|Vietnam Veterans of America|
March 1: The Pentagon tells a U.S. Senate panel it is opposed to amnesty for draft resisters and deserters. Letters said to be from Rev. Philip Berrigan to Sister Elizabeth McAlister describing plans to destroy utility tunnels in Washington, D.C., are read into the record by the prosecution.
March 2: The U.S. command ends a Gray Alert issued February 14.
March 6: U.S. planes and MiGs duel over North Vietnam. One MiG is shot down. Assistant Secretary of State Marshall Green reports he assured high-level South Vietnamese officials on March 5 that U.S. policy will not be affected by Nixon’s trip to China. The mayor of Saigon, at the behest of President Nguyen Van Thieu, orders that within four months all bars in the downtown area and Cholon be closed and moved to the outskirts of the city.
March 7: The Pentagon announces the start of a department-wide alcohol-rehabilitation program for the estimated 150,000 alcoholics in the military.
March 8: The U.S. command says it will no longer disclose the number of planes taking part in raids. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State William Rogers rejects recommendations to reexamine other Asian alliances because of improved Chinese relations.
March 9: Chinese premier Zhou Enlai reportedly makes a secret visit to Hanoi to brief North Vietnamese leaders on his meetings with Nixon.
March 10: Premier Lon Nol nullifies the Cambodian constitution and takes over supreme power. Head of State Cheng Heng resigns and calls on the people to support Lon Nol. In an effort to stave off enemy attacks on approaches to Saigon, 5,000 South Vietnamese troops enter Cambodia.
March 11: Sources say U.S. B-52s destroyed a large enemy base inside Cambodia while supporting South Vietnamese troops.
March 12: Lon Nol dismisses his sixteen-man cabinet. The Pathet Lao claim to have shot down three U.S. planes over Laos and killed six captured CIA spies. China demands an immediate end to U.S. “interference” in Laos.
March 13: Lon Nol declares himself Cambodia’s president, premier, and commander-in-chief. William Boyd, Jr., the key witness in the case against the Harrisburg 6, testifies he agreed to be an FBI informer only after he heard about the plot to blow up government heating tunnels.
March 16: Rep. William Moorhead (D-Pa.), the House Government Information Subcommittee chair, discloses that Nixon invoked executive privilege in refusing to supply Congress with information on U.S. aid programs in Cambodia. The South Vietnamese command reports a large increase in enemy attacks in the South. At the Paris peace talks, the U.S. proposes POW camps be opened to international inspection; the proposal is rejected.
March 17: All eleven U.S. servicemen aboard are killed after their helicopter crashes into the Dong Nai River. Antigovernment politicians accuse Thieu of trying to silence the opposition press with a 125 percent increase in the price of newsprint and cuts in newspaper subsidies. Three American labor leaders arrive in Hanoi for a one-week visit “to do what [they] can to see an end to this immoral and senseless war.”
March 18: Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) makes public a secret General Accounting Office report that found that American funds earmarked for Laotian civilian victims of the war are still being diverted to CIA clandestine operations, despite assurances last May to the contrary. Lon Nol names nationalist leader Son Ngoc Thanh as Cambodia’s new premier.
March 19: More than 50 U.S. planes bomb enemy troops for 24 hours in Laos to allow the rescue of three airmen downed on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
March 21: Lon Nol announces the formation of a provisional cabinet.
March 22: Thieu dismisses five top aides to Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. Nguyen Van Vy, who had ties to a military retirement fund scandal. Officials disclose that 525 American advisors are in Thailand training Thai troops in counterinsurgency operations.
March 23: In Paris, U.S. negotiator William Porter tells North Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government that there will be an indefinite suspension of the talks until they show a willingness for “serious discussion.” North Vietnam and the PRG denounce the move. The prosecution rests its case in the Berrigan trial.
March 24: In Paris, PRG chief negotiator Nguyen Thi Binh accuses the U.S. of “sabotaging” the talks. She says the Viet Cong “will continue their just struggle” if the U.S. refuses to negotiate. The Berrigan defense team does not call any witnesses and rests its case.
March 27: The three labor leaders return to the U.S. claiming they have “worthwhile” news to relay to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. Two of the three counts against Dr. Eqbal Ahmad, one of the Berrigan defendants, are dismissed.
March 28: The U.S. turns Phan Rang Air Base over to South Vietnam. In its closing arguments in the Berrigan trial, the prosecution claims, “There’s no such thing as a nonviolent kidnapping.”
March 29: North Vietnam calls on the U.S. to resume peace talks. The Senate begins debate on a war-powers act. The Berrigan defense team claims the U.S. government has presented an “outrageously false” case.
March 30: The U.S. command reports that 14 American crewmen of an AC-130 gunship are missing after the craft is shot down in southern Laos. More than 4,000 enemy rockets, artillery rounds, and mortars hit nine South Vietnamese bases along the DMZ, killing thirty-five troops and three civilians.
March 31: A special study of Justice Department prosecutions shows the rate of convictions for draft violations is down to 34 percent for 1971, compared to 75 percent in 1967.
April 1: U.S. sources report that thousands of enemy troops have pushed past South Vietnamese defense lines. In Philadelphia, a federal district judge denies a government appeal to dismiss a suit challenging the constitutionality of the Vietnam War.
April 2: South Vietnamese troops abandon the northern half of Quang Tri Province to the North Vietnamese. American B-52s drop hundreds of bombs in the area despite a cloud cover. Berrigan and McAlister are convicted of smuggling contraband letters in and out a federal prison. The jury is deadlocked on the other charges and is told to continue deliberations.
April 3: The U.S. accuses North Vietnam of “invading” the South and says it will keep all retaliatory measures open. The State Department charges Hanoi with “flagrant violations” of the 1954 Geneva Accords and the 1968 understanding that ended the U.S. bombing of the North. Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wisc.) asks a U.S. District Court to order the Pentagon to release the Army’s confidential Peers Commission report about the My Lai massacre. The VC claim to have “wiped out” 5,500 ARVN troops and to have captured 1,000.
April 4: The U.S. orders the deployment of 10-20 more B-52s to Southeast Asia, a 25 percent increase.
April 5: Thieu tells the nation “the decisive battle” for their country is underway. South Vietnamese troops abandon a base on the north bank of the Cua Viet River. Enemy tanks are reportedly heading for Quang Tri City. The Berrigan case ends in a mistrial on all remaining charges of conspiracy to kidnap Kissinger and to blow up government property. NVA troops reportedly begin a new drive into Binh Long Province, cutting off Highway 13.
April 6: The labor leaders testify in a closed session before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Congressional sources say Politburo member Le Duc Tho sent word through them to Nixon that he would like to meet again with Kissinger in secret peace talks.
April 7: For the second day, U.S. aircraft bomb enemy positions above and below the DMZ. Hanoi denounces the resumption of U.S. bombings in North Vietnam. Loc Ninh falls to enemy troops. Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird says the bombing of the North will continue until Hanoi pulls its troops back across the DMZ and shows interest in serious negotiations. North Vietnam appeals to France to stop the U.S. bombing campaign. Ben Hai Bridge, the only span between North and South Vietnam, is destroyed.
April 8: Fierce fighting is reported in An Loc, where the ARVN Fifth Infantry Division is surrounded. Reports say North Vietnam has committed its last home division to move into the South. Former Secretary of State Dean Rusk says that since the U.S. has “made a decision to get out of Vietnam,” the country should “be braced for the consequences.”
April 9: Enemy troops attack U.S. positions at Cam Ranh Bay and Nui Ba Den, killing five Americans. South Vietnamese troops come under fire at Dong Ha and repel an attack on Quang Tri City.
April 11: The White House expresses optimism about the fighting in Vietnam, but sources disclose 30 more B-52s will leave for Indochina. North Vietnam asserts “every Vietnamese citizen has the right and the duty to fight the American aggressor anywhere on Vietnamese territory.” B-52s pound the area around Kontum to crush an NVA threat to the town. ARVN troops push back enemy cadres near Hue. The Pentagon announces that the U.S. command in Saigon will no longer make daily disclosures about air strikes over North Vietnam.
April 12: France backs North Vietnam’s appeal to resume peace negotiations. State Department officials meet with French diplomats in Washington to voice their displeasure at France’s call to resume the talks.
April 13: The Senate votes to put limits on the president’s war-making powers. Porter discloses that on April 1 Nixon offered to resume the peace talks, but the only reply he received was “a mushrooming invasion” by the North into South Vietnam. Half of An Loc is captured by the enemy. South Vietnamese troops fail to progress up Highway 13. Hanoi denies its troops have crossed the DMZ and disavows the existence of any 1968 “tacit agreement.” A special Philippine Senate committee acknowledges the U.S. secretly paid the island nation to send troops to Vietnam in 1966.
April 14: Sources say Nixon has ordered large-scale B-52 raids against North Vietnam for diplomatic, political, and military reasons.
April 15: More than 200 people are arrested near the White House as they protest increased U.S. bombing of North Vietnam. In Paris, North Vietnam says Nixon’s proposal to resume talks on April 13 was accepted on April 2, but four days later, the U.S. canceled.
April 16: The U.S. command says that American aircraft have bombed Haiphong in North Vietnam. Hanoi radio reports it has also been attacked. The USSR delivers a protest note accusing the U.S. of damaging four Soviet vessels and denounces the bombing of Haiphong. White House sources say the U.S. is prepared to bomb military targets throughout North Vietnam. A South Vietnamese spokesman says enemy troops have been driven from An Loc. Thousands protest in Stockholm, Dhaka, and Helsinki against the American bombings. Zhou Enlai condemns the bombing raids. Rogers defends the bombing decision and warns that the White House will continue to take “whatever military action is necessary” to stop the “massive invasion” of South Vietnam. The committee votes to cut off all funds for Southeast Asian conflicts after 1972 if North Vietnam releases all U.S. POWs.
April 17: The U.S. command confirms that raids have been carried out over Hanoi and that two planes have been lost. Hanoi radio claims fifteen planes have been shot down. North Vietnam offers the prospect of renewing secret negotiations if the U.S. agrees to restart the talks in Paris.
April 18: Laird tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the White House does not rule out “the possibility” of blockading or mining Haiphong channel if the North does not end its invasion of the South. The U.S. says two ships, the Worden and the Buchanan, have been damaged off the North Vietnamese coast. One crewman has been killed. Sources disclose Nixon has ordered a halt in the bombings of Haiphong and Hanoi, though not in the panhandle, until a reply is received from North Vietnam. Antiwar protests break out on campuses across the U.S.
April 19: The U.S. command says the Worden may have been struck by U.S. missiles. Enemy troops overrun the town of Hoaian, 70 miles from Pleiku. The Pentagon names Maj. Gen. Frederic Ellis Davison as the first African American to command a U.S. Army division.
April 20: North Vietnam and the PRG ask to resume the peace talks, even if the U.S. has not ceased the bombing raids. Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel declares a state of emergency on the University of Maryland College Park campus and calls in the National Guard because of student antiwar disturbances.
April 21: The State Department accuses North Vietnam of trying to rewrite history by denying the existence of the 1968 understanding that brought an end to the U.S. bombing campaign. A relief force is reported to have abandoned its attempt to reach An Loc. U.S. sources disclose the loss of seven American troops while rescuing two others near the DMZ. Secretary of the Army Robert Froehlke reprimands three officers for “substandard performance of duty” in connection with the deaths of 33 Americans after an enemy attack on Fire Base Mary Ann in March 1971.
April 23: A four-sided assault by enemy troops is launched against An Loc. The ARVN are reported driven out of Tan Canh, 25 miles north of Kontum. Military sources say war dead from the NVA invasion include 3,000 South Vietnamese and 13,000 enemy troops.
April 25: The U.S. and South Vietnam agree to resume the peace talks. Dak To is abandoned to advancing NVA cadres. Reports say six U.S. advisors were killed when their helicopter crashed while retreating from Tan Canh and Dak To. Two villages built in 1971 by My Lai survivors are reported to be burned down by VC.
April 26: In a nationwide address, Nixon reveals he will withdraw an additional 20,000 troops by July 1. He also pledges to keep up air and sea support to South Vietnamese troops. UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim says he tried to mediate an end to the war but was turned down by both sides.
April 27: Enemy troops push to within two-and-a-half miles of Quang Tri City. The Paris peace talks resume. Le Duc Tho predicts “still greater victories” for NVA troops. On the Southern Illinois University campus, pro- and antiwar Vietnamese students clash for an hour, then disperse peacefully.
April 28: Pentagon officials claim that the number of Soviet ships delivering war supplies to North Vietnam has doubled. NVA troops are reported to have overrun Dong Ha and Fire Base Bastogne, outside of Hue, and to have closed off Kontum.
April 30: The South Vietnamese general staff offers to pay in gold any VC or NVA defector bringing tanks and other war machines with them. In Paris, Le Duc Tho says he wants to find “a just and equitable peaceful solution to the Vietnamese problem.” Thousands flee Kontum and Pleiku in fear of advancing NVA troops. Rogers contends the bombing raids against Hanoi and Haiphong have weakened the NVA offensive in South Vietnam.
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