August 1964: Gulf of Tonkin

Note: The story of what exactly happened in early August off the coast of North Vietnam -- in particular, the events of August 4 -- has been revisited and rewritten several times through the years, as various accounts and documents have come to light. What follows are newspaper excerpts from those days, since that reflects the general public's understanding of the situation at the time. For a review of the military actions as we now understand them, a good place to start is with "The Truth About Tonkin." (Naval History Magazine, February 2008; link: @

     -- Photo from U.S. Navy (link: @). Caption: "Photograph taken from USS Maddox (DD-731) during her engagement with three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin, 2 August 1964. The view shows all three of the boats speeding towards the Maddox."

Sunday, August 2
     "Three Communist patrol boats attacked the destroyer USS Maddox in international waters off the coast of North Viet Nam Sunday with torpedoes and gunfire and the American ship, joined by U.S. Navy jets, fired back." -- United Press International: @
     * "President Johnson has ordered U.S. naval forces beefed up in the Tonkin Gulf area, off Viet Nam, and has ordered them to destroy any force that attacks them." -- Associated Press: @

Tuesday, August 4
     "The defense department announced Tuesday night that a second 'deliberate attack' was made on American destroyers patrolling off North Vietnam." -- Associated Press: @
     "President Johnson announced Tuesday night that 'air action is now in execution against gunboats' of North Vietnam which attacked U.S. destroyers twice in the Gulf of Tonkin." -- Associated Press: @
     * Video and transcript of August 4 speech (Miller Center): @
     * President's Message to Congress (August 5): @
     * "LBJ's Fateful Day: Aug. 4, 1964" (New York Times, 2008): @

Friday, August 7
      "The House of Representatives and the Senate approved today the resolution requested by President Johnson to strengthen his hand in dealing with Communist aggression in Southeast Asia." -- New York Times: @

August 10
     "President Johnson signed the congressional resolution supporting his actions in Southeast Asia and said he hopes it is read around the world as it states plainly 'where America stands.' " -- Associated Press: @
     * Joint Resolution: @
     * Resolution and roll call tally: @

Other resources
* Summary from "The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War" (2011): @
* Summary from U.S. Department of State: @
* Summary from Naval History and Heritage Command: @
* "USS Maddox (DD-73), 1944-1972: Actions in the Gulf of Tonkin, August 1964" (NHHC): @
* Selected documents (from NHHC): @
* Chronology of events (U.S. Air Force, October 1964): @
* "Presidential Decisions: The Gulf of Tonkin Attacks of August 1964" (Vietnam Information Group, 1968): @
* USS Maddox deck log, August 2: @
* "The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, 40 Years Later" (National Security Archive, 2004): @
* "Skunks, Bogies, Silent Hounds, and the Flying Fish: The Gulf of Tonkin Mystery, 2-4 August 1964" (Robert J. Hanyok, Cryptologic Quarterly, 2001): @
* Excerpt from "Vietnam and America: A Documented History" (1995): @
* "Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam" (Fredrick Logevall, 1999): @ 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog archive


Follow: @