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During the early morning hours of 5 May, communist units initiated PHASE II of the Tet Offensive of 1968 (also known as the May Offensive, "Little Tet", and "Mini-Tet") by striking 119 targets throughout South Vietnam, including Saigon. This time, however, allied intelligence was better prepared, stripping away the element of surprise. Most of the communist forces were intercepted by allied screening elements before they reached their targets. 13 NLF battalions, however, managed to slip through the cordon and once again plunged the capital into chaos. Severe fighting occurred at Phu Lam, (where it took two days to root out the 267th NLF Local Force Battalion), around the Y-Bridge, and at Tan Son Nhut.[1] By 12 May, however, it was all over. NLF forces withdrew from the area leaving behind over 3,000 dead[2] and 7,500 wounded.

Attacks on Saigon

The fighting had no sooner died down around Saigon, than U.S. forces in Quang Tin Province suffered what was, without doubt, the most serious American defeat of the war. On 10 May two regiments of the 2nd PAVN Division attacked Kham Duc, the last Special Forces border surveillance camp in I Corps. 1,800 U.S. and South Vietnamese troops were isolated and under intense attack when MACV made the decision to avoid a situation reminiscent of that at Khe Sanh. Kham Duc was evacuated by air while under fire, and abandoned to the North Vietnamese.[3]

The communists returned to Saigon on 25 May and launched a second wave of attacks on the city. The fighting during this phase differed from Tet Mau Than and "Mini-Tet" in that no U.S. installations were attacked. During this series of actions, NLF forces occupied six pagodas in the mistaken belief that they would be immune from artillery and air attack. The fiercest fighting once again took place in Cholon. One notable event occurred on 18 June when 152 members of the NLF Quyet Thang Regiment surrendered to ARVN forces, the largest communist surrender of the war. The actions also brought more death and suffering to the city's inhabitants. 87,000 more had been made homeless while more than 500 were killed and another 4,500 were wounded. During the second phase (5 May - 30 May) U.S. casualties amounted to 1,161 killed and 3,954 wounded. 143 South Vietnamese servicemen were killed and another 643 were wounded. The May Offensive was considered much bloodier than the initial phase of the Tet Offensive.



  1. A vivid description of the participation of four battalions of the U.S. 9th Infantry Division in the fighting in Cholon can be found in Keith Nolan's House to House: Playing the Enemy's Game in Saigon, May 1968. St. Paul MN: Zenith Press, 2006.
  2. Hoang Ngoc Lung, The General Offensives McLean VA: General Research Corporation, 1978. p 98.
  3. The best descriptions are found in Ronald H. Spector, After Tet. New York: The Free Press, 1993, pgs. 166-175 and Lieutenant Colonel Allen Gropman, Air Power and the Airlift Evacuation of Kham Duc. Washington DC: Office of Air Force History, 1985.

Further reading

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