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July/August 2023   -   -  

July 1: Amnesty International publishes a report on the 100,000-plus civilian political prisoners held in South Vietnam by both sides. The organization calls on the rest of the world to bring pressure for their release.

July 2: Truce observers continue to seek the release of Capt. Ian Patten and Capt. Fletcher Thomson, the two Canadian International Control Commission delegates believed to be held by the VC. The South Vietnamese government asks the chief correspondent of Japan’s Asahi Shimbun to leave the country because of an editorial he wrote claiming Saigon is holding political prisoners. The government of President Nguyen Van Thieu denies Amnesty International’s charge his regime has jailed political prisoners, calling it a new international communist “campaign of intoxication.”

July 3: Gen. George Brown, who directed the air war in Southeast Asia in the late 1960s, is chosen as Nixon’s new Air Force Chief of Staff; John McLucas is to be the new secretary of the Air Force. The Army and Navy dismiss charges against seven former enlisted men who had been accused by an Air Force colonel of misconduct and collaborating with the enemy while being held by North Vietnam. Sources contend Pham Van Hi, a Vietnamese labor leader who was arrested with five others more than two months ago, dies in jail. Some claim he was tortured to death; American officials say they have been assured by Saigon that his cause of death was suicide.

July 5: Sihanouk states he has no intention of meeting Henry Kissinger when the national security advisor is in Beijing meeting with Chou En-lai.

July 6: During a news conference, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger says Cambodia’s government needs to show in the next five to six weeks it has the strength and discipline to survive when the U.S. ends bombing August 15. The Saigon command reports that heavy skirmishing continues near Kontum.

July 8: Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Mellen is named commander of Military Assistance Command in Thailand.

July 9: Sen. Edward Brooke (R-Mass), testifying before the Senate Appropriation Committee on his two-week visit to Southeast Asia, claims that without extensive outside relief, a “human disaster of major proportions” may ensue for three million refugees, especially in Cambodia.

July 11: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee rejects former ambassador to Laos G. McMurtrie Godley, Nixon’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian affairs, due to his close affiliation with past Indochina policies.

July 12: Thieu makes some cabinet changes, which appear to put even more power in his hands and his political cronies.

July 13: Sihanouk says he will go to North Korea for a three-week visit while Kissinger is in China.

July 14: Sources report former Air Force Maj. Hal Knight has told the Senate Armed Services Committee he took part in a widespread falsification of records in early 1970 to hide the secret bombing campaign in Cambodia. The Senate confirms Brown and McLucas.

July 15: Patten and Thomson are freed after being held for seventeen days. They say the VC regularly interrogated them, took them on forced marches, and beat them because they believed the two to be “American spies.” Sen. Harold Hughes (D-Iowa) asks the Senate Armed Senate Committee to expand the hearings into the U.S. air war in Southeast Asia.

July 16: In a letter to Armed Services Committee acting Chair Sen. Stuart Symington (D-Mo.), Schlesinger acknowledges that B-52s secretly attacked Cambodia in 1969-70 at the same time the U.S. was professing respect for the country’s neutrality. He defends the actions as “fully authorized” and necessary for the protection of American troops. South Vietnam reportedly has awarded Exxon, Shell, Mobil, and Sunningdale off-shore oil drilling rights. Sources say Capt. Donald Dawson has been sent back to Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts from Thailand. He is charged with disobeying an order because he refused to fly a mission over Cambodia U.S. planes strike within seven miles of Phnom Penh to thwart a growing enemy threat to the city.

July 17: Defense Department sources reveal at least 3,500 raids were carried out over Cambodia for a fourteen-month period beginning March 1969. Pentagon spokesman Jerry Friedman acknowledges that falsified reports were made to prevent disclosure of the attacks, which were authorized by “senior military and civilian officials here in Washington.” Great Britain announces it will diplomatically recognize North Vietnam. North Vietnam misses a joint military team meeting to search for the missing. The U.S. claims that raises “serious questions” about Hanoi’s intentions.

July 18: The House of Representatives passes legislation to limit the president’s war-making powers. Saigon and the VC say they have reached an agreement in principle to exchange the remaining POWs next week. The U.S. reports a 18-ship Navy force has finished mine-sweeping in North Vietnamese waters.

July 19: The Senate approves a bill to curb the president’s war-making powers. The Pentagon acknowledges it provided the Senate Armed Services Committee with a report in June that did not disclose the secret bombing campaign.

July 21: Former Air Force Cpt. Gerald Green contends he told Sen. Hughes he took part in a planned bombing of a VC hospital in March or April 1969 in South Vietnam near the Cambodian border. An American F-4 Phantom accidentally bombs a Cambodian military position, killing two government soldiers and wounding three.

July 22: Canada’s ICCS head, Manfred Von Nostriz, says that six North Vietnamese POWs have claimed that the NVA infiltrated Cambodia and South Vietnam.

July 23: Symington says that $145 million Congress appropriated to pay for the secret Cambodian bombing campaign was gained under “false pretenses.” Only 375 of the 900 prisoners are released by Saigon because the ICCS believes there is inadequate security. Talks on aid between Washington and Hanoi are temporarily suspended. American aircraft strike within six miles of Phnom Penh.

July 24: The British and Australian embassies warn nationals to leave Phnom Penh. Air Force Maj. Edward Leonard, who spent five years as a POW, files new charges against seven men who were recently cleared of misconduct accusations. The Pentagon says three of the men have been honorably discharged and cannot be tried.

July 25: Former Air Force Secretary Robert Seamans, Jr., and retiring Air Force Chief of staff Gen. John Ryan testify before the Senate Armed Service Committee that they were not informed about the secret bombing campaign and are not responsible for the falsification of statistics relating to it. District Court judge Orrin Judd rules the U.S. bombing of Cambodia is “unauthorized and unlawful” and must be halted. He bars the Defense Department and the Air Force from supporting military operations in Cambodia, but he stays the order’s execution until July 26 to allow the government to appeal. The State Department defends the secret bombings and claims that Sihanouk, then the leader of Cambodia, had requested U.S. help to rid his country of VC and NVA infiltrators.

July 26: North Vietnam charges the U.S. with cease-fire violations; the South accuses the VC of the same. B-52s bomb an area less than five miles outside Phnom Penh, an area believed to be the source of recent shelling attacks. Former Green Beret Sgt. Thomas Marzullo claims the Pentagon is still covering up the extent of its secret military operations in Laos and Cambodia. In Paris, Sihanouk supporters charge that the U.S. “and their lackeys” have been bombing Cambodia since 1963.

July 27: Phnom Penh, citing enemy infiltration into the city, urges citizens to take up arms against the insurgents. Secretary of the Army Howard Callaway defends the seven accused ex-POWs, saying Army enlisted men had no legal obligation to obey Air Force officers’ orders in POW camps. The Department of Defense announces an agreement with North Vietnam to recover 23 bodies of former American POWs who died while in captivity and were buried outside Hanoi.

July 28: Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall schedules arguments for July 30 on whether to reinstate the injunction against the bombing of Cambodia. South Vietnam and the VC accuse each other of bad faith in putting the cease-fire provisions into effect.

July 29: Sources say the ICCS is bankrupt and $10 million in debt, and if funding is not found, the commission will be paralyzed.

July 30: Wheeler tells the Senate Armed Service Committee that Nixon personally ordered that the bombing of Cambodia be kept under the tightest security measures possible but that it was the military that devised the dual reporting saying bombings were over South Vietnam and not over Cambodia.

July 31: Administration officials say Iran has agreed to an American request that to take over Canada’s seat on the ICCS. The Senate Armed Services Committee votes to cut aid to South Vietnam and Laos.

August 1: Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall refuses to overturn a Court of Appeals ruling allowing the Cambodian bombing to continue.

August 2: The New York Times reports that the CIA’s initial psychological study of Daniel Ellsberg revealed he leaked the Pentagon Papers because he was motivated by “what he deemed a higher order of patriotism.” Le Duc Tho claims Hanoi and Washington have agreed to a five-year economic-aid program but that the U.S. has refused to sign it. The jury is selected for the trial of the Gainesville 8—seven members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and a supporter accused of conspiracy to attack the 1972 Republican National Convention.

August 3: Attorney General Elliot Richardson announces the Justice Department has reopened the investigation into the shooting deaths of four Kent State University students by Ohio National Guardsmen on May 4, 1970. In a letter to congressional leaders, President Nixon, although reaffirming the August 15 cut-off date, warns that the bombing halt can have “dangerous potential consequences” in Asia.

August 4: The Cambodian military command reports enemy troops used gas against government soldiers in a battle six miles south of Phnom Penh. The U.S. and South Vietnam sign a $50 million loan agreement for agricultural and industrial equipment, the first development loan since 1961.

August 6: In Heidelberg, Germany, the Army’s Eighth Infantry Division orders its intelligence section to engage in a “coordinated counter-dissidence effort” among its 13,000 troops to root out dissent in the form of teach-ins, vandalism, sabotage, demonstrations, and other anti-American activities. The South Vietnamese Senate race officially opens; not one candidate is an opponent of President Nguyen Van Thieu.

August 7: Former Air Force Cpt. George Moses tells the Senate Armed Services Committee that he participated in falsifying bombing records relating to Cambodia eleven months after the May 1970 incursion into that country.

August 8: Three Vietnam War veterans tell the House Armed Services Committee they took part in either the selection of enemy hospitals as targets or the bombing of them. The Defense Department says the Air Force has stepped up the bombing of rebel positions inside Cambodia.

August 9: In Heidelberg, the U.S. Army announces it is rescinding its plan to weed out dissidents in the Eighth Infantry Division. Cambodian military sources disclose five American bombing errors in the last two weeks have left hundreds of Cambodians dead or wounded. A secret Pentagon memo written by Gen. Earle Wheeler, released by the Senate Armed Services Committee, reveals former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird approved the falsification of records of the secret Cambodian bombings in 1969.

August 10: In a news conference, Laird says he authorized “a separate reporting procedure” for secret bombing raids in 1969 but insists he did not sanction “the falsification of any Air Force, Navy, or Defense Department records.” American intelligence reports there is now a network of 250 miles of enemy roads from the border with the North down to central South Vietnam.

August 11: Sources reveal Nixon ordered a secret Marine incursion into Laos two days after his inauguration in 1969.

August 13: Air France and UTA discontinue all flights to Cambodia. Burger again denies an application for a special session to convene the Supreme Court to look at the constitutionality of the Cambodian bombing campaign.

August 14: American planes pound Phnom Penh’s perimeter in the final hours of the bombing campaign. Charles Whitehouse is sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Laos. A soldier who defected from the communist side tells the Cambodian government six months of intense American bombing has inflicted little damage on enemy troops. Rev. Daniel Berrigan, Jerome Berrigan, and 58 others are arrested at the White House while protesting the Cambodian bombings.

August 15: The American bombing of Cambodia officially ends, concluding the U.S. combat role in Southeast Asia. The White House pledges to do everything within the law to help Cambodia. A statement read by deputy White House press secretary Gerald Warren from Nixon calls the cessation of the bombings an act that “undermines the prospects for world peace.” Cambodian rebels call the bombing cessation a great victory. Thai premier Thanom Kittikachorn expresses his desire to keep U.S. air power in Southeast Asia as a deterrent.

August 17: Defense Secretary James Schlesinger calls Hanoi “the fountainhead of insurrection” in Indochina and pledges the U.S. will provide air support to South Vietnam if the North were to attack.

August 18: The Cambodian command reports it has control of all roads going out at least 20 miles from Phnom Penh. The South Vietnamese command says enemy shells have hit Hue for the second consecutive day.

August 20: A coup attempt by exiled, right-wing generals to overthrow Laotian premier Souvanna Phouma is put down by the Royal Army. Coup leader Brig. Gen. Thao Ma dies when the plane he is in is shot down. The Pentagon issues a directive for generals and admirals to reduce their use of enlisted men as “servants,” and it cuts back the number of these “enlisted aides” from 1,245 to 500.

August 21: Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Thomas Moorer claims the bombing halt may jeopardize the “final outcome” of the war. Exxon, Sunningdale Group of Canada, and Mobil sign agreements with Saigon to conduct oil explorations.

August 22: Nixon accepts Rogers’ resignation as secretary of state; he names National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger as his replacement. The military command reports that the biggest battle since the January cease-fire has taken place in the Central Highlands. Seventeen South Vietnamese Rangers and 89 VC are reported killed. A government witness at the trial if the Gainesville 8 testifies that VVAW leader Scott Camil told him of a plot to firebomb a federal building in Miami.

August 23: Kissinger pledges to carry out a more open foreign policy to allow Congress, the State Department, and private citizens a stronger say. Dr. Arthur Westing, an American botanist returning from a 19-day trip to North Vietnam, says he is “embarrassed and saddened and numbed” by the damage from American bombs.

August 24: The U.S. and Thailand announce an agreement to phase out American troops and aircraft—the first “immediate steps” include the withdrawal of 3,550 troops (leaving 40,000) and 100 planes (leaving 400). Sources say State Department spokesman Charles Bray III has resigned because he does not want to work with Kissinger. In Washington, D.C., the Cambodian Embassy says it has received about 200 offers from American veterans to serve in the Cambodian military; they have been turned down because policy prohibits foreign nationals in the armed forces.

August 25: Refugees report fighting between North Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge troops in Cambodia over rice and territory. Laotian chief negotiator Pheng Phongsavan says the Pathet Lao has assured his government that all NVA troops will be withdrawn if the final peace accord is signed.

August 26: The military command reports both overland supply roads to Phnom Penh—Routes 4 and 5—have been cut off. South Vietnam votes for a pro-Thieu Senate slate.

August 27: An Army spokesman says Maj. Gen. Harold Aaron, head of Army Intelligence in West Germany, is being transferred to the U.S. following a West German government investigation alleging Aaron and his staff were wire-tapping citizens they believed were helping dissident U.S. soldiers in Europe.

August 28: Pentagon officials charge Hanoi with violating the peace accords by turning the former U.S. base at Khe Sanh into a major military compound.

August 29: In his first news conference in seven months, Cambodian president Lon Nol pledges to pursue the war “to repel foreign aggression” as long as necessary.

August 30: Military sources report the Viet Cong are attempting to cut Route 4, from the Mekong Delta to Saigon, in order to isolate the rice region from the capital. In final arguments in Florida, the government contends the Gainesville 8 conspired to “cause havoc” at the Republican National Convention; the defense claims the prosecution’s case is “nonexistent, pitifully weak at best.”

August 31: Sihanouk says his forces will open a full-scale attack against Phnom Penh in December with direct support from Hanoi. South Vietnam warns that if this happens, it may retaliate. The Gainesville 8 are acquitted of all charges.




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