May 31

This Day in History

Vietnam War

May 31, 1965:

Operation Rolling Thunder continues

U.S. planes bomb an ammunition depot at Hoi Jan, west of Hanoi, and try again to drop the Than Hoa highway bridge.

These raids were part of Operation Rolling Thunder, which had begun in March 1965. President Lyndon B. Johnson had ordered the sustained bombing of North Vietnam 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 North Vietnamese ammunition dumps and oil storage facilities as targets. 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 occasionally selected the targets himself. 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 halted it on October 31, 1968, under increasing domestic political pressure.

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