The academic year 1969-70 saw a wave of bombings and arson: nearly 250 bombings (causing 6 deaths) and 247 cases of arson, including a $320,00 fire at a UC Berkeley library.
Secret peace talks between Henry Kissinger and Lê Đức Thọ begin in Paris. US and ARVN (South Vietnamese) troops invade Cambodia sparking widespread protests in the US. 1970 is a year of complicated diplomatic maneuvering among all parties to the conflict.
January – Committee of Liaison, chaired by antiwar activists Dave Dellinger and Cora Weiss, is established as an intermediary between American POWs held in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) and their families. Its goal was ”to facilitate communicate communication between American servicemen held in North Vietnam and their families” and to “try to find out if your relative is a prisoner in North Vietnam.” By midsummer, a confirmed list of 335 POWs would be established along with a flow of correspondence. A Citizens Committee of inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam (CCI) is established to conduct a series of hearings in 14 cities.
January-May 26 – Operation Menu – the code name for a secret bombing of Laos and Cambodia by the U.S. Strategic Air Command continues (See entries for March 18 and May 31 in 1969 chronology).
January 5 – Eighty GIs join GIs for Peace to picket General Westmoreland at Fort Bliss, Texas.
January 15-20 Gallup poll 57% of Americans see Vietnam war as a mistake, but another January poll shows 65% approving of Nixon’s handling of the war.
January 21 – The Shelter Half, ASU (American Serviceman’s Union), SDS, and other antiwar activists hold a “Trial of the Army” at the University of Washington’s HUB ballroom to put the Army, not the Shelter Half, on trial for genocide.
January 22 – In his State of the Union speech, Nixon announces that the end of the war in Vietnam is a major goal of U.S. policy. Though peace talks have reached an impasse, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird announces that Vietnamization is working and that there will be further troop withdrawals.
February – Hew-Kekaw-Na-Yo (meaning “to resist,” later renamed Hey-Tra-Sneyo), an all-Native American radical GI organization, is formed at Fort Lewis, Washington, and begins publication of a short-lived newspaper, Yah-Hoh.
February 2 – B-52 bombers strike the Ho Chi Minh trail in response to the increasing number of National Liberation Front (NLF) raids throughout the south.
February 3-5 – Congressional hearings on Vietnam Policy Proposals, nine proposals to end the war, begin.
February 6 – The East Coast Conspiracy to Save Lives, a group of mostly Catholic antiwar activists, “liberate” draft files in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and General Electric files in Washington, D.C. The latter because “G. E. is the second largest war contractor in the United States…and because…we wish to point out the collusion between the military system, giant corporations, and the government.”
February 11 – North Vietnamese Army (NVA, a.k.a. People’s Army of Viet Nam/PAVN or Vietnam People’s Army/VPA) and Pathet Lao forces launch an offensive in the Plain of Jars in Laos. U.S. increases secret bombing of the Plain of Jars.
February 14 – In a Gallup Poll, a majority of Americans polled (55 percent) oppose an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Viet Nam. The number favoring American withdrawal increasing from 21 percent, in a November poll, to 35 percent. President Nixon had taken office in January 1969 promising to bring the war to an end, but a year later, as fighting continued, support for the president’s handling of the war was beginning to slip significantly.
February 17 – Operation Good Luck, a series of U.S. bombing runs against NVA and Pathet Lao forces in northern Laos is launched.
February 17 – In anticipation of the verdict in the Chicago Conspiracy trial, and in protest of Judge Hoffman’s contempt citations issued against the “Chicago Seven,” approximately 2,000 protesters led by the new Seattle Liberation Front (SLF) clash with Seattle Police during “The Day After” (TDA) demonstration at the Federal Courthouse at 4th Avenue and Madison Street. Demonstrators pelt the Courthouse and police with paint bombs and rocks, leading to 76 arrests and 20 injuries. Federal prosecutors later file conspiracy charges against SLF leaders, leading to the trial of the “Seattle Seven.” Four days later, on February 21, solidarity demonstrations take place in Boston, Washington, Chicago, Madison, New York, Santa Barbara (where the Bank of America is burned down), and Berkeley.
February 18 – A verdict is reached in the Chicago Conspiracy trial. Each of the seven defendants is acquitted of conspiracy. (Black Panther Bobby Seale’s case had been severed from the others—see November 5, 1969 Chronology entry.) Two defendants, Froines and Weiner, are acquitted completely, while the remaining five are convicted of crossing state lines with the intent to incite a riot, a crime instituted by the anti-riot provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 introduced in the House by Representative William C. Cramer of Florida. Two days later, February 20, the defendants are sentenced to five years in prison and fined $5,000 each. [On November 21, 1972, all of the convictions will be reversed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on the basis that the judge was biased in his refusal to permit defense attorneys to screen prospective jurors for cultural and racial bias, and the Justice Department will decide against retrying the case.] During the trial, all the defendants and both defense attorneys had been cited for contempt and sentenced to jail, but those convictions would also be overturned on appeal.
February 21 – Although the official peace talks remain deadlocked in Paris; behind the scenes, Henry Kissinger begins a new series of secret talks with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s Lê Đức Thọ, which will go on for two years.
February 28 – A second Chicano Moratorium demonstration is held in East Los Angeles, with more than 3,000 demonstrators from throughout California participating, despite a driving rain. A Chicano program on the local public television station produces a documentary of the march, used nationally by the committee to popularize its efforts. [See December 20, 1969 Chronology entry.]
February 28 – GIs stage a demonstration at Fort Lewis, Washington, to protest the military’s “kidnapping” of Bruce McLean, a soldier and ASU member taken from his cell in the stockade and shipped to Viet Nam with little notice.
March – The CPV (Communist Party of Vietnam) Politburo passes a resolution that top leaders of the party should study what is termed ‘Ho Chi Minh thought’. Support for struggles in Cambodia and Laos are to be stepped up. Diplomatic struggle is elevated to the same level as political and military struggle. This is in part to offset the consequences of the growing Sino-Soviet split.
March 4 – Antonia Martínez, a 21-year-old student at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras is shot and killed by a policeman while watching and commenting on the anti-Vietnam War and education reform student protests at the University of Puerto Rico.
March 6 – In response to “intense public speculation” over U.S. involvement in Laos, President Nixon gives an address on U.S. policy and activities in Laos. For the first time Nixon admits that the United States has been flying “combat support missions for Laotian forces when requested to do so by the Royal Laotian Government.” He also falsely denies that any American soldiers had been killed in Laos.
March 8 – Jane Fonda visits Fort Lewis, Washington and is detained for “questioning” by military authorities. Fonda then visits the Shelter Half coffeehouse, and holds a press conference in Seattle the next day.
March 9 – ASU chapter at Fort Lewis breaks from the national organization and reorganizes as the Independent Servicemen’s Movement, continuing to publish Fed Up and hoping to work with the national Movement for a Democratic Military.
March 14 – A group of officers participate as Officers’ Resistance in a GI Rally for Peace and Justice in Washington DC. By the end of March 1970, they had changed their name to the Concerned Officers Movement (COM).
“COM’s first newsletter, published in April 1970 affirmed: “The Concerned Officers’ Movement was formed by a group of active duty and reserve officers who could no longer continue to be passive, unquestioning agents of military and national policies they found untenable.
Paramount in the program of COM is a fervent opposition to the continuing military effort in Vietnam. COM decries the military policies that turned an internal political struggle into a nation-destroying bloodbath. The application of American military power in Vietnam was as unnecessary as it was unworkable.
“COM further abhors the military mentality that promotes absurd measures like the body count; that leads to the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent civilians; that destroys land and villages and calls it victory.”
Hey-Tra-Sneyo, ISM GIs, civilians, and Northwest and Alcatraz Indians picket at the Madigan gate of Fort Lewis, Washington as an extension of the occupation of Fort Lawton, laying claim to the soon-to-be-abandoned army base for Native American tribes.
March 18 – Neutralist Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia is deposed by pro-American General Lon Nol along with Defense Minister, and First Deputy Premier Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak–who proclaim the establishment of the Khmer Republic. Sihanouk, who had been out of the country at the time of the coup, aligns with Cambodian Communists, known as the Khmer Rouge, in an effort to oust Lon Nol’s regime. The Khmer Rouge are led by Pol Pot (born, Saloth Sar), who capitalizes on the enormous prestige and popularity of Prince Sihanouk to increase support for his Khmer Rouge movement among Cambodians. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) breaks off relations with the Lon Nol government by March 27, the Chinese by May 5, while the USSR maintained relations with the Lon Nol government through 1975.
March 20 – Cambodian troops under Gen. Lon Nol attack Khmer Rouge and DRV forces inside Cambodia. At the White House, Nixon and top aides discuss plans to assist Lon Nol’s pro-American regime.
March 23 – Sihanouk issues a “Message to the Nation” from Beijing, calling on the Khmer people to rise up against the Lon Nol regime, offering a National United Front of Kampuchea (FUNK) to govern and defend the Khmer people.
March 31 – The U.S. Army brings murder charges against Captain Ernest L. Medina concerning the massacre of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai on March 16, 1968. (See entries for March 16, and March 28, 1968, September 5, 1969, November 12, 1970, and March 29, 1971.)
End of March – At the Oakland, California Induction Center, for the 6-months preceding (October, 1969-March 1970), 50% of those called failed to report and 11% of those who did show up refused induction.
April 1-5 – Operation Texas Star is launched: a military operation of the Vietnam War in the A Shau Valley and the mountains east of the valley.
April 6 – The Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) sends an official list of 335 American prisoners including serial numbers and hometowns to the Committee of Liaison. (See entry for January 1970.)
April 13-18 – The Student Mobilization Committee sponsors a weeklong series of demonstrations, (some of which are supported by the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam and the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam). The focus of many of the actions was the income tax, embodied in reenactments of the Boston Tea Party in Boston, New York, Chicago, and Des Moines. In Boston, on April 15, 3000 people—led by the November Action coalition which included Bread and Roses, Youth Against War and Fascism, and other activists such as John Froines of the Chicago 7, broke off from the main demonstration and set fires and smashed windows in and around Harvard Square. In Seattle, 6000 demonstrate. In general, these actions were smaller than the 1969 massive actions. Hundreds were injured and dozens hospitalized.
April 15 – U.S. First Infantry Division withdrawn from Vietnam.
April 19 – A redacted version of the October, 1969 hearings of a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Stuart Symington on the “secret war’ In Laos is made public.
April 20 – President Nixon announces the withdrawal of another 150,000 Americans from Vietnam within a year.
April 24 – Operation Patio, secret U.S. bombing missions in northeastern Cambodia begins.
April 24-25 – People’s Republic of China hosts the “Summit Meeting of the Indochinese People” near Guangzhou with Zhou En-lai, Sihanouk, Prince Souvanouphong (from Laos), Phạm Văn Đồng, and Nguyễn Hữu Thọ (representing the PRG). Differences emerge between Sihanouk and the Vietnamese representatives. The joint communiqué calls for a united front against the U.S. and its “lackeys”, includes China’s promise to serve as a “rear area” and support for the Indochinese people., as well as Sihanouk’s formal approval for NVA (PAVN or VPA) and NLF forces to use Cambodian territory in the current war.
April 30 – President Nixon (on the advice of John McCain’s father, Admiral John McCain, among others) stuns Americans by announcing a U.S. and South Vietnamese (ARVN) invasion of Cambodia “…not for the purpose of expanding the war into Cambodia but for the purpose of ending the war in Vietnam and winning the just peace we desire.” Further “If, when the chips are down, the world’s most powerful nation, the United States of America, acts like a pitiful, helpless giant, [emphasis added] the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world.” The White House’s aim is to destroy enemy sanctuaries along the Ho Chi Minh trail on the border frontier, in order to undermine the NVA (PAVN or VPA) military campaign. It is anticipated that action would target the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN), the presumed NVA military headquarters for operations in South Vietnam. The announcement generates a tidal wave of protest by politicians, the press, students, professors, clergy members, business leaders, and many average Americans.
The invasion is in response to continuing Communist gains against Lon Nol’s forces and is also intended to weaken overall NVA military strength and serve as a prelude to U.S. departure from Vietnam. ARVN names this Operation Toan Thang (Total Victory).
May – A Gallup poll shows that 56% of the public believe that sending troops to Vietnam was a mistake, 61% of those over 50 expressed that belief compared to 49% of those between the ages of 21–29.
Cambodian President Lon Nol’s army and police round up and shoot thousands of Vietnamese in Cambodia; others are placed in concentration camps. Eventually Lon Nol allows for the emigration of 300,000 Vietnamese to the RVN.
The U.S. Army issues new regulations allowing mustaches and sideburns.
May 1 – A combined force of 15,000 U.S. and ARVN soldiers attack NVA (PAVN or VPA) supply bases inside neutral Cambodia. The Cambodian government was not informed in advance of the attack. Throughout this offensive, NVA and the NLF carefully avoid large-scale battles and instead withdraw westward, further into Cambodia (centered in Kratie), leaving behind their base camps containing stores of weapons and ammunition. Kissinger staffers, William Watts, Anthony Lake, Laurence Lynn, and Roger Morris, resign over the invasion. In response to Watt’s resignation, Kissinger snaps, “Your views represent the cowardice of the Eastern establishment.”
President Nixon calls anti-war students “bums blowing up campuses.”
May 2 – American college campuses erupt in protest over the invasion of Cambodia.
When the press reports the secret U.S.-led invasion of Cambodia and the subsequent massive air strikes in that country, Alexander Haig, military aide to Henry Kissinger, notes that New York Times reporter William Beecher has been asking ‘suspiciously’ well-informed questions about the operation. Beecher’s latest story also alerts Defense Secretary Melvin Laird to the bombings (Laird has been kept out of the loop on the bombings). Haig tells the FBI he suspects a “serious security violation” has taken place, and receives four new wiretaps: on Beecher; Laird’s assistant Robert Pursley; Secretary of State William Rogers’s assistant Richard Pederson; and Rogers’s deputy, William Sullivan.
A total of 470 reservists sign an antiwar petition in the New Republic.
May 4 – At Kent State University in Ohio, National Guardsmen shoot and kill four student protesters and wounded nine. The four murdered students are Jeffrey Glenn Miller, Allison B. Krause, William Knox Schroeder, and Sandra Lee Scheuer. The Kent State incident attracts national and later worldwide media attention by way of dramatic photographs published in Newsweek; Time, and Life magazines.
In response to the shootings, over 450 high schools, colleges and universities across America are shut down. More than 4 million students participate in the only national student strike in U.S. history. In Washington, 100,000 protesters surround various government buildings including the White House. Police ring the White House with buses to block the demonstrators from getting too close to the executive mansion President Nixon pays a late night surprise visit to the Lincoln Memorial to speak with young protesters-to little effect.
May 5 – Speaking in support of the Kent State shootings, Governor Ronald Reagan (R-CA) says of efforts to stop student protests on university campuses, “If it takes a bloodbath, then let’s get it over with.”
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (VCP) Lê Duẩn visits Soviet leader Brezhnev in Moscow. This is part of the developing diplomatic struggle between the Soviet Union, China, the DRV, the RVN, Cambodia, and the U.S.
May 7 – The American Federation of State, City, and Municipal Employees (AFCSME) calls for immediate U.S. withdrawal. Walter Reuther, UAW President, telegrams President Nixon condemning the war.
May 8 – The Hard Hat Riot in New York City: The riot starts around noon when about 200 construction workers mobilized by the New York State AFL-CIO attack some 1,000 college and high school students and others who are protesting the May 4th Kent State shootings, the Vietnam War, and the April 30th announcement by President Richard Nixon of the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. The Hard Hat Riot, breaking out first near the intersection of Wall Street and Broad Street in Lower Manhattan, soon spills into New York City Hall, and lasts approximately two hours. More than 70 people, including four policemen, are injured on what became known as “Bloody Friday.” Six people are arrested.
May 11 – Lê Duẩn visits Mao in Beijing; they had not met since the mid-1960s, where Lê Duẩn allows that the situation in Southeast Asia is “complicated and there exist some difficulties.
May 13 – Project Pursestrings organized by Sam Brown and Mike Brewer in which hundreds of student lobbyists came to Congress for the McGovern-Hatfield ‘end the war’ amendment.
May 14-15 – At Jackson State University in Mississippi a student demonstration against U.S. policies in Vietnam and Cambodia, the killings at Kent State, as well as unequal and dehumanizing treatment—particularly racial intimidation and harassment by white motorists traveling Lynch Street, a major thoroughfare that divides the campus and links West Jackson to downtown. The combined force of police and National Guardsmen fire on the protestors. Two students are killed–a junior studying pre-law– Phillip L. Gibbs and a high school senior, James Earl Green, who had stopped to view the protest on his way home from his job at a grocery store. Eleven others are seriously injured.
May 15-16 – Armed Forces’ Day demonstrations against the war are staged at 12 Army and Marine Corps installations and 5 Air Force and Navy bases, with thousands of GIs participating.
At Fort Lewis, Washington, on May 15-16, there are demonstrations outside the gates of Fort Lewis in the town of Tillicum, drawing around 60 GIs and 200 civilians.
May 16-17 – Indonesian Foreign Minister Adam Malik convenes the Asia-Pacific Conference on the Cambodian Question, which is hostile to Sihanouk and the Vietnamese Communists. While the DRV and the RVN are invited, the PRG is not.
May 18 – An estimated 150,000 pro-war protesters march without opposition through the streets of downtown Manhattan. Some workers in surrounding buildings show their support by showering the marchers with ticker tape.
A full-page ad in the San Francisco Examiner calling for immediate withdrawal is signed by 451 labor leaders.
May 19 – Operation Freedom Deal, a prolonged and extensive U.S. bombing mission against NVA (PAVN or VPA) and Khmer Rouge forces in Cambodia is launched. Some raids consist of up to 120 warplanes.
The National GI Alliance is formed.
May 21-26 – A Gallup poll shows that 56% of the public believe that sending troops to Vietnam was a mistake, 61% of those over 50 agree compared to 49% of those between the ages of 21–29.
May 26 – Destroyer USS Anderson leaving for Vietnam from San Diego breaks down and suffers over $200,000 in property damage, delaying its arrival by several weeks; later investigation finds sabotage as cause.
May 28 – The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia was incorporated in the District of Columbia on May 28, 1970. The League’s origins date to groups created by Sybil Stockdale and a group of POW/MIA wives in California, as well as POW/MIA wives in the Hampton, Virginia area led by Evelyn Grubb and Mary Crowe, in 1967.
May 29-31 – National GI antiwar conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
June – Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG)—see June 8, 1969 chronology entry-Foreign Minister, Nguyễn Thị Bình, travels to Algeria to garner international support for her revolutionary government and meets with President Boumediene and Foreign Minister Bouteflika. She then travels to China and meets with Zhou En-Lai in Beijing who prophesies a revolutionary victory for the Vietnamese revolutionaries.
John Kerry joins Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW).
The Selective Service System (SSS) reports 271 instances of destructive attacks (bombing, arson, destruction of files) against draft boards in the previous 2 years.
June 3 – The NVA (PAVN or VPA) begin a new offensive toward Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The U.S. provides air strikes to prevent the defeat of Lon Nol’s inexperienced troops.
June 5 – President Nixon meets with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, CIA Director Richard Helms, and the heads of the NSA and DIA to discuss a proposed new domestic intelligence system. White House aide Tom Charles Huston has prepared his presentation. The plan is based on the assumption that “hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans—mostly under 30—are determined to destroy our society.” Nixon calls on the agencies to prove the assumed connections between the antiwar demonstrators and Communists. Nixon is convinced that both the FBI and the CIA have failed to find the links he is sure bind domestic troubles and foreign Communism.
June 12-16 – Battle of Kompong Speu: the combined forces of the South Vietnamese and Cambodian Armies fought to recapture the provincial capital of Kompong Speu. The town was captured by revolutionary forces on June 13 but was retaken by allied forces on June 16.
June 13 – President Nixon establishes the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest. The commission is directed to study the dissent, disorder, and violence breaking out on college and university campuses.
June 19-21 – The National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC) is set up by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) with the support of the Student Mobilization Committee with a single-issue focus embodied in the antiwar slogan “Out Now!” This is an alternative to the New Mobilization Against the War in Vietnam (new Mobe). See chronology entry for July 1969.
June 24 – The U.S. Senate repeals the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. See chronology entries for August 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7, 1964.
June 26-27 – On June 26 The New York Times finally published the list of POWs that the DRV had provided for the Committee of Liaison on April 6. The next day the Pentagon describes the list as unofficial and “inaccurate and incomplete.”
Six antiwar GIs at Fort Lewis, Washington publicly refuse to be sent to Vietnam, possibly the largest action to date at any Army Shipment Center on grounds of conscientious objection, and become known as the “Fort Lewis Six.”
June 27-28 – The New Mobe Strategy Action Conference, held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, aims at building a multi-issue organization in contrast to the single-issue focus of NPAC. A follow-up conference is to be held from September.
June 29 – Private Willie Williams at Fort Lewis, Washington court-martialed for presenting an antiwar statement and poster to his commanding officer.
June 30 – U.S. troops withdraw from Cambodia. Over 350 Americans died during the invasion. General Abrams claimed 11,000 enemy soldiers killed and 2,500 captured, but his figures were disputed, as including civilian deaths. The ARVN troops remain, occupying heavily populated areas and supported by continued heavy U.S. air bombings. During this time, popular support for the Khmer Rouge broadens, its ranks swelling from 3,000 in March 1970 to a peak of about 30,000.
Evaluations of the impact of the invasion vary. Some in the military argue that it was a tactical and strategic success (see J. S. Boenisch at http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/vietnam/articles/cambodianincursion.aspx) severing supply lines in Cambodia and showing the success of the ARVN and Nixon’s policy of Vietnamization (see November 3, 1969 chronology entry). For an alternative military view that sees the invasion as a tactical success, but strategic failure (see Major J. Hackett at http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a491124.pdf), in that its success led MACV (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam) and Nixon Administration officials to draw false conclusions as to the capabilities of the ARVN. United States (U.S.). The South Vietnamese forces achieved tactical success during cross border missions and denying revolutionary forces much needed war materiel. MACV and Nixon Administration officials equated this success to a capable ARVN. These false conclusions led to the failure of Vietnamization.
Others are more critical. North Vietnam merely shifted supply routes deeper into an increasingly anarchic Cambodia. The American and South Vietnamese invasion turned the Lon Nol regime—which just one month earlier had ousted the country’s neutralist monarch, Prince Norodom Sihanouk–into a largely powerless U.S. puppet. The so-called Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN) was never found, much less dismantled. Violence spread in Cambodia as a result of the Operation Menu bombing as well as the aftermath of the invasion and the increasing polarization of Cambodian society came to favor the Khmer Rouge over and against the Lon Nol regime.
July – Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG)—see June 8, 1969 chronology entry-Foreign Minister, Nguyễn Thị Bình, travels to India and Sri Lanka (over the protests of the RVN (South Vietnamese government) to garner support for the PRG.
The award-winning documentary The World of Charlie Company is broadcast twice on CBS. It shows GIs close to mutiny, balking at orders that seem to them unreasonable. This was something not seen on television before.
China removes its final troops that where in place to support Chinese anti-aircraft batteries in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV).
July 1 – Nixon named diplomat David K.E. Bruce to head the U.S. delegation to the peace talks in Paris with the DRV and the NLF.
July 1-23 – The Battle of Fire Support Base Ripcord is a 23-day battle between elements of the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division and two reinforced divisions of the North Vietnamese Army. It is the last major confrontation between United States ground forces and the NVA (PAVN or VPA) during the Vietnam War. The NVA launched a mortar attack on the firebase. During the 23-day siege, while the NVA took heavy casualties, 75 U.S. servicemen are killed, before an aerial withdrawal by the U.S. under heavy mortar, anti-aircraft, and small arms fire. After the U.S. Army withdrew from the firebase, USAF B-52 heavy bombers were sent in to carpet bomb the area
July 14 – President Nixon approves the “Huston Plan” for greatly expanding domestic intelligence gathering. The plan, which involves authorizing the CIA, FBI, NSA, and military intelligence agencies to escalate their electronic surveillance of “domestic security threats” in the face of supposed threats from Communist-led youth agitators and antiwar groups (see June 5 entry). The plan authorizes the surreptitious reading of private mail, lifts restrictions against surreptitious entries or break-ins to gather information, aims to plant informants on college campuses, and create a new, White House-based “Interagency Group on Domestic Intelligence and Internal Security.” Huston’s Top Secret memo warns that parts of the plan are “clearly illegal.” Nixon approves the plan, but rejects one element—that he personally authorize any break-ins. Nixon orders that all information and operations to be undertaken under the new plan be channeled through his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, with Nixon deliberately being left out of the loop. The first operations to be undertaken include using the Internal Revenue Service to harass left-wing think tanks and moderate charitable organizations such as the Brookings Institution and the Ford Foundation. I n 2007, author James Reston Jr. will call the Huston plan “arguably the most anti-democratic document in American history… a blueprint to undermine the fundamental right of dissent and free speech in America.” See entry for June 5.
July 26 – Three soldiers from Fort Collins, Colorado indicted for dynamiting the telephone exchange, power plant, and water works at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.
August 6 – Resumption of 4-party talks in Paris with David K. E. Bruce now the head of the U.S. delegation.
August 11 – ARVN troops take over the defense of border positions from U.S. troops.
August 22 – Operation Chenla (or Chenla II): A major operation by Cambodian government forces against NVA (PAVN or VPA) and NLF units in eastern Cambodia (around Kampong Thon). It continues until February 1971 and produces limited gains. Reports surface that Khmer Rouge fired on NVA troops from behind, followed by a NVA circular warning its own troops not to fire on the Khmer Rouge.
August 24 – Heavy B-52 bombing raids occur along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Near 3:40 a.m., the ‘New Years Gang’ on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in Sterling Hall detonates a van filled with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil mixture. A researcher, Robert Fassnacht, is killed and three others are injured. The student newspaper, the Cardinal, had published a series of investigative articles making a convincing case that the Army Math Research Center (AMRC) was pursuing research that was directly pursuant to specific U.S. Department of Defense requests, and relevant to counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam. AMRC became a magnet for demonstrations, in which protesters chanted “U.S. out of Vietnam! Smash Army Math!” The Army Mathematics Research Center was phased out by the Department of Defense at the end of the 1970 fiscal year.
August 29 – The Chicano Moratorium: in which 30,000 Mexican-Americans participate in the largest anti-war demonstration in Los Angeles. Police attack the crowd with Billy clubs and tear gas; two people are killed. Immediately after the marchers were dispersed, sheriff’s deputies raid a nearby bar, where they shot and killed Rubén Salazar, KMEX news director and Los Angeles Times columnist, with a tear-gas projectile. The Chicano Moratorium was a movement of Chicano activists that organized anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and activities in Mexican American communities throughout the Southwest and elsewhere from November 1969 through August 1971. “Our struggle is not in Vietnam but in the movement for social justice at home” is a key slogan of the movement. It is coordinated by the National Chicano Moratorium Committee (NCMC) and led largely by activists from the Chicano student movement and the Brown Beret organization. More than 20 local protests are held in Houston, Albuquerque, Chicago, Denver, Fresno, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, Oxnard, San Fernando, San Pedro and Douglas, Arizona. Most had 1,000 or more participants.
September – In a Gallup poll, 55 percent of the public think the U.S. should bring home all troops by the end of 1971.
September 1 – McGovern-Hatfield Amendment calling for the ending of funding for U.S. troops by December 31, 1971 (originally December 31, 1970) is defeated in the Senate, while the annual military funding bill is passed.
September 4-7 – 200+ American veterans of the Vietnam War “staged a successful search and destroy mission, clearing the road from Morristown, New Jersey to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, of enemy forces along the route”, code named Operation RAW (Rapid American Withdrawal)—WAR backwards. Its aim is to “dramatize the war by simulating actual combat conditions” so ordinary Americans could experience them. Key organizers were Al Hubbard, Michael Oliver, and Craig Scott Moore. At this point Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW)—see June 1, 1967 chronology entry—has 2000+ members with chapters in more than a dozen states.
September 5 –October 6 – Operation Jefferson Glenn, the last U.S. offensive in Vietnam in Thừa Thiên-Huế Province: the last major operation in which U.S. ground forces participated in Vietnam and the final major offensive in which the 101st Airborne Division fought. This was a joint military operation combining forces of the 101st Airborne and the 1st Infantry Division of the ARVN. The purpose of this operation is to shield critical installations in Huế and Da Nang by patrolling communist rocket belts along the edge of the mountains.
September 7 – Secret talks resume between Kissinger and Xuân Thủy. For the first time, Kissinger offers a (12-month) timetable for U.S. withdrawal without reciprocity from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV).
September 8-10 – Madame Bình and 3 other representatives of the PRG, supported by Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere and Uganda’s Milton Obote, attend the 3rd Conference the Non-Aligned Nations Movement in Lusaka, Zambia. Further support comes from Algeria, Congo, Guinea, and Mali, as well as Cuba’s Fidel Castro who declares, “Is not Vietnam the most exalted example of the soul; and spirit of the nonalignment movement?” Bình gives a well-received speech.
September 11-13 – The New Mobe was reconstituted as the National Coalition Against War, Racism, and Repression (NCAWRR), a multi-issue organization. The Communist Party USA plays a leadership role, but many other antiwar organizations, including the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, the American Friends Service Committee, and Women Strike for Peace, the National Welfare Rights Organization and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference are in attendance. One of the proposals advanced during this gathering ultimately became the 1971 Mayday protests in Washington, D.C.
September 17 – Madame Bình issues an “Eight-Point Clarification of the Ten-Point Overall Solution” linking release of U.S. POWs to U.S. withdrawal.
September 17-23 – Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng meet first with Zhou En-Lai (September 17) and then Mao (September 23) where Mao concedes that he is “no longer worried about diplomatic struggle” without revealing that Chinese had begun ambassadorial discussions with U.S. counterparts in Warsaw in January (which had been interrupted by the U.S./ARVN invasion of Cambodia).
September 22 – Former astronaut retired Air Force Colonel Frank Borman, working with Ross Perot’s as Nixon’s emissary on POW/MIA issues, exhorted a Joint session of Congress to raise public consciousness of the POWs so they would not become “political hostages” (despite the fact that POW issues had traditionally been resolved at the end of hostilities). Thereafter the House Armed Services Committee by a 28-2 vote recommended that the U.S. cease future negotiations until progress had been made on the POW issue.
September 26 – The Report of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest: “In May, 1970, students did not strike against their universities; they succeed in making their universities strike against national policy… nothing is more important than an end to the war in Indochina. Disaffected students see the war as a symbol of a moral crisis in the nation.” The Report calls on the President to bring the country together again.
September 27 – As diplomatic maneuvering continues, Xuân Thủy, demands not only the removal of the Thiệu-Kỳ-Khiêm regime in the South, but that two of the three components in the coalition government stand for “peace and neutrality.”
October 1 – Mao, fearing Soviet encirclement, commissions Edgar Snow to signal that he desired a new meeting with the U.S.
October 7 – During a TV speech, President Nixon proposes a “standstill” cease-fire in which all troops would stop shooting and remain in place pending a formal peace agreement. Hanoi does not respond. He further announces that 40,000 American troops will be withdrawn from South Vietnam by the end of the year.
October 11 – U.S. Third Brigade, Ninth Infantry Division, is withdrawn from Vietnam.
October 24 – ARVN troops begin a new offensive into Cambodia.
Last week of October – U.S. combat deaths number 24, lowest since October 1965.
November – NCAWRR activists participated in a World Conference on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia staged by the Stockholm Conference on Vietnam. The Stockholm Conference “stands with the people of Indochina” and “their legitimate representatives: the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, the Lao Patriotic Front and the Royal Cambodian Government of National Unity.” A member of the central committee of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam expressed gratitude for the “worldwide mass movement, fighting against American aggression in Indochina, [which] has been shown to be of the utmost importance and greatly contributes to isolating the Nixon administration and its henchmen” while the official representative of North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong urged that the conference “support the antiwar movement in America.
November 3 – U.S. elections produce little change in Congress. Peace proponents Charles Goodell (R NY) and Congressman Allard Lowenstein (founder of the Dump Johnson movement, which led to Eugene McCarthy contesting the Democratic nomination in 1968) are defeated. Antiwar activists Bella Abzug (founder of the Women Strike for Peace (WSP) and Father F. Drinan (dean of Boston College Law School) are elected.
November 6 – The trial of the Seattle Seven for Seattle Liberation Front (SLF) antiwar protestors for participation in the February 17, 1970 demonstration (See entry); charges include inciting to riot and conspiracy to damage the Seattle Federal Building. Defendants eventually serve 3 months for contempt.
November 11 – The POW/MIA bracelets are formally introduced at a press conference at the Universal Sheraton Hotel in Los Angeles.
November 12 – The military trial of Lt. William Calley begins at Fort Benning, Georgia, for the massacre of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai on March 16, 1968. (See entries for March 16 and 28,1968, September 5, 1969, March 31,1970 and March 29, 1971.)
November 21 – A force of 56 U.S. commandos led by Col. Arthur ‘Bull’ Simons, in Operation Kingpin, raid the Sơn Tây POW camp to rescue an estimated 70 to 80 prisoners, supported by 29 USAF aircraft and 92 flight crew on the direct raid and a total of 105 aircraft including supporting roles. In July, all 65 prisoners had been moved to another camp at Đồng Hới about 15 miles east of Sơn Tây, One of the U.S. commandos commented, “We did everything according to our well-rehearsed plans and…the only thing missing was the prisoners.”
November 27 – In his annual testimony, J. Edgar Hoover asks for an additional $14 million to put one thousand new FBI agents into the field and then accuses the East Coast Conspiracy to Save Lives (see February 6 entry,) led by Daniel and Philip Berrigan, of plotting “to blow up underground electrical circuits and steam pipes serving the Washington D. C. area to disrupt Federal Government operations’ and kidnap a highly placed government official… to demand an end to United States bombing operations in southeast Asia and the release of all political prisoners.” (See January 12, 1971 entry.)
Late November – U.S. wages 2 days of “protective reaction” strikes against North Vietnamese radar and missile sites in retaliation for what it sees as uncalled-for retaliation for Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) firing at unarmed reconnaissance flights. This bombing eventually surpasses Johnson’s Rolling Thunder bombing campaign in ferocity. See chronology entries for March 2, 1965 and October 31, 1968.
December – At the initiation of Rennie Davis (see chronology entries for April 27, 1968, August 26-29, and March 20, 1969), an NSA sponsored delegation fly to Paris and then attempted to fly to Saigon, capital of the then Republic of Vietnam (RVN), to meet with representatives of students in South Vietnam. The delegation is refused entry and ultimately flies to Hanoi. The American delegation meets with North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese students opposed to the RVN and sign a “People’s Peace Treaty” that is similar in some respects to those later adopted in the Paris Peace accords of 1973. The “People’s Peace Treaty” became a demand by the American peace movement endorsed by peace activists, including Philip Berrigan, Daniel Berrigan, former Sen. Eugene McCarthy, I. F. Stone, Noam Chomsky, Rock Hudson, former NY Sen. Charles Goodell (who had been defeated in the November elections), Vietnam Veterans Against the War and the New University Conference among others. It begins: “Be it known that the American and Vietnamese peoples are not enemies. The war is carried out in the names of the people of the United States and South Vietnam but without our consent. It destroys the land and people of Vietnam. It drains America of its resources, its youth and its honor.”
Prisoners riot and destroy a prison at Fort Hood, Texas.
December 12 – Madame Bình lays out three conditions for a cease-fire: 1. Withdrawal of U.S. troops by June 30, 1971; 2. Removal of the Thieu-Ky-Khiem regime in the South; 3. Discussions on how to implement and respect the cease fire.
December 10 – President Nixon warns Hanoi that more bombing raids may occur if (PAVN or VPA) attacks continue against the South.
December 14 – The military declares Fort Lewis, Washington a closed base to civilians.
December 22 – The Cooper-Church amendment to the U.S. defense appropriations bill forbids the use of any U.S. ground forces in Laos or Cambodia.
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam turns over a “full and complete” list of 339 prisoners to representatives of Senators Fulbright and Kennedy in Paris. (See entries for April 6 and June 26-7, 1970.) Secretary of State William Rogers condemns the release of the list as “inhumane” and “contemptible maneuvering.”
American troop levels drop to 334,600 by year’s end. ARVN troops total 1 million. 44,245 U.S. soldiers have died to date. During the year, an estimated 60,000 soldiers experimented with drugs, according to the U.S. command. There were also over 200 incidents of “fragging” in which unpopular officers are attacked with fragmentation grenades by men under their command. In addition, many units are now plagued by racial unrest.