Surprise AttackOn January 30, 1968, the North Vietnamese surprised both the U.S. forces and the South Vietnamese by orchestrating a coordinated assault with the Viet Cong to attack about a hundred South Vietnamese cities and towns. Although the U.S. forces and the South Vietnamese army were able to repel the assault known as the Tet Offensive, this attack proved to Americans that the enemy was stronger and better organized than they had been led to believe. The Tet Offensive was a turning point in the war because President Johnson, faced now with an unhappy American public and bad news from his military leaders in Vietnam, decided to no longer escalate the war.
Nixon's Plan for "Peace With Honor"In 1969, Richard Nixon became the new U.S. President and he had his own plan to end U.S. involvement in Vietnam. President Nixon outlined a plan called Vietnamization, which was a process to remove U.S. troops from Vietnam while handing back the fighting to the South Vietnamese. The withdrawal of U.S. troops began in July 1969. To bring a faster end to hostilities, President Nixon also expanded the war into other countries, such as Laos and Cambodia -- a move that created thousands of protests, especially on college campuses, back in America. To work toward peace, new peace talks began in Paris on January 25, 1969.
When the U.S. had withdrawn most of its troops from Vietnam, the North Vietnamese staged another massive assault, called the Easter Offensive (also called the Spring Offensive), on March 30, 1972. North Vietnamese troops crossed over the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the 17th parallel and invaded South Vietnam. The remaining U.S. forces and the South Vietnamese army fought back.
The Paris Peace AccordsOn January 27, 1973, the peace talks in Paris finally succeeded in producing a cease-fire agreement. The last U.S. troops left Vietnam on March 29, 1973, knowing they were leaving a weak South Vietnam who would not be able to withstand another major communist North Vietnam attack.