During the Kennedy\Johnson\Nixon administrations, the U.S. became involved in the conflict between France and Vietnam. The U.S. came close to entering the conflict on the side of the French but at the last moment, decided against it. The two sides came together to discuss peace terms in the Geneva Peace Accords in 1954, during which Vietnam was partitioned. The anticipation was it would be temporary. The Communist party had been formed during the world­wide depression following W.W.I. and was the rule in Russia and China. North Vietnam was Communist, which in 1957 was the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). South Vietnam was the Government of the Republic, whose president in 1956 was strongly anti-Communist.

During the 1960s the threat of Communism to America was deeply felt. In 1961 President Kennedy sent a team to assess American aid requirements to South Vietnam. By 1963 complications in the government of South Vietnam caused Washington to approve the removal of their president, who was assassinated three weeks prior to President Kennedy's murder. At that time there were 16,000 American military advisers in Vietnam.

President Lyndon Johnson favored a more aggressive action. In 1964 an American ship was attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin, which resulted in a resolution, increasing the president's war powers. In 1965, the NLF attacked two U.S. Army installations in South Vietnam. In reprisal, Johnson ordered sustained bombing missions over North Vietnam. Believing a military victory could be won in the South in a relatively short period of time, American combat troops were drafted and sent to Vietnam from 1960 through late 1964.

It was extremely controversial, protests were organized and continued as deaths mounted. By 1968 Lyndon Johnson announced he would not seek re-election and Richard Nixon succeeded him. The war expanded, involving Laos and Cambodia. Intense bombing campaigns and intervention in Cambodia sparked campus protests climaxing with the infamous killing by the National Guard of four students in Ohio on the Kent State campus.

In 1972, bombing raids were unleashed against North Vietnamese largest cities bringing condemnation internationally. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, attempted to draw up peace plans, the final draft in January 1973, ended open hostilities between the United States and the DRV. However, this did not end the conflict . From March 1973, until the fall of Saigon in April 1975, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam tried desperately to save South Vietnam from political and military collapse. The end came on the morning of April 30 when Communist forces captured the president's palace in Saigon.



Return to main page for Veterans from Hopeville and Murray by Fern Underwood

Last Revised April 10, 2015