Gen. William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, tells U.S. news reporters: “I am absolutely certain that whereas in 1965 the enemy was winning, today he is certainly losing.”
Having been reassured by the general, most Americans were stunned when the communists launched a massive offensive during the Vietnamese Tet New Year holiday on January 30, 1968. During this offensive, communist forces struck 36 of 44 provincial capitals, 5 of 6 autonomous cities, 64 of 242 district capitals and about 50 hamlets. At one point during the initial attack on Saigon, communists troops actually penetrated the ground floor of the U.S. Embassy.
The fighting raged all over South Vietnam and lasted almost until the end of February. Overcoming the initial surprise of the attack, the U.S. and South Vietnamese forces recovered and ultimately inflicted a major military defeat on the communists. Nevertheless, Hanoi won a great psychological victory by launching such a widespread attack after Westmoreland assured the American people that the corner had been turned in South Vietnam. As a result of the unexpected Tet Offensive, many Americans came out forcefully against the war. Even CBS television anchorman Walter Cronkite, widely regarded as the most trusted man in American, publicly questioned U.S. policy in Vietnam.