In 1965, the United States knew they had to respond to the North Vietnamese attack on their bases. So, in true U.S. fashion, the military used air raids.
Operation Flaming Dart
The Viet Cong launched their attack on February 7th, hitting the U.S. base at Camp Holloway in South Vietnam. The Central Highlands base lost eight soldiers, and 100 were injured. President Lyndon B. Johnson was not going to let the attack go without a response.
Instead, he authorized Operation Flaming Dart. The mission kicked off in 12 hours with 49 jets from the U.S. Navy targeting North Vietnamese ports and barracks at Dong Hoi.
Bombs and rockets were dropped on the guerilla training camp by the USS Coral Sea and USS Hancock. Then, the South Vietnamese formed a second wave hitting the communication stations with bombs.
Johnson thought that by striking back, the Vietnamese would not launch further attacks on the U.S. and South Vietnamese. However, he did not read the situation correctly.
A couple of days later, the Vietnamese struck the U.S. bases again. Johnson thought he could beat the Vietnamese with traditional military tactics.
However, the Vietnamese were not fighting by traditional rules, keeping the U.S. in a war that they could not win. By the time they reached the Tet offensive, the casualties were very high, and the battle was a major win for the North Vietnamese.
The war was incredibly chaotic and very unpopular in the states. Politics and general public attitudes were just as chaotic as the war.
The civil rights movement had begun, and women were moving to take their place alongside men in society. Johnson served the remainder of JFK’s term plus four years of his own.
However, he decided not to run for another four-year term. Instead, he left an ongoing war for Richard Nixon to figure out.