Gulf of Tonkin Incident (Background)
Gulf of Tonkin Incident was two separate occurrences involving
naval forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and
the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin that prompted the
first large-scale involvement of U.S. armed forces in Southeast
On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox
(DD-731) engaged three North Vietnamese P-4 torpedo boats, resulting in
damage to the three boats. Two days later the Maddox (having
been joined by the destroyer USS Turner Joy (DD-951) reported a
second engagement with North Vietnamese vessels. This second report was
later claimed to be in error.
What do you know about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. Try this quick
and easy Vietnam War trivia quiz. (Answers at the bottom of the page.)
1. The outcome of the incident was the passage by
Congress of the Southeast Asia Resolution (better known as the Gulf of
Tonkin Resolution), which granted President Lyndon B. Johnson the
authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was
considered to be jeopardized by "communist aggression,"
including the commitment of U.S. forces without a declaration of war.
2. The U.S. had begun providing direct support to
the South Vietnamese in the form of military and financial aid and
military advisers, the number of which grew from 600 in 1961. What was
the size of the U.S. military force by the end of John F. Kennedy's
presidency in 1963.
3. While Kennedy had originally supported the
policy of sending military advisers to Vietnam, he had begun to alter
his thinking due to what he perceived to be the ineptitude of the Saigon
government and its inability and unwillingness to make needed reforms
(which led to an American-supported coup which resulted in the death of
Diem). Shortly before his assassination in November 1963, Kennedy had
begun limited recall of American forces.
4. Johnson's views were likewise complex, but he
had supported military escalation in Vietnam as a means to challenge
what he perceived as the expansionist policies of the Soviet Union. The
Cold War policy of containment was to be applied to prevent the fall of
Southeast Asia to communist governments. What was the theory known as?
- Checkmake theory
- Chess theory
- Domino theory
5. What was the name of the highly classified
program of covert actions against North Vietnam had begun under the
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1961?
- Operation Name Game
- Plan 69 - Omega
- Operation Plan 34-Alpha
6. In 1974 the program was transferred to the
Defense Department and conducted by the Military Assistance Command,
Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (SOG).
7. For the maritime portion of the covert
operation, Tjeld-class fast patrol boats had been purchased
quietly sent to South Vietnam. Although the crews of the boats were
South Vietnamese naval personnel, approval for each mission conducted
under the plan came directly from Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp, Jr., CINCPAC
in Honolulu, who received his orders from the White House. What country
did the fast patrol boats come from?
8. After the coastal attacks began, Hanoi lodged a
complaint with the International Control Commission (ICC), which had
been established in 1954 to oversee the terms of the Geneva Accords, but
the U.S. denied any involvement. Four years later, it was Secretary of
Defense Robert S. McNamara admitted to Congress that the U.S. ships had
in fact been cooperating in the South Vietnamese attacks against North
Vietnam. Who admitted the facts to Congress?
- UN Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge
- Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara
- Attorney General Robert Kennedy
9. The night before the launching of the actions
against North Vietnamese facilities on Hon Me and Hon Ngu islands, SOG
had launched a covert long-term agent team into North Vietnam. What
happened to the team?
- Promptly captured
- Escape detection
- Forced to retreat
10. That night (for the second evening in a row)
two flights of CIA-sponsored Laotian fighter-bombers attacked border
outposts well within southwestern North Vietnam. Where did the mercenary
pilots come from?