The Vietnam War (Second Indochina War) began in 1959, with the United States and its ally, the corrupt South Vietnamese President Diem, pitted against Ho Chi Minh's North Vietnamese Communist forces.
March, 1959- Ho Chi Minh declares war. Vietnam War begins.
July 8, 1959- First two U.S. combat deaths at Bien Hoa
1960- Coup against corrupt Pres. Diem; 50,000 arrests, and torture, executions
1960- Foundation of Viet Cong guerrilla group in South Vietnam to fight Diem
Feb. 1961- U.S. build-up, 400 military advisors sent by President Kennedy
Autumn 1961- 26,000 Viet Cong attack South Vietnam, inflict heavy casualties
Dec. 1961- Viet Cong control much of South Vietnam, ambush army with impunity
March 1962- U.S. pilots conduct bombings; anti-U.S. backlash over civilian dead
May 1962- U.S. Defense Secretary McNamara: "We are winning the war."