Vietnam War Timeline - The Gulf of Tonkin Incident and Escalation: In 1964, the United States government was looking for a pretext to escalate U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. A U.S. destroyer, the U.S.S. Maddox, was gathering intelligence off the North Vietnamese coast when it was fired upon (no damage done). The Pentagon reported the incident as an unprovoked attack, and fabricated a second attack two days later. In response, Congress authorized the deployment of combat troops to Vietnam.
Aug. 2, 1964- Gulf of Tonkin Incident; N. Vietnam torpedoes U.S.S. Maddox
Aug. 4, 1964- Pentagon fabricates second attack at Tonkin; U.S. to "retaliate"
Aug. 5, 1964- Pres. Johnson calls for Congressional resolution over Tonkin
Aug. 7, 1964- Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; bombing of N. Vietnam
Feb. 7-8, 1965- Operation Flaming Dart, first official bombing raids on North
March 2, 1965- start of Operation Rolling Thunder: 3 million sorties in 3 years
March 9, 1965- Pres. Johnson authorizes use of Napalm.
April 6, 1965- Johnson authorizes U.S. combat units to conduct offensive ops.
April 8, 1965- Johnson offers N. Vietnam aid for peace; N. Vietnam rejects plan