January 31, 2008
Washington, DC— Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate to commemorate the victories of the U.S. forces during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam:
Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. President, I rise today, the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Tet Offensive, to commemorate the valor and courageousness with which our Armed Forces fought to repel this massive attack.
“Over the holiday recess, I was fortunate enough to spend a great deal of time in my home state of Nevada. While at home, I met with several Veterans at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1753 in Las Vegas. After talking with them for quite a while, it was brought to my attention that we were only a few weeks away from the 40th anniversary of the onset of the Tet Offensive. In order to ensure that the heroism of our troops who fought in these arduous battles was not overlooked on this milestone anniversary, I told my friends at VFW Post 1753 that I would honor their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their fellow Nevadans and call attention to this important occasion on the floor of the United States Senate.
“From a tactical standpoint, the Tet Offensive would result in one of America’s most convincing victories over the combined forces of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), yet few Americans recall the decisiveness with which our troops routed the surprise onslaught. Many mistakenly believe that Tet was a military defeat, significant for the enemy’s ability to launch a large-scale attack on the U. S. and South Vietnamese forces. It is time to correct this mistaken impression and recognize the bravery and sacrifice of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines in achieving victory during the Tet Offensive.
“As many Hollywood films have since immortalized, the surprise attacks began in full during the early morning hours of January 31, 1968, the Vietnamese lunar New Year holiday known as Tet. A few months earlier, the governments of North and South Vietnam had agreed to observe a seven-day truce from January 27 to February 3, 1968, in honor of the national holiday. With the Tet Truce abruptly violated, America’s servicemembers regrouped to defend what would be the largest military operation conducted by either side up to that point in the conflict.
“Withstanding major assaults at Hue, Khe Sanh, and Saigon, our Armed Forces quickly turned the tide on the surprise offensive and delivered major tactical blows to both the Viet Cong and NVA. Most of the attack had been successfully repelled by mid-February with few notable exceptions, such as fighting at the coastal port of Hue, which continued into early March. When the dust settled, tens of thousands of Communist troops had died during the massive ambush, while 1,536 U.S. and non-Vietnamese allies perished in the violence and over 7,700 others were wounded or declared missing.
“Despite America’s impressive tactical victories in the aftermath of the original attacks, the Tet Offensive forever altered the course of the Vietnam War. Although the Tet Offensive would serve as a major blow in the court of American public opinion, we must never forget the resolve and bravery of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, who fought a determined enemy and defended the freedoms of those who could not defend themselves.
“During the difficult times of today, when America remains at war abroad against another committed enemy, I believe we must all remember to take the necessary time and pay our deepest respects to those servicemembers who have fallen in years past. I certainly will never forget the 151 Nevadans who died during the course of the entire Vietnam War, many of whom would meet their eventual fate defending the South during the Tet Offensive. To all of those valiant Americans who fought during this mightiest of struggles, our nation is eternally grateful for your sacrifice in turning what could have been one of our darkest hours into yet another great victory in the annals of our nation’s rich military history.”