In 1968, US and ARVN forces in Vietnam were faced with a massive surprise attack and their biggest battles yet: On January 31,1968, Viet Cong and NVA forces violated the Tet cease-fire and launched the Tet Offensive all across South Vietnam. Dozens of targets in the South were attacked simultaneously
US Army and Marines plus ARVN units, fought 80,000 enemy in bloody battles as they attacked over 100 cities including every provincial capital, and Saigon itself. US and ARVN forces repelled the communists in weeks, after inflicting very heavy losses on VC/NVA forces.
Meanwhile further north, near the border, the NVA surrounded the US Marine base and airfield at Khe Sanh. NVA artillery, rockets, and mortar fire were placed on Khe Sanh with the intention of inflicting another "Dien Bien Phu" style defeat on the Americans. Instead President Johnson ordered "Operation Niagara", one of the heaviest air bombing campaigns in history, in order to destroy the enemy and keep the base in American hands.
"According to the official Marine Corps history of the battle, total friendly casualties for the occupation and siege of Khe Sanh were “205 friendly KIA.” The Marines claimed 1,602 NVA killed by actual body count, and estimated the total NVA dead at 'between 10,000 and 15,000.' Time magazine reported that General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, after spiraling into Khe Sanh by helicopter, declared: “We took 220 killed at Khe Sanh and about 800 wounded and evacuated. The enemy by my count suffered at least 15,000 in the area.”
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