Frank J. Montoya

A HOLIDAY TO REMEMBER

There would be a holiday truce, the war would stop.
The Lunar New Year would be observed, as in the past;
But TET turned out to be a great surprise.
The Communists broke the truce… it could not last.

Rockets and mortars were launched in the early dawn,
By both Viet Cong Forces and the NVA.
The walls of the American Embassy were breached as well;
All Military Bases and major cities were attacked that day.

Thousands of South Vietnamese would soon be killed;
It was the bloodiest offensive of the war to date.
Over 6,000 died in the city of Hue alone,
And American Military losses were also great.

Who can forget that night and that early morn
When the rockets fell and all were mobilized.
They took defensive positions along the berm,
And waited for fate to decide if they lived or died.

When daylight came they stared in wonderment,
At bodies lying helter-skelter by the score.
Claymore mines had taken their goodly share,
And the Concertina Wire had caught many more.

At Khe Sanh our Marines remained under siege,
And fought hand to hand combat on Hill 881.
NVA regulars attacked in waves, relentlessly,
But our artillery finally forced them to break and run.

The Embassy attack “on American Soil” had made its point.
The media now said that the war was un-winnable.
“The tide has turned!” the protestors cried,
And being “Anti-War” was now most respectable.

But for the many who survived that grim campaign,
That holiday will forever live in memory.
And still today at times, from those days long past,
TET comes back again, to haunt their reverie.

Author’s Note: On January 31st 1968 the Lunar New Year Holiday Truce was violated by the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong. The “TET Offensive” as it came to be known, was waged at an enormous loss of human life. North Vietnamese and Viet Cong dead totaled over 45,000. America and its allies suffered 4,300 killed, 16,000 wounded and over 1000 missing. Civilian dead totaled over 15,000 with nearly 2 million refugees.