National Archives News

Vietnam’s Tet Offensive: 50 Years Later

Tet Offensive 50th Anniversary graphic banner.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, one of the largest military campaigns and a turning point of the Vietnam War.

In late January 1968, during the lunar new year (or “Tet”) holiday, North Vietnamese and communist Viet Cong forces launched a coordinated attack against targets in South Vietnam. The U.S. and South Vietnamese militaries sustained heavy losses before finally repelling the communist assault. The Tet Offensive played an important role in weakening U.S. public support for the war in Vietnam.

The old and the young flee Tet offensive fighting in Hue, managing to reach the south shore of the Perfume River despite this blown bridge.

The National Archives is proud to serve veterans and their families, especially through our work at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO. In addition to veterans’ records, our holdings include photos, video footage, and military records that chronicle the military’s history and battles. Within the National Archives Catalog, explore documents and related records chronicling this campaign.

 

 

Accordion

In January, 1968, the fighting in Vietnam was at a stalemate. General Westmoreland, commander of the American forces, announced that the end of the war was in view, but the North Vietnamese had different ideas. In his book, Hue 1968, author and journalist Mark Bowden, discusses the Tet Offensive and how the North Vietnamese planned to win the war in a single stroke with military actions and popular uprisings across South Vietnam, but the most crucial part of the plan was the capture of Hue, the country’s cultural capital.


Dr. Erik B. Villard and a panel will discuss the Tet offensive and Villard’s book, Combat Operations: Staying the Course, September 1967–October 1968. The panel will explore the twelve-month period when the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese allies embarked on a new and more aggressive strategy that shook the foundations of South Vietnam and forced the United States to reevaluate its military calculations in Southeast Asia. The allied situation at the end of this period appeared to be only marginally better than it had been in late 1967; the peace talks in Paris had stalled, and American public opinion had turned decisively against the war. A book signing of Combat Operations will follow the program.


In Our Year of War, Lt. General Daniel P. Bolger (retired) tells the gritty and engaging story of two brothers who went to war in Vietnam, fought in the same unit, and saved each other's life. One supported the war, the other detested it, but they fought it together. Joining General Bolger for today's discussion are those brothers; Chuck and Tom Hagel.

Prologue

Remembering Vietnam, A New Exhibit at the Archives Helps Us See the Causes and Impact of the War, Prologue Fall 2017


Blogs

Hagel Brothers Share Vietnam War Story, National Archives News


Presidential Libraries

Johnson Library

Nixon Library

  • Memo for the President from Henry Kissinger, Analysis for Vietnam.  Excerpt:  “The shock of the Tet Offensive was in part attributable to our failure to analyze available intelligence accurately.”

Ford Library

 

 

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