"What really happened to the USS Maddox on that dark night in the gulf of Tonkin?"

The USS Maddox was an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer named for Captain William A. T. Maddox. She received four battle stars for World War II service, and six for Korean service.

On the night of August 2, 1964, the USS Maddox was on a signal intelligence patrol as part of DESOTO operations. The destroyer engaged three Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats, and a sea battle took place, during which the Maddox fired 280 3-5in shells. The Vietnamese boats were also strafed by USN F-8 fighter jets. One U.S. aircraft was damaged, and a 14.5mm round hit the destroyer. All three Vietnamese boats were damaged and 4 Vietnamese sailors were killed with 6 others injured; there were no U.S. casualties.

 

A second, similar incident was claimed to have occurred two days later, however this was later found to be untrue.

As a consequence of these two alleged incidents, the US Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, paving the way for massive US military escalation in South Vietnam and open warfare against North Vietnam.