Tonkin Incident

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In 1963, the streets of Saigon and the surrounding cities of Southern Vietnam were flooded with Viet Cong (VC). These were Vietnamese Communists who lived all throughout Vietnam. The towns became overrun and soon the South started to lose control. As a result, the United States sent around 16,000 military “advisers” to Southern Vietnam. Their job was to aid the South in their efforts to drive the VC out of their country. This, however, was rarely the case as there was a thin line between providing military assistance and taking total control. The incident that occurred in the Gulf of Tonkin is a perfect example of how the United States took matters into their own hands and escalated problems in Vietnam. This opened the door for U.S. involvement …show more content…
Their route was going to take them to Taiwan and then the Gulf of Tonkin. The patrol of Taiwan was known, but the crew was not told about the Gulf of Tonkin. On the surface, the orders were to look for weapons on the boats in the Gulf, radar transmitters, and to observe the coast for signs of militarization. However, the real, underlying goal was to “intercept communist radio communications,” an extreme act of aggression towards North Vietnam (Versache 13).
Maddox reached the Gulf of Tonkin on July 30, 1964. On the same day, a 34-A mission had taken place. Swift boats headed to Da Nang to reach the islands of Hon Me and Hon Ngu. These islands were apart of North Vietnam. Around noon, the Swift boats began to fire upon the islands. The plan was to have the South Vietnamese who were on board at the time overrun the two islands. This, however, did not work due to the North Vietnamese defense. The change in plans caused the nine Swift boats to start moving to the South (Versache
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This new ship was the C Turner Joy. The two ships’ new goal was to destroy any boat that attacked the waters. The days that followed were brutally hot and the nights were still and dark. Both crews were paranoid as they sailed the nights. Ships on the radar were reported to appear then disappear. Captain Herrick reported his uneasiness about the ghost ships to the Defense Department but never mentioned that these boats never pursed the Maddox or the Joy. Consequently, American military involvement had begun in North Vietnam (Versache 13; Bridge 181). Exactly a week after the incident, President Johnson developed a joint resolution, which he put through Congress known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. It passed with ease and gave “blanket authority to the President to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attacked against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” This document became the legal grounds for every decision made by the President during the Vietnam War. The resolution, in short, allowed the President to avoid declaring war and to have his power go unchecked during the time in Vietnam (Versache 14; Bridge

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