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August 17: Beacon Press, a publishing branch of the Unitarian Universalist Church, announces plans to print a 3,000-page, four-volume version of The Pentagon Papers. The U.S. command acknowledges B-52s have been bombing the southern half of the DMZ for the past several months. Nine witnesses place Medina at the scene of the massacre in My Lai. Sources say new disciplinary action has been ordered against nine officers and enlisted men previously cleared of charges in the My Lai incident. VC cadres sink the Green Bay, a U.S. cargo ship, in Qhi Nhon harbor.

August 18: Australia (6,000 men) and New Zealand (264 men) announce they will withdraw their combat forces from South Vietnam within the next few months. In West Germany, a U.S. helicopter taking troops to a field exercise explodes, killing all 37 aboard. John Small testifies that Medina was present when a wounded boy was killed.

August 19: The U.S. command discloses a 7th Fleet task force in the Gulf of Tonkin has been striking at enemy positions in the DMZ. Sources say the attack has been going on for the last six days.

August 20: 1st Lt. William Calley’s life sentence for the murder of civilians at My Lai is ordered reduced to 20 years by Lt. Gen. Albert Connor. Charging election-rigging, Duong Van Minh withdraws from the South Vietnamese presidential race, leaving Nguyen Van Thieu unopposed. Nguyen Cao Ky and his wife march in the public funeral procession for the man who killed himself in protest of Ky’s rejected petition.

August 21: The South Vietnamese Supreme Court reverses itself and agrees to allow Ky to be a candidate in the October election. Military sources report intense North Vietnamese antiaircraft fire along the DMZ has forced the U.S. to ground observation helicopters.

August 23: Ky withdraws from the presidential race despite appeals from U.S. Amb. Ellsworth Bunker. He urges Thieu to resign (and offers to resign himself) and allow Nguyen Van Huyen, president of the Senate, to form a transitional government and to organize new elections. Two Americans are killed after their armored cavalry unit is attacked 20 miles northwest of Saigon. In Paris, the National Liberation Front accuses the Nixon administration of carrying out “a new electoral farce to maintain the war-like Nguyen Van Thieu group in power.” The White House expresses regret at Ky’s withdrawal and says it is “studying the implications” of the election. In the government’s opening statement in Henderson’s court-martial, the prosecution charges the colonel followed “a pattern of deceit” trying to cover up the civilian murders at My Lai.

August 24: U.S. troops are put on alert, reportedly because of fear of VC attacks to disrupt the August election. A South Vietnamese war veteran in Danang immolates himself to defend freedom and democracy.

August 25: Explosions, believed to be enemy explosives, rip through and destroy half of an ammunitions dump at the American base at Cam Ranh Bay. Five U.S. troops are wounded. The State Department announces Thailand and the U.S. are setting up a joint planning group to deal with the narcotics problem.

August 26: The jury in Henderson’s court-martial hears tapes of radio transmissions made during the assault over the command radio network from helicopters that took part in the sweep. The U.S. puts combat deaths from last week at ten, the low-est since August 1965.

August 27: In two days, six Americans are killed in two ground attacks near Danang. One American is killed after his convoy is ambushed 15 miles north of Xuan Loc. A South Vietnamese legislative committee, made up of 22 antigovernment senators and representatives, accuses the Thieu administration of rigging the election; an interim report says there is evidence of corruption in the upcoming elections. A witness testifies that Medina felt he had “lost control of his troops.”

August 28: Two scientists charge that earth-moving plows, which have upended South Vietnam’s vegetation on 1.5 percent of its land, and concussion bombs are causing widespread environmental damage

August 29: Thieu says the October 3 election “will proceed as scheduled.” He rejects Ky’s proposal that they both resign. South Vietnam votes for its lower-house deputies.

August 30: The Soviet Union announces that President Nikolai Podgorny will head a delegation to North Vietnam in October. An Air Training Command team that visited 15 Air Force training bases over six months issues an official report, saying, “There is discrimination and racism in the command and it is ugly.” The South Vietnamese military reports 96 enemy attacks occurred from August 28-30. At Henderson’s trial, seven of those in the unit involved in My Lai say the colonel only asked them a few questions about the killings two days after the incident happened, and no one approached them again over one year later.

August 31: Three Americans are killed in two ambushes south of Danang. Witnesses at Henderson’s court-martial read part of the log of Task Force Barker, which says that 84 VC were killed during the first hour of attack. There is no report of the unit coming under hostile fire. The U.S. Navy turns over command of Sangley Point Naval Station, in U.S. possession for 73 years, to the Philippines. The Pentagon revises the definition of conscientious-objector status to include “deeply held moral or ethical beliefs” as grounds for discharge in conformation with a 1970 Supreme Court ruling.

September 1: The South Vietnamese government announces Ky will be removed from the October 3 ballot. Switzerland recognizes North Vietnam, hoping to play a role in ending the war. The U.S. announces the start of a 42,000-man pullout from South Vietnam.

September 2: A U.S. intelligence report submitted to top administration officials says South Vietnamese military leaders are “less than unanimous” in their support of Thieu. Hanoi radio reports that the military and civilians are fighting the worst floods North Vietnam has had since World War II. The U.S. Navy says it has turned over the Qui Nhon support base to South Vietnam. Thieu declares October’s election will be a test of the public’s confidence in his government.

Former South Vietnamese Prime Minister Gen. Nguyen Cao Ky threatened to stage a military coup and “destroy” Thieu if he went ahead with elections, September 3, 1971. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

September 3: Secretary of State William Rogers says the U.S. has accepted Thieu’s declaration to run unopposed as preferable to a total suspension of the electoral process. Ky threatens to stage a military coup and “destroy” Thieu if he goes ahead with the election, but refuses to say so publicly. A close Minh associate says one of the inducements offered by Bunker was an unspecified amount of money. The U.S. Embassy denies the ambassador offered Minh or Ky money to remain a presidential candidate.

September 4: The U.S. command reports that a fighter-bomber escorting B-52s in Laos had crossed into North Vietnam and attacked an antiaircraft position tracking the planes. Ky’s office denies the vice president threatened to overthrow Thieu. The Pentagon releases figures showing that about one-third of the troops in Vietnam who were initially identified as heroin users had not been taking the drug. Cambodian officials say they will meet with their South Vietnamese counterparts to discuss the pullout of the 10,000 South Vietnamese troops from their country.

September 5: Ky acknowledges he was the source of new reports that he threatened Thieu with a coup, but says it was “informal talk” with foreign newsmen.

September 6: The South Vietnamese government offers food and financial aid to North Vietnamese victims of the heavy floods and $50,000 to the International Red Cross to purchase “items of necessary relief for the North” as a gesture of “fraternal” sympathy.

September 7: In Phnom Penh, a terrorist attack on U.S. ambassador Emory Swank fails.

September 8: Saigon announces a new 10,000-man operation, Lam Son 810, begun September 6 against enemy infiltration routes along the DMZ and near the Laotian border. The North calls South Vietnam’s offer of flood aid “shameless dupery” designed to distract the South Vietnamese people from their government’s “inhuman war crimes.” A witness at Henderson’s court-martial says one of his fellow helicopter pilots made an “angry and emotional report” to his superior officer about the My Lai killings.

September 9: News reports say Ky has suggested he would take over the presidency and organize new elections, of which he would not take part. American helicopters take 1,000 South Vietnamese troops to within two miles of the Laotian border. South Korean defense minister Yu Jae Hung announces his country and South Vietnam have agreed to start withdrawing the 48,000-man Korean force in December. In Paris, new chief U.S. negotiator William Porter suggests cutting down on publicity to help further progress. His suggestion is rejected by North Vietnam and the NLF. Lt. Gen. Victor Krulak, Marine Corps commander in the Pacific during the build-up for the Vietnam War, says the publication of The Pentagon Papers has probably prolonged the war and caused more American casualties. The government rests its case against Medina.

September 10: Sen. Henry Jackson (D-Wash.), a supporter of past U.S. policies in Vietnam, warns Nixon he will oppose further aid to the South unless the administration makes sure a “competitive” and “genuine” election is arranged. Private fundraising efforts to help the North with food relief are begun in the South in hopes Hanoi will accept direct funds from the South Vietnamese people. Firebombings against U.S. and South Korean vehicles take place in Saigon.

September 11: Thieu opens his campaign with a promise to resign if he does not receive at least 50 percent of the vote. Sources say South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand are exempt from the 10 percent cut in U.S. economic aid ordered by Nixon last month.

September 13: A South Vietnamese legislative committee recommends that the Senate invalidate election results in ten provinces because of evidence of tampering by pro-government candidates. A bipartisan drive is begun in the U.S. Senate to send the draft bill back to the Senate-House Conference Committee. A witness testifies it was he, not Medina, who shot a Vietnamese boy at My Lai. Medina’s lawyer, F. Lee Bailey, drops his attempt to have Calley testify. The former radio operator for Henderson testifies he and the colonel saw 30 bodies in the hamlet as they rode in the command helicopter, but heard nothing over the radio to indicate the troops had run into enemy soldiers. Material presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee describes the CIA’s role since 1962 in secretly training and supporting 30,000 guerilla troops in Laos. Anti-American demonstrations break out in Hue, and the city is ruled off limits to U.S. vehicles after an American soldier kills a Vietnamese boy and wounds another who allegedly tried to steal the GI’s watch.

September 14: In Saigon, Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.), while attending a meeting of the Committee to Reform Prisons in South Vietnam, is trapped inside a Roman Catholic school building as a mob throws stones and firebombs and burns vehicles. Four U.S. helicopters are shot down on the edges of the U Minh Forest; one crashes in the Mekong Delta, another is shot down in northern South Vietnam. A witness says Calley told a fellow officer the killings of civilians at My Lai were committed without Medina’s knowledge and that Medina was “certainly surprised” when he found out. Sen. John Stennis (D-Miss.) warns of a “manpower crisis” if the draft bill is not passed.

September 15: Thieu tells 400 supporters he will step down if the U.S. Congress cuts aid to South Vietnam because of his unopposed candidacy. Saigon police chief Tran Si Tan says government militiamen attacked the antiwar meeting attended by McGovern, who was knowingly gathering with VC agents. McGovern demands an apology, calling the accusation “an outrageous and untruthful statement.” A bomb explodes in a Saigon nightclub, killing at least 15, including an American civilian, and wounding 57, of which seven are U.S. soldiers. Lt. Col. Frederic Watke, commander of the helicopter unit during the My Lai assault, testifies he told Henderson that his pilots reported that 125 noncombatants had been killed by American troops.

September 16: Lt. Gen. Hoang Xuan Lam, South Vietnamese commander of Military Region I, says 15,000 enemy troops (half of NVA forces in the region) have pulled back across the DMZ and the Laotian border because of an apparent supply shortage. Antigovernment An Quang Buddhists call on South Vietnam’s Buddhist majority and “all other freedom and democracy-loving people” to boycott the October election. Nixon says he would like to see a multi-candidate election but rejects a congressional recommendation of an aid cutoff if there is a one-man race because “we would have to cut off aid to two-thirds of the nations of the world” if the U.S. followed that criterion.

Because of recent attacks on Americans, the U.S. Embassy advises all personnel to take “protective security” measures. Medina tells the court he never saw the ditch where many of the civilians in My Lai were shot and he never knew of the magnitude of the killings until more than a year later when questioned by the inspector general. Watke says he signed a false statement for a medal for an enlisted man in his helicopter company, which said there was heavy fighting in My Lai between American and enemy soldiers. White House officials say reliable sources have reported that Democratic Senate leaders threatened colleagues at a meeting, saying that their 1972 campaign contributions would hinge on their draft-bill votes. Sen. Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) denies the allegations.

September 17: The Senate rejects a motion to send the draft bill back to a Senate-House committee. Press Secretary Ron Ziegler hails the vote as “a victory for the President.” Military judge Col. Kenneth Howard throws out a charge that Medina murdered a boy at My Lai and reduces the charge that the captain was responsible for at least 100 civilian deaths to involuntary manslaughter.

September 18: Four areas in Saigon erupt in antigovernment demonstrations. U.S. military sources say they will formally end the fighting on June 30 and will move to advisory and support roles.

September 19: The Cambodian Buddhist Church in South Vietnam urges its two million followers to boycott the presidential election.

September 20: Enemy rockets and mortars ignite millions of gallons of gasoline in Phnom Penh, destroying about 40 percent of Cambodia’s civilian fuel supply. In a nationwide broadcast, Thieu explains how the public can cast a vote of “no confidence” against him. A Defense Department spokesman says the Pentagon is preparing a declassified version of its study of the U.S.’s history in the Vietnam War, which will be sent to Congress “shortly.”

September 21: U.S. jets drop 200 planeloads of bombs on military targets up to 35 miles inside North Vietnam, “in response to recent increased evidence of North Vietnamese antiaircraft and missile activity.” The Senate approves a bill that calls for military conscription until June 1973. The Nixon administration releases a 7,800-page censored version of the Pentagon study to Congress. A bomb explodes at the Saigon house of Tran Quoc Buu, president of the one-million-member Confederation of Labor, in a suspected assassination attempt, but Buu is unhurt. The U.S. command discloses it is conducting unannounced uranalysis tests on all units in South Vietnam in an expansion of the “drug counteroffensive.” Howard tells government and defense counsels he will instruct the jury to consider convicting Medina of the misdemeanor of negligent homicide.

September 22: Medina is acquitted of all charges. The South Vietnamese Senate adopts a resolution, not binding on Thieu, which calls on the president to postpone the October election and organize a new one. In Paris, North Vietnam calls off the September 23 sessions in protest of U.S. bombing of the North.

September 23: Sources say U.S. officials have warned South Vietnamese generals that any attempt to overthrow Thieu will lead to an end of U.S. support. The U.S. command acknowledges American planes had targeted North Vietnamese military oil-storage points in the September 21 bombing raids, in addition to antiaircraft and missile sites. The 215,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam are confined to their barracks and places of work until three days after the October 3 election. McGovern accuses Thieu of hiring South Vietnamese civil-defense workers to throw firebombs and stones at him while in Saigon.

September 24: A U.S. Embassy spokesman concedes that Brig. Gen. Alexander Haig, Jr., deputy assistant for national security affairs, met with Thieu “to get an update on the military security situation,” and met with Ky as “a courtesy call.”

September 25: The U.S. Navy says a 5-to-1 protest vote cast by San Diego civilian and military personnel against the return of the Constellation, an aircraft carrier, to Vietnam is “utterly meaningless.” Sporadic violence breaks out in Saigon during anti-Thieu demonstrations. The U.S. Navy turns over 15 boats to the South Vietnamese Navy. The Chinese Foreign Ministry lambastes the U.S. for its bombing raids on North Vietnam.

September 26: At a softball game in Phnom Penh, terrorist bombs kill two U.S. Embassy employees. Forty-three supporters of Ky and Minh sign a resolution to form the People’s Coordinating Committee Against Dictatorship to decide what course of action to take regarding the upcoming election.




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