On this day in 1968, in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, American marines defended the assault on Khe Sanh that had begun with the Tet Offensive. North Vietnamese and Viet Cong attacked the marine air base with trenches and artillery in position as close as 200 yards from the perimeter fence. Surrounded, the marines could only be resupplied by aircraft that ran the gantlet of anti-aircraft fire to land and take off, often without completely stopping.
Bravo Company 1st battalion 26th Marines, patrolled the perimeter that day but were misled into chasing a North Vietnamese patrol and wound up being drawn into crossfire. Twenty-seven marines were killed and dozens were injured. Some were captured and imprisoned in Hanoi until 1973. The Tet Offensive would continue until the end of March.
Next month, read a special edition of First Draft, and the story of the particular courage shown by three Americans in Viet Nam. If you don’t already subscribe to First Draft, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be sure you get it, without charge.