and America in Viet Nam, the French, etc

Map of Viet Nam at

40 A.D.

The Trung Sisters defeat the Chinese and restore VN's independence (for three years)

939 A.D.

Chinese finally driven out of Viet Nam (They return 1420-27, 1789, 1979)


Ly Dynasty


Tran Dynasty


Le Dynasty


French missionary Pigneau de Behaine persuades French court to assist in restoration of the Nguyen. 


Last Le emperor flees to China.  Nguyen Hue proclaims himself emperor. 


Chinese invasion in support of the Le defeated. 


The Nguyen defeat last of Tay Son forces.  Nguyen Anh accedes to throne as Gia Long and establishes his capital at Hue. 


Nguyen Dynasty 


Death of Gia Long.  Succeeded by his highly sinicized son, Minh Mang. This is also the approximate date of the publication of Nguyen Du's epic, THE TALE OF KIEU. See


USS Constitution lands in DaNang. A company of US Marines go ashore, move overland to Hue, and recapture a French Bishop who had been captured by the Vietnamese. America's first VN combat involvement; 120 years later two Battalions of US Marines will return to the same port.


French vessels bombard Da Nang. 

September 1858

French forces seize Da Nang. 

February 1859

French forces capture Saigon. 

February 1861

The French defeat the Vietnamese army and gain control of Gia Dinh and surrounding provinces. 

June 5, 1862

Treaty of Saigon, which ceded three southern provinces-Bien Hoa, Gia Dinh, and Dinh Tuong-to the French. 


Indochinese Union formally established. 


Phan Boi Chau founds Viet Nam Duy Tan Hoi (Vietnam Reformation Society). 

October 1911

Ho Chi Minh departs Vietnam for Europe. Leaves from the Customs House in Saigon. Spends one winter in the U.S. Becomes a pastry chef at the Hotel Carleton in London, working under the great Escoffier. For a romantic account of this see Robert Olen Butler's "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain," the final short story in a collection by the same name which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1993. Ho Chi Minh eventually settles in Paris and goes into the Photography business. See also David Halberstam's short Biography, HO.


Phan Boi Chau founds Viet Nam Quang Phuc Hoi (Vietnam Restoration Society), replacing Duy Tan Hoi. 


Nguyen Ai Quoc (Ho Chi Minh) attempts to meet with President Woodrow Wilson at the Versailles Peace Conference to present a program for Vietnamese rights and sovereignty, but is turned away. 


Ho Chi Minh participates in founding of the French Communist Party at Tours, France


Ho Chi Minh's first visit to Moscow 


Ho Chi Minh forms Thanh Nien Cong San Doan (Communist Youth League) within the larger Thanh Nien organization. 


Nguyen Thai Hoc founds the Vietnam Quoc Dan Dang (VNQDD, Vietnam Nationalist Party). 

February 1930

Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP, Viet Nam Cong San Dang) founded in Hong Kong (name changed to Indochinese Communist Party, Dong Duong Cong San Dang, in October). 

August 1945

Japan surrenders and the Viet Minh commences the August Revolution, gaining effective control over much of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh has worked for OSS during WWII as Agent 19, under supervision of Maj Archimedes Patti.

September 1945

Ho Chi Minh declares Vietnam's independence in Hanoi. Reads from the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Starvation kills over one million Vietnamese. A. Peter Dewey, head of the OSS mission in Saigon, is shot by Vietminh troops, becoming the first American to die in the Viet Nam war.


First Indochina War (The Viet Minh War). French forces arrive, many on U.S. ships. These same ships move almost 1 Million mostly Catholic Vietnamese from North to South. Dr. Tom Dooley is the chief medical officer in the Port of Haiphong.


TRUMAN DOCTRINE pledges economic and military aid to any nation threatened by Communism

May 7, 1954

French surrender at Dien Bien Phu. One month earlier DDE had espoused the domino theory.

May 8, 1954

Geneva Conference on Indochina opens. 

June-July, 1954

Ngo Dinh Diem comes from Maryknoll seminary in New York to become Prime Minister. US sends 200 military advisors. Geneva Agreements adopted, Vietnam provisionally divided at the 17th parallel. Ngo Dinh Diem appointed South Vietnam's premier by Emperor Bao Dai (The last emperor of The Nguyen Dynasty and also of Vietnam). 

January 1, 1955

Direct United States aid to South Vietnam begins. The US had financed most of the French war, to the level of $300 million annually. Cold War begins. In March Diem attacks Binh Xuyen and Hoa Hao. With US support, Diem also refuses general elections called for by Geneva Accords.

October 26, 1955

Republic of Vietnam established with Ngo Dinh Diem as its first president. US advisors grow to 1000 under Eisenhower.

January, 1961

John F. Kennedy inaugural address "We will pay any price, will bear any burden in defense of liberty. Also that month JFK approves a Viet Nam counterinsurgency plan. US troops in Viet Nam number 3,205 at end of 1961.


John Paul Vann arrives in Viet Nam as a LTC, advisor to the ARVN 7th Division in March,1962, and departs in April, 1963. The Battle of Ap Bac occurs on 2 Jan 1963. US advisors grow to 16,000 by end of 1963.

November 1-2, 1963

Ngo Dinh Diem overthrown and assassinated (in an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier built at Coleman Avenue in San Jose.). We now know that it was a US assisted operation, supervised on the ground by Ambassador Lodge and the CIA. JFK had approved the coup, but not the assassination of Diem. Kennedy himself assassinated on 22 November, just after signing Top Secret NSM #263 ordering the withdrawal of the first 1000 US advisors.


Westmoreland and Maxwell taylor replace Harkins and Lodge as heads of US incountry team. Gulf of Tonkin incident. LTJG Everett Alvarez, Santa Clara graduate, becomes first US POW.


Operation Rolling Thunder (bombing of North) begins. Second (see 1845, above) group of US Marines lands at DaNang. SDS holds first antiwar protest.VietCong attack US airbase at Pleiku. John Paul Vann returns as a USAID advisor in Hau Nghia Province; remains for the next seven years. Nguyen Cao Ky takes over VN govt. Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. Joe Galloway is 19 year old UPI Bureau Chief--see First secret Peace Talks begin in Paris--short lived. US Troop strength at end of year is 184,300.


US Troop strength goes to 385,000, including EWRT 2 teacher. US KIAs go to 6,644.


Thieu and Ky elected as President and VP of Viet Nam. Martin Luther King's antiwar sermon "A Time to Break Silence" delivered in April.


Eugene McCarthy announces decision to run for US President. Seige of Khe Sanh. TET Offensive, 29-30 Jan. 27 Feb Walter Cronkite says in evening news that war cannot be won. Robert Kennedy declares his candidacy for US President. LBJ announces will not run for second full term. MLK assassinated. RFK assassinated while running for President on antiwar ticket. My Lai Massacre. (not publicly known until late 1969). Hanoi agrees to shape of conference table at Peace Talks. Richard Nixon wins Presidency with a "Secret Plan" to end the war. US KIAs at 30,610.


Ho Chi Minh's death . American troop strength peaked at 543,300, including EWRT2 teacher. First US troop withdrawals: 25,000 on 8 June. Massive War Moratorium demonstration in US on 15 Oct. Repeated on 15 Nov with 250,000 antiwar marchers in DC. Troop strength down to 475,200 by end of year.


US invades Cambodian sanctuaries. Massive antiwar demonstrations. 4 students killed at Kent State. Unsuccessful raid on Son Tay Prison Camp. US Congress prohibits US troops in Cambodia and Laos.


Lam Son 719, ARVN incursion into Laos. PENTAGON PAPERS published. US Troop strength 160,000. US Troops ordered to assume defensive role only.


Nixon visits China. US mines Haiphong harbor. Secret peace talks. NVA invade South Viet Nam. John Paul Vann, Senior Advisor, II Corps, killed in a helicopter crash. Nixon wins reelection by landslide; he is opposed in primary by Palo Alto Congressman Pete McCloskey (R) who, as a Navy Cross holder from Korea, runs on an antiwar platform. Peace talk agreement then disagreement. Bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong

January 27, 1973

Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam signed in Paris. US POWs repatriated. Last United States troops in Vietnam depart. 

March 9, 1975

People's Army of Viet Nam (PAVN) offensive in the South begins. (Quoc Han). Battle of Xuan Loc.

April 30, 1975.

Saigon surrenders. 

September 20, 1977

Viet Nam admitted to United Nations. 

December 21, 1978

PAVN forces initiate invasion of Cambodia. 

February 17, 1979

China launches invasion of Viet Nam. Suffer approximately 50,000 casualties

March 5, 1979

Chinese forces withdrawn from Viet Nam.

Note: With the Chinese withdrawal from Viet Nam, General Vo Nguyen Giap has defeated the Japanese, the French, the Americans, the Cambodians, and the Chinese. Now somewhat out of favor with the government, he has recently been in charge of family planning. Birth control is treated as another form of warfare.


Doi Moi , New Openness, declared. Free market economy begins. Greater personal freedom.


Last Viet Nam troops withdraw from Cambodia


US Embargo ends

Summers, 1998-1999

De Anza and Foothill students invade Viet Nam. Foothill-DeAnza Community College District initiates first two Campus Abroad Viet Nam trips. Saigon sponsor is the Center for Foreign Languages (CFL), National University of Forestry and Agriculture (UAF).