Timeline: U.S. / Vietnamese Relations

Vietnam and the United States have a violent and bloody common history, but diplomacy has long since replaced war. This timeline shows the escalation of the Vietnam War and the eventual peace and good relations between the U.S. and Vietnam.

September 2, 1945: Ho Chi Minh (search), leader of the Viet Minh (Allied Vietnamese), reads Vietnam's Declaration of Independence, based on the American one, and proclaims the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi after occupying Japanese troops surrender. Vietnam is unofficially divided between a nationalist-run north and a French colonialist south.

September 26, 1945: OSS Lt. Peter Dewey is killed in Saigon, the first American to be killed in Vietnam. French and Viet Minh (search) spokesmen blame each other for his death; Dewey was said to have been working to reconcile the two sides.

1948: France establishes former Emperor Bao Dai as the head of state of independent (southern) Vietnam.

1950: The U.S. recognizes Bao Dai's regime as legitimate and begins to subsidize French efforts to retake northern Vietnam; the Chinese begin to supply weapons to the Viet Minh.

August 3, 1950: A U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) of 35 men arrives in Saigon. By the end of the year, the U.S. is bearing half of the cost of France's war effort in Vietnam.

May 7, 1954: Fourteen thousand French soldiers surrender to the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu (search), ending French military involvement in Vietnam.

June 1954: The CIA establishes a military mission in Saigon. Bao Dai selects Ngo Dinh Diem (search). leading member of Roman Catholic minority, as prime minister of his government.

July 21, 1954: Geneva Accords call for reunification of north and south Vietnam, with government to be selected by national referendum in 1955. France, U.S, USSR, China and both Vietnamese governments participate in talks, but only Paris and Hanoi sign the referendum agreement.

October 24, 1954: President Eisenhower pledges support to Diem's government and military forces.

1955: The U.S.-backed Ngo Dinh Diem removes Bao Dai, declares the Republic of Vietnam with himself as President and rejects the Geneva Accords.

1960: The National Liberation Front (NLF) — called the Viet Cong (search) — is founded in South Vietnam with the aim of bringing the south under Hanoi's control.

June 1963: Rising protests against Diem's regime, including well-publicized self-immolations by Buddhist monks, lead the U.S. to cut off aid to Diem.

November 1, 1963: Diem is killed in a military coup, possibly with U.S. complicity.

May 4, 1964: A trade embargo is imposed on North Vietnam in response to attacks on South Vietnam.

August 2, 1964: The Gulf of Tonkin Incident (search). North Vietnamese torpedo boats allegedly attack the U.S. destroyer Maddox off the northern coast. A second attack allegedly occurs on August 4.

August 5, 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson asks Congress for a resolution against North Vietnam following the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Congress debates.

August 7, 1964: Congress approves the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which allows the President to take any necessary measures to repel further attacks. President Johnson orders the bombing of North Vietnam.

March 8, 1965: The first U.S. combat troops arrive in South Vietnam.

October 21-23, 1967: Fifty thousand people demonstrate against U.S. military involvement in Washington, D.C.

January 31, 1968: The Tet Offensive (search). Coordinated attack by North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong guerrillas, with the aim of spurring the South's population into revolt and ending the war. Attack fails as U.S. Army and Marines fight back fiercely, but propaganda point is made, especially when Viet Cong physically attacks U.S. Embassy in Saigon.

March 16, 1968: The My Lai massacre (search). U.S. Army company methodically kills hundreds of civilians, mostly old men, women and children, in pro-Viet Cong village, stopping only when a passing U.S. Army helicopter lands and threatens to open fire on fellow soldiers. Army investigates, but news of massacre kept under wraps as individual soldiers contact members of Congress, and story finally becomes public in Nov. 1969, after court-martial proceedings had already begun against men involved in massacre.

May 10-20, 1969: The battle for Hamburger Hill (search) in jungles along Laotian border. U.S. and South Vietnamese effort to dislodge NVA positions ultimately successful, but only after massive firepower applied to what had been thought to be relatively easy goal.

May 20, 1969: The Paris peace talks begin between representatives of Hanoi and Washington.

July 8, 1969: President Richard Nixon announces the first troop withdrawals from South Vietnam.

September 3, 1969: Ho Chi Minh dies.

November 15, 1969: 250,000 people demonstrate against the war in Washington, D.C.

April 30, 1970: The armies of the U.S. and South Vietnam invade Cambodia.

May 6, 1970: More than 100 colleges are closed due to student riots following killing of four antiwar protesters at Kent State University by Ohio National Guardsmen.

February 1971: Laos is invaded.

December 1972: Christmas bombing of Hanoi.

January 27, 1973: The U.S. and North Vietnam sign the Paris Peace Accords, ending the American combat role in the war. The U.S. military draft ends.

March 29, 1973: The last U.S. combat troops leave Vietnam.

April 1, 1973: Hanoi releases the last 591 acknowledged American POWs.

April 29, 1975: Saigon falls and the last Americans are evacuated.

April 30, 1975: North Vietnamese forces take over Saigon, South Vietnam surrenders to North Vietnam, ending the war and reunifying the country under communist control. Washington extends embargo to all of Vietnam.

Jan. 27, 1979: Vietnamese soldiers and allied Cambodian forces take Phnom Penh, ending genocidal Khmer Rouge (search) rule in Cambodia. China and the U.S. continue to recognize Khmer Rouge government in exile.

Feb. 17, 1979: Chinese forces invade Vietnam from the north, but withdraw after a month.

1979: Western European countries and non-communist Asian nations support a U.S.-led embargo against Vietnam.

February 1982: Vietnam agrees to talks regarding locating on Americans missing-in-action.

1988: Vietnam begins to cooperate with the U.S. to resolve the fate of American MIAs.

April 21, 1991: The U.S. and Vietnam agree to establish a U.S. office in Hanoi to help determine the fate of the MIAs. Washington presents Hanoi with a roadmap for phased normalization of relations and the lifting of the embargo.

October 1991: Vietnam supports U.N. peace plans for Cambodia. Secretary of State James Baker says Washington is ready to take steps towards normalizing relations with Hanoi.

December 1991: Washington lifts ban on organized U.S. travel to Vietnam.

April 29, 1992: Washington eases its trade embargo by allowing commercial sales to Vietnam that meet basic human needs, lifts restrictions on projects by American non-governmental and non-profit groups, and allows the establishment of telecommunications links with Vietnam.

October 1992: Retired General John Vessey, U.S. Presidential envoy on the MIA issue, makes his sixth trip to Hanoi and obtains a Vietnamese agreement on wider MIA cooperation, which Washington describes as a breakthrough.

December 14, 1992: President George Bush grants permission for U.S. companies to open offices, sign contracts, and conduct feasibility studies in Vietnam.

July 2, 1993: President Bill Clinton ends U.S. opposition to the settlement of Vietnam's $140 million arrears to the International Monetary Fund, clearing the way for the resumption of international lending to Vietnam.

September 13, 1993: President Clinton eases economic sanctions against Vietnam to allow American firms to bid on development projects financed by international banks, another step toward normalization.

January 16, 1994: Admiral Charles Larson, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, visits Vietnam, the highest-ranking active-duty U.S. military officer to do so since the war's end. He concludes that lifting the trade embargo would help efforts to account for Americans missing from the war.

January 27, 1994: Backed by broad bipartisan support, the Senate approves a non-binding resolution urging President Clinton to lift the embargo, a move they felt would help to get a full account of Americans still listed as missing in the Vietnam War.

February 3, 1994: President Clinton announces the lifting of the trade embargo.

October 5, 1994: The House passes a bill saying that MIA accounting should remain central to the U.S. policy in Vietnam.

January 27, 1995: The U.S. and Vietnam sign agreements settling old property claims and establishing liaison offices in each other's capitals.

May 15, 1995: Vietnam gives the U.S Presidential delegation a plethora of documents on missing Americans, later hailed by the Pentagon as the most detailed and informative of their kind.

May 23, 1995: Senators John Kerry (search) and John McCain (search), both Vietnam veterans, urge President Clinton to normalize relations with Vietnam.

May 31, 1995: Vietnam turns over 100 pages of maps and reports about U.S. servicemen killed or captured during the war. An American veteran's map helps to locate a mass grave of communist soldiers killed during the war.

June 1995: Sens. Kerry and McCain say they plan to offer a Senate resolution approving normalized relations with Vietnam; Secretary of State Warren Christopher recommends to President Clinton that the U.S. establish formal diplomatic relations with Vietnam; the State Department praises Vietnamese authorities for increasing counter-narcotics cooperation with the U.S.; Vietnamese President Le Duc Anh announces he will visit the U.S. in October for a celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

July 11, 1995: President Clinton announces the normalization of relations with Vietnam, saying the time has come to move forward and bind up the wounds from the war.

August 5, 1995: Secretary of State Warren Christopher opens a U.S. embassy in Hanoi.

September 4, 1995: Former President George Bush visits Vietnam.

June 24, 1997: Secretary of State Madeline Albright arrives in Vietnam on an official visit.

March 10, 1998: President Clinton waives the Jackson-Vanik Amendment for Vietnam, allowing American investors in Vietnam to compete more effectively in Vietnam and to receive financial help from U.S. government agencies such as the Export-Import Bank.

July 13, 2000: The U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and Vietnam's Trade Minister Vu Khoan sign a major trade agreement intended to provide Vietnam with access to the U.S. market on the same terms granted to most other nations. Vietnam agrees to lower tariffs and other trade barriers on American products and services. The trade agreement is the last step in normalizing relations between the U.S. and Vietnam.

November 16, 2000: Former President Bill Clinton, one-time anti-war protester, visits Vietnam.

April 30, 2005: Vietnam celebrates the 30th anniversary of the war's end, and the fall of Saigon.

Source: The Nixon Library and Birthplace Online: Timeline of U.S.-Vietnamese Relations. CNT Group: Vietnam Timeline, 21st Century.