I. French and Vietnam
A. France controlled “Indochina” (Vietnam) since the
late 1800’s
1) Ho Chi Minh leads Communist Party in a
number of failed revolts against French rule.
2) 1940 – (WWII) Japanese take control of
3) 1945 – Japanese defeated and leave Vietnam
a) Ho Chi Minh leads the Northern
Communists (Vietminh) in declaring
Vietnam an independent nation.
Ho Chi Minh
B. French Battle the Vietminh
1) France regains control of South Vietnam with a
Billion dollars in aid from United States
a) President Eisenhower’s Domino Theory
keeps U.S. aid coming to France
2) 1954 – Despite U.S. aid, French surrender at
Dien Bien Phu
3) Geneva Accords divide Vietnam along the 17th
a) Ho Chih Minh/Communists control North
b) Ngo Dinh Diem/Nationalists control South
c) Capitols: (South = Saigon) (North = Hanoi)
17TH Parallel
II. United States steps In
A. Diem cancels nation-wide elections ordered by
Geneva Accords
1) U.S. and Diem realize that Ho Chi Minh’s
popularity will spell defeat for Democracy
B. U.S. promises Diem support if he agrees to form a
stable democracy
C. Diem fails to uphold his end of the bargain
1) Eliminated any opposition
2) Restricts Buddhist religion
a) Majority of Southerners = Buddhists
D. Southern Communists (Vietcong) begin attacks,
killing thousands of government officials.
E. Northern Communists use the Ho Chi Minh Trail to
supply weapons to the Vietcong in the South
Communist soldiers
preparing for an
III. Kennedy and Vietnam
A. JFK immediately increases aid to Vietnam along
with thousands of advisors to train the South
Vietnamese troops
B. Diem’s persecutions continue
1) Harasses villagers to expose Vietcong
2) Kills hundreds of Buddhist leaders, destroys
Buddhist temples
C. Buddhist monks set themselves on fire to protest
1) American officials order Diem to stop
persecutions but Diem refuses
D. Nov. 1963 – Kennedy orders military overthrow of
1) Against JFK’s wishes, Diem is assassinated
2) Realizing that the situation is out of hand, JFK
announces intent to withdraw all U.S. military from
South Vietnam.
3) Three weeks later JFK is assassinated
4) Lyndon B. Johnson inherits crisis in Vietnam
IV. President Johnson Expands the Conflict
A. South grows more chaotic after Diem’s death
1) String of ineffective military leaders
2) Vietcong grows stronger in countryside
B. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
1) After alleged attack on U.S.S. Maddox by North
Vietnamese ship, LBJ asks Congress for power to
take “all necessary measures to repel any attack
against the forces of the U.S. and to prevent
further aggression.”
2) Unknown to Congress, Johnson had already
secretly ordered raids on North Vietnam
3) Feb. 1965 – Eight Americans are killed in a
North Vietnamese attack.
4) LBJ responds with Operation Rolling Thunder
a) sustained bombing raids
b) 50,000 American combat troops arrive in
South Vietnam
5) America officially enters the Vietnam War!
“You do some thinking. You hallucinate. You
look ahead a few paces and wonder what your
legs will resemble if there is more to the earth in
that spot than silicates and nitrogen. Will the pain
be unbearable? Will you scream and fall silent?
Will you be afraid to look at your own body, afraid
of the sight of you own red flesh and white bone?
You decide to be ultra-careful. You try to
second-guess the mine. Should you put your foot
to that flat rock or the clump of grass to its rear?
Paddy dike or water? You wish you were Tarzan,
able to swing on the vines. You trace the
footprints of the man to your front. You give up
when he curses you for following too closely;
better one man dead than two.”
V. Fighting in the Jungle
A. Jungle conditions = 100+ degrees, 100% humidity,
Leeches in water, tropical diseases, etc.
B. Elusive Enemy
1) Vietcong had no high-powered weapons
2) Used Guerrilla Warfare
a) hit-and-run ambush tactics, booby traps
b) hide in trees and caves
c) “home-field advantage” (Vietcong knew
the terrain)
3) Enemy lived amongst friendly civilians
a) difficult to identify friend from foe
b) woman selling drinks may be a VC spy
c) boy taking a picture may be VC soldier
“Two days ago four guys got killed and about 15
wounded from the first platoon. Our platoon
was 200 yards away on top of a hill. One guy
was from New York City. He had five days left
to go before being sent home. He was standing
on a 250-lb. bomb that a plane had dropped
and didn’t explode. So the North Vietnamese
Army wired it up. Well, all they ever found of
him was a piece of his wallet.”
-Specialist Fourth Class Salvador Gonzalez
4) Tunnels of Vietcong
a) elaborate system of underground tunnels
b) allowed them safety from bombing raids
VI. War of Attrition
A. American strategy was to destroy the Vietcong’s
morale and will to fight
1) Continuous harassment
2) Keep body count totals
3) Was not as effective as we hoped
B. Vietcong saw the war as a battle for existence and
were ready to pay any price for victory
C. Napalm and Agent Orange
1) Napalm = gasoline-based bomb that set fire to
the jungles
2) Agent Orange = leaf-killing toxic chemical
3) Used to clear jungle and expose Vietcong.
VII. Psychological War
A. Frustration began to take its toll on U.S. troops
1) Unable to combat guerrilla warfare
2) Miserable jungle conditions
3) Prolonged war (supposed to be quick victory!)
4) Fighting among Southern Vietnamese (Civil War
within a Civil War)
B. Soldiers morale began to drop
1) Drugs and alcohol to ease stress and pain
2) Murder of superior officers
3) Abandoning platoons
Related flashcards
Create Flashcards