March 8, 1965 – The first official US troops arrive in Vietnam. By this point in the war there were 23,000 American “Advisors” stationed in Vietnam. On this date the first regular troops landed at China Beach to defend the American air base at Da Nang and free up South Vietnamese regulars for combat. Though it was supposed to be an inconspicuous event, the marines, dressed in full combat gear and carrying rifles, are met by curious onlookers, pretty girls carrying leis, and four soldiers with a sign “Welcome Gallant Marines.” It’s said that General Westmoreland in Saigon is “appalled”. By the end of the year there would be almost 185,000 troops in Vietnam.