Rolling Like Thunder

March 2, 1965 – The United States launched Operation Rolling Thunder, a gradual and sustained aerial bombardment of North Vietnam that would continue until November 1, 1968.  U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia was never to destroy North Vietnam.  Rather, it was to support the Republic of Vietnam against communist insurgency.  By 1965, President Lyndon John had decided that the best way to defeat the communist insurgency was to dissuade the government of North Vietnam from aiding and abetting the insurgents in the South.  By launching a protracted areal assault on the North, the President hoped to cripple the North Vietnamese infrastructure and interrupt the movement of men and supplies from the North to the South.  It was finally halted just before the American election of 1968 as an enticement to bring the North Vietnamese to the Paris Peace talks.  Estimates vary widely on the exact extent of the operation, but it remains one of, if not the, largest attacks of any nation on another.  More than 300,000 attacks were launched and hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs were dropped.  More than 1,000 US aviators were killed, captured or reported missing.  In the end, the North Vietnamese survived and would eventually reunite North and South Vietnam.

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Filed under 1960s, Johnson, Vietnam

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