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About 2 kilometers (1.2mi) to its southwest was the 101st Engineering Company compound (162613N 1073455E / 16.437N 107.582E / 16.437; 107.582). Under I Corps command, but available to Trng upon his request were two battalions of the ARVN 1st Airborne Task Force and a troop of armored personnel carriers from the 7th Armored Cavalry Squadron at PK-17, the ARVN base located near a road marker on Highway 1, 17 kilometers (11mi) north of Hu. Coming upon the central police headquarters in southern Hu, the tanks attempted to relieve the police defenders, but a B-40 rocket made a direct hit on Chi's tank, killing him instantly. MAIL: PO Box 7311, Richmond, Virginia 23221, Lt. Gen. G. R. (Ron) Christmas, USMC (Ret.). At about 15:15 the Marines managed to make their way toward the MACV Compound. [12]:57, Gravel's 1/1 Marines had been clearing the area to the east and south of the MACV Compound and on 10 February they captured the soccer stadium (162801N 1073549E / 16.467N 107.597E / 16.467; 107.597), providing a second, safer helicopter landing zone. Photo of me in Hue City. Marine units were located on the outskirts of the city to the south and west when they were attacked by the NVA Jan. 30 as part of the Tet Offensive. You have to work out how to deal with it. Once again, NCOs must think outside of the box to accomplish the mission. Task Force X-ray including 1/5 and 2/5 Marines (2,500) and 1st ARVN Battalion. During the months and years that followed, dozens of mass graves were discovered in and around Hu. Meanwhile, several kilometers to the south, the 2/12th Cavalry, made contact with another PAVN force just before noon. After a few minutes, the RF soldiers stopped shooting, and some began to wonder whether they had seen enemy troops or had been firing at shadows. Bowden has also written for Talk, Men's Journal, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone and Playboy, among others. screened on 27 February 1968, Cronkite closed the report with the editorial comments: We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. The year 1968 marked a crucial turning point in the Vietnam War. Rather, the Modern War Institute provides a forum for professionals to share opinions and cultivate ideas. During Tet, the lunar New Year holiday, the North Vietnamese and their Viet Cong allies staged attacks across South Vietnam, none more dramatic than the assault on Hu, the old imperial capital. [12]:60, On 10 February two forward observers from the Marines' 1st Field Artillery Group were flown into Ty Lc to help coordinate artillery and naval gunfire to support the fighting within the Citadel, however Trng instructed them that the Imperial Palace was not to be fired on. While the Marines encountered few PAVN in their sweeps they located various abandoned infrastructure that had been used to support the battle, including a 3km trench system with over 600 fighting holes. Greenway, a photographer embedded with the Marines . Hue was a city of cultural influence, religious importance, and architectural significance and as a result was deeply revered by generations of the Vietnamese people. [3] A PAVN document captured by the ARVN stated that 1,042 troops had been killed in the city proper and that several times that number had been wounded. Built within a two year span, it has been severely damaged on three occasions. It started on Jan. 30, 1968, the eve of Tet (the Vietnamese lunar new year): More than 80,000 soldiers from the People's Army North Vietnamese and southern allies staged simultaneous attacks on cities, towns and U.S. bases throughout the south, a mass occupation meant to inspire the rest of South Vietnam to rise up . Michael Bowden's new history Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam pulls off a rare feat: it takes a conflict of terrible scale and consequence, and allows us to see it. The city of Hue was the capital of a unified Vietnam from 1802 until 1945. A company from the 2/5th Marines finally relieved the MACV communications facility that morning. After battling RF troops who were guarding a series of four bridges over the canal, some of the PAVN troops crossed into the city and headed for a list of targets that included the Montagnard military school, the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) center, the Le Loi transportation camp, the provincial administration complex and prison and the Tha Thin Provincial Headquarters (162740N 1073455E / 16.461N 107.582E / 16.461; 107.582). The year 1968 was the year of the Tet Offensive including Khe Sanh and Hue City. CALL: 804.340.1800 or 800.358.8701 The 6th Battalion, 24th Regiment, 304th Division, originally located near Khe Sanh, reached the Citadel after following a route that took it through Base Area 101, Base Area 114 and Thon La Chu and the 7th Battalion, 90th Regiment, 324B Division, was due to arrive a few days later after a forced march from the DMZ. [19] PAVN sappers finally destroyed the Trng Tin bridge restricting movement between the old and new cities. [12]:3839, In the early morning a U.S. Army helicopter was shot down over the city; the crew sought refuge with a group of ARVN in a small compound. One had to do with machine guns, which he didnt elaborate on. [4]:213 Allied air and artillery support was restricted by the poor weather, supply difficulties and, initially, by restrictions intended to limit damage to Hu's historic structures. [9]:28086 After securing the Jeanne d'Arc High School, Company A, 1/1 Marines recaptured the Le Loi Elementary School. [5][6][21], 844 civilians were killed and 1,900 wounded during the battle. 1st Marine Regiment commander Colonel Stanley S. Hughes, ordered Captain George R. Christmas, commander of Company H, 2nd Battalion 5th Marines to relieve the CAP unit and Company H engaged the PAVN-VC as they withdrew from the CAP position. 3 kilometers (1.9mi) southwest of the Citadel, on the north bank of the Perfume River, was the Van Thanh divisional training center and a two-gun detachment of 105mm howitzers. 1/7th Cavalry then dug in to night defensive positions. For example, anti-aircraft vehicles called dusters were used in the front and the back of a 12-truck convoy heading into Hue City since there were no tanks available. Both the Marine and the airmobile units operating near Hu were in a state of flux as the Tt holiday began. [12]:34, At 03:40, ten minutes behind schedule, elements of the PAVN 164th Artillery Regiment fired a barrage of 122mm rockets into the new city from firing positions in the southwestern hills. Victims included women, men, children, and infants. for Advanced Operational Culture Lrng. In a 3500-page document issued on 26 January 1968 by the Tr-Thin-Hu Political Directorate, the political cadres were given specific instructions:[25] Operating in close support of the regular military and guerrilla elements, the political cadre were to: destroy and disorganize the Republic of Vietnam's administrative machinery "from province and district levels to the city wards, streets, and wharves; motivate the people of Hu to take up arms, pursue the enemy, seize power, and establish a revolutionary government; motivate (recruit) local citizens for military and "security" forces transportation and supply activities, and to serve wounded soldiers pursue to the end (and) punish spies, reactionaries, and tyrants and maintain order and security in the city. They tried again five days later, but once again, bad weather prevented them from locating Mang Ca. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. Upon their flashlight signals, the 800th Battalion and several teams from the 12th Sapper Battalion rushed through the gate and headed northwest towards Ty Lc Airfield. To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. But why was it so destructive? [9]:269, About 11:00, Company H, 2/5 Marines, crossed the An Cuu Bridge in an armed convoy. [4]:169, On the night of 30/31 January, the Marines faced rocket and mortar fire at the Phu Bai Combat Base and PAVN-VC infantry units hit Marine combined action platoons (CAP) and local Popular Force and RF units in the region, including the Truoi River and Ph Lc sectors. [12]:31, Premature Tet Offensive attacks at Nha Trang and Qui Nhn on the morning of 30 January led to the cancellation of the Tt ceasefire, but many ARVN soldiers were already away on leave, meaning that defenses in and around Hu were undermanned. [18], On the morning of 22 February, the 1/7th Cavalry, remained in Thon Que Chu and Thon La Chu to mop up pockets of resistance while the remaining units under 3rd Brigade control began marching toward the Citadel. [14]:81 On 5 February the Marines recaptured the Hu Central Hospital complex (162747N 1073513E / 16.463N 107.587E / 16.463; 107.587), rescuing Lieutenant Colonel Pham Van Khoa (the Mayor of Hu and Thua Thien Province chief), who had been hiding in the grounds. Artillery shells began raining down near the ferry landing and fighter-bombers soon joined the attack, which killed at least 12 PAVN-VC and scattered the rest. Anyone in violation of that can be charged with a war crime. [31][32], Militarily, Hu and the entire Tet Offensive were Allied victories. Vietnamese young boys and girls fill sandbags during 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division base operations in Phu Bai. [4]:174, By 20:00, the 1/1 Marines had established defensive positions near the MACV Compound and a helicopter landing zone in a field just west of the Navy LCU Ramp in southern Hu. On 24 February 2/5 Marines launched an operation to the southwest of Hu to relieve the ARVN 101st Engineering Company compound which had been under siege by the PAVN since the start of the battle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfMocPJZvfQ&t=40s. Virginia Historical Society, 428 N Arthur Ashe Boulevard [4]:216 It was estimated that it would have taken at least 16 battalions to establish an effective cordon around Hu, at this time there were only 30 battalions available in all of I Corps. Sir, Ill roll my gun right out the door (a 106mm mortar launcher with 50 caliber attached), Ill turn my gun, Ill fire it, sir you know how big the round is. In preparation for this, MACV was in the middle of Operation Checkers: moving the 1st Marine Division to Qung Tr Province in order to support Khe Sanh and defeat any other PAVN attack across the DMZ. Lt. Gen. G. R. (Ron) Christmas, USMC (Ret. The last pocket of PAVN at the southwest corner of the Citadel was eliminated in an attack by the 4th Vietnamese Marine Battalion in the early hours of 25 February. A VC company armed with 82mm mortars and 57mm recoilless rifles veered north and took up a position near PK17 outpost to shell the ARVN airborne and armored units stationed there once the offensive began. If the Marines penetrated the forward line the PAVN moved to the secondary line and then reoccupied the abandoned positions at night. North Vietnamese casualties were twice those of the Marines, but the number of killed and wounded on both sides was heavy. All he knew was that Trng's headquarters had been under attack, as was the MACV Compound. 4,856 civilians and captured ARVN personnel were executed by the PAVN-VC or went missing during the battle according to the South Vietnamese Government. . document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() ); The articles and other content which appear on the Modern War Institute website are unofficial expressions of opinion. [12]:2729, At least two PAVN regiments, two sapper battalions, and an assortment of VC local forces were based in Tha Thin Province. The next day Company F swept the west bank of the canal, fighting through houses and the Hu Railway Station that had been sheltering PAVN snipers, before withdrawing back across the bridge. In one village, the troops dismounted and cleared the houses on either side of the main street before proceeding. At 05:00 on 24 February they raised the South Vietnamese flag on the Citadel flag tower and proceeded to secure the southern wall by 10:25. On January 30, 1968, after months of preparation, North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops and Viet Cong (VC) guerrillas launched a massive, coordinated assault on nearly every city, town, and. The battle was one of the longest and bloodiest of the war, and the battle negatively affected American public perception of the war. On March 16, 1968, during the Vietnam War, United States troops under the command of Lt. William L. Calley Jr. carried out a massacre of about 500 unarmed men, women and children in the village. [4]:18990 After resting his men at the Provincial Headquarters, Cheatham resumed his advance west towards the Phu Cam Canal, then swung south and east to clear the area with the canal to his right. He went on to say that what is important is that each Marine stay above the emotion of the fight. The PAVN/VC crossed the river without incident on the evening of 30 January, but the delay meant that only the 1st and 2nd Sapper Battalions and an 82mm mortar company would be in their forward positions when the offensive began. [9]:51920, The battle was an ARVN-U.S. victory in only the narrowest sense in that they had evicted the PAVN-VC from the city at heavy cost, but failed to annihilate them. This book is the capstone volume of the entire series in that 1968, as the title indicates, was the defining year of the war. [10][11] Hu had been at the center of the Buddhist crisis of 1963 and the Buddhist Uprising of 1966 and other than the city's Catholics, its population of Buddhists and intellectuals were lukewarm supporters of the Nguyn Vn Thiu-Nguyn Cao K government. It comes from the non- commissioned officers.. Trng then ordered the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment and the Hac Bao Company to recapture the Imperial Palace and this was achieved against minimal resistance by late afternoon. [9]:268, On the night of 3 February, the PAVN commander, seeing the buildup of Marines at Hu University, thinned out his frontline forces leaving just a platoon to defend the Treasury building and adjacent Post Office. Three of these regiments were believed to be involved in the siege of Khe Sanh. [9]:32022 The PAVN-VC no longer tenaciously defended each building, relying more on sniper fire, mortars and rockets. A great storm in 1904 closed the bridge until 1906; in . Some were marched north into captivity, while others were executed, including three West German doctors, two French Benedictine monks and two U.S. government employees. The 1st Regiment was stationed near Qung Tr 50 kilometers (31mi) to the northwest and the 2nd Regiment was another twelve kilometers farther up Highway 1 near ng H. With Company A, 1/1 Marines as the Phu Bai reserve, Hughes directed Lieutenant Colonel Marcus Gravel to prepare the company for any contingency. Inguyen Anh, whose regal name was Gia Long, founded the new citadel of Hue in 1802. Company H withdrew so that air strikes could be launched and these knocked out mortar and machine gun positions killing 20 PAVN; however, one bomb fell short killing four Marines. On the night of the 6th, the PAVN counterattacked, with a battalion from the 29th Regiment scaling the southwest wall and pushing the 4th Battalion back to Ty Lc. Its pretty easy to get emotional, but what leaders get paid for is to stand above the emotion. In spite of the beating they took in November, they will continue to assert they repelled the initial attack and fought well thereafter. "[4]:171, As the Marines approached the southern suburbs of the city they came under increasing fire from the PAVN 804th Battalion. The city had a population of 140,000 before the battle. When seven successive attempts to breach the gate failed, the battalion joined the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 3rd Regiment, near the southern corner of the Citadel. 2 kilometers (1.2mi) south of the Perfume River and just west of Highway 1 was the Tam Thai military camp, headquarters of the ARVN 7th Armored Squadron Regiment equipped with M41 Walker Bulldog tanks. Hu was also a base for United States Navy supply boats. Apart from the headquarters staff and a handful of support units, the only combat units in the Citadel were the division's 36-man Reconnaissance Platoon and its reaction force, the elite Hac Bao (Black Panther) Reconnaissance Company. The sappers mission was to scale the Citadel's wall near the Mang Ca compound, open and hold the Hau and An Hoa Gates and assist the infantry company with its attack on Trng's headquarters. [4]:16, The headquarters of ARVN Brigadier General Ng Quang Trng's 1st Division was located in the Mang Ca Garrison, a minifortress in the northeast corner of the Citadel. The Marine convoy stopped several times to eliminate resistance in heavy house-to-house fighting before proceeding again. U.S. 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division base camp operations in Phu Bai near Hue, Vietnam. Truck convoy enters gate of the camp. They may be right, that Hanoi's winter-spring offensive has been forced by the Communist realization that they could not win the longer war of attrition, and that the Communists hope that any success in the offensive will improve their position for eventual negotiations For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. [23] Cadres called out the names on their lists over loudspeakers, ordering them to report to a local school. God Bless these two Marines , who in the heat of battle, find the opportunity to escort this blind local girl to safety. There are endless must-see historic sites, especially those that are UNESCO World Heritage designated. The cultural and historical capital city, Hue was the centerpiece of Hanoi's 1968 Tet Offensive, a surprise attack by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong that sought to win the war in one stroke . Firing at long range, they missed their target and made no further effort to take the position. He has served twenty-six years in the Canadian Armed Forces, which included operational tours to the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and Afghanistan. The Modern War Institute does not screen articles to fit a particular editorial agenda, nor endorse or advocate material that is published. 4) Take in a Performance at the Royal Theatre. One of their battalion commanders, (then) Major Robert Thompson became a close friend during and after the war. The PAVN-VC could not afford to engage in a firefight at this point, and they succeeded in sneaking away without raising further alarms. The Kings of the Nguyen Dynasty built their feudal capital along Hue's fertile riverbanks and atop its forested hills, but their imperial legacy is just one of many reasons to visit. The Cavalry force soon encountered two dug-in PAVN Battalions around the villages of Thon Que Chu and Thon La Chu which they were unable to overcome as fog prevented their usual gunship support. The supporting fire continued throughout the day, but the PAVN did not abandon their positions. The city served as the old Imperial City and administrative capital for the Nguyn dynasty and later functioned as the administrative capital of the protectorate of Annam during the French . I know how to do this, said the lance corporal according to Downs. More than half the company's 147 men had been wounded or killed in that day's fighting. 23 February saw little progress, prompting a frustrated Abrams to suggest that the Vietnamese Marine Corps should be dissolved. During the next five years the battalion participated in combat operations in Hue city, Que Son, Phu Bai, Dong Ha and Phu Loc. Those not reporting voluntarily were hunted down. A rotating group of staff personnel from the compound was stationed at Trng's headquarters day and night. [12]:38, Just before dawn the 804th Battalion reached the eastern outskirts of the new city, three hours behind schedule. Nguyen Hue is now a walking street, where thousands of people get together every night for selfies and snacks. While Downs was deciding how to approach this problem a young lance corporal and a private first class came up with an idea. On 27 February the entire battalion attacked the hill but the PAVN had withdrawn during the night, leaving behind 14 dead. After a day of attacks the Marines withdrew to their night defensive positions. He essentially made a memorial of each Marine by keeping a book in which he wrote down the names and dates of all Marines killed and injured during the battle. Afterward, massive reconstruction and rehabilitation had been undertaken to restore the precious historic relics in the ancient capital. His remaining Hac Bao platoon, made up of the most experienced soldiers, took up position at the centrally located Ty Lc Airfield to act as a rapid-reaction force. The new combat headquarters, staffed by high-ranking officials from the Tr-Thin-Hu Front, local party members, and military officers from the units involved in the attack, had authority over the city and the three districts that surrounded it. [9]:23943, Many of the Marines of Task Force X-Ray had little or no urban combat experience and the U.S. troops were not trained for urban close-quarters combat, so this battle was especially tough for them. The 2/12th Cavalry withdrew to a night defensive perimeter, but at dawn on 3 February following a mortar barrage the PAVN attacked their position. With darkness approaching the attack was postponed until the next morning. The armored troop at Tam Thai was first to respond to Trng's order. In another part of the city, where Downs company was flown in by helicopter, he was leading his men from building to building but had to use ingenuity and tear gas to do so. They turned left and immediately came under automatic weapons and recoilless rifle fire from the Citadel wall. The change is incredible, and yet you can still make out familiar sights. [9]:125 While a few joined the PAVN-VC and others supported them by digging fortifications and preparing food, most of the population either tried to flee behind the ARVN-U.S. lines or took shelter in their homes or in churches and pagodas, which they hoped would be safe. Meanwhile, the team of thirty sappers who had scaled the northwestern wall overpowered the guards standing watch at the An Hoa and Hau Gates, then opened their doors to the infantry company waiting outside. Battle of Hue During the TeT Offensive - Vietnam 1968. Meanwhile, the other two IL14s, which had been modified to drop bombs, had orders to bomb Mang Ca. Shortly after 04:30, a column of M41 tanks and M113 armored personnel carriers (APCs) left the compound and headed up Highway 1. [9]:83, The ARVN and Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) were largely unprepared for the Tet Offensive. The attackers were engaged by a machine gunner in a guard tower and troops in a bunker who were able to hold off the attack for long enough to allow others in the compound to form a cohesive defense. On the south side of the river was the new city of Hu, which contained most of the government buildings, schools, and the university, set on wide boulevards. Finally, a small detachment of U.S. Navy personnel was stationed at a boat ramp just north of the MACV Compound. During the night, the battalion called helicopter into the landing zone to take out the most badly wounded. [4]:167 Meanwhile, the PAVN 802nd Battalion moved north of Ty Lc to attack Mang Ca. Death in the Citadel: U.S. Marines in the Battle for Hue City, 31 January to 2 March 1968 (2017). For the board wargame based on this battle, see, The 1st Cavalry Division attacks PAVN supply lines, Last edited on 24 February 2023, at 12:50, Massacre perpetrated by Vietcong and the PAVN, dressed in ARVN uniforms killed the guards, Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support, Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War Developments in the war, News media and the Vietnam War Tet Offensive, 1968, November 2004 anti-insurgent Marine operation, United States Army Center of Military History, "The History Place Vietnam War 19651968", "Urban Operations: An Historical Casebook", "An Excerpt from the Viet Cong Strategy of Terror", "Pham Van Dong, Voice of Vietnam's Revolt, Dies at 94", "Vietnam War Medal of Honor Recipients (AL)", "Medal of Honor Monday: Army Sgt. [4]:211 The three-day operation netted hundreds of VC cadre, many of whom were university students who, according to local residents, had played a key role in rounding up government officials and intellectuals the PAVN/VC regarded as threats to their new regime. [4]:230, On 1 February, III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) Commander Lieutenant General Robert Cushman alerted the 1st Cavalry Division commander, Major General John J. Tolson, to be ready to deploy his 3rd Brigade into a sector west of Hu. As the Marines approached the base at 07:00 they were met by PAVN mortar and machine-gun fire; artillery fire was called in on the PAVN positions and the Marines entered the base at 08:50. During the Battle of Hue City, most of the civilians hid out in buildings, according to Christmas. power. Richmond,Virginia23220, Galleries, Store, & Caf daily 10:00 am-5:00 pm 10 Apr 2018| To understand why, Mark Bowden's searing "Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam" takes us deep into the bloodiest single battle of that bitter conflict, tracking Americans . Gravel launched a two-company assault supported by tanks towards the Provincial Headquarters and Thua Thien Prison, seven blocks west of the MACV Compound where the ARVN were believed to still be holding out. The heavy damage was the result of the artillery, air, and mortar pounding the area received for 25 days while the Viet Cong/NVA held the area. [24], The PAVN-VC's actions were based on a series of orders issued by the PAVN High Command and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam (PRG). Company H attacked a nearby hill meeting a stubborn defense, losing one dead and killing six PAVN. The toughest fight of the day centered on a pagoda that contained a PAVN battalion headquarters. [34] In his analysis of the Battle of Fallujah, Jonathan F. Keiler, a military historian and former officer in the Judge Advocate General's Corps wrote:[36]. They were to relieve a MACV Microwave/Tropo communications facility approximately 2.5km southeast of the MACV Compound surrounded by a VC force. [9]:268, Back at Phu Bai, Cheatham was reviewing Marine urban fighting doctrine which recommended staying off the streets and moving forward by blasting through walls and buildings. The Vietnam War is often pictured as a jungle conflict, punctuated by American troops fighting in rural hut-filled villages. To avoid ambushes it turned off Highway 1 a few kilometers north of the city, traveled east cross-country, and swung around the rear of Mang Ca through the Trai Gate. Cuu bridge in an armed convoy, ordering them to report to a local.. 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The forward line the PAVN 802nd battalion moved north of the main street before proceeding again raising!, 31 January to 2 March 1968 ( 2017 ) Hue, Vietnam reached. Five days later, but once again, NCOs must think outside of War! To work out how to deal with it advocate material that is published suggest we are on the edge defeat. Battalion headquarters at about 15:15 the Marines penetrated the forward line the PAVN 802nd battalion moved north Ty. World Heritage designated including Khe Sanh 4 ]:167 meanwhile, the 2/12th Cavalry, made with... Conflict, punctuated by American troops fighting in rural hut-filled villages south Government! For is to stand above the emotion of the new Citadel of Hue was the MACV..

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