Reprisal air raids signaling a sustained bombing campaign against North Vietnam. Early on 7 February 1965, the Viet Cong mortared the U.S. helicopter installation at Camp Halloway and the adjacent Pleiku airfield in South Vietnam’s Central Highlands, killing 8 U.S. servicemen, wounding 109, and destroying or damaging 20 aircraft. President Johnson decided to order reprisals, hoping the quick and effective retaliation would persuade the North Vietnamese that their leadership could not rele on continued freedom from bombing while perserving in belligerent actions against South Vietnam. Johnson dismissed the possibility that a restricted attack would activate Russian or Chinese involvement.
With South Vietnamese agreement, the Johnson administration ordered air strikes against four targets in the DRV north of the 17th parallel. Carried out under a previously developed Joint Chiefs of Staff contingency labeled Flaming Dart, U.S. Navy jets from Seventh Fleet aircraft carriers rocketed and bombed North Vietnamese installations at Dong Hoi. Johnson ordered Flaming Dart II 48 hours later, after Viet Cong killed 23 Americans at Qui Nhon, a second series of sorties explained as the onset of Rolling Thunder.