congressional resolution supporting the President's Vietnam policy. The work is postposed because of lack of support in the Senate, but later surfaces as the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.
Summer 64
56,000 Viet Cong spread guerrilla war throughout South Vietnam, reinforced by North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars pouring in via the Ho Chi Minh trail. Responding to this escalation, President Johnson approves Operation Plan 34A, CIA-run covert operations using South Vietnamese commandos in speed boats to harass radar sites along the coastline of North Vietnam. The raids are supported by U.S. Navy warships in the Gulf of Tonkin including the destroyer U.S.S. Maddox which conducts electronic surveillance to pinpoint the radar locations.
1 Jul 64

Johnson appoints General Maxwell D. Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as new U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam. During his one year tenure, Taylor deals with five different governments.

1 Jul 64
President Johnson appoints Lt. Gen William C. Westmoreland as the new U.S. military commander in Vietnam.
31 Jul 64
In the Gulf of Tonkin under Operation Plan 34A, South Vietnamese commandos in unmarked speed boats raid two North Vietnamese military bases located on islands just off the coast. In the vicinity is the destroyer U.S.S. Maddox.
2 Aug 64
Three North Vietnamese patrol boats attack the American destroyer U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin ten miles off the coast of North Vietnam. They fire three torpedoes and machine-guns. A single machine-gun round hits the Maddox. There are no casualities.
2 Aug 64
U.S. Navy fighters from the carrier Ticonderoga, led by Commander James Stockdale, attack the patrol boats, sinking one and damaging the other two.
2 Aug 64
President Johnson reacts cautiously, sending a diplomatic message to Hanoi warning of "grave consequences" from further "unprovoked" attacks and ordering the Maddox to resume operations in the Gulf of Tonkin. U.S. forces worldwide go on alert.
3 Aug 64
USS Turner Joy and USS Maddox zigzag through the Gulf of Tonkin to within eight miles of North Vietnam's coast, while South Vietnamese commandos in speed boats harass North Vietnamese defenses along the coastline. During nightime thunderstorms, electronic instruments on the destroyers give readings that are interpreted as another North Vietnamese torpedo attack, and both destroyers open fire on apparent targets without any actual enemy sightings.
4 Aug 64
Despite lack of information and possible doubts about the second attack, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend a retaliatory bombing raid against North Vietnam.
4 Aug 64
American press reports embellish the second attack with spectacular eyewitness accounts although no journalists had been present.
4 Aug 64
President Johnson orders retaliatory bombing of North Vietnamese oil facilities and naval targets. 64 U.S. Navy planes make the raid.
4 Aug 64
Lt. Everett Alvarez pilots one of two Navy jets shot down during the bombing raids and becomes the first American prisoner of war, and the first inhabitant of the infamous POW camp called "Hanoi Hilton".
4 Aug 64
In a midnight television appearance, President Johnson tells Americans,"We Americans know, although others appear to forget, the risk of spreading conflict. We still seek no wider war."
5 Aug 64
With opinion polls showing 85% public support, Johnson's aides lobby Congress to pass a White House resolution giving the President a free hand in Vietnam.
6 Aug 64
Senator Wayne Morse, tipped off by someone in the Pentagon that the Maddox had been involved in the South Vietnamese commando raids against North Vietnam and thus was not the victim of an "unprovoked" attack, queried McNamara in a meeting. McNamara replies that the U.S. Navy "...played absolutely no part in, was not associated with, was not aware of, any South Vietnamese actions, if there were any..."
7 Aug 64
U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that allows the President "to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force" to prevent further attacks against U.S. forces. The Resolution, passed unanimously in the House and 98-2 (Senators Morse and Gruening against) in the Senate, grants enormous power to President Johnson to wage an undeclared war in Vietnam from the White House.
21 Aug 64
After escalating student and militant Buddhist protests in Saigon against the Khanh regime, Khanh resigns as sole leader in favor of a triumvirate of himself, Gen. Minh and Gen. Khiem. Saigon disintegrates into chaos and mob violence amid the government's instability.
26 Aug 64
President Johnson is nominated at the Democratic National Convention, stating, "We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves."
13 Sep 64
Two South Vietnamese generals stage an unsuccessful coup.
14 Oct 64
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev is ousted from power, replaced by Leonid Brezhnev as leader of the U.S.S.R.
16 Oct 64
China tests its first Atomic Bomb. China also massee troops along its border with Vietnam as a message to the U.S.
1 Nov 64
A pre-dawn mortar assault kills five Americans, two South Vietnamese, and wounds nearly a hundred others at Bien Hoa Air Base 12 miles north of Saigon.
3 Nov 64
Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson is re-elected as President of the United States in a land-slide victory with 61 percent of the popular vote (the biggest to date in U.S. history), defeating Republican Barry Goldwater by 16 million votes. Democrats also achieve big majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate.
Dec 64
10,000 NVA soldiers arrive in the Central Highlands, carrying modern Chinese and Soviet weapons. They shore up Viet Cong battalions with the weapons and also provide experienced soldiers as leaders.
1 Dec 64
President Johnson's top aides, including Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, and Defense Secretary McNamara, recommend a policy of gradual escalation of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.
20 Dec 64
Gen. Khanh and young officers, led by Nguyen Cao Ky and Nguyen Van Thieu, oust older generals including Gen. Minh from the government and seize control.
21 Dec 64
An angry Ambassador Taylor summons the young officers to the U.S. embassy then scolds them like schoolboys over the continuing instability and endless intrigues plaguing South Vietnam's government. Americans, he had already warned them, are "tired of coups." Taylor's behavior greatly offends the young officers. Gen. Khanh retaliates by lashing out in the press against Taylor and the U.S., stating that America is reverting to "colonialism" in its treatment of South Vietnam.
24 Dec 64

A Viet Cong car bomb set off during happy hour at the Brinks Hotel, an American officers' residence in downtown Saigon, kills two Americans and wounds 58.

31 Dec 64

American military advisor troop strength in South Vietnam is 23,000. An estimated 170,000 Viet Cong/NVA fighters have begun coordinated battalion-sized attacks against ARVN troops around Saigon.

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