U.S. Involvement in Vietnam (03:41)
John Musgrave recalls his station at Con Thien, in 1967; he is still scared of the dark. In January 1960, President John F. Kennedy addresses the nation; Jack Todd recalls believing in a heroic America. (Credits)
War and Peace (03:04)
Kennedy's advisers support his determination to confront Communism. The National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) is determined to overthrow Ngo Dinh Diem's government; Ho Chi Minh shares power with Le Duan.
Limited War (06:56)
Musgrave recalls exposure to veterans while growing up. Kennedy refuses to commit U.S. ground troops to Vietnam, but sends the Green Berets. He slowly increases support and authorizes napalm and defoliants without full disclosure to the American public.
Stop the Growth of Communism (03:18)
Neil Sheehan recalls arriving in Saigon in 1962; he and other reporters accompany the A.R.V.N. The Viet Cong cannot stop armored personnel carriers; see combat footage.
Strategic Hamlets and Outreach (04:58)
The Diem regime concentrates rural populations into fortified settlements. China provides support to Vietnamese soldiers; North Vietnam requires men to serve in the military. Thousands join the Peace Corps and other organizations to help villagers and spread American ideals; Pete Hunting is the first American volunteer killed in Vietnam.
Fighting Insurgency (05:44)
Experts reflect on "winning the hearts and minds of the people," Lt. Col. John Paul Vann, and the desire to report the truth. Farmers and villagers are resentful and angry, and the Viet Cong recruit members from the strategic hamlets.
Quantifying Efforts in Vietnam (04:01)
The Viet Cong run rival governments and well-armed battalions; they confront the A.R.V.N. The M.A.C.V. generates significant amounts of data for Robert McNamara; Gen. Paul Harkins ignores after action reports. Huy Duc describes South Vietnam as a battlefield
Seeking Independence and Freedom (02:27)
Ho Chi Minh communicates well with the people and cultivates a humble image. Tom Valley reflects on the conflict between the visions of Ho Chi Minh and President Kennedy.
Killing vs. Conversion (05:23)
Robert Rheault recalls combat and emotional numbing. The A.R.V.N. roundup male villagers, looking for Viet Cong; they kill those who try to flee. Kien Hoa Province Chief Tran Ngoc Chau wants to convert the Viet Cong.
Civil Rights Movement (02:07)
Americans pay little attention to events in Vietnam. Some are impatient with the slow pace of social change and others worry about nuclear weapons.
Oppressive System (03:39)
Experts reflect on Diem's disconnect from the people and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhuh's power. Vann and other American advisers see corruption in the field.
Cuban Missile Crisis (02:25)
By October 1962, the Soviet Union has missiles in Cuba; Kennedy orders a naval blockade. Musgrave recalls battling "monolithic Communism."
Battle of Ap Bac (11:12)
Sheehan recalls the illumination of flaws on the Saigon side. The 7th A.R.V.N. division attempts to capture a radio transmitter and engages the Viet Cong; hear battle statistics. Both sides declare victory; Nhuh's wife (Madame Nhuh) denounces the Americans.
Civil Strife (04:45)
Protestors take to the streets in South Vietnam; eight die in Saigon. Americans urge Diem and Nhuh to make meaningful concessions but they refuse. In June 1963, Buddhist monk Quang Duc sets himself on fire in protest.
Pagoda Raids and Saigon Demonstrations (06:03)
Madame Nhuh's comments about monks make matters worse; students and Army officers rally to the Buddhist cause. Diem sends Special Forces to attack Buddhists, and imposes martial law; he arrests thousands of school children. Phan Quang Tue recalls participating in demonstrations.
Military Coup in Saigon (06:32)
Henry Cabot Lodge receives instructions from Roger Hilsman Jr. about Nhuh and Diem. Kennedy delivers a message to Diem during an interview with Walter Cronkite; he and his advisers are divided about a coup. Troops stage a coup on November 1, 1963; Diem and Nhuh agree to surrender and are murdered.
Future of Saigon's Government (03:44)
Tue recalls the excitement in Saigon after the coup; Lodge believes prospects include a shorter war. Kennedy has concerns for the future; he is assassinated on November 22, 1963.
Credits: Riding the Tiger (1961-1963) (03:08)
Credits: Riding the Tiger (1961-1963)
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