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Home > August 2015 > Remembering the Gulf of Tonkin Incident
Remembering the Gulf of Tonkin Incident
Seperator
Posted: 8/3/2015 12:00:00 AM

Gulf of Tonkin
Flight operations on board Intrepid during the Vietnam War. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum)
 

In August 1964, Communist North Vietnam and U.S.-backed South Vietnam were engaged in an ideological and military conflict.  

As the war escalated, American destroyers patrolled the waters off Vietnam in an effort to gather military intelligence on Communist forces. What follows is a brief timeline of events:

August 2, 1964
While conducting a patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin, USS Maddox reported coming under attack from North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Maddox responded with fire. While North Vietnamese officials acknowledged the incident, they also accused the United States of  illegally entering North Vietnam’s territorial waters.

In response to the accusations, President Lyndon B. Johnson claimed the incident was unprovoked and had occurred in international waters.

August 4, 1964
The ships Maddox and C. Turner Joy reported coming under attack a second time in the Gulf of Tonkin. The ships returned fire. In the aftermath of the incident, no evidence of an attack was found. Johnson ordered retaliatory, strategic air strikes over North Vietnam. Years later, the National Security Agency confirmed that reports of the second attack were false.

August 7, 1964
The U.S. Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The resolution authorized the president to use conventional military force in Southeast Asia without a formal declaration of war, and it dramatically escalated U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Fast forward: October 2015
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will present the new exhibition On the Line: Intrepid and the Vietnam War. Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, On the Line will explore what it was like to serve onboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid during one of the most contested periods in modern history. Setting the personal experiences of Intrepid crew members against the backdrop of major international events, including the controversial Gulf of Tonkin incident, On the Line promises to be a unique exploration of the naval experience in the Vietnam War.

The Intrepid Museum will open its exhibition On the Line: Intrepid and the Vietnam War on October 16, 2015.

Learn more

 

 



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