Paris Peace Accords

U.S. #3188g – About 2.6 million Americans fought in Vietnam.

On January 27, 1973, the Paris Peace Accords ended U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

In the years leading up to the war, Vietnam had been under the control of France and Japan before earning its independence in 1954.  The country of Vietnam was divided along the 17th parallel, with a communist North and an anti-communist South Vietnam.  A general election was planned for 1956, when the country would reunite under the form of government chosen by its citizens.

U.S. #4988b – 257 Medals of Honor have been awarded to Vietnam veterans in all branches of the U.S. military.

Ngo Dinh Diem was appointed Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam, in the South, and the next year he became President of the renamed Republic of Vietnam.  Diem announced that his state would not participate in the upcoming elections because there could be no free elections in the communist North.  The United States supported him in his fight against what Senator John Kennedy called “the Red Tide of Communism.”

Those who opposed Diem’s government formed the National Liberation Front (NLF), commonly known as the Viet Cong, in the southern delta of South Vietnam.  With the help of Ho Chi Minh in the North, they planned to rid Vietnam of President Diem and his American allies.  On November 2, 1963, Diem was assassinated.  A period of political instability began, while military generals fought for control of the government.

U.S. #1802 pictures the ribbon of the Vietnam Service Medal.

The number of American advisors in Vietnam grew, and by the end of 1963, there were 16,000 U.S. military personnel in Vietnam.  That number increased significantly after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident on August 2, 1964.  On that date, the USS Maddox was patrolling in international waters off the coast of North Vietnam, and it was fired on by North Vietnamese boats.  On August 7, Congress passed The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Johnson power to increase the country’s involvement in Vietnam without declaring war.

U.S. #3190g – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM) was dedicated on November 13, 1982.

The first ground troops, 3,500 Marines, landed in Southeast Asia the following March.  400,000 American soldiers were fighting in Vietnam by the end of 1966.  The goal of American intervention was to destroy the Viet Cong and train the South Vietnamese Army to defend itself against the further spread of communism.  The Viet Cong, with support from North Vietnam, grew in numbers and skill as the years progressed.  Rather than running from helicopter or tank assaults, as they had initially, they dug trenches and fought.  Their intricate system of tunnels and knowledge of the land gave them the ability to attack then disappear.  The NLF used civilians to build booby traps or feed the troops, making it difficult for Americans to tell friend from enemy.

Peace talks began in Paris in May 1968, but were repeatedly stalled.  After Richard Nixon took office as U.S. President in 1969, he introduced a plan to end America’s involvement in the war –  “Vietnamization.”  Nixon began removing troops from Vietnam, with the hope the South Vietnamese would continue fighting.

U.S. #2109 – The VVM displays the names of over 58,000 Americans who died in the war.

In May 1972, Nixon made a major concession, announcing that the U.S. would begin removing troops from South Vietnam without requiring North Vietnam to do the same.  This ended the deadlock and allowed the talks to progress in the coming months.  Then, after much debate, Nixon announced on January 15, 1973, that the U.S. was suspending actions against North Vietnam.  American, South, and North Vietnamese delegates met at the Hotel Majestic in Paris on January 27 to sign the agreement.

Though the last Americans left on March 29, 1973, North and South continued to fight.  The South Vietnamese Army was not able to hold back the communists attacking from both the North and within their own country.  Two years later, South Vietnam’s capital, Saigon, fell and the government surrendered.  Vietnam was reunited as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976.

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  1. ERROR ! Nixon announced Jan. 15, 1973 , that USA is going to suspend actions against north Vietnam . NOT JAN. 15,1937. Otherwise love your daily postage stamp stories, and look forward to read them first thing every morning with a cup of coffee. Keep up the good work. THANK YOU ! KHB SR.

  2. The article is great, except for a slight error. Nixon did not say anything in 1937 regarding suspending action against North Vietnam..

  3. It is my opinion having lived thru most of this that this STORY has error or ommissions. LBJ should have the credit for the lose of this encounter.

  4. I’m disappointed only 67 people read this Day in History and voted on it. Could it be that the Vietnam War and all its fallout is still so emotional after half a century, or is everyone still buried under the snow?

  5. As a Vietnam Veteran I think this is a great accounting of the political action concerning the war.

    I want to point out an error in the report. January 15, 1937 should be 1973.

  6. As I taught for years the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the passage of a Congressional resolution which gave to the President great powers to wage war in Viet Nam opened the door for years of combat with little public support. There is still a great debate among historians as to what actually
    happened in the Gulf. It is unclear. From what I have seen in the archives I do believe that North
    Vietnam did allow their ships to fire on the Maddox, but never thought that their actions would bring on the protracted war. Also, top North Vietnamese leadership misjudged President Johnson
    who saw the war in personal and political terms. Johnson was no FDR as a wartime leader. As the war went on the public turned it’s feelings against the warfighters who had little choice as to their assignment. We would do public penance with the great public support for the troops in the First Gulf War. It is indeed a sad part of our history with 58,000 American dead. Dr. James J. Cooke, Prof Emeritus of History, U. of Miss.

  7. I’m sure it’s just a typo in the 3rd-last paragraph, the date “January 15, 1937” probably ought to be “1973” … inverted digets haunt us again. BTW, I’m proud to have served as a regular army soldier in the Vietnam War, although I did my duty as a Russian linguist in West Berlin, Germany, 1972-74. I do sincerely regret that the war ended the way it did considering that we definitely had the capability to liberate S. Vietnam and help insure its existence as a democratic nation.

  8. The worst part of this war was coming back to the wonderful reception of cursing and spitting by individuals who thought they knew better. Am I bitter? You better believe it. Thankfully, my pain is somewhat alleviated by the welcoming of today’s veterans that are receiving the honor and respect they richly deserve; and hopefully the VA will do the job of taking care of the men and women who gave more.

    1. All veterans should be thanked and honored by all regardless of the wars being popular or not to ordinary citizens. As Americans we have the right of free speech to protest these unpopular wars but it is just not right to take it out on the people that are doing the actual fighting and dying; the veterans are just doing their duty by following orders and defending their country and your rights as a free citizen for very little pay.

      A very big and sincere Thank You to all the veterans of all wars living and dead!

  9. I graduated high school in 1974 at 17 years old. So glad the war ended in 1973. I still have my selective service card from 1975, classified 1-H. I remember as a kid the protesters and riots regarding our involvement in the Vietnam war. Wonder why no mention of this in the “This day of history” for today?

  10. I am a Vietnam vet who has also studied this whole war extensively. I was standing outside the TOC (Tactical Operations Center) of the 1st Cav Division (mine) as Westmorland came out after giving the Commanding General his orders, We had just smashed the Tet Offensive and relieved Khe Sahn. The American fighting forces were at their peek, and the enemy was pretty destroyed and demoralized. Westmorland was slumped over as he left. I turned to one of my Lts and said, “The war is over and we just lost”. It was the early spring of 1968!

  11. The story should also mention: (1) the massive violations of the 1973 peace accords by North Vietnam, (2) the tragic cut-off of all U.S. assistance to South Vietnam by the U.S. Congress subsequent to the Paris peace accords, and (3) U.S. complicity if not responsibility for the assassination of President Diem in 1963.

  12. Just as an after thought, I collect paper money I specialize in countries that America has or is at WAR with. I have an nobody can tell me that they have ever seen or heard of on, its a payment slip of some kind it has a place on one side for the V.C.S name ,rank,province an some other info but on the reverse it clearly shows two anti-aircraft guns shooting down helicopters CLEARLY makes US ARMY an its dated 1962. But the soldiers in the foreground look to be NVA North Vietnamese Army because they are wearing helmets that have vegetation hanging off of them and they appear to be in some sort of uniform but the gun and the soldiers are so well camouflaged it’s hard to tell.

  13. I came in to the USA in 1968. They offered me “resident visa” but I had no intentions of staying in USA after I would finish my postgraduate medical training, pediatrics and neonatology, which took 6 years. Several of my classmates they took the visa and went to Vietnam as medics, but they never talk about it

  14. God bless all those troops that served- 58,000 died in action- another 50,000 killed THEMSELVES after the war because they could not justify the atrocities they had seen [ or committed]. And yes, don’t underestimate the effect of the protests inside America at that time.
    Peace and Love

  15. I am a Vietnam veteran, my brother was KIA fighting in Quang Tin Province. It was, I am sure very difficult to put the history of this war into such a short summary. However, I would have added that the North Vietnamese had tremendous logistical and weapons support from the Soviet block nations and the Chicoms. This is not a trivial point. The Viet Cong used terrorism to make the local population fear them and to join them in fighting. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) lost hundreds of thousands and we lost 58,000+ fighting the communists while political deals were made betraying the fighting forces of America and their allies, S. Korea, Australia, and Thailand. Think of the many forgotten wounded in body, mind and heart. The conquered people fled by the millions if they were not put into “re-education camps”. Many of the fleeing “boat people” were never heard of again. The people of Vietnam now remain enslaved by a dictatorial and brutal government. It all has broken my heart.

  16. No such thing as a war to end all wars…..going back 2 millenia history shows again and again how war is the means to no end. Meanwhile the Mighty Military Industrial Complex, both civilian and political leaders, CEO’s and Contractors, just to name a few entities, are the only ones who benefit from this (via financially). They mind as well be blood diamond dealers IMHO. War is stupid unless it is conducted using robots where no blood is shed and then only as a last resort.

  17. Great story. I wish our vets only the best. How they were able to do their jobs with all the restrictions of the politicians it’s a wonder we didn’t lose more. Was stationed with a lot of soilders that was in Nam, nothing but great resect for all of our vets.

    1. Well Steve you one lucky person. Many of use served our country with honor or life in Vietnam!
      Also many of use still suffer from the way people fellow Americans treated us when we returned home!
      1968-1970 Vietnam
      United States Marine Corps

  18. Having been much opposed to the war in Vietnam throughout my school years, it was ironic that the war ended on January 27, 1973 – three days before I graduated from high school.

  19. I was in the Army during 1965-68. Fortunately I was mostly in Germany, so I faced no combat. I did lose my best friend on the first day of the Tet offensive. When I returned home in late 1968 I saw how divided our country was concerning the war. I began to protest that our government was not doing all it could to support our military engaged in Vietnam. I was always behind our troops in their effort to do their duty. A lot of the time a very mixed message went out to our troops–just keep risking your lives and do your duty but we are trying to save face and “withdraw with honor” from the war. So I came to oppose the war as it was being conducted. Then when our servicemen and women came home they found themselves deserted in every way by a government which wanted to come out looking good and the American public that connected these returning GI’s with some of the bad conduct that was associated with war crimes. Even today I see Vietnam era servicemen often being ignored or treated badly not as the heroes who tried to do their duty just like the Middle East veterans coming home today. There is no way to fix this lack of appreciation after the fact but both the government and the American public must be very sure that ANY TIME American forces are sent into harms way they must be seen as what they are–our heroes going into combat who deserve our unqualified support. I never protested against our troops in the 1970’s–ever. But I didn’t approve of the government looking to get out of the war “with a peace which was honorable.” Then the politicians could pat themselves on the back for what a good job they did to end the war and ignore those who were sent into combat in a war which became unwinnable. Every year when the anniversary of my friend Bobby’s passing comes up I go to the cemetery to honor his sacrifice. His courage and commitment were real examples of what is HONORABLE about my country. And one thing I really loved about my friend Bobby was that he never patted himself on the back–he just did what he saw as right and did it because it was the right thing to do. Next Monday, February 1, 2016 will be the forty-eighth anniversary of his death. His sister Ruby and I will go to the National Cemetery to honor him. He was and is a real hero.

    1. Hi Paul,

      You can click on the images of the stamps you want. It’s that easy. If you need additional assistance, please call Mystic’s customer service department. Call toll free 1-866-660-7147 (M-F 8 am – 6 pm eastern time).

  20. I spent nearly my entire adult life in the Army (1968-2000) serving with VN war vets as my mentors and role models as leaders. The loss of trust with the American people whom we serve was our greatest victim of the war. It took us 20 years and great leaders like Gen Schwarzkopf and an overwhelming swift victory in Iraq and Kuwait to regain that trust.

  21. Since politicians believe in sending in American troops to fight in all these different wars, why is it they see to it that their own daughters and sons also join in the service (Bush’s daughters)?

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