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255. Editorial Note

At 3:40 a.m. EDT (3:40 p.m. Saigon time), August 2, the destroyer Maddox, on patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin, reported that it was “being approached by high speed craft with apparent intention of torpedo attack. Intend open fire in necessary self defense.” (Message 020740Z to Commander Seventh Fleet; Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 72 D 219, DeSoto Patrols, August) Twenty-seven minutes later, the Maddox reported that it was being attacked by three North Vietnamese patrol craft and had opened fire. (Message 020807Z to Commander Seventh Fleet; ibid.) In the ensuing engagement, the Maddox and aircraft from the U.S.S. Ticonderoga damaged two of the patrol craft which retreated to the North, and left one dead in the water. Reports on the incident reached Washington shortly after 4 a.m.