1973 in the Vietnam War

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1973 in the Vietnam War
← 1972
1974 →
Hanoi Taxi over NMUSAF.jpg
Hanoi Taxi the plane used to bring home American POWs from Hanoi
Location Indochina

Anti-Communist forces:

 South Vietnam
 United States
 South Korea
Cambodia Khmer Republic
Laos Kingdom of Laos
Taiwan Republic of China

Communist forces:

 North Vietnam
Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam Viet Cong
Cambodia Khmer Rouge
Laos Pathet Lao
 Soviet Union
Casualties and losses
US: 168 killed [1]
South Vietnam: Killed


2 January

The Democratic members of the United States House of Representatives voted 154 to 75 to cut off U.S. funds for the war in Vietnam once all U.S. forces were withdrawn and U.S. Prisoners of war (POWs) were released.[2]

3 January

In Beijing, Chinese leader Zhou Enlai told North Vietnam's peace negotiator, Le Duc Tho, that "the U.S. effort to exert pressure through bombing has failed." He advised Tho to be flexible in peace negotiations with the Americans and to "let them leave as quickly as possible" and wait for the situation to change.[3]

4 January

The Democratic members of the United States Senate followed the lead of the House of Representatives in voting 36 to 12 to cut off funds for the Vietnam War once all U.S. military forces were withdrawn and the POWs released.[4]

5 January

Canada's Secretary of State for External Affairs, Mitchell Sharp, said he found it difficult to understand the reason for the U.S. Christmas bombing (Operation Linebacker II) and that "we deplore the action."[5]

President Richard Nixon wrote a letter to President Nguyen Thieu of South Vietnam asking for Thieu's cooperation in the peace negotiations and stating that "the unity of our two countries...would be gravely jeopardized if you persist in your present course." Thieu had scuttled a draft peace agreement reached in October 1972. Nixon pledged to respond with "full force" if North Vietnam violated the peace agreement.[6]

6 January

As National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger prepared to resume peace talks with North Vietnam in Paris, United States President Nixon told him that "almost any settlement would be tolerable." Nixon expressed willingness to accept the draft agreement of October 1972 with a few cosmetic changes to make it appear the U.S. had gained something in the negotiations.[7]

9 January

Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho in Paris achieved a "breakthrough" in the peace talks with the main obstacle remaining the opposition of the South Vietnamese government to the agreement.[8]

11 January

With most details of a peace agreement worked out, Kissinger and Tho reached secret agreements regarding cease fires in both South Vietnam and Laos, the release of American POWs and political prisoners in South Vietnam, and the partial withdrawal of North Vietnamese forces from South Vietnam.[9]

The Governor General of Australia Paul Meernaa Caedwalla Hasluck proclaimed the cessation of hostilities in Vietnam by Australian Forces.[10]

14 January

President Nixon wrote a letter to President Thieu of South Vietnam which was delivered in Saigon by military adviser Alexander Haig. Nixon said he was "irrevocably" committed to sign the peace agreement and said he would do so "alone, if necessary." The consequences if Thieu did not sign the agreement would be a cutoff in American military and economic aid. Nixon pledged to "react strongly in the event the agreement is violated" by North Vietnam and to continue aid to South Vietnam if Thieu cooperated."[11]

17 January

Thieu responded to Nixon's letter with a long list of objections to the peace agreement, most importantly the fact that the withdrawal of all North Vietnamese forces from South Vietnam was not required.[12]

20 January

President Nixon responded to President Thieu's objections to the peace agreement. He attempted to reassure Thieu on the issue of North Vietnamese soldiers in South Vietnam. He repeated that he would sign the agreement whether or not Thieu agreed.[13]

21 January

President Thieu notified the U.S. government that he would sign the peace agreement on behalf of South Vietnam.[14]

22 January

Former U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson whose presidency was marred by the Vietnam War, died.

27 January

The Paris Peace Accords, intended to end the Vietnam War, end direct U.S. military involvement and stop the fighting between North and South Vietan were signed in Paris. The governments of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), and the United States, as well as the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) that represented indigenous South Vietnamese revolutionaries (the Viet Cong) signed the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam.[15]

28 January

North Vietnam celebrated the signing of the Paris Peace Accords as a victory. "The Vietnamese revolution has achieved several important gains, but the struggle of our people must continue to consolidate those victories [to] build a peaceful, unified, independent, democratic, and strong Vietnam." The U.S. media praised Nixon and Kissinger for their achievement of "peace with honor." In South Vietnam few believed that the agreement would lead to a lasting peace.[16]


1 February

The U.S. and North Vietnam began implementing the secret portions of the Paris Peace Accords. North Vietnam handed over a list of 10 names of U.S. military and civilians who were prisoners in Laos. The U.S. said in response that it had records for 317 unaccounted for personnel. The U.S. had promised 3.25 billion dollars in aid to North Vietnam in exchange for cooperation in determining the fate of missing and unaccounted for Americans.[17]

10 February

National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger visited Hanoi and met with Prime Minister Pham Van Dong. The two men discussed the implementation of the U.S. aid program for Vietnam and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and North Vietnam.[18]

12 February

Operation Homecoming was a series of diplomatic negotiations that in January 1973 made possible the return of 591 American prisoners of war held by North Vietnam. Starting on February 12, 1973, three C-141A transports flew to Hanoi, North Vietnam, and one C-9A aircraft was sent to Saigon, South Vietnam to pick up released prisoners of war. The first flight of 40 U.S. prisoners of war left Hanoi in a C-141A, later known as the "Hanoi Taxi" and now in a museum. From February 12 to April 4, there were 54 C-141 missions flying out of Hanoi, bringing the former POWs home.[19]

26 February

The International Guarantee Conference, set up to supervise the Paris Peace Accords, took place in Paris. The principal issue was violations of the in-place cease fire called for in the Accord. The Viet Cong (PRG) representative accused the South Vietnam of "thousands" of military sweeps to take control of additional areas; the South Vietnamese representative charged the Viet Cong with 4,595 violations of the cease fire.[20]


March 17

The last South Korean left South Vietnam.[21]

18 March

The International Commission of Control of Supervision, created to supervise the Paris Peace Accords, reported that "the cease fire [has] not...been effective" with numerous violations by South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and the Viet Cong. "None of the Vietnamese parties wanted the kind of peace promised by the agreement" was the conclusion of one scholar.[22]

29 March

The last American combat troops left Vietnam as per the Paris Peace Accords.[23] A small contingent stays to provide protection duties at the American embassy in Saigon.


June 19, 1973

The Case–Church Amendment was legislation approved by the U.S. Congress and signed into law on 1973 that prohibited further U.S. military activity in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This ended direct U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War, although the U.S. continued to provide military equipment and economic support to the South Vietnamese government.[23]


Operation End Sweep was a U.S. Navy operation to remove the naval mines from Haiphong harbor in North Vietnam in July 1973. This action was done in favor of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, abiding to the Paris Peace Accord.

21 July

The plenum of the Communist Party in North Vietnam recommended the escalation of political activity and military action in South Vietnam "in response to Saigon's flagrant and continued violations of the cease fire." However, the Politburo decided that all-out war was not feasible and that North Vietnam would continue to express adherence to the Paris Peace Accord. [24]


August 15

The last bombing by American planes anywhere in Indochina takes place when B-52s strike a target in Cambodia.[25]


November 7

The War Powers Resolution of 1973 (50 U.S.C. 1541–1548) was a United States Congress joint resolution providing that the President can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by authorization of Congress or if the United States is already under attack or serious threat. The War Powers Resolution requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war. The resolution was passed by two-thirds of Congress, overriding a presidential veto.[26]

Year in numbers[edit]

Armed Force KIA Reference Military costs - 1971 Military costs in 2015 US$ Reference
 South Vietnam ARVN
 United States US Forces 168 [1]
 North Vietnam


  1. ^ a b United States 2010
  2. ^ Asselin, Pierre (2992), A Bitter Peace: Washington, Hanoi, and the Making of the Paris Agreement, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, p. 155-156
  3. ^ Asselin, p. 157
  4. ^ Asselin, p. 156
  5. ^ "Asselin, p. 153
  6. ^ Asselin, p. 155
  7. ^ Asselin, p. 155
  8. ^ Asselin, p. 158
  9. ^ Asselin, p. 161
  10. ^ Australia 2010, p. 6
  11. ^ FRUS, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume IX, Vietnam, October 1972-January 1973, Document 278. https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-7609/d278, accessed 27 Jun 2015
  12. ^ Asselin, pp. 167-170
  13. ^ Asselin, p. 171
  14. ^ Asselin, p. 172
  15. ^ Asselin, pp. 177, 214
  16. ^ Asselin, pp. 177-178
  17. ^ Asselin, p. 181
  18. ^ Asselin, p. 181-182
  19. ^ Stephens 1973
  20. ^ Asselin, p. 182
  21. ^ Stanton 2003, p. 272
  22. ^ Asselin, pp 182-183
  23. ^ a b Solheim 2006, p. xlii
  24. ^ Asselin, pp. 185-186
  25. ^ Addington 2000, p. 153
  26. ^ Solheim 2006, p. xliii