In the continuation of research over the “Prisoner Execution” photograph I looked into our class book “Vietnam and America.” I looked through document 50, which is an excerpt from General William C. Westmoreland. I took note to a lot that happened in Saigon, the capitol city of Vietnam.
“The minds of the Vietnamese in Saigon and the other cities were preoccupied with the approaching Tet holiday, and our efforts to change this state of mind were only partially effective.” He also goes on to talk about how a lot of South Vietnamese soldiers were on leave for the holidays and their units were only at about half strength. It sounds like the Vietnamese are comfortable with the idea that the Viet Cong are not going to attack during the Tet Holidays because of its importance to the people. This also happened to the British during the Revolutionary War. George Washington led men across the Delaware River on Christmas night. The British were brought by surprise because they were not expecting an attack on a holiday and the idea worked.
In Vietnam the Viet Cong used local forces at first to invade the cities instead of primary forces. “He Held the larger main force units in reserve to exploit the anticipated popular uprisings.”
“The enemy penetrated in strength into Saigon, Quang Tri, Hue, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Qui Nhon, Kontum City, Ban Me Thout, My Tho, Can Tho, and Ben Tre.”
In most cases the South Vietnamese and Popular Forces were able to throw back the enemy within 2-3 days. This was not the case in the larger cities of Hue and Saigon.
The Saigon attack started with a blatant assault on the U.S. Embassy. The failed attack only resulted in a hole blown out of a wall. U.S. forces quickly and aggressively took back important ground around the embassy. Viet Cong also coordinated attacks on the Tan Son Nhut Airbase complex, the Presidential Palace, the Vietnamese Joint General Staff compound, and other places in Saigon.
The VC cleverly dressed in ARVN uniforms in order to get into South Vietnamese bases. Westmoreland says he was forced to put U.S. soldiers into the capital city of Saigon for the first time. Starting at 6 a.m. the first U.S. battalion entered Saigon and ended with 5 at the end of the first day.