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Operation Pierce Arrow was a U.S. military operation during the Vietnam War.

In response to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident when the USS Maddox of the United States Navy was attacked, sustaining one bullet hole from a machine gun after having provoked North Vietnamese patrol boats once on August 2 1964 and allegedly again on August 4 as it gathered electronic intelligence while in the international waters of the Gulf of Tonkinmarker, U.S.President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered Operation "Pierce Arrow" which was conducted on August 5. The operation consisted of 64 strike sorties from the aircraft carriers Ticonderoga and Constellationmarker against the torpedo boat bases of Hon Gaimarker, Loc Chao, Quang Khe, and Ben Thuy, and the oil storage depot at Vinhmarker. The U.S. lost two aircraft to anti-aircraft fire, with one pilot killed and another, Ensign Everett Alvarez Jr., becoming the first U.S. Prisoner of War in Vietnammarker. Pilots estimated they destroyed 90 percent of the petroleum storage facility at Vinh together with the destruction of or damage to 25 P-4 torpedo boats.

This was the start of U.S. air operations over North Vietnam and Southeast Asia, attempting to destroy the infrastructure, war material, and military units needed by North Vietnam to prosecute the guerrilla war in the South. Pierce Arrow was followed by Operation Flaming Dart on February 7-11, 1965; Operation Rolling Thunder from March 2, 1965 to October 31, 1968; Operation Linebacker, May 9 to October 22, 1972; and Operation Linebacker II, December 18-29, 1972.

Footnotes

  1. Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (New York: Doubleday, 2007), p. 241.



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