Twenty-four South Vietnamese Air Force planes, led by Vice-Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky and supported by U.S. jets, bomb the barracks and depots on Con Co (“Tiger”) Island, 20 miles off the coast of North Vietnam. The next day, 100 U.S. Air Force jets and carrier-based bombers struck the ammunition depot at Phu Qui, 100 miles south of Hanoi. This was the second set of raids in Operation Rolling Thunder and the first in which U.S. planes used napalm.
Operation Rolling Thunder was a result of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s decision in February to undertake the sustained bombing of North Vietnam that he and his advisers had been contemplating for a year. The operation was designed to interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in the southern part of North Vietnam and slow infiltration of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam. In July 1966, Rolling Thunder was expanded to include the bombing of North Vietnamese ammunition dumps and oil storage facilities, and in the spring of 1967, it was further expanded to include power plants, factories, and airfields in the Hanoi-Haiphong area.
The White House closely controlled operation Rolling Thunder and President Johnson sometimes personally selected the targets. From 1965 to 1968, about 643,000 tons of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam. A total of nearly 900 U.S. aircraft were lost during Operation Rolling Thunder. The operation continued, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson, under increasing domestic political pressure, halted it on October 31, 1968.