Myth: The rationale for US intervention in Viet Nam was based on a fraud.

Fact: The Tonkin Gulf incident was not a fraud. It was the motivating force behind the Tonkin Gulf Resolution.

  • This myth is based on the false belief that US involvement began with the USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy "false" torpedo attacks, known as the Tonkin Gulf incidents.
  • North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap himself admitted that torpedo patrol boats attacked the USS Maddox.
  • The USS Turner Joy incident is more controversial, but multiple eyewitness accounts of professional sailors, both enlisted and officers, confirm the events of that night.
  • The testimony of sailors involved in the Turner Joy incident confirms the presence of at least one PT boat (visually sighted), one torpedo wake (visually sighted), one searchlight (visually sighted) and one PT boat sunk (visually sighted).
  • The Commander of the Destroyer Task Force, Captain John J. Herrick, testified before Congress that the attack on the Turner Joy occurred.
  • Captain Herrick recommended the Silver Star be awarded to the Turner Joy's commanding officer, Commander Roger C. Barnhart, Jr. (He was awarded a Bronze Star instead).
  • The first US combat troops were committed to Vietnam in February, 1965, about seven months after the Tonkin Gulf incident.

Confirming Evidence

Gulf of Tonkin Incident: Reappraisal 40 Years Later

U.S. sends first combat troops to South Vietnam

USS Maddox (DD-731), 1944-1972, Actions in the Gulf of Tonkin, August 1964

Tonkin: Setting the Record Straight

Declassified NSA Documents of the Tonkin Gulf incident

The Gulf of Tonkin, The 1964 Incidents Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate Ninetieth Congress Second Session With The Honorable Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense On February 20, 1968

Formerly Classified Documents Subsequent to 4 August 1964

Selected Documents Relating to the Tonkin Gulf Incidents of 2 and 4 August 1964

A North Vietnamese news story of the Aug 2 Maddox attack