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Narratives: 1963-1975

The United States Senate approved the Tonkin Gulf Resolution on 7 August 1964, authorizing the President to take whatever steps necessary to prevent further aggression against U.S. Forces in Vietnam. It was the only Congressional action taken, other than funding, during the war.

Opposition to the Vietnam War began in 1964 and mounted in intensity. Virtually every college had an organized anti-war movement. By 1969, some business and labor leaders supported the anti-war movement. The publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 further eroded public support for the war and demands were made for U.S. military withdrawal.

HILL 875
In November 1967, North Vietnamese armies surrounded the southern Vietnamese city of Dak To. For twenty-two days a fierce battle was waged in the area. A 500-lb bomb was accidentally dropped on our own soldiers. On Thanksgiving morning, the troops took Hill 875 but it was a hollow victory as the North Vietnamese had retreated in the night.

In 1964 the United States began bombing Laos. In 1971 South Vietnamese armies, supported by U.S. bombers, invaded Laos. Casualties were high on both sides. South Vietnam’s forces were expelled. U. S. bombing contributed to the rise of a Communist government in Laos in 1975.

In October of 1965, one of the largest battles of the Vietnam War was fought in Ia Drange Valley. The defeat of the North Vietnamese caused them to change their combat strategy and tactics to hit and run.

During the Vietnam War, Allied Forces were stymied by their inability to find the enemy. The Viet Cong had a complex array of tunnels that enabled them to move secretly. The tunnels could hold an entire battalion and were constructed several layers deep so they were not affected by bombings. In January 1966, Operation Crimp was started to find and destroy the tunnels. From that operation U.S. soldiers earned the title “Tunnel Rats.” Units were formed to enter the tunnels, engage the enemy, and destroy the complexes.

On 31 Jan 1968, the North Vietnamese launched an all-out offensive, striking almost every major city and provincial capital in South Vietnam. The bloodiest fighting of the entire war took place at the Imperial Capital of Hue. The Tet Offensive lasted until the Fall of 1968 with tremendous losses to the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. American Forces felt the enemy was conquered but that proved to be wrong.

When the United States ordered troops into Cambodia, protests erupted on college campuses across the nation. Four students in Ohio and two in Mississippi were killed in riots. This resulted in Congress repealing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and passing the Cooper-Church Amendment, which forbade the use of U.S. troops outside of Vietnam.

In May 1969, one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam War was fought for Hamburger Hill, one of the last search and destroy missions of the war.

When Saigon was surrounded, the order was given to start Operation Frequent Wind. The evacuation of Saigon and the United States Embassy took place on April 1975. In a 24-hour period, over 50,000 people were removed. The last casualties of the Vietnam War occurred during this operation.

On 27 January 1973, the United States, South Vietnam, the Provisional Revolutionary Government and North Vietnam signed the Paris Peace Accords, which called for the withdrawal of all U. S. Forces, the release of all American prisoners of war, the end of military operations in Laos and Cambodia, a cease fire between North and South Vietnam, the formation of a National Council of Reconciliation, and continued United States aid to South Vietnam.

Black Americans were initially recruited to serve in the Revolutionary War. Post-war laws first denied Blacks access to military service, but they eventually fought and served valiantly in all of the wars since 1812. Initially denied freedoms, suffering rejection and segregation, they proved themselves capable and courageous in fulfilling escalating responsibilities in recognition of their abilities. Fully integrated at the start of the Korean conflict and since, Black Americans confirmed their ability to perform in battle and at high levels of responsibility.

Women have played important military roles since the Revolutionary War. Although unfairly treated in early wars, they distinguished themselves in teaching sanitation, nursing and spying. Disguised as men, they fought on battlefields. Although women were authorized to serve as nurses in 1861, they were not eligible for health care, salary and a uniform until 1899. During World War II, opposition to women in the military was strong. In May of 1942, the Women’s Auxiliary Corps was formed to serve with the Army but did not receive military status until August 1943. The Nurse Corps was denied rank until 1947 and veteran status until 1977. Women are now integrated into the military and serve in all capacities and levels of command.

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