December 19, 1972 – When the North Vietnamese walked out on the Paris Peace talks on December 13, 1972, then President Nixon told Hanoi to get back to the table “or else.” When they refused, he ordered Operation Linebacker II, a massive bombing campaign of the densely populated areas between Hanoi and the port city of Haiphong to commence on December 18. On December 19th, the Vietnamese call the acts “barbaric” and “insane” and condemnation reigned down on Nixon from around the world calling this the “Christmas Bombing” and deliberately targets civilians. Over the next 11 days, the U.S. dropped over 20,000 tons of bombs in 1700 missions. Approximately 1600 Vietnamese civilians were killed in the largest bombing attack since World War II. On December 26, the North Vietnamese indicated they were willing to return to negotiations, and on December 29, President Nixon ordered the raids stopped. The talks resumed on January 2 and The Paris Peace Accords were finally signed on January 27, 1973. By the time the bombing stopped, 43 Americans were killed with another 49 taken prisoner.
Walk softly and carry a big stick.
December 16, 1965 – General Westmoreland, Commander of U.S. troops in Vietnam, sends Defense Secretary McNamara a request for additional troops. At this point there were nearly 200,000 soldiers in Vietnam and Westmoreland states that he will need and additional 243,000 by 1966 and 600,000 by the end of 1967. His vision was never fully realized, but U.S. involvement would max at 540,000 by 1969. Most of them drafted.
Any wonder why they protested in the streets? Ever wonder what would have happened if they drafted for Iraq and Afgahnastan?
On May 20, 1969 the real battle of Hamburger Hill ended after 10 days. Although heavily fortified by the North Vietnamese, the hill was of little strategic value but the American command ordered a direct assault. The battle would involve about 1,800 men, and ten batteries of artillery. The Air Force flew 272 support sorties dropping 450 tons of bombs and 69 tons of napalm. The hill would be abandoned June 5th. The stupidity of the battle enraged Americans.
Filed under 1960s, Vietnam
May 8, 1970 At the intersection of Wall Street and Broad Street in lower Manhattan, approximately 200 construction workers attack about 1,000 students protesting the Vietnam War, the invasion of Cambodia and the Kent State shootings. Carrying American flags and signs “USA All The Way” and “America, Love It Or Leave It” the construction works begin attacking the protestors singling out those with long hair. Eventually the riot spreads to New York City Hall where the American Flag, lower to half-staff in remembrance of the Kent State students is raised, lowered, then raised again. In the end, 70 were reported injured and it was clear American was dividing.
On April 30th, President Richard Nixon announced on television that a massive offensive into Cambodia was in progress. “We take these actions,” Nixon said, “not for the purpose of expanding the war into Cambodia, but for the purpose of ending the war in Vietnam, and winning the just peace we all desire.” Outraged at the expansion of the war, college campus across the nation erupted in spontaneous protest in what Time called a nation-wide student strike estimated to include 4 million students. At Kent State in Ohio, tensions had been brewing for days. The governor of Ohio ordered the National Guard to move onto the campus to suppress student unrest. After 4 days of intermittent protest, the rally on May 4, 1970 suddenly took a turn for the worse when the National Guard opened fire with 67 rounds in 13 seconds. In the end, four unarmed students were dead and another nine injured. The war had been brought home in a horrible and haunting way. It was never determined if the soldiers had been ordered to shoot. No one was ever prosecuted.
April 30, 1975 Born in 1890, Ho Chi Minh was the son of a Confusion scholar and early in life became a teacher. Between 1912 and 1919, Ho lived in both the United States and England working as a chef and baker including a stint at the Parker House Hotel in Boston. From 1919-1923 He continued his education in France and became a communist and began advocating independence for what was then called French Indochina. He later lived in both the Soviet Union and China before returning to Vietnam in 1941 to lead the Viet Minh independence movement fighting both the Vichy French and Japanese during World War II. He borrowed heavily from the American and French traditions and issued a Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945. After the French abandoned Vietnam in 1954, the Geneva Accords celled for the division of Vietnam into a Communist North and Non-communist South. This lead to what would eventually be called the Vietnam War and Ho Chi Minh, as President of North Vietnam, lead the insurgency that sought to unify both halves into a united, communist Vietnam. He died in 1969 but he remained the leader of the revolution even in death. When the government of South Vietnam collapsed on April 30, 1975, the capital of Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh city in his honor. Though he did not live to see it, Vietnam eventually became an independent, united nation.
Filed under 1970s, Vietnam
On April 29, 1975 at 6:00 AM local time, the North Vietnamese Politburo ordered General Dung to “strike with the greatest determination straight into the enemy’s final lair.” Shortly thereafter, the airport was hit by rockets and heavy artillery effectively closing it. The only way out was by helicopter and Operation Frequent Wind began. At 10:51 the American radio station began playing “White Christmas” over and over again as a signal for American personnel to move immediately to their evacuation points. Throughout the day and night, buses shuttled evacuees from throughout the city to sites where helicopters evacuated more than 7,000 people, mostly Americans. These sites included the Defense Attaché Office (DAO) compound, the US Embassy and the CIA Headquarters captured in this photo. Meanwhile, many South Vietnamese descended on various locations hoping to claim refugee status and escape. Harrowing images of their desperation continues to haunt many. After years of conflict, thousand and thousands of American lives, most of them drafted, and innumerable Vietnamese were lost in what finally amounted to an embarrassing and heart wrenching conclusion. Vietnam, this tiny obscure country in Southeast Asia, had torn America apart, destroyed two presidents, and forever changed the way we live. A sad ending to a very sad story.
Filed under 1970s, Vietnam