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-- -- we showed you earlier Vietnam has been a major component in today's Memorial Day observances national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin looks back on a conflict.
It's now a half century old.
Fifty years after the start of the Vietnam War the president and Defense Secretary remember the fallen.
An 82 US service members killed in thirteen years.
More than thirteen hundred are still missing a Cold War era conflict to halt the march of communism in Asia.
The Vietnam War began when president Kennedy started deploying hundreds of military advisors in helicopters at the end of 1961.
The war eventually escalated to more than half a million US troops.
On August 7 1964.
Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.
Giving president Johnson the authority to take whatever action he needs to defend south East Asia.
When Vietnam started it was a very popular war in most of the soldiers sailors and airman and Marines who served over there were volunteers.
They weren't draftees.
And then as the war progressed in and troop numbers went up more people got drafted.
And the ride the the demonstrations started February.
President Johnson authorizes operation rolling thunder the start of a three and a half year bombing offensive.
Two months later north Vietnam rejects a US offer of economic aid.
In exchange for peace president Johnson increases troop levels to 60000.
By the end of 1966.
American forces total 385000.
Men supported by 60000 sailors.
On January 30 1968 on the Tet holiday.
The Viet -- launch a wave of attacks the Tet offensive against cities across the country.
-- -- are killed but US politicians decide to end the war.
2500 US troops are killed and public support for the conflict hits an all time low.
From a military perspective the Tet offensive was -- victory.
But from a psychological.
Perspective it was a great feat because it turned America against this war.
And we've seen similar things happened today in Afghanistan.
President Richard Nixon takes office with the aim of ending the -- withdrawing 500000.
US troops from Vietnam.
Three years later two thirds of all US troops have withdrawn.
And the ground war is left to the south Vietnamese whom the US forces have trained.
January 27 1973.
All warring parties signed a cease fire in Paris the last US combat soldiers leave in March.
The war is officially over.
But the north Vietnamese keep fighting on April 20 ninth 1975.
The US Marines and air force began a massive airlift from the US embassy.
We ought never to end the war liquid into Vietnam.
At 403 AM on April 30 19752.
US Marines corporal Charles McMahon and Lance corporal Darwin judge are killed at the Saigon airport.
They were the last US troops to die in Vietnam America's longest war.
In Washington Jennifer Griffin fox.
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