If someone asked you to pin down to the day when the Vietnam War started this podcast episode will provide you with the answer to that question. Most times when you ask someone the question, when did the Vietnam War start, you get rather fuzzy answers. Some will say 1966 when we began to send over large numbers of military personnel. Others with say it started with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution or when the French were defeated at Bien Den Phu. Some will go back to World War II and say it started with Ho Chi Minh fighting as our ally against the Japanese who had occupied the former French Colony.
It is not widely known that during World War II, Ho Chi Minh was closely allied with the US fighting against the Japanese. The relationship was so favorable the US promised Ho he could be the leader of an independent Vietnam after the war. Ho was so impressed with the Americans he used wording from the US Declaration when he declared to the world he intended to be leading an independent Vietnam. When the WW II ended things appeared to be on schedule for Ho and the new country until the French returned demanding their old colony of Indo-China be returned to French colony status.
Unfortunately for Ho Chi Minh we decided to side with the French in the matter in return for their support against the USSR in Europe. This led to fighting in the area until 1979 when the smaller Vietnam bloodied the nose of its northern neighbor Communist China.
The US became involved in the area when it decided to throw its weight behind the new country of South Vietnam. That involvement eventually led to a conflagration in Vietnam that led to a memorial monument in Washington DC with more than 53,000 American names etched on its face.
John Reichley wrote a piece for the Leavenworth Times that sheds light on the subject of when the war started for this country. He tells how on January 22, 1964 Operational Plan (OPLAN) 34 was approved. That led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and that led to a memorial with 58,286 names of fallen Americans.