Tet Offensive

Essay by ZethroHigh School, 11th gradeA+, December 2004

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On January 31, 1968 The National Liberation Front launched a surprise attack on South Vietnam called the Tet Offensive. The offensive targeted over 100 different targets throughout South Vietnam. The attack occurred during a cease-fire for the Vietnamese New Year of Tet. The battle was a critical moment during the war, it changed many Americans opinion about the war.

The North Vietnamese started the attack by massing large amounts of troops around the marine base at Khe Sanh. The Khe Sanh base was located in the Northwestern part of South Vietnam. The North Vietnamese numbers where estimated at 20,000 men, while the marines numbered around 6,000. The Viet Cong attacked numerous times but was repelled every time. They Viet Cong turned it into a long siege, but were never able to break through into the camp. The marines received supplies throughout the siege from helicopters. Many people thought that this was going to be the decisive battle in the Vietnam War comparing it to Dien Pien Phu, the decisive battle in the French war in Vietnam. In reality it was a diversion to get American forces away from the larger cities in the south.

Meanwhile Viet Cong troops had been gathering in many of the major cities throughout South Vietnam. Weapons were also being smuggled into the city. In the early morning of January 31, almost all the major cities, and many American bases in South Vietnam where attacked by the Viet Cong. Large parts of Saigon and Hue--the two largest cities--where under the control of the Viet Cong. Many collaborators and sympathizers of the South Vietnam government were put on trial and executed.

In Saigon a group of Viet Cong attacked the United States Embassy and had an intense fight with American forces before they were...