40 Graphic Images of the Vietnam War Tet Offensive


The Tet Offensive was one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War, launched on January 30, 1968, by forces of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese People’s Army of Vietnam against the South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States Armed Forces, and their allies. It was a campaign of surprise attacks against military and civilian command and control centers throughout South Vietnam. The attacks began on the holiday Tet, the Vietnamese New Year.

The offensive saw more than 80,000 North Vietnamese troops attacking more than 100 towns and cities, including 36 of 44 provincial capitals, five of six autonomous cities, and 72 of 246 district towns. The Tet Offensive was the largest military operation conducted by either side up to that point in the war.

The surprise of the attacks caused the US and South Vietnamese armies to temporarily lose control of several cities. They were able to quickly regroup, counter attack, and inflict heavy casualties on North Vietnamese forces.

During the Battle of Hue, the fighting lasted over a month and the city was destroyed. During the occupation, the North Vietnamese forces executed thousands of people in the Massacre of Hue. Around the US combat base at Khe Sanh fighting continued for two more months.

Although the offensive was a military defeat for North Vietnam, it had a profound effect on the US government and shocked to Amerian public, which had been led to believe that The North Vietnamese were being defeated and were incapable of launching such a large scale attack. The Johnson administration was no longer capable of convincing anybody that Vietnam War was a major defeat for the communists.

1968 became the deadliest year of the war for US forces with 16,592 soldiers killed. On February 23 the U.S. Selective Service System announced a new draft call for 48,000 men, the second largest of the war.

Walter Cronkite stated during a news broadcast on February 27, “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” and added that, “we are mired in a stalemate that could only be ended by negotiation, not victory.”

A wounded soldier is dragged to safety near the citadel’s outer wall during the fighting at Hue. History
A market in the Cholon District of Saigon is covered in smoke and debris after the Tet Offensive, which included simultaneous attacks on more than 100 South Vietnamese cities and towns. History
An estimated 5,000 Communist soldiers were killed by American air and artillery strikes during the Battle of Hue. History
Approximately 150 U.S. Marines were killed along with 400 South Vietnamese troops at the Battle of Hue. History
Military policemen capture a Viet Cong guerrilla after the surprise attack on the U.S. embassy and South Vietnamese government buildings in Saigon. History
On January 31, 1968, approximately 70,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces began a series of attacks on the U.S. and South Vietnamese. history
On the first day of the attacks, a Buddhist monk flees the damage and destruction behind him. History
The attacks began on the lunar new year holiday, Tet, and became known as the Tet Offensive. history
U.S. forces posted at the outer wall of a citadel in the ancient city of Hue, the scene of the fiercest fighting of the Tet Offensive. History
VIETNAM. Hue. Civilian casualties. Many took refuge in the university. 1968. Philip Jones Griffiths
VIETNAM. Hue. The grounds of Hue university became a graveyard. 1968. Philip Jones Griffiths
US. Marines. South Marines. Jan/Feb. 1968. During the Vietnamese New Year celebrations of the TET, the city of HUE, an ancient Mandarin walled city which stood on the banks of the perfumed river and near to the demilitarized zone, a force of 5000 VIETCONG and NVA (North Vietnamese Army) regulars took siege of the citadel. The Americans sent in the Fifth Marine Regiment to dislodge them. Philip Jones Griffiths
VIETNAM. During the Vietnamese New Year celebrations of the Tet, the city of Hue an ancient Mandarin walled city which stood on the banks of the perfumed river and near to the demilitarized zone, a force of 5000 Vietcong and NVA (North Vietnamese Army) regulars took siege of the citadel. The American sent in the Fifth Marine Commando force to dislodge them. 1968. Philip Jones Griffiths
VIETNAM. Hue. US Marines inside the Citadel rescue the body of a dead Marine during the Tet Offensive. 1968. Philip Jones Griffiths
The battle for the Cities. U.S. Marines. 1968. Philip Jones Griffiths
VIETNAM. Hue. Refugees flee across a damaged bridge. Marines intended to carry their counterattack from the southern side, right into the citadel of the city. Despite many guards, the Vietcong were able to swim underwater and blow up the bridge, using skin-diving equipment from the Marines. Philip Jones Griffiths
VIETNAM. This operation by the 1st Cavalry Division to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail failed like all the others but the U.S. military was shaken to find such sophisticated weapons stockpiled in the valley. Officers still talked of winning the war, of seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel.” As it happened there was a light, that of a fast-approaching express train. 1968. Philip Jones Griffiths
VIETNAM. The battle for Saigon. U.S. policy in Vietnam was based on the premise that peasants driven into the towns and cities by the carpet-bombing of the countryside would be safe. Furthermore, removed from their traditional value system they could be prepared for the imposition of consumerism. This “restructuring” of society suffered a setback when, in 1968, death rained down on the urban enclaves. 1968. Philip Jones Griffiths
VIETNAM. The battle for Saigon. Refugees under fire. Confused urban warfare was such that Americans were shooting their staunchest supporters. 1968. Philip Jones Griffiths