7 February 1965: Operation Flaming Dart

After being authorised by President Lyndon Johnson, Operation Flaming Dart began on 7 February 1965, consisting of air raids against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) and the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) in North Vietnam. It ended on 24 February.

Largely a military response against Vietnamese communist attacks against the US military base Camp Holloway near Pleiku in South Vietnam, Operation Flaming Dart signified the intensified American involvement in the Second Indochina War. Within twelve hours of the attack on Camp Holloway, Johnson ordered aircraft from the carriers USS Coral Sea and USS Hancock (both based off the coast of North Vietnam) to attack the Vít Thù Lù military barracks and the port at Đồng Hới. Combined with these attacks, aircraft from the Đà Nẵng base in South Vietnam attacked communication centres in North Vietnam.

These attacks were meant to be a show of strength from the US military. The main aim was to convince Hồ Chí Minh that America’s huge military capability made opposition to it untenable. General Maxwell Taylor told the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee that the bombing raids of Operation Flaming Dart were meant “to change the will of the enemy leadership.”

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