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President Still Hopes For Peace


(AP)- At the request of the Soviet Union the U.N. Security Council session requested by the United States on the Southeast Asia crisis was postponed until 2 p.m. EST today. It had been set originally for 11 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP)- U.S. Navy aircraft made a devastating strike at North Vietnamese PT boats and their shore bases today in retaliation for the two attacks on American craft in the Tonkin Gulf this week.

Then the Washington government apparently sat back to let the lesson soak in- if it will soak in- with this stern word from Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara: "Whether this will be all that is necessary is up to the North Vietnamese."

The account of the explosive U.S. reaction, and the warning, were given by McNamara at a morning news conference, within hours of a somber announcement by President Johnson of the decision to hit back hard in reply to the attacks.

President Tells Nation

In a premidnight address to the nation, Johnson said:

"That reply is being given as I speak to you.

"Air action is now in execution against gunboats and certain supporting facilities in North Viet Nam which have been used in these hostile operations.

"The determination of all Americans to carry out our full commitment to the government and people of South Viet Nam will be redoubled by this outrage."

Four Bases Damaged

In summary, McNamara reported four North Vietnamese torpedo boat bases heavily damaged and one oil depot wrecked in 64 sorties by planes from the aircraft carriers Ticonderoga and Consteallation, with 25 PT boats destroyed or damaged.

He gave the U.S. cost as two aircraft downed by ground fire and two damaged.

The action, McNamara said, took place between noon and 4 or 5 p.m. local time Tuesday.

With Vietnamese time 13 hours ahead of Washington, that means the bombs and rockets were falling within an hour after Johnson's report of his decision. Planes doubtless were going aloft as he spoke.

A "Positive Reply"

Johnson referred to the U.S. reaction as a "positive reply" to the aggression by North Vietnamese PT boats against American naval vessels in international waters.

But he stressed the United States' long-range peaceful intentions.

Even before the strikes began, McNamara disclosed "substantial military forces" were being moved into Southeast Asia as a precaution against a Red counterthrust from North Viet Nam or Red China. He gave some details on that buildup at today's meeting with newsmen.

Two Red Attacks

The attack was in retaliation for an assault by three Red PT boats last Sunday against the destroyer Maddox in which one of the boats were sunk and two others damaged, and another fiercer engagement involving U.S. craft Tuesday.

The second attack was aimed at the Maddox and the destroyer Turner Joy which had been sent to support the Maddox.

At least three of the attacking small craft were believe sunk in the second attack.

McNamara said in response to questions that "whether this (the retaliatory blow) will be all that is necessary to up to the [unfinished in the newspaper]

President Somber

The President made his announcement in somber tones at a session with newsmen late Tuesday night after day-long series of emergency conferences.

The areas of the U.S. bombing attack were given by McNamara as four PT boats bases, the first at Hongay near the mouth of the Red River close to Haiphong and leading south, Loc Chao, Phuc Loi, and Quang Khe.

In addition to the oil storage depot at Vinh near Quang Khe was brought under attack by the planes from the carriers.

"The oil storage depot containing 14 tanks and representing 10 per cent of the petroleum storage capacity of the country was 90 per cent destroyed, "McNamara said, adding: "Smoke was observed rising to 14,000 feet."

No Villages Near

McNamara said there were no civilian villages near the target areas.

The secretary said he had moved Tuesday night to reinforce the Pacific area and these moves included:

1. Transfer of an attack carrier group from the First Fleet in the Atlantic to the Western Pacific.
2. Movement of intercepter and bomber aircraft into South Viet Nam.
3. Movement of fighter bombers into Thailand.
4. Transfer of intercepter and flight-bomber squadrons from the United States "to advanced bases in the Pacific."
5. Movement of an anti-submarine force into the South China Sea.
6. The alerting and readying of selected Army and Marine forces.

The Army maintains the 25th Division in a high state of combat readiness at Honolulu. The Marines have their 3rd Division at Okinawa and a brigade at Honolulu.

Sees No Reason

Asked if he could give any reason for the unusual North Vietnamese naval activities, McNamara replied, "I can't explain them."

No North Vietnamese aircraft attempted to intercept the attack aircraft from the two carriers. McNamara said he could not give a more precise estimate of damage to the four torpedo boat bases other than to say it was "very substantial."

McNamara said names of the two downed U.S. pilots would be released as soon as their next of kin had been notified, probably some time today.

President Johnson, in his statement Tuesday night, called the air strikes a "positive reply" to attacks on the two destroyers.

Seeks No War

"Yet our response, for the present, will be limited and fitting," he added. "We Americans know, although others appear to forget, the risks of spreading conflict- we still seek no wider war."

The President, facing the most explosive international crisis since the Cuban missile showdown announced the U.S. air assaults in a somber, premidnight address to the nation Tuesday night.

The President said he had direced Ambassador Adlai E. Stevenson to raise "immediate and urgently" before the U.N. Security Council the torpedo boat assaults that the United States charges were unprovoked and in international waters.

Stevenson Calls U.N.

Stevenson, breaking off a Maine vacation, immediately called for the session and it was swiftly scheduled for today.

The first indication of Peking's reaction to Johnson's announcement, the Chinese Communist New Evening Post warned today that Red China "will not wait until the flames of war come too close" before retaliating against what it called provocative U.S. attacks in the Tonkin Gulf area. The Hong Kong paper is owned and operated by Chinese Communist officials and normally follows the Peking line rigidly.

The Soviet news agency Tass reported Johnson's announcement without comment in a nine-line dispatch.

Communist North Viet Nam, in a broadcast early today, asserted the American charge of another PT boat raid Tuesday was "sheer fabrication by the U.S. imperialists aimed at covering up their illegal acts which brazenly violated the security of the Democratic Republic of (North) Viet Nam and are aggravating further the situation in Southeast Asia."

In a news briefing, after the President spoke, McNamara declined to pinpoint just what areas in North Viet Nam were being hit by carrier planes.

"We are not attacking Hanoi," but only the PT boats and their supporting bases, McNamara said in the jammed, after-midnight conference at the Pentagon.

Johnson, in his 500 word statement, said he had met with congressional leaders of both parties and told them he would immediately request Congress "to pass a resolution making it clear that our government is united in its determination to take all necessary measures in support of freedom, and in defense of peace, in Southeast Asia."

The President received support for his course of action even before he announced it from Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential nominee.

Johnson reached Goldwater, vacationing in Balboa, Calif., to tell him what he was going to say. And Goldwater told newsmen the President's decision was "the only thing he can do under the circumstances."

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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There is currently no available "Beginner" label. The following is the default level label: The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which occurred in the first days of August, 1964, led the government of President Lyndon Johnson to dramatically intensify its participation in the Vietnam War. The President and such advisors as Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, declared often that the United States "will seek no wider war". They insisted that the United States was only responding to the attacks of the North Vietnamese navy on United States destroyers. Yet, the United States response included daily bombing raids on both civilian and military targets in North Vietnam. Preparations were made to send more ground troops to South Vietnam, and military forces were strengthened throughout Southeast Asia. The United States military response to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident increased Cold War tensions between the United States, China and the Soviet Union.


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"President Still Hopes for Peace" article in The Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Recorder-Gazette
date   Aug 5, 1964
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   10.0"
width   4.0"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L06.048

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See Also...

"U.S. Planes Hit North Vietnam... " article in The Greenfield Record-Gazette newspaper

"Don't Tread On Us" editorial in The Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

"Goldwater Backs President's Acts in Emergency" article in The Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

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