257. Memorandum From the Duty Officer in the White House Situation Room to the President 1

Mr. President:

Early this morning the USS Maddox was attacked by three DRV PT boats while on patrol approximately 30 miles off the North Vietnamese coast in the Gulf of Tonkin.
The Captain of the Maddox returned the fire with 5-inch guns and requested air support from the carrier Ticonderoga on station nearby in connection with reconnaissance flights in that area.
Ticonderoga jets arrived shortly and made strafing attacks on the PT boats resulting in one enemy boat dead in the water, two others damaged and turned tail for home.
The Maddox reports no personnel or material damages.
Messrs. Rusk and McNamara have been informed of the incident and present plans are to release a press statement later today either from Washington or Saigon.2
Additional details on the Maddox encounter will be available later today.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Operation Pierce Arrow. No classification marking. Printed in part in Johnson, Vantage Point, p. 112. The President recalled that this memorandum was sent to him in his bedroom. Since his Daily Diary shows breakfast at 9 a.m., he must have received it before that time.
  2. For text of the statement, released at 10:15 a.m., see Goulden, Truth, p. 23.