Episode 2618 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast features a story about the spark that ignited the Vietnam War. The featured story comes from the U.S. Naval Institute and is titled Face Tonkin Ghosts Before Cyber Phantoms Strike. It was submitted by Senior Chief Petty Officer Ryan Harris, U.S. Navy.
Anytime an event such as the Vietnam War that resulted in the death of 58,281 Americans occurs in our history as a country, it is imperative that we know the real reason it started. Hopefully, when the reason for the spark is known, our leaders will take action to prevent the reoccurrence of the tragedy of war.
The featured story explains the sorry situation that led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which lit the fire of war. Senior Chief Petty Officer Harris described the situation in his article as follows; The USS Maddox (DD-731) was ordered to the Gulf of Tonkin to conduct covert signals intelligence gathering missions dubbed Desoto patrols. At the same time, the United States secretly backed South Vietnamese raids into North Vietnam under a separate clandestine operation codenamed OPLAN 34A. These operations were carried out separately, with Desoto patrols only providing intelligence support to the OPLAN 34A raiders.
However, the Maddox’s proximity to the North Vietnam coast at the same time as the raids ignited a spark in the Gulf of Tonkin. On 2 August, two days before the phantom fight, the Maddox engaged in a real skirmish against three North Vietnamese torpedo boats. The Maddox suffered only a single bullet hole and continued on patrol, joined soon after by the Turner Joy.
The sonar operator on board the Maddox did not expect to be at the tipping point of war. Summer 1964 seemed routine, even with escalating tension in Vietnam. An officer in charge of the ship’s intelligence mission said he assumed it would be a “leisure cruise” suitable for catching up on administrative chores.13 Mere hours before the 2 August incident, the crew was enjoying the holiday routine, lounging and grilling steaks topside.14 The escalation occurred in a flash.
Listen to episode 2618 and discover more about the spark that ignited the Vietnam War.