Historical Timeline of the War: 1968



 Prince Sihanouk


Walter Cronkite


Hugh Thompson

Averell Harriman

Creighton Abrams

Herbert Humphrey


January 1968

Prince Sihanouk permits pursuit of Vietcong into Cambodia; North Vietnamese launch the Tet Offensive aided by 84,000 Viet Cong guerrillas. A hundred cities and towns are attacked throughout South Vietnam.

January 31—March 2, 1968

In the Battle for Hue during Tet, 12,000 NVA and Viet Cong troops storm the defended historical city, then begin systematic executions of over 3,000 "enemies of the people" including South Vietnamese government officials, captured South Vietnamese officers, and Catholic priests. South Vietnamese troops and three U.S. Marine battalions counter-attack and engage in the heaviest fighting of the entire Tet Offensive. They retake the old imperial city, house by house, street by street, aided by American air and artillery strikes. On February 24, U.S. Marines occupy the Imperial Palace in the heart of the citadel and the battle ends with a North Vietnamese defeat.

February 27, 1968

Walter Cronkite tells Americans during his CBS Evening News broadcast that he is certain "the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate."

March 16, 1968

More than 300 Vietnamese civilians are slaughtered in My Lai hamlet by members of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, U.S. Army, while participating in an airborne assault against suspected Viet Cong encampments in Quang Ngai Province. Upon entering My Lai and finding no Viet Cong, the Americans begin killing every civilian in sight, interrupted only by helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson who lands and begins evacuating civilians after realizing what is happening.

March 31, 1968

President Lyndon Johnson announces that he will not run for re-election.

April 4, 1968

Martin Luther King slain in Memphis; rioting erupts in more than 100 cities.

May 10, 1968

Peace talks begin in Paris but soon stall as the U.S. insists that North Vietnamese troops withdraw from the South, while the North Vietnamese insist on Viet Cong participation in a coalition government in South Vietnam. This marks the beginning of five years of on-again, off-again official talks between the U.S. and North Vietnam in Paris. W. Averell Harriman represents the United States, and former Foreign Minister Xuan Thuy heads the North Vietnamese delegation.

June 5, 1968

Robert Kennedy assassinated.

July 1, 1968

General Westmoreland is replaced as U.S. commander in Vietnam by General Creighton W. Abrams.

August 8, 1968

Richard M. Nixon is chosen as the Republican presidential candidate and promises "an honorable end to the war in Vietnam."

August 28, 1968

During the Democratic national convention in Chicago, 10,000 anti-war protesters gather on downtown streets and are confronted by 26,000 police and national guardsmen. The brutal crackdown is covered live on network TV. 800 demonstrators are injured.

November 5, 1968

Running on a platform of "law and order," Richard Nixon barely beats out Hubert Humphrey for the presidency. Nixon takes just 43.4 percent of the popular vote, compared to 42.7 percent for Humphrey.

November 27, 1968

Nixon asks Henry Kissinger to be his National Security Advisor.

December 1968

U.S. troop levels reach 495,000 with 30,000 American deaths to date. In 1968, more than 1,000 a thousand a month are killed.