30 January 2009


although 31 january is generally thought of as the start of the Tet offensive during the Vietnam war, preliminary attacks actually took place forty years ago today, on 30 january 1968. the country was divided by u.s. military into four tactical regions called corps, roman numeraled I-IV. the earliest VC/NVA attacks on 30 january were in the more northerly I and II corps, and did not raise alarms among u.s. commanders. early the following morning attacks multiplied and spread across all of south vietnam, taking u.s. and allied units entirely by surprise.

i was stationed at fort gordon, georgia at the time, completing my training as a radioteletype (RTT) operator. i had no orders in hand, but just about everyone knew that we would join the multitudes being funneled into the hungry jaws of The Beast. sure enough, by 11 march i was in country, feeling confused and excited and frightened, not having the faintest idea what to expect. ignorance is bliss. within a month of arrival at my permanent assignment with HHB 23rd artillery group, II field force, stationed at phu loi (about 20 miles north of saigon, near one corner of the infamous Iron Triangle), and with very little OJT training, i was sent out to the first of two 2-month deployments in the field, attached to roving artillery batteries. my travels ranged from the mekong delta to cholon, the chinese district of saigon, to cu chi (of VC tunnel fame) and tay ninh (with nearby Nui Ba Den, the sole mountain for miles around, being a VC/NVA stronghold overlooking the base), and deep into the parrot's beak along the cambodian border. i've described a few of my experiences in previous entries on this website.

forty years. so long ago, and yet only yesterday......

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