Tet Offensive Essay Research Paper Pow 1The

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Tet Offensive Essay, Research Paper Pow 1 The American intervention in Vietnam began in 1963 with the intent of stopping South Vietnamese from falling into Communist hands. In August of that year, Lyndon Johnson, who had taken over the American presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy ordered the first air strikes on North Vietnamese. Six months later, the Rolling Thunder air campaign began. In this campaign alone, more bombs were dropped than in all of World War II. The president announced plans were underway for a $1 billion development program along the Mekong River that would benefit not only Vietnam, but also all of Southeast Asia. The program was intended as an offer to North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh. While flying back to Washington after the first

major speech in Vietnam about the war, Johnson confidently predicted to his press secretary, Bill Moyers, “…old Ho can’t turn me down.”(Crown 48) But the next day, Ho did just that. The rejected Mekong River development proposal was one of many instances in Vietnam where Lyndon Johnson’s overpowering skills as an agreement builder and deal maker would fail him. Secretary of Defense, William McNamara, stated to Lyndon, There is a very real question, whether it will be possible to maintain our efforts in South Vietnam for the time necessary to accomplish our objectives there (Crown 148). With in the next five years, the two Vietnams received an estimate of twenty-two tons of explosives for every square mile of territory. Seven million tons of bombs and defoliants were

dropped killing 2.6 million Vietnamese.(A Dirty Business) The American deployment jumped from 23,000 in 1963 to 184,000 in 1966 and reached a peak of 542,000 in January of 1969 while Richard Nixon is in office. North Vietnamese had had enough and began plans for an offensive that was pointed directly towards the American Pow 2 and the anti-Communists. In the 1960 s, North Vietnamese launched four major attacks on South Vietnamese and the American soldiers at the American Embassy, at Hue, at Bien Hoa, and at Tan Son Nhut known as the Tet Offesive; the personal accounts of John McCain in his autobiography, Faith of My Fathers, J.R. Bullington s autobiography, Trapped Behind Enemy Lines, and many American soldiers accounts in Veterans Recall Tet s Painful Lesson, tell of the

struggles that occurred during this offensive. Tet is the New Years holiday celebrated only in Vietnam. This holiday usually rolls Christmas, Easter and New Years all in to one. Fighting was traditionally on stand still on this holiday. No one expected the devastation that would occur on January 31, 1968. (Prados 141) The Tet Offensive involved three attacks aimed directly at South Vietnamese and the American soldiers. The first attack was at the American Embassy on January 31, 1968. This was one of the smallest and involved only fifteen Viet Cong suicide snappers. Its importance well outweighed its size. The Embassy was located in Saigon; a few blocks from the Vietnamese Presidential Palace and hotels that quartered many Americans. The Embassy was a new building surrounded by a

sturdy wall. The Embassy was the only Embassy in the world with a helicopter pad on the roof. Just before daylight, sappers in civilian clothes blew a hole in the wall of the American Embassy. Two military police guards killed the first two Viet Cong to enter the building but were killed themselves in the gun fire exchange. A military police closed the heavy metal doors of the chancery so that no Viet Cong could enter in. Under fire from a Pow 3 helicopter and from a platoon of American airborne troops lifted to the roof of the chancery by helicopter, all of the Viet Cong that entered the Embassy was killed with in six hours. The second attack of the Tet Offensive was on Hue, a combat base, on January 31 February 25. Three North Vietnamese infantry regiments, plus several rocket