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Vietnam at 50 - 1968

MARINE TO RETURN TO VIETNAM

Five decades after pivotal battle in Hue

Fresh off a busy week of being in the spotlight at the opening of a Vietnam War photo exhibit at the Newseum in Washington, Marine Corps veteran Richard Prince was ready to reflect on the moment. Then he received an email from The Greatest Generations Foundation. They made him an offer he couldn't pass up.

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Features

As 1968 dawned, Hue in South Vietnam had largely been spared the violence of war. That all changed Jan. 30, 1968, when fighters from the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong seized Hue as part of the sprawling, monthslong Tet Offensive.

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In the courtyard of the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City stands a monument with the names of the five servicemembers who died there 50 years ago. It's the only memorial in the country honoring Americans who died during the Vietnam War.

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Rick Fox was 19 years old when he landed in Vietnam in July 1967 for a one-year tour. “I’d been through some firefights, but when that Tet came, I mean, we were fighting every day,” he said. “I got to where I didn’t know if I was going to make it home.

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50 years after photographer captured the bloody Tet offensive, he bears witness again

John Olson can barely remember taking the photograph. Now, 50 years later, Olson's eyes lingered on that image, the centerpiece of "The Marines and Tet," a new exhibit featuring his photographs at the Newseum in downtown Washington, D.C.

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Vets of Vietnam's bloodiest fights tell their stories

Some veterans of the Vietnam War share their personal experiences of those years freely. Others have spent decades working hard to talk about nearly anything else.

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Tet Offensive tested America's will to fight

For years the American brass had dreamed of finding a way to draw Viet Cong guerrillas and the North Vietnamese regulars into big head-on fights. They got what they wanted in 1968.

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50 years after photographer captured the bloody Tet offensive, he bears witness again

John Olson can barely remember taking the photograph. Now, 50 years later, Olson's eyes lingered on that image, the centerpiece of "The Marines and Tet," a new exhibit featuring his photographs at the Newseum in downtown Washington, D.C.

CONTINUE

Vets of Vietnam's bloodiest fights tell their stories

Some veterans of the Vietnam War share their personal experiences of those years freely. Others have spent decades working hard to talk about nearly anything else.

CONTINUE

Tet Offensive tested America's will to fight

For years the American brass had dreamed of finding a way to draw Viet Cong guerrillas and the North Vietnamese regulars into big head-on fights. They got what they wanted in 1968.

CONTINUE
Markers represent major Communist attacks on Jan. 30, 1968, and shortly after.

The Tet Offensive

U.S troops had been at war with North Vietnamese soldiers and guerilla fighters for almost three years as of early 1968.

It had been jungle warfare, with small units mostly conducting search-and-destroy missions. When the enemy did attack, it quickly faded back into the bush when faced with superior U.S. force and overwhelming airpower.

That dynamic changed overnight Jan. 30, 1968.

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American deaths by year

GALLERY | The fight for 1968

I remember...

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"The unexpected, the camaraderie, the humor and the horror. I served with the 4th Division and MACV from June 1968-June 1969."

Gary Martlande

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"I was a platoon leader working in the Highlands and a team leader for a five-man team out of Tuyen Duc province. During that period there were many things seared into my memory. But the one that sticks out was that of American soldiers in body bags when I first arrived."

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"Being called on to identify buddies who were killed in action especially Spc. John Wade Kinney, killed in action on Feb. 21, 1968."

Ralph D. Starr

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"He would talk to me about his family, what he was going to do when he got home. He was only 20 with his whole life ahead of him. Never go a day without thinking of these brave young men and the sacrifice they made and the obligation I have to be worthy of knowing them.""

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"A Marine at Khe Sanh, sitting in the dirt after a mortar attack, both hands hanging by shreds of flesh, wounds cauterized by the shrapnel."

Gary Martlande

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"He was saying, 'Help me. Help me.' He comes to me in my dreams still, saying 'Help me. Help me.'"

From the archives

Battle for Hue: Grim, bloody

Elite Viet troops destroy 878 Reds


MPs lead assault on Saigon terrorists.


The last ‘hero’ of My Lai

'It is about all the guys that fought in Vietnam’


The bloody battle of Khe Sanh.


FULL ARCHIVES