July 16

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Jul 16, 1965:

McNamara visits South Vietnam

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara conducts a fact-finding mission in South Vietnam, and Henry Cabot Lodge arrives in Saigon to resume his post as ambassador. Lodge had previously held the ambassadorship, but resigned in 1964 to seek the Republican presidential nomination, which was eventually won by Barry Goldwater of Arizona. Lodge returned to Saigon again as ambassador from 1965 to 1967.

While visiting Saigon, McNamara was informed by secret cable that President Lyndon B. Johnson had decided to give Gen. William Westmoreland the troops he had requested. The American commander had been asking for additional U.S. troops so that he could stabilize the military situation and "carry the war to the communists." McNamara, believing that the United States should commit itself to preventing the fall of South Vietnam to communism, supported Westmoreland's request. McNamara said at a press conference upon leaving Saigon: "There has been deterioration since I was last here, 15 months ago."

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