NPR

Military Victory But Political Defeat: The Tet Offensive 50 Years Later

In 1968, when U.S. officials were claiming the Vietnam War was nearly won, North Vietnam and the Viet Cong launched a devastating attack during the Tet holiday. It was a turning point in the war.

Looking back a half century, to when they were young officers, their memories of the battle of Hue are still fresh.

"What I saw was probably the most intense ground fighting on a sustained basis over several days of any other period during the war," says Howard Prince, an Army captain who worked with South Vietnamese forces.

"We were under fire, under heavy fire," says Jim Coolican, a Marine captain.

Mike Downs, another Marine captain recalls, "We didn't know where the enemy was, in which direction even."

The enemy forces were everywhere. Inside houses and tunnels and in the sewer system, and they captured the citadel, a massive castle-like expanse in

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