"The Lost Battalion of Tet" looks critically into what went wrong when an infantry battalion in Vietnam during Tet was ordered to attack a large North Vietnamese force near Hue without artillery or air support. The American soldiers knew they were facing overwhelming odds, their death and the battalion's destruction a near certainty. Yet, when ordered to charge, they moved without hesitation toward the enemy, through interlocking fields of grazing fire. The battalion was soon surrounded, cut off from all sources of relief, re-supply and support. Given the prospect of annihilation, the battalion commander led his men out of encirclement a few nights later.The dead and excess equipment were left behind. During the Tet offensive, the battalion saw its foxhole strength fall from 500 to less than 200, yet morale among the survivors never faltered. Although the battalion failed in its mission of relieving the Marines surrounded in Hue, it inadvertently upset the headquarters commanding the surprise North Vietnamese assault and occupation of Hue.
The story how the battalion became involved in the Hue campaign was not included in official histories until 2006, when The Lost Battalion was used as an essential source in a new publication of the Army's Center of Military History. Although the author was a member of the battalion during the critical period, the book is more analytical than personal. Still, survivors provide testimony of its accuracy. The mental state of the division commander is still a subject of dispute.
Charles A. Krohn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, is a combat veteran of Vietnam. As a civilian, he served as the Pentagon s deputy chief of public affairs from 2001 to 2004, including three months in Iraq as an adviser to the director of the Infrastructure Recons