|Vietnam Veterans of America|
September 27: Sen. Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) introduces an amendment calling for full troop withdrawal from Southeast Asia within six months if all American POWs are released. The censored Pentagon study is made available to the public. Lt. Gen. William Peers, who headed the Army board of inquiry that looked into My Lai, says Col. Oran Henderson came “under suspicion” after his first appearances before the board.
September 28: Peers says Henderson testified before the Army board that he had been aware on the day of the attack that a number of men, women, and children had been killed, quoting the colonel’s testimony that a pilot complained his men “had gone wild” and were shooting civilians. The U.S. and Thailand sign an agreement to help stem the flow of narcotics in Southeast Asia. Rep. Paul McCloskey (R-Calif.) accuses the CIA of recruiting Americans to be mercenaries in Laos. Nixon signs the draft bill. At the second annual National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia convention, Nixon, in a surprise appearance, tells the audience it has his “personal commitment” that the U.S. will “eventually succeed” in winning the release of the POWs.
September 29: Thieu tells the national police they may “shoot down anyone who attempts to burn vehicles in the street.” A new allied counteroffensive is reported to have begun along the Cambodian border in an effort to prevent the NVA from interfering in the October 3 election.
September 30: The Senate votes in favor of Mansfield’s amendment. Six antiwar sailors from the Constellation, preparing to return to Vietnam, are given refuge in a Catholic church in San Diego.
October 1: South Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky urges voters to boycott the October 3 elections. Anthony Russo agrees to testify in front of the grand jury looking into the leaking of The Pentagon Papers on the condition he will be allowed to receive a copy of his transcript. He is set free after spending 47 days in jail for initially refusing to be a witness.
October 3: In the early morning, three enemy rockets hit Saigon, killing three civilians. Three other South Vietnamese cities—Can Tho, Bien Hoa, and Tay Ninh—are hit; six people are killed. South Vietnamese civilians turn out for Election Day. Soviet president Nikolai Podgorny arrives in Hanoi on an official visit.
October 4: Returns show Thieu captured 91.5 percent of the vote. Thieu calls his victory “democracy in action.” American officials, Buddhist opposition leaders, and independent observers challenge the high voter turnout in Hue and Danang.
October 5: Sens. Stuart Symington (D-Mo.) and Clifford Case (R-N.J.) offer amendments to keep the U.S. from becoming more deeply involved in Laos and Cambodia. Podgorny promises North Vietnam that the Soviet Union will continue “assistance on all levels—military, political, and diplomatic.” The Senate votes to put a $350 million cap on aid to Laos. Capt. Ernest Medina, acquitted of criminal charges in connection with the civilian killings at My Lai in March 1968, resigns his commission.
October 6: The Senate passes a $21 million military procurement bill, which includes an amendment calling for the withdrawal of all troops in Southeast Asia within six months, subject to the release of all POWs. Arthur Goldberg, former Supreme Court justice and chief U.S. delegate to the UN, tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the “future salvation and even survival” of the U.S. depends on placing limitations on the president’s war-making powers. Thieu opponents file suit with South Vietnam’s Supreme Court to have the justices declare the election unconstitutional and to have the vote nullified. In Cambodia, official sources say five bodies, believed to be those of three NBC journalists and two CBS correspondents who disappeared May 31, 1970, were found 30 miles south of Phnom Penh. At the court-martial of Col. Oran Henderson, accused of dereliction of duty and other charges in connection with the civilian killings at My Lai, the judge rules a key witness for the prosecution will not be permitted to identify the defendant in court.
October 7: Cambodian foreign minister Koun Wick asks the UN General Assembly to declare the ancient temple ruins of Angkor a “demilitarized, neutralized zone” under international control to save the site from destruction (the area has been under enemy control since June 1970).
October 11: War Resisters International, a London-based organization, announces the start of a campaign to encourage world governments to give asylum to U.S. service members who desert because of their opposition to the Vietnam War.
October 12: Sources say the Joint Chiefs of Staff have submitted a costly plan to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird designed to protect South Vietnam’s western border as American troops pull out from the region.
In Danang, an angry mob of disabled South Vietnamese war veterans captures and holds hostage 14 Americans in a truck convoy after one of the vehicles runs into a bus carrying some of the veterans; eight South Vietnamese are wounded, three seriously. The Americans are released eight hours later after the veterans accept a down payment of $720 from the U.S. Army, 170 cases of salad oil, and 150 cases of cereal from provincial officials. Dr. Jerome Jaffe, narcotics adviser to President Richard Nixon, tells a House subcommittee that drug dependency among troops in Vietnam “seems to have reached a plateau” at 5.1 percent.
October 13: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes to impose a $250 million ceiling on aid to Cambodia and to limit to 200 the number of American civilian and military personnel to be assigned there. Enemy demolition experts slip into the allied base at Di An, blowing up two U.S. helicopters and heavily damaging three others. Antiwar rallies are held in cities around the U.S., the start of a month-long series of demonstrations against the Vietnam War. The jury learns Henderson once offered, in a December 10, 1969, letter to Army chief of staff Gen. William Westmoreland, to take the blame for any cover up of the My Lai killings “in the interest of strengthening the American people’s confidence in its Army.”
October 14: Brig. Gen. Samuel Koster, demoted and censured by the Army in connection with My Lai, tells the Henderson jury that reports he received said only 20 civilians had been “inadvertently killed,” and that subordinates did not tell him of any mass slayings. The Army announces it will release 65,000 men from active duty by June 30 to comply with congressional order to cut manpower to 892,000.
October 15: California Gov. Ronald Reagan, on an Asian tour as Nixon’s representative, meets with Thieu in Saigon and delivers a letter from the president extending his congratulations at Thieu’s re-election. Medina receives an honorable discharge. The U.S. Army announces that charges of dereliction of duty against Maj. Gen. John Barnes brought by another officer have been dropped. October 16: B-52s are reported to have raided enemy positions along the Cambodian/South Vietnamese border in an effort to end a three-week enemy offensive.
October 18: The U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, Laos, reports a U.S. Air Force observation plane was shot down over northern Laos and the pilot was killed. The State Department says the White House is committed to keeping a “low profile” in Cambodia and is not seeking to significantly increase involvement there. Hosea Williams, national program director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, upon returning from a visit to China and South Vietnam, says the reason problems such as drugs, discrimination, and AWOL GIs “are so pressing” is “that there is such great tension between the South Vietnamese people and the American soldier. The South Vietnamese are taking their anger out now on the American uniform.” Russo refuses to take the stand after the Justice Department objects to providing a transcript of his testimony.
October 19: The House blocks a direct vote on the Vietnam War issue, sidetracking a Senate amendment on troop withdrawal. The U.S. command acknowledges that an Air Force plane dropping bombs on an assigned target struck South Vietnamese paratroopers, killing 18. Army prosecutor Maj. Carroll Tichenor decides not to use a controversial tape recording of the late Lt. Col. Frank Barker, commander of the infantry task force that swept through My Lai, in the government’s case against Henderson. Lt. Gen. Walter Kerwin, Jr., the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel, tells a House subcommittee that the Army will need 212,000 new men for Fiscal Year 1972, an average of 18,000 enlistments per month. South Vietnam’s Office of Information issues a new press directive not to print any material “detrimental to national security and public order.”
October 20: In a national address, Cambodian Premier Lon Nol declares a state of emergency. He appoints a new government to rule by “ordinance,” rather than constitutional law to “curtail anarchic freedom in order to achieve victory.” The State Department says Lon Nol was compelled to dissolve the assembly because a one-year extension provided by the Cambodian Constitution had expired October 18. The prosecution rests its case against Henderson.
October 22: South Vietnam’s Supreme Court, in an eight-to-one decision, officially approves Thieu’s election victory. A formal statement issued by Cambodian Information Minister Long Boret states the Lon Nol government does not intend to rule by dictatorship and is not abandoning democracy. The State Department says Lon Nol’s actions will not have an effect on continued U.S. aid to Cambodia. The last American combat troops along the Cambodian border are pulled out of Firebase Pace and sent back to the Saigon area. The U.S. Army drops charges of willful disobedience against 29 soldiers in an alleged fight July 19 between black and white GIs in Darmstadt, Germany.
October 23: In the sixth day of violent protests by antigovernment students in Saigon, a U.S. Army truck and bus are firebombed. The students try to burn down six food markets after vendors refuse to participate in a general strike.
October 24: Over the weekend, Typhoon Hester kills 36 people, including three American soldiers, in South Vietnam’s five northernmost provinces. Tens of thousands are left homeless; hundreds of fishing boats are destroyed; up to 90 percent of the crops in some areas are demolished; and severe damage is done to several U.S. bases. Hundreds of U.S. troops scheduled to return home have their departures delayed because the typhoon crushed the troop-processing center.
October 25: An official American survey says South Vietnamese refugees have a neutral view of the VC and consider living conditions in communist-controlled areas to be reasonably good. The U.S. command announces troop strength is down to 202,000, the lowest it has been since January 1966. VC radio announces four South Vietnamese prisoners were released ten days earlier in Phuyen Province; however, the South Vietnamese government has not reported the return of any South Vietnamese POWs in that area. The Saigon government reports 103 people are missing or dead from Typhoon Hester. Thieu orders $750,000 in disaster relief.
October 26: Culminating an afternoon of demonstrations by the Mayday Tribe, more than 300 antiwar protesters are arrested a block from the White House after sitting down in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue during rush hour.
October 27: The Pentagon announces plans to double the number of Blacks in the National Guard. Cambodian acting premier Sisowath Sirik Matak says his government’s suspension of the National Assembly is “very temporary” and pledges Lon Nol will act “very speedily” to restore democratic rule.
October 28: The South Vietnamese government announces it will free about 3,000 VC prisoners in the largest such release of the war. The Defense Ministry says the release is intended to mark Thieu’s second-term inauguration. In Paris, the PRG and North Vietnam call Saigon’s gesture to free VC prisoners a “farce.” Porter calls it a “major humanitarian action.”
October 29:The Senate, with a three-vote margin, rejects an amendment that would have denied the President use of funds for Southeast Asia except to withdraw all troops.
October 31: Thieu and Vice President Tran Van Huong are sworn in amid heavy security. The South Vietnamese government releases 2,938 VC POWs—618 will return to their homes; 2,320 will join the Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) program, which recognizes prisoners’ reformed ways and gives them government work after a nine-week course in indoctrination. The U.S. command announces the deactivation of the Americal Division, one of the two remaining American combat divisions in South Vietnam.
November 1: U.S. troop strength is under 200,000 for the first time in six years.
November 2: Sources contend Australia has agreed to provide about 125 instructors and the facilities near Saigon to train Cambodian troops. Lt. Col. Anthony Herbert, who accused two officers of covering up atrocities committed by Americans in South Vietnam, is denied leave to appear on the Dick Cavett Show. President Nixon approves an Army request to promote Herbert to full colonel.
November 3: The North Vietnamese Foreign Ministry accuses the U.S. of bombing Lai Chau Province. The Pentagon denies the allegation. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird arrives in Saigon for a three-day visit with military and civilian leaders to discuss U.S. withdrawal plans. Herbert is told by the Army not to speak to the news media without permission from his commanding officers.
November 4: In Paris, chief U.S. negotiator William Porter demands an explanation on behalf of families of American POWs about why Hanoi has cut the number of letters prisoners are allowed to send home. No reply is received.
November 5: In Saigon, a Foreign Ministry spokesman announces that the first pullout of South Korean troops will begin in December. Sources say Laird told South Vietnam that the U.S. is speeding up troop withdrawals to get thousands home for the holidays. The State Department contends that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s new foreign aid proposal to cut $1 billion from Nixon’s $3.5 billion request will have a crippling impact on South Vietnam’s economy and will seriously handicap Cambodia’s ability to defend itself against NVA forces.
November 7: Herbert announces he will retire from the Army in February because of “intolerable” pressure on his family.
November 8: On his return to Washington, Laird tells the news media that Vietnamization is “on schedule or ahead of schedule in all respects.” A judge dismisses one of two counts of lying under oath against Col. Oran Henderson, accused of dereliction of duty and other charges in connection with the alleged murder of villagers at My Lai.
November 9: U.S. B-52s strike enemy positions near Quang Tri for the first time in over a year. In Henderson’s court-martial James May, a former senior advisor in Quang Ngai Province, testifies that his sources in the field, including the Red Cross, who “would raise the point with me when they thought something improper was going on,” never told him of American soldiers killing South Vietnamese civilians, which he would have “expected” to hear from them if a massacre had occurred at My Lai.
November 10: Nguyen Van Bong, chair of the pro-government Progressive Nationalist Movement and reportedly under consideration to be South Vietnam’s premier, is assassinated in Saigon. A U.S. helicopter, flying to help South Vietnamese troops, crashes 17 miles east of Saigon. Five Americans and one South Vietnamese are killed. The U.S. command reports a U.S. Air Force F-105 destroyed an enemy surface-to-air missile site in Laos.
November 11: North Vietnam announces it will allow U.S. POWs to receive Christmas cards and packages from their families. For the second day, B-52s drop bombs on enemy positions around the besieged Cambodian town of Rumlong, 50 miles northeast of Phnom Penh. In a ceremony at its base in Chu Lai, the 23,000-man Americal Division ends its combat role in South Vietnam. Nguyen Lau, a former newspaper publisher and one of South Vietnam’s most widely known political prisoners, is released from prison after more than two years. David Storms, former executive officer of the infantry company that swept through My Lai, tells the Henderson jury that despite his close relationships with several of the men in the unit, he never heard anything about the killing of unarmed civilians.
November 12: Nixon announces the U.S. will withdraw 45,000 more troops from South Vietnam by February 1. The U.S. command discloses that helicopter gunships supporting ARVN troops accidentally killed eight South Vietnamese and wounded 21 when they “placed ordnance on targets as directed” by South Vietnamese ground commanders.
November 13: The Saigon government says Nixon’s decision to withdraw more troops is based on the “improved general security situation now prevailing in Vietnam.” Military sources report the enemy is massing supplies in North Vietnam for a major thrust down the Ho Chi Minh Trail into Cambodia and Laos. The Cambodian high command discloses government troops have abandoned Rumlong after a 19-day siege.
November 14: In a speech to the nation, Thieu outlines an economic-reform program, which includes devaluation of the piaster and modernization of the financial and commercial systems to decrease dependence on U.S. economic aid.
November 15: At Henderson’s court-martial, former Cpt. Ernest Medina, the commander of U.S. troops at My Lai in March 1968 who was acquitted of criminal charges in connection with the alleged killings, testifies he lied to Henderson about the number of villagers killed and he had “not been completely candid” in previous statements to Army prosecutors. The U.S. command reports two helicopters collided 70 miles northwest of Saigon, killing four crewmen on one and injuring four aboard the other.
November 16: The devaluation of the piaster causes South Vietnamese food prices to increase 50 percent.
November 17: Led by Premier Thonam Kittikachorn, leaders seize power from the Thai Parliament—they dissolve the body, abolish the constitution, disband the cabinet, and establish martial law—to deal with “the dangers that have been threatening Thailand.” In the nationwide broadcast announcing the coup, they pledge to continue the government’s anti-communist, pro-American foreign policy. The White House expresses confidence that the new Thai government will not jeopardize U.S. interests in Thailand. Nixon signs the military authorization bill but says he will disregard an amendment in it which sets policy for the prompt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Southeast Asia subject only to the release of all American POWs. The White House announces that a petition signed by 10,380 Kent State University students calling for a federal grand jury investigation into the May 4, 1970, killings of four students by Ohio National Guardsmen has been sent to Attorney General John Mitchell for consideration. On the second day of ad hoc hearings by the Congressional Black Caucus into racism in the military, Congress members, Army officers, and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense characterize military race relations as “explosive.”
November 18: Sources report that a second attempt to assassinate Emory Swank, the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, has been thwarted by police. Two intelligence officials who served in the Americal Division tell the Henderson jury that their informers and South Vietnamese agents never said anything about civilians killed at My Lai by U.S. troops. because of ongoing racism in the armed forces..
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