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July 5: Three U.S. soldiers are killed by enemy mortars at Danang Air Base. Gen. Duong Van Minh charges Thieu with intimidation to ensure his reelection. Kissinger meets with Minh and with South Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky. Military sources say new test results designed to find heroin addicts among troops leaving South Vietnam indicate that only 2 percent are addicted. Capt. Ernest Medina, his military defense attorney, and an Army prosecutor leave for South Vietnam to take depositions for Medina’s murder trial.

July 6: North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho says the  offer to return POWs in exchange for the U.S. troop withdrawal is not dependent on a political settlement in South Vietnam. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) defends his public reading to the press from The Pentagon Papers as “sincerely and patriotically in the best interests of this nation we all love.”

July 7: Rep. Robert Steele (R-Conn.), speaking before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, names South Vietnamese Maj. Gen. Ngo Dzu as “one of the chief traffickers in heroin in Southeast Asia.” Sources report that a secret operation involving CIA-led commando raiders is underway in the Plaine des Jarres in Laos.

July 8: John Paul Vann, senior American adviser to Dzu, says Dzu asked Thieu to protest drug-trafficking allegations made against him. U.S. helicopters airlift 1,500 South Vietnamese troops into the Parrot’s Beak area of Cambodia. In Paris, the U.S. says the VC’s seven-point peace plan raises questions that need “serious negotiations.” The delegation proposes an off-the-record meeting with North Vietnam and the VC, who reject it as “a perfidious maneuver” to avoid setting a withdrawal date in 1971. The U.S. turns over control of Fire Base Alpha 4 to the South Vietnamese First Division. The Laotian Defense Ministry says the U.S. Embassy is responsible for the Plaine des Jarres operation, which has uncovered large caches of enemy weapons.

July 9: The General Accounting Office reports it is unable to determine how $1.7 billion authorized for pacification programs in South Vietnam was spent or committed during a three-year period ending July 30, 1970. Dzu charges that the allegations against him are a “poor invention” of a jealous rival. Vann defends Dzu, calling the charges a “tremendous act of sabotage.” About 500 American GIs are replaced by South Vietnamese troops at Fire Base Charlie 2, four miles south of the DMZ, completing the northern border turnover. U.S. officials acknowledge the incursion into the Plaine des Jarres is American-backed, but say the objective is to destroy enemy supplies, not occupy the area. Laotian officers say the mission is coordinated by the CIA and led by Americans. The State Department denies that U.S. advisers are accompanying the Laotian commandos. Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap tells an East German television station the U.S. has trapped itself in a “tunnel without end” in Vietnam.

July 12: Thailand sends a formal note of protest about the publication of The Pentagon Papers to the U.S. Embassy. Lt. Gen. Robert Taber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for manpower, says more GIs are signing up for the drug users’ amnesty program—6,700 during the first five months of 1971—because of the new drug-testing program in Vietnam.

July 13: The Defense Department, in a four-page statement, explains its accounting books for pacification monies were not kept in South Vietnam, where the GAO did its study, but in the U.S., where the funds are audited as part of military aid to South Vietnam. Ellsberg, in a television interview, says Kissinger, who earlier said he was unaware of The Pentagon Papers’ existence, had been consulted about the study prior to its being written. The South Vietnamese Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the country’s controversial new election law.

July 14: The Navy and Marine Corps announce a drug “exemption program” for those who volunteer for rehabilitation. Ky accuses Thieu of using “dictatorial practices” and announces he will challenge Thieu for the presidency.

July 15: Bruce tells the VC and North Vietnamese that the latest peace proposal leaves objectives unchanged and has set “far-reaching” and “harsh” conditions. North Vietnam accuses the Nixon administration of “trying to stall the negotiations by refusing to answer the seven points.” Minh charges that U.S. support of Thieu could prevent a fair and honest October election. A House Government Operations subcommittee reads into the record previously classified information related to the Phoenix Program. The data disclose 26,843 nonmilitary VC insurgents and sympathizers were “neutralized,” “killed,” “sentenced” to prison, or “induced to rally to [the Saigon] government.” South Vietnam pulls most of its troops from the Parrot’s Beak. Ellsberg’s trial is delayed while his attorneys attempt to prove that the evidence against their client is based on illegal wiretaps.

July 16: One American is killed in an ambush 65 miles southeast of Danang. An Army private is charged with the murder of two lieutenants and the attempted murder of three other officers in the bombing of a Bien Hoa Air Base barracks on March 15, 1971.

July 17: In Phnom Penh a special military tribunal acquits the two sons of former head of state Prince Norodom Sihanouk of terrorism charges. About 400 candidates for South Vietnam’s national assembly are disqualified by local committees.

July 18: Sen. Hugh Scott (R-Pa.) says he believes Nixon’s decision to visit China by May 1972 means there will be no American combat troops left in Southeast Asia by then.

July 19: The South Vietnamese government proposes a total ceasefire and reunification of the two Vietnams through general elections. The U.S. House of Representatives approves the expansion of the VA’s drug-treatment program to include active-duty troops and dishonorably discharged veterans. Nixon meets with 17 congressional leaders to try to quell speculation that his visit to China might hasten a Vietnam War truce. Former CORDS head William Colby claims that the Phoenix Program’s benefits “more than overcame occasional abuses.”

July 20: In Beijing, Premier Chou En-lai tells a group of American graduate students that U.S. troop withdrawals must take priority over attempts to improve Chinese-American relations. National Review publishes “highly classified documents” that were not previously printed,

July 21: South Vietnam announces it has begun a new raid into Cambodia to provide security for the August and October elections. One American is killed 43 miles southeast of Danang when his patrol is ambushed. William F. Buckley, Jr., publisher of National Review, acknowledges the secret documents he printed were a hoax that fooled much of the media. He says one of the reasons for their publication was to show “that forged documents could be widely accepted as genuine provided their content was inherently plausible.” A U.S. Embassy survey in Saigon shows the enemy is gaining strength in northern areas of South Vietnam where U.S. troops have been evacuated and in the densely populated Mekong Delta. The South Vietnamese command issues press ground rules that “will very much restrict reporting on military operations.” A U.S. district court in New Haven, Conn., throws out a couple’s $500,000 damage suit against the U.S. government, which contended their son’s death in the “illegal war” in Vietnam violated his constitutional rights. Dzu, in a letter to Steele, requests he make public the evidence he has on drug-trafficking charges made against him.

July 22: Xuan Thuy, North Vietnam’s chief delegate in Paris, accuses the U.S. of wanting to divide the communist world. Steele refuses to reveal the evidence he has to implicate Dzu, but discloses that the general also is being investigated in connection with the looting of two abandoned U.S. bases. The State Department says North Vietnam is building a road into South Vietnam across the DMZ. A privately researched report by Peter Davies, a Manhattan insurance executive, charges that the shootings at Kent State University were by a small group of Ohio National Guardsmen who wanted to “punish” the students and who opened fire on a signal.

July 23: Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird says he may have to start drafting those who had earlier received deferments if Congress does not pass a draft-extension bill by September.

July 24: Thieu formally announces he is running for re-election. South Vietnam announces a second drive into Cambodia to stem NVA infiltration and destroy NVA base camps.

July 25: The U.S. Embassy in Saigon tells the State Department that “responsibility for American-fathered illegitimate children” in South Vietnam “has become a matter of serious and continuing concern.” Two Americans are killed and one is wounded after their observation helicopter is shot down in Cambodia.

July 26: A spokesman says Laird is delaying the release of The Pentagon Papers because of “legal” and “security” problems. U.S. helicopters take South Vietnamese troops to the mountains southeast of the A Shau Valley in the fourth phase of Operation Lam Son 720. Medina’s court-martial opens. Gen. Minh formally announces his candidacy for the presidency.

July 27: Frank Render II, deputy assistant secretary of defense, says ten or twelve military officers have been relieved of command, transferred, or reprimanded for failure to adequately enforce regulations designed to improve race relations. Ky says he will not drop out of the presidential race to support Minh. Seventeen antiwar members of Congress open a three-day conference on The Pentagon Papers. Laird says the Fiscal Year 1972 draft of 100,000 will be 50,000 less than last fiscal year.

July 28: The U.S. announces it will broaden drug testing to include all service members in South Vietnam. South Vietnam begins its third incursion in one week into Cambodia. The U.S. Board of Parole denies parole to Revs. Philip and Daniel Berrigan, who were imprisoned for destroying draft board records. Nixon appoints William Porter, ambassador to South Korea, to succeed Bruce—who resigned because of ill health—as the chief negotiator in Paris. Five Vietnam veterans are chosen as the jury in Medina’s trial.

July 29: South Vietnam’s Central Election Council re-instates 65 anti-government candidates to run for seats in the National Assembly’s lower house August elections. Rusk tells a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that Johnson “did not have any plans” to widen the war before the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

July 30: House and Senate Armed Services Committee conferees reach a troop withdrawal compromise.

Members of Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry—among the last U. S. combat troops still operating in the field—ford a river while on patrol about 11 miles west of Danang, August 1971.

Members of Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry—among the last U. S. combat troops still operating in the field—ford a river while on patrol about 11 miles west of Danang, August 1971. Photo: Bettmann Archive

August 1: North Vietnamese cadres ambush a U.S. patrol 25 miles south of Danang, killing three. Citizens of Bac Lieu charge the province chief with intimidation to get them to vote for pro-government candidates in the August 29 election.

August 2: In a 23-page report published by a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, the White House acknowledges for the first time that the CIA is maintaining a 30,000-man “irregular” force in Laos.

August 4: Dr. Jerome Jaffe, narcotics adviser to President Nixon, tells a Senate Labor and Public Welfare subcommittee that many troops in South Vietnam were using drugs before they entered the military. The House votes to extend the draft.

August 5: South Vietnam’s Supreme Court rejects Ky’s application to run for the presidency because he does not have enough validated signatures. Minh says the rejection of Ky’s candidacy shows Thieu is using “dishonest tricks” to assure his reelection. The Selective Service System draws the lottery numbers for the next draft. A U.S. armored personnel carrier hits a mine, killing five. A U.S. district court judge orders Daniel Ellsberg to face charges in Los Angeles of illegal possession of classified government documents.

August 6: The last combat unit of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, the first U.S. Army unit to enter the Vietnam War in May 1965, is pulled from the field in preparation to leave South Vietnam.

August 9: The U.S. command announces two American fighter-bombers attacked antiaircraft guns, which had fired on a U.S. reconnaissance jet six miles inside North Vietnam.

August 10: The U.S. Court of Appeals denies Ellsberg’s petition to require a Boston federal court judge to rule on whether illegal wiretaps had been used to obtain the indictments against him. Thieu proposes a bill to make narcotics dealing a wartime crime, punishable by death.

August 12: A U.S. Army spokesman says there is an investigation of an alleged war crime committed by Gen. Ellis Williamson, who allegedly ordered 25th Infantry Division artillery to blow up a VC hospital complex in Cambodia in February 1969.

August 13: Attorney General John Mitchell says he will not call for a federal grand jury to investigate the deaths of students at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard because “there is no credible evidence of a conspiracy and there is no likelihood of successful prosecutions of individual guardsmen.”

August 14: The U.S. command says seven Americans have been killed by enemy fire that struck their helicopter near the DMZ.

August 15: The U.S. command, citing “deep concern” over increased enemy activity along the DMZ, threatens retaliatory action against North Vietnam. Sources say B-52s have been bombing enemy supply lines in the southern half of the DMZ for the first time since 1968. A U.S. Phantom jet strikes antiaircraft guns in North Vietnam after they fire on a reconnaissance plane.

August 16: Ellsberg pleads not guilty to charges of illegal possession of classified documents. The government opens up its case against Capt. Ernest Medina, charging that although he did not order the killings, he “calculatingly chose not to intervene” while his men murdered unarmed civilians at My Lai. Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird directs the military to review the dishonorable discharges of service members who received them solely because of drug use or possession. Secretary of the Army Robert Froehlke says 43,000 men will be discharged as much as four months early to comply with the 50,000-man troop reduction called for in the pending Selective Service bill. In Saigon, a Ky supporter immolates himself to protest the vice president’s disqualification from the presidential race.




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