In the continuous of my research I recently checked out a book by the name of “Tet!” from the library. Don Oberdorfer wrote the book in 1971, so it is within a few years of the time frame I’m interested in. Obviously the book is about the Tet Offensive, which is the time that the Prisoner Execution photograph was taken. I’m interested in the background and lead up to Tet.
While skimming through the book I found some interesting facts on pages 126-128. The U.S. had received some forewarnings that an attack was eminent. According to the book, U.S. forces in the mountain city of Pleiku captured critical information three weeks before the attack. “On January 5 the United States 4th Infantry Division captured “Urgent Combat Order Number one,” a five page plan of movement and attack for Pleiku Province.” The plan included detailed descriptions of important tasks that needed to be completed in order for success for the North. On January 24th American forces in Pleiku were placed on high alert with a platoon of tanks stationed in the city.
Another piece of evidence that warned the United States of an attack came via the capture of a Viet Cong tape. Two days before the Tet holidays on January 28th, the Vietnamese Army security raided a house in the suburbs. They captured eleven Viet Cong agents, a tape recorder and two tapes. This took place in the coastal city of Qui Nhon. The first tape falsely claimed the government military commander of Qui Nhon had strayed and joined the Viet Cong. The other tape came out to include some interested claims. The tape is addressed to all the people in and around the province of Qui Nhon. It goes on to say that the “government in Binh Ding is perplexed and wavering, and is rapidly falling apart.” Shortly after says that many ARNV (South Vietnamese Army) had deserted the South Vietnam government and were in alliance with the Viet Cong. I believe they planned to send this out to the people in order to try to persuade the people of the south to rise up and join forces with the Viet Cong.