The Vietnam War, Tet, and Hue
The Vietnam War is considered the longest war. It can also be known as the unnecessary war, the war we lost, and an unofficial war. This war demonstrated to the world that the United States of America will defend its beliefs by any means necessary. It unified yet divided its own nation while focusing on the conflict at hand. Despite the fact the US Congress never officially declare war, the most decisive (excluding the Civil War) and America’s longest war is known as The Vietnam War (Herring, 2002). On January 31, 1968, some 70,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces launched the Tet Offensive (named for the lunar New Year holiday called Tet), a coordinated series of fierce attacks on more than 100 cities and towns in South Vietnam. The Battle of Hue City is quite possibly one of the fiercest battles fought in the Vietnam War. In this battle the American and South Vietnamese forces were up against a North Vietnamese force that was close to triple their size. Another item to mention was that the Marine Battalions involved were low on men, and also worn down by previous battles. Moreover the American and South Vietnamese forces were attacking the North Vietnamese in a city that was very well reinforced. This battle is important because it was the first time combat was carried out in an urbanized environment. The strategic value of Hue City is because it was a distribution point for resupply efforts. A railroad and major highway passed through the city, connecting the Marine Corps command at Da Nang to the Demilitarized Zone; the Perfume River was used by US Navy supply boats moving to and from the mouth of the river and the South China Sea. If the city fell to the North Vietnamese, the US effort in Vietnam would suffer a major blow. Additionally, our forces utilized the effects of combined tactical elements such as timing, heavy gunfire support, armor, communications, and geographic obstacles to help overcome the North Vietnamese in this momentous battle. The Battle of Hue City began on the night of January 30, 1968 during the Vietnamese lunar New Year, called Tet, a holiday and celebration in Vietnam. Because of this, many of the South Vietnamese military were on leave, and because a truce usually occurred with the New Year, the North Vietnamese prepared a surprise attack when they launched the Tet Offensive on the night of January 30, 1968. The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) commenced their attack around midnight and had seized most of Hue City. By the next morning on January 31, the NVA had captured the fortified region of the Citadel, and every other segment of the city but the ARVN 1st Division Headquarters in the northern area of the city and the MACV (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam) in the southern region. Once the NVA had control over most of the city, it didn’t take long before word spread to the allied forces in the surrounding area. Some of the first reinforcements the ARVN Headquarters and the MACV Compound received were a small assembly of ARVN Airborne battalions and U.S. Marines. Overwhelmed, at first by the sheer size of the NVA forces present in Hue, these aids were able to fight and postpone the NVA troops from capturing any more territory in the city. Inconsistent allied intelligence allowed for the NVA to reinforce their powers in the meantime and strengthen their hold around the city. It appeared that all was lost and the NVA was going to take the whole city at any moment and the limited allied forces inside of the city were paying a high price with every day that passed A key turning point in the battle came with the arrival of allied reinforcements in various areas of the city. A full Marine regiment made it in the city on February 3rd and the 101st Airborne, ARVN infantry, and U.S. Navy landing craft provided support shortly thereafter. As these forces filtered in the city and attacked NVA positions, they were able to clear out small portions of the city through...
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