On this day 2 March Vietnam

Drone_pilot

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1965 First Rolling Thunder raid conducted

Operation Rolling Thunder begins with more than 100 United States Air Force jet bombers striking an ammunition depot at Xom Bang, 10 miles inside North Vietnam. Simultaneously, 60 South Vietnamese Air Force propeller planes bombed the Quang Khe naval base, 65 miles north of the 17th parallel.

Six U.S. planes were downed, but only one U.S. pilot was lost. Capt. Hayden J. Lockhart, flying an F-100, was shot down and became the first Air Force pilot to be taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese. Lockhart was released in 1973 when U.S. POWs were returned under provisions of the Paris Peace Accords.

The raid was the result of President Lyndon B. Johnson's decision in February to undertake the sustained bombing of North Vietnam that he and his advisers had been considering for more than a year. The goal of Rolling Thunder was to interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in the southern part of North Vietnam and the slow infiltration of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam. In July 1966, Rolling Thunder was expanded to include North Vietnamese ammunition dumps and oil storage facilities as targets and in the spring of 1967 it was further expanded to include power plants, factories, and airfields in the Hanoi-Haiphong area.

The White House closely controlled Operation Rolling Thunder and President Johnson occasionally selected the targets himself. From 1965 to 1968, about 643,000 tons of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam. A total of nearly 900 U.S. aircraft were lost during Operation Rolling Thunder. The operation continued, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson halted it on October 31, 1968, under increasing domestic political pressure.

1967 Kennedy proposes plan to end the war

Senator Robert Kennedy (D-New York) proposes a three-point plan to help end the war. The plan included suspension of the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam and the gradual withdrawal of U.S. and North Vietnamese troops from South Vietnam with replacement by an international force. Secretary of State Dean Rusk rejected Kennedy's proposal because he believed that the North Vietnamese would never agree to withdraw their troops.

Kennedy had been Attorney General under his brother, President John F. Kennedy. When the elder Kennedy was assassinated, Robert stayed on to serve his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, but resigned his post in 1964 to run for the Senate. In the Senate, Kennedy initially continued to support U.S. efforts in Vietnam despite his growing apprehension about the war, especially the massive bombing of North Vietnam, because he was reluctant to disagree with the Johnson administration and its handling of the war. As racial strife and urban violence intensified along with mounting antiwar sentiment, however, Kennedy found it increasingly difficult to remain silent. The presidential campaign of 1968 opened the door for him to act on his concern. When President Johnson announced that he would not seek re-election, Kennedy entered the race, quickly emerging as a serious contender for the presidency. On June 4, 1968, he won the all-important California primary, thereby becoming his party's front-runner. That night, after addressing his supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan. He died the following day at the age of 42.
 

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