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May/June 2022 -   -  

May 1: The New York Times receives a Pulitzer Prize for publishing the Pentagon Papers. South Vietnamese troops abandon Quang Tri City for Hue, leaving the NVA in control of Quang Tri Province. Soviet president Nikolai Podgorny assails the U.S.’s Vietnam War policy and vows continued support for communists in Southeast Asia. Hanoi Radio maintains the DMZ is not an international border so the movement of troops and military equipment across it does not constitute an invasion.

May 2: About 11,000 South Vietnamese troops flee Quang Tri Province. At the annual American Psychiatric Association meeting, several psychologists point out that a very large number of Vietnam veterans are showing delayed psychiatric problems after returning to civilian life. The Red Cross says its South Vietnamese counterpart is helping more than 350,000 refugees.

Crewmen aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Constellation, operating with the U.S. Seventh Fleet off the coast of South Vietnam, prepare a Sidewinder missile prior to air operations, May 3, 1972. Photo: Bettmann Archive

May 3: Hue is reported on the verge of anarchy. The White House denies rumors that National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger met secretly in Paris with North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho. South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu orders a shakeup of the Army. South Vietnamese Marines abandon Fire Base Nancy, 25 miles northwest of Hue. Quakers hold an antiwar vigil outside the White House.

May 4: Thousands pour into Danang from Hue. VC radio announces a “provisional revolutionary administration” has been set up in Quang Tri City. The White House orders 50 more aircraft to Thailand and deploys six aircraft carriers to patrol Vietnamese waters. In Paris, the U.S. and South Vietnamese delegates break off peace talks. Friends of Gen. Duong Van Minh, Thieu’s well-respected rival, say he is “more ready than ever” to take control of the country during this crisis. Thieu visits Hue to meet with new region com mander Lt. Gen. Ngo Quang Truong about the military situation. The Cambodian government says 96 percent voted favorably in a referendum on a new constitution. Arriving in London, Secretary of State William Rogers vows the U.S. will not let North Vietnam conquer the South.

May 5: One American advisor and eighty South Vietnamese paratroopers are reported killed when their base, six miles north of Pleiku, is overrun. The Nixon administration admits Kissinger did meet with Le Duc Tho on May 2. Seventeen House Republicans who support Nixon’s Vietnam policies call on the president to propose a ceasefire and work for a political settlement through the UN.

May 6: The South Vietnamese government announces it will evacuate all 30,000 civilians from Kontum City. Five American troops believed to have been killed when their helicopter crashed on April 24 while leaving Tan Canh are found alive. Reports say the U.S. base at Takhli, Thailand, closed in October 1970, will reopen.

May 7: A Senate Foreign Relations Committee report discloses that the U.S. is pledging up to $100 million per year to support a 10,000-man Thai irregular force in Laos. Nixon calls Rogers home from his European tour for a National Security Council meeting on the situation in Vietnam. The National League of Families adopts a resolution voicing its “extreme distress” at Nixon’s failure to obtain American POWs’ release from North Vietnam.

May 8: In a televised address, Nixon announces the U.S. is mining all of North Vietnam’s harbors to halt the flow of arms. He says the mining, interdiction on the water, and raids on rail lines will end when North Vietnam releases all POWs and agrees to an internationally supervised cease-fire.

May 9: Soviet news agency TASS decries the U.S. mining as a violation of international law. Beijing charges the U.S. with damaging two Chinese freighters off Hon Ngu Island. In Paris, North Vietnam declares that “the Vietnamese people will never accept Mr. Nixon’s ultimatum.” United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim says the “time has now come” to use the UN to end the Vietnam War. Senate Democrats adopt a resolution “disapproving the escalation of the war in Vietnam.” Thieu asks for emergency powers. Most countries in Europe, with the exception of Great Britain, which calls Nixon’s actions “inevitable,” voice regret at the White House decision to mine North Vietnam’s ports. Antiwar demonstrations take place throughout the United States. Two protesters are shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

May 10: Thieu institutes martial law in South Vietnam. Mrs. Nguyen Thi Binh, the Provisional Revolutionary Government chief negotiator in Paris, rejects Nixon’s new two-point proposal, calling his TV address a “speech of war.”

Antiwar demonstrators outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, May 10, 1972. Photo: Bernard Gotfryd/Getty Images

May 11: At a U.S. base in Frankfurt, Germany, a terrorist group (the Red Army Action) bomb kills one American and wounds thirteen others. The NVA begins a new drive against the besieged town of An Loc. The U.S. begins to transfer many of the 2,800 troops at Pleiku to Nha Trang because of the area’s deteriorating situation. North Vietnam releases a statement signed by eight American POWs denouncing the renewed bombing raids. In Milwaukee three police officers are shot as antiwar protests heat up across the nation.

May 12: Le Duc Tho rejects Nixon’s new peace initiative but affirms his desire to stay in Paris and work on negotiations. Canadian David Jackson of the International Control Commission says much of Hanoi has been evacuated. News reports claim U.S. planes have cut one of the two rail lines between North Vietnam and China.

May 13: Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird announces that no more than 50,000 men will be called up for the 1972 draft. In a surprise attack, South Vietnamese Marines go on the offensive southeast of Quang Tri City. A Harris poll indicates that 59 percent of the American public supports Nixon’s decision to mine North Vietnam’s ports.

May 14: NVA troops begin an assault on Kontum. South Vietnamese troops begin a counterattack southwest of Hue against NVA forces believed to be preparing for an assault on the former imperial city. The Marines pull back from Quang Tri City, claiming to have killed 300 enemy cadres. The National Assembly’s lower house grants Thieu emergency decree powers.

May 15: South Vietnamese forces retake Fire Base Bastogne. The Pentagon discloses that a seventh aircraft carrier and at least six destroyers are being sent to Vietnamese waters, and that rivers and canals in the North are being mined. Rogers tells the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Foreign Opera tions Subcommittee that if the Johnson administration mined North Vietnam’s harbors early in the war, the war might have ended long ago. The U.S. turns over Cam Ranh Bay air base to the South Vietnamese Air Force.

May 16: The U.S. command reports the North’s main fuel pipeline to the South has been cut.

May 17: Vice President Spiro Agnew arrives in Saigon for a three-hour visit with Thieu and U.S. military commanders. A Government Accounting Office report claims many armed forces units in the U.S. “are not combat ready.” Hanoi asserts that mines dropped in the harbors are being cleared to allow access by foreign ships. Administration officials deny any ships have entered or left Haiphong. ARVN troops move within two miles of An Loc. Seven Americans are killed when an enemy rocket hits a C-130 cargo plane being unloaded at Kontum City. Thieu closes all colleges and universities.

May 19: In protest of Nixon’s actions in Vietnam, “Weatherman Underground No. 12” sets off a bomb in a Pentagon restroom. The blast causes minimal damage.

May 22: NVA forces attack South Vietnamese Marine positions 18 miles northwest of Hue.

May 23: The U.S. command says that the bombing of the North has been unusually effective. American intelligence reports a fresh NVA division has invaded the lower Mekong Delta.

May 24: At the U.S. Army’s European headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany, two car bombs planted by the Baader-Meinhof group go off, killing three American soldiers. North Vietnamese Politburo member Truong Chinh proclaims the war is “reaching the crucial stage.” The Pentagon says more B-52s are being sent to Southeast Asia.

May 29: The U.S. Air Force reports that a second rail link to China has been cut and all bridges from Quang Tri Province to the North’s panhandle have been destroyed.

May 30: The Pentagon reports U.S. bombing strikes on the North have virtually cut off the supply flow from China.

May 31: Thieu visits troops in Hue to boost morale.

June 1: The U.S. command reports there have been large-scale bombing raids in the South’s northernmost province to stem the NVA threat to Hue and Kontum.

June 2: The South Vietnamese Senate rejects Thieu’s call for rule by decree. A U.S. spokesman announces an airman was rescued northwest of Hanoi after spending 23 days there.

June 3: The New York Times discloses that the Peers report on My Lai claims two top Americal Division generals committed forty-three misconduct or omission offenses. Saigon’s minister of the economy voices his fear that mass rioting and political upheaval may ensue if swift solutions are not found for urban unemployment and one of the country’s worst recessions.

June 4: NVA troops attack Phou My, a district capital in Binh Dinh Province. The Peers report contends a second massacre of 90 civilians occurred less than two miles from My Lai on the same morning.

June 5: Cambodia holds its first presidential election; Lon Nol is the projected winner. Before the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, Laird testifies that expanded military activity in Vietnam could add an additional $35 billion to the defense budget.

June 6: In Beijing, exiled Cambodian leader Prince Norodom Sihanouk expresses his opposition to any Geneva-style conference for Southeast Asia because it would create conditions for a third war in the region.

June 7: The South Vietnamese com mand reports all but a handful of enemy soldiers have been driven from Kontum City. The U.S. is reported to have increased troop strength in Thailand from 32,000 to 40,000. U.S. planes are rumored to have struck a bridge and railyard 20 miles from the Chinese border.

June 8: Hanoi’s Paris delegation accuses the U.S. of deliberately bombing dikes in North Vietnam. Pentagon aides deny the charge.

June 9: Senior American advisor John Paul Vann and two U.S. soldiers are killed when their helicopter crashes between Pleiku and Kontum. The South Vietnamese command reports an Army unit has been suc cessful in reaching An Loc. Trang Bang returns to South Vietnamese control.

June 10: Gen. John Lavelle, relieved as U.S. Air Force commander in Southeast Asia in March, is reported to have ordered unauthorized bombing raids in the North. He described them as officially sanctioned “protective-reactive” strikes. The South Vietnamese National Assembly’s lower house refuses to override the Senate’s veto of emergency rule-by-decree powers for Thieu but passes a bill to allow him decree authority for economic and defense reasons only. The VC claim that Vann’s helicopter was hit by ground fire.

June 11: A U.S. spokesman reports American planes have destroyed an important hydroelectric plant in the Hanoi-Hai phong area. Rep. Otis Pike (D-N.Y.) accuses the Air Force of “trying to sweep a scandal under the rug” by withholding information from Congress about Lavelle’s dismissal.

June 12: In testimony before a House Armed Services subcommittee, Lavelle says he was dismissed after ordering “in the neighborhood” of 20 unauthorized strikes against the North; he claims his superiors were informed of his actions. The Chinese foreign minister says the U.S. bombing of the North is viewed as “grave provocations against the Chinese people.” Thousands flee An Loc.

June 13: The House Foreign Affairs Com mittee endorses a resolution supporting Nixon’s Vietnam War policies. The U.S. assures China its bombing campaign is not intended as a threat to its security. Sen. Ha rold Hughes (D-Iowa) discloses a copy of the letter that led to Lavelle’s dismissal claim ing Lavelle ordered falsifying classified documents. The PRG and North Vietnamese delegations ask the U.S. and South Vietnam to resume peace talks.

June 14: In a telephone interview with The New York Times, former airman Michael Lewis says that in 1970 his unit planned bombing strikes against the North which were later reported as “protective-reactive.” The U.S. command announces the main rail link between Hanoi and Haiphong has been cut. The U.S. and South Vietnam refuse to resume the peace conference.

June 15: Ellsworth Bunker, the U.S. am bassador to Saigon, in a telegram to the White House says the civilian death toll from this invasion is greater than it was during the 1968 Tet Offensive. The U.S. Air Force reports its planes have stopped bombing the Hanoi area for four days while Soviet pres ident Podgorny is visiting. Three former airmen say that at least 20-25 monthly raids described as “protective-reactive” were flown in 1970 and 1971.

June 16: Vann is buried at Arlington National Cemetery and is awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award

June 17: The U.S. command announces its last major unit in Vietnam, the Third Brigade of the First Cavalry Division at Bien Hoa, has begun deactivating. Ten convicts at Raiford Prison in Florida petition Nixon to be exchanged for ten POWs held by Hanoi as “a chance to right our wrong.”

June 19: Hanoi and Moscow issue a joint demand that the U.S. end its mining and bombing strikes and resume “constructive” peace talks. The Air Force moves three tactical fighter-bomber squadrons from Danang to Thailand.

June 20: Gen. Creighton Abrams is chosen by Nixon to replace Gen. William Westmoreland as Army chief of staff. The Marine Corps commandant announces two squads of A-16 Intruders will be moving from Danang to a base in Thailand.

June 21: Reversing its policy, the U.S. Conference of Mayors votes to support Nixon’s actions in Vietnam.

June 22: South Vietnamese 21st Division soldiers at An Loc are relieved by troops from the 25th Division. Seven South Vietnamese students studying in the U.S. through AID grants refuse to return to their homeland for fear there will be reprisals from the government for their antiwar views.

June 25: The U.S. command reports bombs have destroyed Thai Nguyen, the North’s only modern steel plant.

June 26: An American official discloses the North is building supply transfer facilities within a 25-mile buffer zone that U.S. planes are not bombing because of its proximity to China.

June 27: The South Vietnamese Senate passes a bill to give Thieu economic and defense decree powers.

June 28: About 10,000 South Vietnamese troops begin a drive to retake Quang Tri Province. The White House announces 10,000 additional U.S. troops will be pulled out by September 1, although a sizable force will be kept elsewhere in Southeast Asia; no new draftees will be sent to Vietnam unless they volunteer. A Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report accuses the Defense Department of putting $155 million into the South Vietnamese economy by using a separate exchange system for private and official transactions. Christophe Oeberg, the Swedish ambassador to Hanoi, charges the U.S. with waging a “policy of annihilation” through its bombing campaign. Members of the Senate’s opposition group charge deception in the vote to award Thieu emergency authority by pushing through the bill after the opposition leaders left. Sen. John Stennis (D-Miss.) states his Armed Forces Committee will hold full hearings into the Lavelle affair.

June 29: In a televised press conference, Nixon says the U.S. and North Vietnam will resume peace negotiations on July 13.




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