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January/February 2024   -   -  

January 2: The Viet Cong urge the South Vietnamese to release all POWs by Tet; Saigon indicates it will try to comply with the request.

January 3: A Thai official says that since September the U.S. has withdrawn 3,700 troops from that country. The Defense Department announces it is pulling out a squadron of 25 outmoded EB-66 planes and 600 troops from Thailand.

January 4: The Provisional Revolutionary Government and South Vietnam reach a tentative agreement to resume a prisoner exchange broken off in July. In Can Tho, while reviewing troops, President Nguyen Van Thieu urges the military to attack the VC in their own territory because, “As far as the armed forces are concerned, I can tell you the war has restarted.”

January 5: Administration officials say the White House is working on a plan to increase military aid to South Vietnam for the current fiscal year, although it must pass Congress. The Viet Cong charge the U.S. with flying reconnaissance planes over VC-held areas in South Vietnam. The Pentagon refuses to comment.

January 6: Enemy rockets hit the home of Cambodian Army commander Gen. Sosthene Fernandez. One guard is wounded. Government troops reopen Route 4, Phnom Penh’s road to the sea, which had been held by enemy troops since November 12.

January 7: Thieu calls for maximum security during the three-day Tet holiday, starting January 23, and during the first anniversary of the ceasefire signing on January 27. A Pentagon spokesman reports that since the ambush three weeks ago that killed one American and one South Vietnamese, military teams have suspended searches for remains of MIAs.

January 8: Former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird says he favors limited amnesty for Americans who broke Selective Service laws during the war.

January 9: More than 4,000 students in Bangkok protest outside the U.S. Embassy demanding the removal of Ambassador William Kinter and CIA operatives. The demonstrators also denounce the visit of Japanese Premier Kakuei Tanaka as symptomatic of “economic imperialism.”

January 10: Tanaka meets with 13 Thai student leaders.

January 11: Analysts say that a new, intensified offensive against Phnom Penh is an attempt to bring down the Lon Nol government. Nation, an English-language newspaper, names Hugh Tovar as the CIA station chief in Thailand.

January 12: Son Sann, former Cambodian premier under Prince Norodom Sihanouk, urges Lon Nol to leave the country so a peace agreement can be reached.

January 13: Cambodian Information Minister Trinh Hoanh states Lon Nol will not step down.

January 14: Sen. John Stennis (D-Miss.), chair of the Armed Forces Committee, announces he will begin an informal investigation into allegations of military espionage inside the White House, after National Security Council documents were found in the hands of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A South Vietnamese spokesman says government troops have reoccupied Le Minh camp in the Central Highlands. It had been overrun by the North Vietnamese four months ago. U.S. District Judge Gerhard Gesell calls the Army’s European command drug-rehabilitation program illegal. Route 4 is again reported cut 16 miles southwest of Phnom Penh.

January 15: Pro-government assemblymen submit a draft of a constitutional amendment that would allow Thieu to run for a third term. The NVA attack Le Minh to prevent reinforcements from reaching the camp. The VC accuse South Vietnam of massive air strikes against Thien Ngon, a communist stronghold north of Saigon.

January 16: South Vietnamese military sources disclose that two Navy boats fired on the Chinese after they raised a flag on Robert Island in the Paracel Island group. Both nations claim the islands. At a news conference, South Vietnamese foreign minister Vuong Van Bac calls the flag raising a “sudden challenge” and a “threat to peace and security of this region.”

January 17: North Vietnam issues a document setting the terms for opening diplomatic relations with the United States. Lao government and Pathet Lao representatives initial an agreement on the formation of armed forces to guarantee the neutrality of Vientiane and Luang Prabang.”

January 18: Joint Chiefs Chair Adm. Thomas Moorer announces that he received a file of unauthorized documents in 1971 taken from the NSC in the White House. U.S. officials say the CIA’s role in Thailand will soon be reduced.

January 20: Saigon says Chinese MiGs bombed three of the Paracel Islands occupied by South Vietnamese troops. An amphibious attack followed. In a national broadcast, Lon Nol calls the current enemy offensive decisive for the future of the Cambodian people. The South Vietnamese National Assembly amends the Constitution to allow Thieu to run for a third term. South Vietnam protests to the UN Security Council China’s attempt to take the islands, claiming Beijing has violated Saigon’s territorial sovereignty.

January 21: The Defense Department says it warned the Seventh Fleet not to get involved in the Paracel Islands dispute. State Department officials believe the possibility of exploiting oil deposits is the reason both China and South Vietnam claim territorial rights to the Paracels.

January 22: Insurgents are reported to have pulled back eight miles northwest of Phnom Penh.

January 23: The South Vietnamese military command announces that a Dutch tanker has rescued 23 South Vietnamese whose boat was sunk during the fighting for the Paracels. The Chinese are reported to have killed or taken prisoner 150 South Vietnamese and one American, Gerald Emil Kosh, the U.S. Embassy defense attaché assigned as liaison to the South Vietnamese Navy. Fighting abates as the Vietnamese celebrate Tet. North Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Duy Trinh claims South Vietnam is preparing to step up military operations with U.S. help.

January 24: Egil Krogh, Jr., is sentenced to six months in prison for his role in the break-in of the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. He denies President Nixon had any part in the burglary. Administration officials say the U.S. has privately asked China about Gerald Emil Kosh’s whereabouts and has asked for the release of the South Vietnamese captives.

January 25: The State Department reports China is holding Kosh and about 100 South Vietnamese. Aramco (Arabian-American Oil Company) admits it has refused to supply oil to the U.S. military since October at Saudi Arabia’s direction.

January 26: South Vietnam calls on Hanoi to establish diplomatic relations “in a new effort to break the deadlock and to explore all the paths susceptible to lead to peace.” South Vietnamese troops prevent 20 foreign journalists from attending a news conference in the house of Ngô Bá Thành, the anti-government figure who was once a political prisoner. Her son is arrested.

January 27: Four ABC news crew are held for twenty-four hours by government troops after filming in a VC-held town 65 miles northwest of Saigon. An American Embassy spokesman says the U.S. has supplied South Vietnam with more than $280 million worth of weapons and ammunition since the ceasefire was signed.

January 28: South Vietnamese troops arrest New York Times Saigon bureau chief James Markham after he returns from a week in VC-controlled territory. He is released the next day.

January 30: Military sources say South Vietnam has sent troops and three ships to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The islands are also claimed by China.

January 31: The Chinese release Kosh and five South Vietnamese. Sources contend that the South Vietnamese have landed on the deserted Spratly Islands with the intention of heading off an occupation by China.

February 1: Breaking an impasse, Saigon and the Provisional Revolutionary Government set a date to resume the prisoner exchange. Phnom Penh is hit by more than 100 artillery rounds in one of the worst shellings in Cambodia’s four-year war.

February 2: A message from President Nixon to Lon Nol assures the Cambodian leader that the U.S. will provide the “maximum possible assistance.”

February 3: Fierce fighting erupts in Quang Duc Province along the Cambodian border.

February 4: South Vietnamese troops are reported to have landed on two more of the Spratly Islands. Beijing accuses South Vietnam of having “invaded and occupied” its territory.

February 5: South Vietnam rejects China’s assertion to dominion over the Spratlys. The Philippine government disputes Chinese, South Vietnamese, and Taiwanese claims of territorial sovereignty over the island group. The PRG and Saigon agree to exchange 4,000 POWs over a three-week period beginning February 8.

February 6: In Laos, government and Pathet Lao representatives sign an agreement establishing a joint police force in the administrative capital of Vientiane and in the royal capital of Luang Prabang. This removes the last significant obstacle to creating a coalition government as stipulated in the year-old ceasefire.

February 8: Saigon frees 200 VC prisoners as the POW exchange recommences. In Phnom Penh, 50 Buddhist monks begin a three-day fast to protest the war.

February 11: In the civil war’s worst shelling to date, nearly 200 Cambodians—mostly civilians—are killed and 200 are wounded in Phnom Penh.

February 13: Saigon radio announces that a police drive to “clean up society” has resulted in the dismissal of several police and military and administration officials. In Sen. Alan Cranston’s (D-Calif.) Los Angeles office, fifteen protesters, including five Vietnam War veterans in wheelchairs, protest what they call a “national disgrace”—the appalling conditions at VA hospitals.

February 14: South Vietnam declares its intention to take both the Paracel and Spratly islands, even if it means going to war with China, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

February 15: In an interview, Cambodian Premier Long Boret asks why the world “seems not to react to the suffering of the Khmer people” while enemy shells have killed or wounded 1,000, mainly civilians since December. The South Vietnamese cabinet, except for Premier Tran Thien Khiêm, resigns. President Thieu accepts the resignations.

February 16: Thai defense minister Dawee Chullasapya, returning from a trip to China, says that Premier Zhou Enlai assured him China has stopped supporting communist insurgents in Thailand, Laos, and other Southeast Asian countries, but he warned the minister to guard against Soviet influence in the region.

February 17: Sources contend that the U.S. is urging Cambodia to provide more air protection for Phnom Penh to prevent deadly shellings like the one on February 11.

February 18: South Vietnamese troops are reported to have landed on a fifth Spratly island. Saigon announces the formation of a new cabinet to improve the government’s efficiency. At Cranston’s L.A. office, eleven veterans continue their sit-in/hunger strike protesting VA hospital conditions.

February 19: The American Civil Liberties Union files suit to prohibit the U.S. Army from continuing surveillance against American civilians and military personnel in West Germany. The House votes to increase veterans’ education allowance by 13.6 percent.

February 20: South Vietnam announces the establishment of full diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia. A 19-year-old South Vietnamese attempts to hijack a plane to Hanoi. After the airliner lands at Phu Bai, he explodes a grenade, killing himself and two Army officers.

February 21: The National Academy of Sciences concludes that the use of herbicides by the U.S. in South Vietnam has caused “serious and extensive” ecological damage to the country that may take at least a century to heal.

February 25: U.S. Army Gen. Michael Davison, commander in Europe, tells a House Armed Services subcommittee that while discipline among the troops is still “only fair,” progress is being made against drug use.

February 26: The PRG and Saigon agree to release all remaining POWs by March 6. Two South Vietnamese bases, one south of Can Tho, the other 145 miles southwest of Saigon, are reportedly overrun. In Cleveland, Sylvester Del Corso, commander of the 800 National Guardsmen at Kent State on May 4, 1970, is questioned for six hours by a federal grand jury.

February 27: Lt. William Calley, Jr., is released on a $1,000 bond by U.S. District Judge J. Robert Elliot because he presents “no danger to himself or to others” and he is an unlikely flight risk. Calley had been under house arrest at Ft. Benning pending appeal of his 20-year sentence for the murder of South Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. Sources claim that Hanoi has begun a two-year economic reconstruction and development program and is putting a “holding pattern” on troop movements in the South.

February 28: In Geneva, at the 119-nation conference to modernize the rules of war, the PRG loses by one vote in its bid to be recognized as a sovereign state and to be seated as a full participant.




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