February 24

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Feb 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.

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