In early 1968, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces battled and defeated a seemingly all-or-nothing gamble by communists. Nowhere was the fighting fiercer or more prolonged than in the former capital of Hue.in downtown Saigon. A platoon of Viet Cong guerrillas—19 fighters of the C-10 Sapper Battalion—jumped from the vehicles with assorted weapons. They blasted a hole in the embassy compound wall and then scrambled into the courtyard.1
At almost the same moment, more than 80,000 communist troops—North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars and Viet Cong guerrillas—attacked major cities, provincial and district capitals, and military installations throughout South Vietnam.2 Their objective: ignite a popular uprising that would topple the Saigon government and force the United States from Vietnam.
The attacks stunned allied commanders. Fighting would rage throughout the month of February, dominating U.S. news coverage of the war and undermining official claims of progress.