1918 – US forces undertake their first attack of World War I on the second day of the German offensive along the River Aisne. The fighting centers on the village of Cantigny to the east of Montdidier on the Somme River sector t the north. Elements of the US 1st Division under General Robert Lee Bullard are pitched against the German Eighteenth Army lead by General Oskar von Hutier. Bullard’s troops capture Cantigny, taking 200 prisoners and block a series of German counterattacks over the following days.
1965 – A five day running battle begins in Quangngai Province. Vietcong forces ambush a battalion of ARVN troops near Bagia and reinforcements are called for. The US Marine battalion fails to arrive in time and other ARVN reinforcements are also ambushed. Only 3 US advisors and about 60 ARVN troops manage to get away. The battle instills a sense of urgency in US military leaders, as it reveals how vulnerable the South Vietnamese military remains facing a sizable and flexible Communist force.
1984 – On Memorial Day the only American Unknown Soldier from the Vietnam War is laid to rest at ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC, attended by 250,000, including members of Congress and the international diplomatic community, and Vietnam veterans in fatigues. President Reagan, named honorary next-of-kin, delivers the eulogy at the hero’s funeral, and urges greater efforts to locate the more than 2,400 service members still missing.
1966 – China charges that US planes killed three persons during an attack on Chinese fishing boats north of the Gulf of Tonkin in international waters.
1971 – The North Vietnamese conclude a series of 48 attacks inside South Vietnam during a 24-hour period. Included in the assaults are five allied DMZ bases, and the US air base at Danang. The following day a Saigon bomb blast levels a government building.
1956 – In violation of the Geneva Agreements, the United States sends 350 additional military men designated Temporary Equipment Recovery Team (TERM) to Saigon under the pretext of helping to recover and redistribute equipment abandoned by the French. They will stay on as a permanent part of MAAG.
1959 – US Advisors are assigned to the regimental level of the South Vietnamese armed forces.
1959 – At the 15th plenum of the Central Committee, North Vietnam’s leaders decide to formally take control of the growing insurgency in the South. The tempo of war speeds up as more southern cadre members infiltrate back to the South along an improved Ho Chi Minh Trail. Although infiltration from the North began in 1955, not until 1959 does the CIA pick up evidence of large-scale infiltration. Hanoi’s decisions of this month along with the troop movements in preparation for an October offensive are viewed by intelligence in Washington as the beginnings of the North Vietnamese intervention.
1915 – The German government makes an official apology to the United States for the sinking of the tanker Gulflight by one its submarines off the Scilly Isles on 1 May.
1954 – Colonel Edward G. Lansdale, USAF, arrives in Saigon as chief of the Saigon Military Mission (SMM). Called the Assistant Air Attaché at the US Embassy, Lansdale is in fact a member of the CIA assigned to run paramilitary operations against the Communist Vietnamese–specifically, covert operations to cause political-psychological disruption among the Communists (such as spreading rumors about their leaders and sabotaging North Vietnamese transportation). This ‘cold war combat team’ will be assembled by 11 August. Under the terms of the Geneva Agreements, that is the day by which each country must put a freeze on the foreign military personnel in Vietnam.
1965 – Communist China warns again that the increasing US role in the war justifies its own growing aid to North Vietnam.
1965 – US planes initiate a two week campaign of bombing raids on military installations throughout North Vietnam. Visitors to Hanoi report that the city is now encircled by anti-aircraft sites, citizens are building air-raid shelters, some 15% of the people are now enrolled in the militia, and almost one-third of Hanoi’s population has been evacuated.
1971 – In support of the Nixon Administration’s conduct of the war, a group named the Vietnam Veterans for a just peace declares it represents the majority of US Indochina veterans and calls the protests and congressional testimony of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War ‘irresponsible.’
1965 – As US Marines and ARVN troops mount a joint operation against Vietcong forces in the vicinity of Chulai Air Base, they are supported by shells fired from the USS Canberra offshore.
1965 – The first contingent of Australian combat troops arrives by plane in Saigon. They will join the US 173rd Airborne Brigade at the Bienhoa air base. 400 more Australian combat troops will arrive by ship on 8 June.
1966 – The 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division and ARVN units begin the three-week long Operation Hawthorne/Dan Tang 61 in the Kontum province.
1966 – The US 1st Infantry Division and ARVN 5th Infantry Division begin a two-week operation, El Paso II, in Binh Long Province.
1967 – In Operation Union II, the 5th Marines in Quong Tin Province undertake fierce battle with two North Vietnamese regiments that ends in bunker-to-bunker fighting.
1967 – The USSR charges that US planes bombed the Soviet merchant ship Turkestan in the port of Campha, 50 miles north of Haiphong, and files a protest claiming two crewmen were wounded. The Soviets warn that ‘appropriate measures’ will be taken to ensure the safety of other ships.
1971 – The Army announces that General John Donaldson, a former brigade commander in South Vietnam, has been charged with killing six Vietnamese and assaulting two others. The 42-year old West Point graduate, a top planner for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the highest ranking officer to be accused of killing civilians during the war, and the first general to be charged with a war crime since the Philippine Insurrection 70 years before. he is charged in connection with an incident in Quang Ngai Province in march 1969. Lieutenant Colonel William McCloskey, his operations officer in Vietnam, is accused of murdering two Vietnamese in a separate incident.
1972 – More than thirty USAF lanes and helicopters fly through heavy fire to rescue Captain R.C. Locher, who has been trapped northwest of Hanoi since his Phantom jet went down on 10 May.
1918 – The US 3rd Division under General J.T. Dickman goes into action against the German troops threatening Chateau-Thierry on the Marne River. The division is able to prevent the German assault troops, who are part of the continuing operations code named Bluecher and Yorck, from crossing the Marne. The 3rd Division counterattacked on the 4th with French support forcing the Germans back across the Marne at Jualgonne. These are the actions that earn the division it’s nickname, Rock of the Marne.
1964 – In a news conference, President Johnson reasserts the US commitment to defend Vietnam but says he knows of no plans to extend the war into North Vietnam.
1964 – The US and Cambodia agree on a proposal to form a three-nation commission to visit the Cambodian border within 45 days.
1967 – Captain Howard Levy, 30, a dermatologist form Brooklyn, is convicted by a general court-martial in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, of willfully disobeying orders and making disloyal statements about US policy in Vietnam. Levy had refused to provide elementary instruction in skin disease to Green Beret medics. Levy, invoked the so-called “Nuremberg defense,” justifying his refusal on the grounds that the Green Berets would use the training for criminal purposes. Levy’s civilian attorney also argued that training the Green Berets compelled him to violate canons of medical ethics. The Green Berets were soldiers first and aid-men second; therefore, their provision of medical treatment to civilians in order to make friends was illegitimate, for it could be taken away as easily as given. The court was not persuaded and the ten-officer jury found him guilty on all charges, sentencing him to three years at hard labor and dismissal from the service. Levy was released in August 1969 after serving 26 months and immediately became active in the “GI coffeehouse protests” in Army towns around the country.
1971 – After a 24 hour sea voyage, 13 prisoners of war seeking repatriation to the North but refused by Hanoi, are returned to Danang. The last minute refusal to take the captives back comes despite South Vietnam’s compliance with details specifically outlined by North Vietnam after Saigon offered to return 570 sick or wounded POWs. The 13 were the only ones out of 660 screened by the International Red Cross who sought repatriation.
1972 – a 260-page secret Army analysis of the Mylai Massacre, known as the Peers Report, is made public by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh. The report concludes that the entire command structure of the Americal (29th) Division, including Brigadier Generals Koster and Young, wittingly and unwittingly suppressed information on the Mylai incident.
1975 – At a meeting of the National Assembly Premier Pham Van Dong calls for normalization of relations with the United States, conditioned on US economic aid to Hanoi, and a pledge to observe the 1973 Paris cease-fire.