On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox was carrying out signals intelligence patrol. The Maddox claimed to have been approached by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. These boats attacked with torpedoes and machine gun fire. On August 4, 1964 the USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy were once again attacked by torpedo boats. President Johnson ordered retaliatory air strikes on North Vietnamese naval bases and requested congressional support for a broad resolution authorizing him to take whatever action necessary to deal with future threats to U.S. forces or allies in Southeast Asia. This was called the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which escalated the U.S. in war with Vietnam.
The attack on the USS Maddox on August 2, 1964 had occurred, but the second attack was completely fabricated. The USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy went out to sea the evening of August 4, 1964 with bad weather. The ships had received confused radar and sonar transmissions preceded my intercepted radio communications that suggested an attack was imminent. The USS Ticonderoga launched a jet to scout the situation. The 90 minute flight resulted in finding no threats. The pilot reported that the ships had been firing on phantom targets.