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Old 02-28-2005, 04:54 PM
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Default February 24

1968 Hue recaptured

The Imperial Palace in Hue is recaptured by South Vietnamese troops. Although the Battle of Hue was not officially declared over for another week, it was the last major engagement of the Tet Offensive.

At dawn on the first day of the Tet holiday truce, Viet Cong forces, supported by large numbers of North Vietnamese troops, launched the largest and best-coordinated offensive of the war, driving into the center of South Vietnam's seven largest cities and attacking 30 provincial capitals ranging from the Delta to the DMZ. Among the cities taken during the first four days of the offensive were Hue, Dalat, Kontum, and Quang Tri; in the north, all five provincial capitals were overrun. At the same time, enemy forces shelled numerous allied airfields and bases.

Nearly 1,000 Viet Cong were believed to have infiltrated Saigon, and it required a week of intense fighting by an estimated 11,000 U.S. and South Vietnamese troops to dislodge them. By February 10, the offensive was largely crushed, but with heavy casualties on both sides. The former Imperial capital of Hue took almost a month of savage house-to-house combat to regain. The city had come under attack by two North Vietnamese regiments on January 31 and eventually elements of three North Vietnamese divisions were involved in the fight. The main battle centered on the Citadel, a two-square mile fortress with walls 30 feet high and 20 feet thick built in 1802. It took eight battalions of U.S. Marines and troopers from the 1st Cavalry Division plus eleven South Vietnamese battalions to evict the communists from the city. It was a costly battle. The U.S. Army suffered 74 dead and 507 wounded; the U.S. Marines lost 142 dead and 857 wounded. South Vietnamese losses totaled 384 dead and 1,830 wounded. North Vietnamese casualties included 5,000 dead and countless more wounded.

1969 Airman wins Medal of Honor for action on this day

After a North Vietnamese mortar shells rocks their Douglas AC-47 gunship, Airman First Class John L. Levitow throws himself on an activated, smoking magnesium flare, drags himself and the flare to the open cargo door, and tosses it out of the aircraft just before it ignites. For saving his fellow crewmembers and the gunship, Airman Levitow was later awarded the Medal of Honor. He was the only enlisted airman to win the Medal of Honor in Vietnam and was one of only four enlisted airmen ever to win the medal.

February 24, 1968

On February 24, 1968, the Tet Offensive ends as U.S. and South Vietnamese troops recapture the ancient capital of Hu? from communist forces. Although scattered fighting continued across South Vietnam for another week, the battle for Hu? was the last major engagement of the offensive, which saw communist attacks on all of South Vietnam's major cities. In the aftermath of Tet, public opinion in the United States decisively turned against the Vietnam War.

As 1968 began--the third year of U.S. ground-troop fighting in Vietnam--U.S. military leadership was still confident that a favorable peace agreement would soon be forced on the North Vietnamese and their allies in South Vietnam, the Viet Cong. Despite growing calls at home for an immediate U.S. withdrawal, President Lyndon Johnson's administration planned to keep the pressure on the communists through increased bombing and other attrition strategies. General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. operations in Vietnam, claimed to see clearly "the light at the end of the tunnel," and Johnson hoped that soon the shell-shocked communists would stumble out of the jungle to the bargaining table.

However, on January 30, 1968, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese launched their massive Tet Offensive all across South Vietnam. It was the first day of Tet--Vietnam's lunar new year and most important holiday--and many South Vietnamese soldiers, expecting an unofficial truce, had gone home. The Viet Cong were known for guerrilla tactics and had never launched an offensive on this scale; consequently, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces were caught completely by surprise.

In the first day of the offensive, tens of thousands of Viet Cong soldiers, supported by North Vietnamese forces, overran the five largest cities of South Vietnam, scores of smaller cities and towns, and a number of U.S. and South Vietnamese bases. The Viet Cong struck at Saigon--South Vietnam's capital--and even attacked, and for several hours held, the U.S. embassy there. The action was caught by U.S. television news crews, which also recorded the brutal impromptu street execution of a Viet Cong rebel by a South Vietnamese military official.

As the U.S. and South Vietnamese fought to regain control of Saigon, the cities of Hu?, Dalat, Kontum, and Quangtri fell to the communists. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces recaptured most of these cities within a few days, but Hu? was fiercely contested by the communist soldiers occupying it. After 26 days of costly house-to-house fighting, the South Vietnamese flag was raised again above Hu? on February 24, and the Tet Offensive came to an end. During the communist occupation of Hu?, numerous South Vietnamese government officials and civilians were massacred, and many civilians died in U.S. bombing attacks that preceded the liberation of the city.

In many respects, the Tet Offensive was a military disaster for the communists: They suffered 10 times more casualties than their enemy and failed to control any of the areas captured in the opening days of the offensive. They had hoped that the offensive would ignite a popular uprising against South Vietnam's government and the presence of U.S. troops. This did not occur. In addition, the Viet Cong, which had come out into the open for the first time in the war, were all but wiped out. However, because the Tet Offensive crushed U.S. hopes for an imminent end to the conflict, it dealt a fatal blow to the U.S. military mission in Vietnam.

In Tet's aftermath, President Johnson came under fire on all sides for his Vietnam policy. General Westmoreland requested 200,000 more troops to overwhelm the communists, and a national uproar ensued after this request was disclosed, forcing Johnson to recall Westmoreland to Washington. On March 31, Johnson announced that the United States would begin de-escalation in Vietnam, halt the bombing of North Vietnam, and seek a peace agreement to end the conflict. In the same speech, he also announced that he would not seek reelection to the presidency, citing what he perceived to be his responsibility in creating the national division over Vietnam.
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Old 03-06-2005, 07:12 AM
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February 24, 1963 (1st day of the 2nd month, Year of the Hare [Quy Mao]) (US Advisory): One U.S. soldier is killed as Viet Cong ground fire shoots down two of three U.S. Army H-21 helicopters airlifting South Vietnamese troops about 100 miles north of Saigon.

February 24, 1963 (1st day of the 2nd month, Year of the Hare [Quy Mao]) (US Advisory): American aid to South Vietnam totals $400 million.

February 24, 1965 (23rd day of the 1st month, Year of the Snake [At Ti]) (US Advisory): The first official admission is made that American airmen are flying combat missions against the VC. The "slow squeeze" bombing campaign against the North, Operation Rolling Thunder I, begins, according to unofficial sources.

February 24, 1966 (5th day of the 2nd month, Year of the Horse [Binh Ngo]) (US Counteroffensive): Operation Lien Ket 24 update: USMC helicopters pick up and insert a Vietnamese Marine task force.

February 24, 1966 (5th day of the 2nd month, Year of the Horse [Binh Ngo]) (US Counteroffensive): Operation Rolling Stone update: Battle of Tan Binh.

February 24, 1967 (15th day of the 1st month, Year of the Goat [Dinh Mui]) (US Counteroffensive Phase II): The entire 155th Aviation Company is called to Bao Loc to support the 101st Airborne Division in operations there.

February 24, 1967 (15th day of the 1st month, Year of the Goat [Dinh Mui]) (US Counteroffensive Phase II): A South Vietnamese Ranger battalion and their American forward air controller are attacked by a large, well-concealed enemy force near Dalat.
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February 24, 1967 (15th day of the 1st month, Year of the Goat [Dinh Mui]) (US Counteroffensive Phase II): Operation Junction City update. As well as what is described at below link, in the early morning hours the 1st Battalion 16th Infantry area at Suoi Da is hit by approximately 120 rounds of 82-mm. mortar within just a few minutes; two men are killed (including a company commander) and five are wounded. Six hours later, the battalion is airlifted to positions along Route 4 north of Suoi Da and, after considerable jungle clearing, goes into a night defensive position on the east side of Route 4, 6 km south of Prek Klok, where there is an artillery base defended by the 2nd Battalion, 2d Infantry [-]; the initial states of construction of a Special Forces and Civilian Irregular Defense Group camp and airstrip there are also under way. The mission of the 1/16th s to secure the road in its assigned sector and to conduct search-and-destroy operations.

February 24, 1968 (27th day of the 1st month, Year of the Monkey [Mau Than]) (US Tet Counteroffensive): Task Force Clearwater established in I Corps.

February 24, 1969 (9th day of the 1st month, Year of the Rooster [Ky Dau]) (US tet69/Counteroffensive): The 2nd ARVN Division begins Operation Quyet Thang 22 in Quang Ngai Province.

February 24, 1969 (9th day of the 1st month, Year of the Rooster [Ky Dau]) (US tet69/Counteroffensive): The US Army base at Long Binh is attacked.
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