October 4

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Oct 4, 1964:

Johnson orders the commencement of Oplan 34A raids

President Johnson issues the order to reactivate North Vietnamese coastal raids by South Vietnamese boats as part of Oplan 34A.

These raids had been suspended after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in early August. On August 2, North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the destroyer USS Maddox, which was conducting an intelligence gathering mission in the same general area that had just come under attack by several Oplan 34A raids. Two days after the first attack, there was another incident, the details of which remain unclear. The Maddox, joined by destroyer USS C. Turner Joy, engaged what were, at the time, believed to be more attacking North Vietnamese patrol boats.

Although it was questionable whether the second attack actually happened, the incident provided the rationale for retaliatory air attacks against the North Vietnamese and the subsequent Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which became the basis for the initial escalation of the war in Vietnam and ultimately, the insertion of U.S. combat troops into the area. After two months, approval was given to continue the Oplan 34A raids against North Vietnamese coastal installations.

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