The Vietnam War was one of the worst wars in the United States history. The reason for the United States involvement was due to the start of communism in North Vietnam. The citizens in South Vietnam feared the control of North Vietnam and were worried that the north would take control of the south. The communist North Vietnam had support from the Soviet Union and China, making the South Vietnamese vulnerable to the north. In their time of struggle the South Vietnamese were able to receive aid from the United States. The North Vietnamese had set up a series of radar stations along bays and islands on the Gulf of Tonkin. On August 1, 1964 the U.S.S. Maddox was posted on a surveillance mission to study the North Vietnamese defenses in the Gulf area.
In early morning on August 2, 1964 the U.S.S. Maddox spotted three North Vietnamese patrol boats, located twenty- eight miles from the coast. The patrol boats were still in International waters, which meant that they had no right to patrol South Vietnam. Captain John Herrich of the Maddox ordered fire upon the three North Vietnamese patrol boats. The Maddox had assistance from the carrier U.S.S. Ticonderoga. The two ships managed to sink one of the patrol boats, while the other two boats bailed out. To this day government officials are still unsure whether the United States or the North Vietnamese fired first in the situation.
United Sates President Lyndon B. Johnson received word of the attack and ordered the Maddox to return to the Gulf of Tonkin and patrol for more action. The Maddox accompanied by the U.S.S. Turner Joy returned to the Gulf of Tonkin on August 4, 1964. While stationed in the Gulf the radar engineers on the destroyers thought that they saw an advancing enemy ship. While not certain of the approaching ship, the two destroyers fired into the darkness. The destroyers found no trace of a ship. President Johnson was convinced that the destroyers Maddox and Turner Joy had been attacked by the North Vietnamese and decided that the United States must react quickly.
Around midnight on August 4, 1964 American aircrafts began sixty-four sorties (one plane attacks) over North Vietnamese patrol boat bases and a major oil storage depot. During the sorties more than twenty Vietnamese vessels were destroyed, while the oil depot became an inferno of flame and smoke. The events that took place in the Gulf of Tonkin added to years of tension between the United States and North Vietnam.
United States Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy had spent millions of dollars to aid the non-communist South Vietnamese. Before 1964 thousands of American military advisers were training and assisting the South Vietnamese army. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s decision to bomb North Vietnam put the United States in the center of the longest war in the nations history. The Vietcong (North Vietnamese) grew more aggressive after the incident at the Gulf of Tonkin. On...