Tet – January 1968


NATIONAL ARCHIVES February 1968. Marines scale a mound of rubble as they fight their way into the NVA stronghold in the Citadel – the ancient Imperial capital’s fortress – during the battle for Hue. (armchairgeneral.com)

Tet (the first of three major offensives during 1968) is arguably the most recognized battle of the war in Vietnam, and became the political pivot point for support of the war effort in the United States, changing from positive to negative within a few weeks. Commonly known as the Tet Offensive, the battle was an all out attack on major population centers throughout South Vietnam by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and its pro-communist guerrilla arm, the Viet Cong.

Numerically and tactically the invaders were soundly defeated, losing twice as many fighters as did the U.S. and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). But the perception in America that the war was almost over vanished (in part because of negative media coverage) – as did popular support for the war effort. The shameful treatment of returning combat troops by anti-war demonstrators – a scar that has never healed among Vietnam era veterans – really began in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive.

A short but pretty good summary of the battle can be found at the website of the State Department’s Historian (click here).


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