Week of April 9
At the end of 1964, with direct U.S. participation in combat operations poised to begin, there were about 23,000 U.S. forces in Vietnam. In less than five years, by the first weeks of April 1969, America's commitment in Southeast Asia reached its highest level, with 543,000 U.S. men and women serving in-theater. Two months later, President Richard Nixon ordered the first of those half-million servicemembers home, as part of his administration's "Vietnamization" policy. By the end of the first year of withdrawal, approximately 48,700 Americans had been killed, nearly 84 percent of the total U.S. death toll in the war.1
1Graham A. Cosmas, United States Army in Vietnam: MACV: The Joint Command in the Years of Withdrawal, 1968-1973 (Wash DC: Center of Military History, 2006), 176-77; Spencer C. Tucker, ed., The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History (2nd edition; Santa Barbara, Ca.: ABC-CLIO, 2011), 182. Richard W. Stewart, Deepening Involvement, 1945-1965 (Wash. DC, Center of Military History: 2012), 17-22, 25-33, 40-42, 48-50; Ronald H. Spector, The U.S. Army in Vietnam: Advise and Support, the Early Years, 1941-1960 (Wash. D.C.: U.S. Army, 1985), 278-96, 343-48. For casualty numbers, see "National Archives: Statistical Information about Fatal Casualties of the Vietnam War," http://www.archives.gov/research/military/vietnam-war/casualty-statistics.html (accessed 4/7/15); and "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund," http://www.vvmf.org/ (accessed 4/7/15).