The truth about how the US became involved in the Vietnam War.

USS Maddox

I know we all were told that North Vietnam fired upon two U.S. Navy Destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin and that this second event within two days gave our country a reason to go to war. It was learned many years later that this second event never took place. Here is an eyewitness report on what actually happened and how it fooled everyone.

By Joel Ross

This is a special issue of Ross Rant – I was there and witnessed what and how it happened as it happened.

In 1964, I was supply officer of Kennebec AO36, a US Navy fleet oiler and supply ship. We operated in the South China Sea in 1964. In July 1964 we came into Subic Bay to reload and resupply. While there they loaded a container on our deck probably measuring 8×8 or maybe 8×10.  Think of a small shipping container. We were ordered to not have any involvement with the capsule, or the two men operating it. After two weeks at sea, the capsule was offloaded and put aboard Turner Joy -one of the two destroyers involved in the later Gulf of Tonkin incident.

USS Kennebec AO36

While it was aboard my ship I did get a brief look inside, and it was filled with all sorts of electronic gear with antenna on top. I later learned it was an electronic warfare unit able to electronically simulate images on radar and sonar scopes making it appear to the operator that there was an enemy ship, torpedoes, or planes attacking when in fact there was nothing really there. So now this electronic warfare capsule was transferred aboard Turner Joy. (It might have been on Madox, but I cannot recall 60 years later). If you are old enough you will recall that in 1964 there was a widespread fear that if we did not stop the Communists in Vietnam, then they would take over all of SE Asia. That was the prevailing view in Washington and in the media. There was intense pressure to stop them. In 1964 we had a small number of special forces trainers in S Vietnam, but that was deemed not sufficient to stop the N Vietnamese.

USS Turner Joy

So, Turner Joy, Maddox, and my ship left port from Subic Bay around August 1 and sailed just off the coast of N Vietnam. The two destroyers were assigned a route just beyond the 12-mile limit, and we were assigned to standby 60 miles to the east. On the night of August 2, the two destroyers reported they were under torpedo attack by N Vietnamese patrol boats, and had engaged them. A second attack was reported on August 4.

P-4 torpedo boat, similar to those used by the North Vietnamese military

Both attacks took place at night when there was no moon. US aircraft were sent to support the two ships but never could find any sign of any N Vietnamese patrol boats.  No torpedoes hit either destroyer. No gunfire was spotted coming from any patrol boats. The next morning, we joined with the two destroyers, and with one on each side, we refueled them. A phone line was strung across my ship to allow the two captains to have a private conversation comparing notes. There was a set of headphones on my ship connected to that phone line.  We are ordered to not pick up the headphones. I decided this was a major moment in history, and I was not going to miss my opportunity, so I picked up the headphones and listened until the captain spotted me even though I was far aft and I thought hunkered down out of sight. What I heard was the battle reports of each captain. One said they had detected 12 torpedoes and the other said that was odd since they only detected two. I thought that was weird since both ships had the same model sonar system and they were sailing in tandem.

Chart showing the track of the USS Maddox, July 31 – August 2, 1964 (date of first incident)

Truth – there never was any attack. It was all a setup using that capsule of electronics to simulate the attack. Neither captain knew the truth because they needed them to believe it and report an attack as happening. Macnamara admitted before he died that there was never an attack, but he claimed it was all “a mistake”. A professor from Claremont College actually went to N Vietnam about thirty years ago ( I no longer recall when) and he talked to the patrol boat officers who said they never left port that night. I spoke to him after he returned and got his full report. Last week another US military source reported the whole thing was a hoax.  Shortly after the purported attacks we sailed alongside the carrier, and I watched as they launched the first air attacks on N Vietnam, so the US became involved in the war full-time.

Manatee refuels Ticonderoga on 15 July 1965. U.S. Navy photo.

I am convinced that what really happened was LBJ needed an excuse to go to war, and he and CIA concocted this incident to provide the basis for declaring war.  The capsule was aboard my ship first to allow the two spooks to practice the required torpedo simulations. Since we were a supply ship we did not have sonar so they were free to practice simulating torpedoes without us ever knowing what they were really doing in that capsule. I am possibly the only person still alive who was there and who knows what really happened that night. Almost nobody on my ship ever knew what was really going on in that capsule. Only a small few of us were informed by the captain. I decided to go fully public now since if I die, nobody will ever have the true whole story of how America became involved in the Vietnam War. The real tragedy is that 58,000 young Americans died there for nothing but a terrible decision by LBJ.  
If any of you have good connections to valid historians and want to forward this to them, please do. It needs to be in the historical record.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

On Key

Related Posts

VK Russian online social media and social networking service

© 2022 Esleman Abay. All rights reserved.

Follow Us