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History & Politics: Vietnam

            America's war in Vietnam really started with the Tonkin Gulf incident. It was the first time that America and its forces were truly threatened by the North Vietnamese forces. The USS Maddox was on patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin when it noticed North Vietnamese PT boats. The PT boats wound up firing torpedoes at the bow, amidships, and aft. Luckily all the torpedoes missed the USS Maddox. United States aircraft from the carrier Ticonderoga eventually joined in the conflict with the PT boats. After reports of this incident reached Washington, President Johnson called for reinforcements. The carrier Constellation and the destroyer C. Turner Joy sped to the scene.
             Two days after this incident, the C. Turner Joy reported five or more enemy contacts on the surface search radar around eight o"clock that evening. Planes were launched from both of the carriers to search for these targets. The jets guided by the Turner Joy's radar reported not seeing anything. The USS Maddox also reported not having any targets to shoot at. President Johnson, after receiving reports of this incident, ordered fighter/bomber groups to conduct strikes over a fiver-hour period against North Vietnamese targets. President Johnson had successfully used this incident as justification to launch air strikes against the North Vietnamese. He also was able to gain the Tonkin Gulf Resolution from Congress. This resolution gave him the authority to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.
             The build-up of United States forces in South Vietnam increased after this incident as well. The first US combat troops arrived at 9:03am on 8 March 1965. These troops were Marines from the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. On March 30th the Vietcong launched an offensive against the United States Embassy in Saigon. This attack did not deter President Johnson as the enemy had hoped.

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