Screenshot from our website vvmf.org/timeline

In 2022 – we’re commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Throughout the year, we’re highlighting lists of 40 things related to the Vietnam war/era.

This month, we’ve compiled 40 key dates in the timeline of the Vietnam War Era and The Wall:

September 1, 1950 – President Harry Truman sent the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) to Vietnam to assist the French fighting in Southeast Asia.

August 4, 1953 – President Eisenhower gave a speech in which he warned Americans about the dangers of Domino Theory.

July 1954 – The Geneva Agreements were signed. As part of the agreement, the French agreed to withdraw their troops from northern Vietnam. Vietnam would be temporarily divided at the 17th parallel, pending elections within two years to choose a president and reunite the country.

April 1956 – Three women arrive to teach South Vietnamese nurses necessary skills for the Vietnam War. This will begin the legacy of more than 10,000 women serving in the Vietnam War.

June 8, 1956 – USAF Technical Sergeant Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr. is killed, making him the first official American  death of the conflict in Southeast Asia.

July 8, 1959 –  North Vietnamese forces attack a compound at Bien Hoa killing Master Sargent Chester Ovnand and Dale Buis, making them the first two Americans killed in Vietnam due to hostile fire.

November 1961 –  President Kennedy authorizes the spraying of herbicides, more commonly known as Agent Orange, throughout Vietnam. These chemicals would irreparably damage the Vietnamese, Americans, and the landscape, the effects of which are still felt today.

February 1964 –  The U.S. Air Force and Navy began a bombing campaign, known as Rolling Thunder, throughout Vietnam hoping to convince Ho Chi Minh to abandon his mission of working to overtake South Vietnam.

March 26, 1964Col. Floyd Thompson is captured by the Viet Cong. He would go on to become the longest held Prisoner of War (POW) in American history.

August 2 and August 4, 1964 – North Vietnamese warships purportedly attacked United States warships, the U.S.S. Maddox and the U.S.S. Turner Joy.

August 5, 1964 – Lt. Everett Alvarez’s plane is shot down. He became the first U.S. pilot to be shot down and detained during the Vietnam War.

August 7, 1964 –  Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing President Johnson to take any measures he believed were necessary to retaliate and to promote the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia.

March 8, 1965 –  U.S. Marines land on the beaches of Da Nang, making them the first large-scale ground force to deploy from the U.S. to Vietnam.

March 8, 1966 –  Australia sends troops to Vietnam. More than 500 Australians died in the Vietnam War.

May 4, 1966 – Army Chaplain William Barragy was killed when the CH-47 he was riding in crashed due to mechanical failure. He will become the first of 16 military Chaplains to die in the Vietnam War.

October 1967 – An estimated 50,000 people march on the Pentagon in protest of the Vietnam War.

January 31, 1968 – The North Vietnamese launch the Tet Offensive. This series of attacks was issued throughout South Vietnam and would become a major turning point of the Vietnam War.

February 27, 1968 –  Walter Cronkite, after having visited Hue City during the Tet Offensive, spoke out on the evening news against the Vietnam War.

April 29, 1968 – Phase Two of the Tet Offensive of 1968 (also known as the May Offensive, Little Tet, and Mini-Tet) was launched by the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and Viet Cong (VC) against targets throughout South Vietnam, including Saigon.

April 30, 1969 – U.S. troops reach peak strength during the war with 543,382 individuals serving in Vietnam.

November 12, 1969 – News of the My Lai Massacre reaches the United States.

May 4, 1970 – Four students are killed at Kent State, a university in Ohio, when National Guardsmen open fire on students protesting the war in Vietnam.

June 24, 1970 – The Senate repeals the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution hoping to reign in presidential powers when involved in conflicts.

June 22, 1972 –  President Nixon signs the 26th Amendment lowering the Voting age to 18.

May 1972 –  President Nixon launches Operation Linebacker, bombing along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, hoping to stop or slow supplies moving to enemy troops.

December 18, 1972 – President Nixon launches Operation Linebacker II, also called the Christmas Bombings, in the hopes of bringing North Vietnam back to the bargaining table.

January 27, 1973 – The Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, announces the end of the U.S. Draft.

February 12, 1973 – A C-141 flight returns home carrying the first group of POWs to the United States. In all more than 2,000 service members would be returned by April 4, 1975.

March 29, 1973 – The last American combat troops leave Vietnam, however, American service members remain in other roles.

April 30, 1975Saigon falls to the North Vietnamese military.

May 12, 1975 – The U.S. Merchant Ship, Mayaguez, is seized by Cambodian communists and will become the last conflict of the Vietnam War.

May 28, 1979 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund holds a press conference to announce the intention to build a national memorial.

July 1, 1980 – President Jimmy Carter signs the legislation in the White House Rose Garden, providing two acres of land near the Lincoln Memorial for what will become the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

May 6, 1981 – After a jury of artists and architects analyzed a pool of 1,421 applicants, they unanimously select 21-year-old Maya Lin’s design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

November 13, 1982 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated on the National Mall.

November 11, 1984 – The Three Service Men Statue and Flagpole are dedicated as part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

November 11, 1993 – The Vietnam Women’s Memorial is dedicated as part of the Memorial site in Washington D.C.

May 1993 – A group – Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – began a program honoring those who served in the war and died later. VVMF began managing the program and hosting the ceremony in 1999. More than 5,000 veterans have been added to the In Memory Honor Roll since the program began.

November 11, 1996 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) unveils a scaled replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout the United States. Since its dedication, The Wall That Heals has been displayed at nearly 700 communities throughout the nation, spreading the Memorial’s healing legacy to millions.

November 2004 – The In Memory Plaque is dedicated as part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. It reads, “In Memory of the men and women who served in the Vietnam War and later died as a result of their service. We honor and remember their sacrifice.”