Charles Krohn 5

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The Prelude to Tet

Charles A. Krohn

The interview with John McCain from a hospital bed soon after he was captured in 1967 makes this entire episode worth watching, not because of his celebrity status but because it's such an unforgettable emotional outpouring of a young warrior. It was filmed by a French crew brought in for the occasion. There are several rather lengthy monologues by men already introduced in previous episodes. While I try to limit my commentary to military aspects of VIETNAM, the intensity of the narration is further evidence that the war is not yet over ... nor have we as a nation moved on, putting the war behind us. It is very much with us, still.

The Battle of Dak To and Hill8 75 during November 1967 is explained in greater depth than the previous episode. The graphic portrayals may prove too difficult for many viewers, but one must admire the raw courage of those young Americans who participated and were, sadly, on the receiving end of an intense NVA offensive.

A critical part of the NVA's Tet '68 offensive planning was to lure Americans into the border areas, the narrator explains. This was to make it easier for the NVA to capture and hold metropolitan areas throughout South Vietnam in their Tet campaign. As we know now, none of the anticipated victories happened because the ARVN were ultimately able to hold their own, even in Hue, and the population did not rise in celebration or support a Communist takeover.

Ironically, the uprising had great impact in the US, in part because it demonstrated the war was not as close to termination as many American officials predicted.

The episode does a good job reflecting American unrest, especially on the Eastern Corridor and West Coast. We also see signs that LBJ's confidence is beginning to fracture.

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