DAYTON, Ohio - Memorial plaque containing the names of those members of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, located at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, who were killed in action, missing in action or captured in 1966-1970. This plaque is on display in the Southeast Asia War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
GOING NORTH Although the U.S. Air Force began sending advisory personnel to South Vietnam in 1961, and carried out combat missions in South Vietnam shortly thereafter, US forces did not initially strike North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese Navy attack in the Tonkin Gulf in August 1964, however, led to retaliatory raids by U.S. Navy aircraft. The USAF made its first strike against North Vietnam on Feb. 8, 1965, in response to a Viet Cong attack against Pleiku Air Base, South Vietnam.
OPERATION ROLLING THUNDER: 1965-1968 On March 2, 1965, the USAF began a systematic bombing campaign against North Vietnam named ROLLING THUNDER. Planners hoped to provide a morale boost to South Vietnamese forces, interdict the flow of supplies going south, and discourage North Vietnamese aggression.
Flying from bases in South Vietnam and Thailand, the USAF started hitting targets near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam. By advancing the target areas northward across North Vietnam, planners intended to apply gradual pressure and use bombing halts as incentives to negotiate.
Click on the following links to learn more about the Southeast Asia War.