Tet Offensive: Battle for Hue | HistoryNet

Tet Offensive: Battle for Hue

6/12/2006 • Vietnam

For Vietnam, it was a comfortable assignment. As an Army specialist, I had been assigned since May 1967 as a clerk-typist for MACV (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam) Advisory Team 3, which provided U.S. military advisers to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam’s 1st Infantry Division, headquartered in Hue, the ancient imperial capital of Vietnam.

It was a beautiful city, and my time there had been made even more enjoyable by the fact that throughout the war–evidently in deference to its historic past–Hue had been treated almost as an open city by the Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA). Although there had been intermittent mortar and rocket attacks on our compound south of the Perfume River, which bisects the city, Hue had seemed peaceful and secure. In fact, Washington Post war correspondent Don Oberdorfer had reported that South Vietnamese army officers ‘paid large bribes to be assigned to duty there.’

But all that changed in a heartbeat. An explosion brought me back to reality. This was not a dream–it was Vietnam. I screamed, ‘Incoming!’ as I always did when the enemy lobbed mortars and rockets into our compound. By now it was automatic. I scrambled out of my cot, ripped away the protective mosquito net, donned my helmet liner and steel pot and slipped on my flak jacket. In a matter of seconds I had my carbine and ammunition and was out the door with my shower shoes on. My fellow hooch mates always made fun of me because I never took the time to put on my uniform. So there I was in combat gear in my underwear and shower shoes. To me, speed was the most important thing–I wanted to stay alive!

Usually ‘Charlie’ (the VC guerrillas) would lob some mortars or fire rockets into the compound and we would be on alert for about half an hour. After we got the all clear signal, we would return to bed to get some rest. But not this time! It was early morning on January 31, 1968– the beginning of the NVA and VC’s Tet Offensive. All hell broke loose after we were all safely in our bunker, which held five or six men. Small-arms fire could be heard from every direction, and more loud explosions continued after the mortars and rockets. The enemy had succeeded in scoring a direct hit on our ammunition bunker. The noise level was deafening, the smell of gunpowder filled the air, and I could sense the fear. The intensity of the fighting seemed to escalate with each passing minute.

The sergeant came by and instructed us to fire at anything that moved. When we opened up with a barrage, we hit the trip wires, and the flares on the barbed wire were ignited. Our entire corner of the compound was lighted up like it was daytime. We heard intensive small-arms fire coming from the school on our right and automatic weapons fire coming from the direction of the commanding officer’s quarters. Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) soldiers in billets directly in front of us fired a few rounds at our position, but we thought it was an accident so we did not return fire. After a minute or two, the fire from the ARVN billet stopped. But the explosions, the flares, the small-arms fire, the loud noises, the yelling, the screaming and the chaos seemed to go on forever.

We did not realize what was going on around us. We stayed in our bunker, followed the sergeant’s orders to defend the corner, and prayed that we would survive this hell. We would later learn that the 804th NVA Battalion had conducted a sapper-and-infantry assault in an effort to completely overrun our compound.

Suddenly, there was a loud explosion to our right. The hooch occupied by a group of Australians had taken a direct hit. The yelling and screaming indicated that one of the Aussies had been hit by shrapnel; he later died from a throat wound.

There was heavy fighting to our left next to Colonel George O. Adkisson’s quarters. Colonel Adkisson was the commanding officer of MACV Advisory Team 3. Our bunker got a message that Specialist Frank Doezema was in the tower, spraying machine-gun fire at the police station that the enemy had overrun earlier. As Doezema was firing at the NVA, an explosion blew off the lower part of his legs. His place at the machine gun was taken by another soldier, and Doezema was taken to the MACV dispensary. A medevac chopper was called in to evacuate him to Phu Bai, but the enemy snipers prevented the Huey from landing. I learned later that Doezema bled to death.

When day broke, we ventured just outside the bunker. When we looked around, we saw that things were in bad shape. The compound had taken many rounds from mortars and rockets. Sniper fire continued to erupt all around us. We were told to go back to our hooches in shifts and prepare for the day. In my case, I had to return to get dressed in my uniform. There was constant sniper fire while I ran back to the bunker and dressed. I heard the bullets ricocheting off the roof as I hurriedly got into my full combat gear. We were not attacked again, but we did spend the rest of the day in our bunker, on alert.

During the rest of that day, January 31, we discussed what we would do in case of a ground attack. We reviewed grenade procedures and the best place to throw them in case of an all-out assault. We had a radio on in the bunker and were listening to Armed Forces Network reports telling us that the entire country had come under attack, but that things were not that bad. We yelled at the radio announcer because at our base things did look pretty bad.

We learned that the Marines from Phu Bai, eight kilometers south of Hue, were on their way north to reinforce our position. I got the feeling that the situation was worse than anyone knew. Even though things were in bad shape, we were all glad to be alive. We remained on guard duty, looked for the snipers and ate our C rations. That afternoon, as I was talking to a sergeant outside the bunker, a piece of shrapnel about the size of a closed fist came crashing to the ground just three feet away from me. I picked it up from the ground and still have it today.

On February 1, a sergeant informed a group of us that there were some civilians trapped a couple houses away from the MACV compound. He was volunteering us to accompany a few Marines who were going in on a tank to save those people. I was scared. I had never done anything like that before. But I did remember my basic training drill sergeant’s telling us that we were being trained to be soldiers first. The sergeant had told us that the enemy would shoot at anything brightly colored, so we took the time to rip off our shoulder patches and stripes. I loaded up my uniform with extra carbine ammunition, .45 clips and grenades. We then helped the Marines load the tank with as much ammunition as it could carry.

We left the compound through the main gate. I was afraid of being shot and going home in a body bag, but I concentrated on the job at hand. I knew the other guys were depending on me. And I was depending on them!

Staying close to the tank, we moved out onto Route 1 (which ran right next to the compound) and crouched down against the walls of the house across the street. Suddenly I came under fire from a sniper in the house facing the compound. The fire was coming from a slatted window in the attic area. I did not return fire because I had to ask the sergeant for permission to shoot. So I said, ‘Sarge, there’s someone up there shooting at me.’ He asked, ‘Where?’ I pointed and said, ‘There.’ He said, ‘Well, they’re not shooting at you now.’ ‘Well, no,’ I said. ‘Do I have permission to shoot back?’ He said, ‘If he starts shooting again, call me and then shoot.’ I thought how crazy this war was–a soldier needed permission to defend himself!

The tank turned right onto Tran Cao Van Street and inched down the road. Small-arms fire erupted, and a Marine who was in front of the tank went down wounded. We were behind the tank so we couldn’t see much and could only hear what was going on. Somebody yelled, ‘Corpsman!’ and we stopped. The heavy sniper fire was coming from the church steeple on the left, down Tran Cao Van Street. The other Marines advanced closer, and we remained by the wall. The tank commander aimed the tank cannon at the steeple. Then there was a thunderous boom and the steeple came tumbling down onto the street. Needless to say, we didn’t get any more sniper fire from the church.

After that incident, we searched the house behind the wall and across from MACV, where I came under sniper fire. We were supposed to completely secure the location and then meet in the rear of the house in the courtyard. In pairs, we charged the front door and entered the foyer without incident. We searched the first floor without finding any enemy soldiers. I remember thinking that this was just like what John Wayne would do.

One of my buddies from MACV was almost killed in that house. When he and a Marine went into a room on the second floor, an NVA soldier threw a grenade into the room through a window. Instinctively, the Marine turned around and started shooting. Luckily, he hit the grenade, which bounced out the window and blew up outside the house.

I was with another group of soldiers searching the second floor. We entered a large room that looked like a small hospital area. There were many beds around the room, but in the middle was a bed with a curtain around it. Our job was to secure the room, so we had to make sure that no one was in the bed. I really started to wonder about killing someone. Do I shoot first and ask questions later? Or do I wait until they open up the curtain and in a split second decide to kill the person who is there? Or do I not pull the trigger? All that was going through my head as I approached the bed, ready to shoot. One of the guys crept up to the curtain and quickly yanked it open. There was no one there. I took a deep breath.

We completely searched the house and secured it before going to the courtyard. We could not go beyond the courtyard because there was a thick wall in our path. We stopped until the tank reached us. The tank belched a 75mm round and blew a hole in the wall big enough for us to get to the other side and reach the trapped civilians. Then our group advanced under covering fire.

I went over to the covered walkway by the house where the people were trapped and covered their exit. We did not receive any fire from the enemy while we were evacuating the frightened civilians. They were escorted back to the MACV compound, and then we withdrew, with the tank covering our backs. The enemy advanced behind us but did not fire.

When we got back to Route 1, the Marines paused to look over the area, especially toward the west, in the direction of the Hue Hospital, which was about a quarter mile away. They could see snipers in the palm trees, shooting. Some of the Marines used M-79 grenade launchers to eliminate the snipers. We were then ordered to return to the compound. The enemy was all around us. We desperately needed reinforcements, and all we could do was wait.

For participating in the action that day, I was later awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor.

When I returned to the compound, the administrative officer, Captain Rolf S. Mijares, assigned me to the compound dispensary to keep an accurate count of Americans wounded and killed in action. Our compound dispensary was a small building that housed an outside storage area, two small office areas and an operating room with four surgical beds. It was more like a glorified first-aid station than a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) unit, but during the offensive the dispensary did resemble a mini-MASH unit. It was run very efficiently considering the extreme circumstances.

I spent the next three weeks at the dispensary serving in any capacity that was required. During the day I performed a variety of services. At night I was on call or sleeping on a medical stretcher on the floor in one of the office areas, and I often helped treat the many wounded during the night.

The first KIA (killed in action) I had to record resulted from friendly fire. The Marines from Phu Bai had run a hellish and deadly gantlet coming up Highway 1 to reach our compound in Hue. As they entered the outskirts of the city, they came under intense enemy fire. The Marines opened up with their M-16 rifles, firing in all directions because the enemy was not out in the open. The Marines did not know the exact location of our compound. A young captain in the compound who stood up and looked over the wall of sandbags was shot in the head and died.

The Marines were first to receive attention in the dispensary. Some had minor wounds and only needed stitches. I would talk to them, give them cigarettes, ask them questions about anything and everything, and basically try to boost their spirits. I remember one Marine who held onto my hand while the doctor sewed up a flesh wound on his arm without any painkiller. He was really looking forward to going back into battle.

It got very busy at times. On many occasions, the four-bed operation room was full of badly wounded Marines. I remember the first Marine wounded by an enemy AK-47 rifle who was carried into the dispensary. He had a nasty head wound, and the blood would not stop flowing. The doctors bandaged the soldier and did a tracheotomy, but that was about all they could do. I was instructed to hold his legs during the treatment because his body quivered and shook. The doctors commented on the fact that the AK-47 bullets really tore up human flesh. That was confirmed by many other Marines, who told me that the AK-47 was a much more powerful weapon compared to the U.S. M-16. The Marines said that they could tell which side of the street the enemy was on by the deeper bullet holes in the walls on the opposite side of the street. M-16 bullet imprints were not as deep.

As the days passed, I tried to keep my wits about me. I had run an errand upstairs in the hotel area and was coming down the steps of the open stairwell when I ran into Walter Cronkite and two members of his film crew. All of a sudden, a hail of sniper fire came from the direction of the Perfume River. As bullets whizzed by my head, I ran down the steps and sprinted across the open courtyard, trying to avoid getting shot by the snipers. I sought shelter in the mess area, where other soldiers were waiting for the firing to stop. As I dashed in the door, I said, ‘A guy could get killed out there!’ We all laughed. I tried to keep a sense of humor about this whole experience. I knew that there were certain things I could control and other things that I could not control. So I tried to make the best of the situation. In the end, it helped me to keep my sanity.

One dark, overcast night, as the siege continued all around us and there was a lull in the mini-MASH chaos, I got a chance to look out the dispensary door and glance up to the sky. I could hear the heavy fighting going on across the Perfume River. My eyes focused on the compound’s flagpole. There, in all its glory, flew the United States flag. It was waving in the breeze and was all lighted up by spotlights. At that moment, I was proud to be an American, even though I was in a world of misery and danger.

To say that the doctors were amazing would be an understatement. Without much sleep and under enormous stress, they worked long hours to care for the wounded. One day a Vietnamese civilian whose penis had been partially severed was brought into the dispensary.. He was treated with respect and care just like everyone else. The doctor operated, and the Vietnamese man had an excellent prognosis for a complete recovery. You never saw such a grateful person!

On another afternoon, a badly wounded Marine was brought into the dispensary after a street battle. Shrapnel had taken off most of the young man’s foot; only a few ligaments were holding his foot to his ankle. The doctors administered a shot of morphine, then cut off his foot–still in its jungle boot–and put it into a body bag. An army chaplain was by his side during the whole operation. After the operation, the wounded Marine looked up at the chaplain and asked, ‘Padre, how can God love them and us?’ The chaplain was speechless.

I was raised as a Roman Catholic. I volunteered my time Sunday mornings at church services in the compound chapel. During the siege, a foreign priest who had been trapped in a house in the city was rescued by the Marines and brought to the MACV compound. He talked with me about his experiences while we were both sitting in a small, dark room in the dispensary. He described how the enemy used innocent civilians as cover so they could shoot at American soldiers, knowing that the Americans would not shoot the civilians. The priest told me how the snipers would shoot from one location and run to another area. The Marines would then fire on the empty spot. It was very strange to be listening to the priest’s ‘confession’ about war.

I received the sad message that Major Aloysius P. McGonigal, our MACV Catholic chaplain, had been killed in action while he was across the river accompanying the Marines. He was a maverick priest who loved to be with the men. His death was a great loss to us.

One night the chaplain who had stayed by the Marine’s side while his foot was amputated celebrated Mass. A few of us gathered in an NCO living quarters, with a few candles for lighting, and the chaplain set up the altar on a footlocker. That was a very special time in my young life. The true meaning of celebrating life really meant something. Amid all the fighting, destruction, and death, we were alive. Not all the personnel who visited the dispensary had physical wounds. One morning a young Marine was brought in who was very emotionally upset, crying and shaking. All he kept saying was, ‘I can’t take it anymore!’ over and over again. We never did discover the source of the trauma. He was medevaced to Phu Bai.

The administrative officer, Captain Mijares, came over to the mini-MASH unit to check on my progress and to tell me that I had to be exact on my counts for wounded and killed. I explained that I was very busy helping the doctors by holding patients with severe head wounds. He didn’t seem to understand the entire situation. Just then a few Marines with head wounds arrived for treatment. Mijares was called upon to hold the legs of a young private who was shaking as the result of a severe AK-47 bullet wound to the back of the head. After that experience, Captain Mijares said, ‘I see what you are doing. Just do the best you can.’ He left and never returned to the dispensary during the offensive.

One afternoon I was told to go to the main gate with a body bag. A dead American civilian–probably someone who had been working for the Mission–was brought into the compound. He had been dead for a couple of days. It was our job to search for his wallet in order to identify him. It was sad to see the pictures of his family that we found when we looked through his papers. After that, we put his body in the bag and stored it with the other KIAs behind the dispensary.

A tragic accident occurred about two weeks into the Battle for Hue. After a long day of house-to-house fighting, a Marine was taking a well-deserved rest. He was sitting on the floor of the compound’s activity room, writing a letter home. His M-16 rifle accidentally fired and hit him in the head. He was listed as KIA.

Toward the end of the Battle for Hue, I was called on to pull guard duty on the corner of Tran Cao Van Street and Highway 1. We were informed that rabid dogs were roaming the city and eating the numerous dead bodies that were decomposing in the streets. These dogs were a dangerous menace and we were ordered to shoot them. But before we would shoot them, we had to get permission. My buddy and I saw what looked like a rabid dog, so we called the sergeant of the guard for permission to fire. He said, ‘Wait, I have to check with the officer of the day.’ The officer of the day gave the sergeant of the guard permission. The sergeant telephoned us to let us know that we had permission to kill the dog. As you might guess, the dog was long gone by that time.

During the offensive, a strange thing happened. A white goose appeared at the MACV compound and stayed around throughout the 26 days of fighting. We all joked that it was seeking a safe place. We named the goose Garfield, and he gave us something to take our minds off the battle.

The Tet Offensive was reported back home as a significant turning point in the war. The news reports in State College, Pa., said that the NVA had completely overrun the ancient imperial city of Hue. Because of those dire reports, my parents contacted the Department of the Army and started to make funeral arrangements for me. I am sure there was much rejoicing when my letter finally reached them a few weeks after the initial attack.

The period of January 31 to February 25, 1968, left a lasting impression on me. I was witness to man’s inhumanity to man in some of the fiercest fighting during the Vietnam War. Amid the pain and suffering, however, I discovered heroism, sacrifice and tremendous courage. I learned about myself during that time, and I also learned to appreciate life.

This article was originally published in the February 1997 issue of Vietnam Magazine and written by Army veteran James Mueller who was a contributor to David ‘Doc’ Anderson’s Adventures in Hell (Ritz Publishing). For further reading, try Don Oberdorfer’s Tet!, the definitive work on the 1968 Tet Offensive.

For more great articles be sure to pick up your copy of Vietnam.

60 Responses to Tet Offensive: Battle for Hue

  1. James M. Mueller, Jr says:

    The first paragraph is not correct. I ran back to the hooch to change. I did not run back to the bunker, because that is where I was for the intial attack. PLEASE correct this …

    I had sent in a written request to correct this passage a few weeks ago and it has not been done.

    Thank you for your help..I know that VIETNAM Magazine likes to get things correct!

    • David Capps says:

      Hey Jim, Good Morning.. do you have a different e-mail address .. “SENSITIVE QUESTION if you have a good memory??
      many thanks

  2. haley says:

    why did the battle for hue occur?

  3. Robert May says:

    War is Hell and I only pray we will limit the young soilders

    exposer to any conflict or operaration.We have to stop being the



  4. PancakeToasterMuffin says:

    Battle of Hue was staged for American entertainment.

  5. Galen says:

    To James M. Mueller Jr,
    My cousin, Chesley Alexander Story, a marine, was wounded in the back by friendly fire at the battle in Hue. He had just turned 20 on 2/17/68. He was placed on a hospital ship where he died 3/21/68. Did you know him or remember him at the hospital unit in Hue?

  6. James M. Mueller, Jr. says:


    I am sorry to hear about your cousin.
    I do not remember any of the names of the Marines that were treated at our mini-MASH facility.
    It is possible that he did visit the compound, but then again he may have been medivaced directly to another location.
    Sorry I could not be of any help.
    Good luck on your search for information.

    Jim Mueller

  7. Jerry Donaldson says:

    I was on the USS Manley(DD940) at Hue. We were contacted by the Marines and asked for gunfire support. We fired many 5″ rounds at the wall and other targets designated by the radio operator. It has just recently come to my attention that the marine calling in for the gunfire was my good friend and next door neighbor. That battle was a bitch.

  8. Jerry Donaldson says:

    By the way, his name is Ronald McCurdy

  9. countryboy2011 says:

    im leavin aug 1st for bootcamp for the marines

  10. countryboy2011 says:

    already been to meps and everything just waiting

  11. Robert Bush says:

    I was stationed at Hue during tet. I was a crewchief with HMM 362 Ugly Angels a 34 chopper outfit. We flew a number of sorties into the walled city for woulded and dropped in ammo and chow. Also goto stuck in Khe Saun during the seige.

    • David Capps says:

      Robert, where was the helo pad in hue?? I can recall so many events of the day the convey from FLSG alpha escorted mr. Cronkite and company were escorted into Hue on the 17th..
      Jim, do you recall the time that you met Cronkite?? I was in there then. My C. O. Capt Baker was rushed into the compound. I had big Connex Box on the back of my truck and because of the attack couldn’t get it unloaded because of the attack… One of your collegues gave me an ak47 as well as a REAL METAL COT that was thrown on the back of the truck.. If that was you… Thanks…. As I spent the night in one of the bunkers or something like that with a couple of Ausies… Damn what a night!!! Seem to last forever!!! Guess you took care of my C.O. as I run into him in Atlanta a few years ago…
      Wonder if you and crossed paths there? I was hit closer to the ramp and dragged over where a helo could get me.. and recall the comment being made about me… Was I had to go LAST. As I had to come off first….
      Still working on how to comment to the “comments” sent..

  12. LaLance says:

    Thank you so much for this story, when I was in the Navy, my first ship was the USS Hue City, the first and only ship (at that time) named after a conflict in the Vietnam war. I learned so much about the battle while serving and meeting Service Memebers that survived. Your narration just adds so much.

    Once again, thank you!

    • James M. Mueller, Jr. says:

      Thank you for the comments.
      I appreciate your service.
      Good luck in the future.

      Jim Mueller

  13. Jim Garman says:

    Mr. Mueller,

    My fatehr-in-law was assigned as Marine Liaison Officer to the 1st ARVN div. there at the MACV compound, Major Frank Breth. I was wondering if you remember him or his acitons during the battle? I have read about him in the book “Fire in the Streets” by Eric Hammel as well as another book about the battle.
    I am looking to contact his former commanders and any witnesses to his actions that day.
    Please contact me via email provided.

    • James M. Mueller, Jr. says:


      I also read about your father-in-law in FIRE IN THE STREETS.
      My contact with Marines was limited. I did go out on the rescue mission with the Marines and the Marine tank. The other contacts took place in the mini-MASH unit at MACV when I helped with the wounded…many were Marines.
      It is quite possible that I passed Major Breth in the Compound, but did not know who he was.
      I’m sorry I cannot be of any help.
      Good luck contacting his former commanders…Frank Breth sounds like a very special individual!

    • Ernest Pluma Jr. says:

      I was stationed at the 1st ARVN Div MACV during Tet 1968. I was acquainted with Major Breth but did not know him closely.

      I was a green 2nd Lt. working at the 1st ARVN’s Division’s Order Of Battle (OB) shop. It was our job to advise our ARVN counterparts as to enemy movements in I-Corps. But really the ARVN were the experts in the OB game. They’s been doing it for years. We MACV guys were just passing through. By the time a new guy finally got the hang of the job it was time for him to rotate home.

      Getting back to Major Breth: As a junior officer in the G2 shop it was routinely my duty to brief, first Col Kelly then later Col Adkisson, on enemy movements and activity during the preceeding 24 hours. As Marine Liaison Officer, Major Breth would also participate in this daily morning briefing.

      I haven’t read “Fire in the Streets” so I speak only from my personal experience. I greatly admired Major Breth. He was a tall imposing figure who carried himself in a strictly business military manner during the seige of the MACV compound. Yet, on one ocassion that we met informally to discuss the “after action report” I found him to be a very personable guy.

      Whatever happened to him?

      • James M. Mueller, Jr. says:

        Mr Pluma,
        I Googled Frank J. Breth and found information about him.
        He was awarded the Purple Heart.
        He made an oral history presentation about the Battle of Dong Ha for
        eHistory at OSU.
        He is listed under USMC Personnel buried at Arlington as:
        Frank J. Breth BG.

        I hope this helps you.

        Jim Mueller

  14. Jack Easterwood says:

    I was assigned to Team 3 in 1969-1970. I was the lone American advisor to the Hoc Bia,(Black Panther Company from the 1st ARVN Div) along with one Australian; a WO Murphy. The advisor before me was a Marine Captain who was absolutely worshiped by the members of Hoc Bia. Time has erased his name. When I arrived there the TET offensive was still fresh and many of the actual participants were still in country. My respect and admiration for what they endured and the many acts of bravery displayed by all of them has been lasting. We spent most of my tour operating in and around the Ashua (spelling?) valley area and along the Laos border. Often wonder what happen to those heros of TET from the Hoc Bia Company. I am sure they paid a price for their love of freedom. God bless all who served andwelcome home. We did our duty!

  15. James M. Mueller, Jr. says:


    Thank you for the information.
    Thank you for your loyal service.
    You are appreciated by many.


  16. jacob says:

    Do you have any information about my grandfather Arthur Hudson Robertson?

  17. Carroll Wilson says:

    Hi, I was with the 2nd Bat. 5th Marine Regiment, G Company during Tet Offensive 1968 during January, February and March. I was weapon patoon sgt. G Company. General Peter Pace was also with the company as Lt, Peter Pace. Does anyone know any other Marines who may have been there at that time?

    • James M. Mueller, Jr. says:

      I was restricted to the MACV Compound during most of the Offensive. I do not remember the names of the Marines that went out on the mission on 01 Feb. Most of the the Marines I met were the wounded that were brought to the miniMASH area. We really did not exchange names.
      Good luck searching for the names..
      Did you read the book ….Fire in the Streets {The Battle for Hue, TET 1968 } by Eric Hammel? There is an index with many names.
      Thank you for your service.

      Jim Mueller

    • Art Marcotte says:

      I was with Fox 2/5. We choppered in on the second (or third?) day. We landed in a prk down by the river and walked up RT 1 to the MACV to get the cit rep. At that point no one knew what was going on evidenced by the fact that the assignment given to Fox to complete the that day (move past the Treasurey building to the provincial haeadquaters building) ended up taking us two weeks and needed Fox, Hotel and Gold to accomplish.

      I was there from begining to end, all through the new city/university area and then across the causeway to the Citadel side of the river.

      • David Capps says:

        I wonder if you might of been near the ramp when we were attacked Sunday 18 Feb 68… And that’s where I took my head shot. And was dragged to an area to get medivaced…Wow sure felt alt all the sand and grit hitting me in the face …. Then recall hearing someone say… This guys
        Got to go on last, he’s comming off first… What a scary ride !!! On that stretcher headed to A-MED bouncing :( scared me to no end..

    • JEREMY says:

      my dad was there, Corporal Barney Barnes, also Golf 2/5. Ring a bell?

    • Linda Mishler says:

      Carroll, My husband Michael was with 3rd Marines,3rd M.P. Battalion during that time.

  18. David C says:

    I recall Hue City…quite well….. I got stuck at the MACV Compound over night of the 17th of Feb. Sat.. and was shot by a sniper on Sunday the 18 of Feb. 68…. what a messed up day that was ..:(

  19. James M. Mueller, Jr. says:


    Thank you for sharing that vital information.
    What happened to you after that adventure?
    How has life treated you since you left Vietnam?
    Do you use the VA facilities?
    Thank you for your service.

    Jim Mueller

  20. Rick Fredericksen says:

    Does anyone know where the AFVN TV compound was in Hue? I hear it was about a mile from MACV, but was it in the New City or inside the Citadel? Please mention any other landmarks, or, which direction from MACV. Thanks. Rick

    • James M. Mueller, Jr. says:

      Author ERIC HAMMEL did a lot research when he wrote Fire in the Streets..The Battle for Hue, TET 1968. He might have some information about the location.
      Another resource might be the Marine Museum at Quantico,VA.

      Good luck on your search

      Jim Mueller

  21. NgyThanh says:

    The TV Station you are asking for is right where it is today, at the same location.
    From the former MACV compound (today it is DUY TAN Hotel, on Hung Vuong St., take Nguyen Tri Phuong Street and head northwest toward the new bridge PHU XUAN that crosses Perfume River. Halfway to the riverside, you will see it at the intersection of 6 streets and it is on your left, right at the sharp corner between Ngo Quyen St. and Ly Thuong Kiet St.
    You cannot miss it due to its tall antenna. But you can contact me if you need additional details.
    Good luck.

  22. drew says:

    Dear Mr. Mueller,
    I am a student trying to learn about the battle of hue and I need info for my history day topic. Would u mind if I asked u a couple of questions????????????

  23. James M. Mueller, Jr. says:

    Dave Capps

    Are you searching for info about Hue? Tet? Santa Claus? (I did play Santa for the orphans)
    How can I be of assistance?


    • David Capps says:

      Sorry Jim writting is not my strong suit:( I was asking a couple questions
      Like What was so import I that conex box??? And anyone recall me whe I was shot…

  24. Jerry Morrison says:

    I was stationed in Hue 1967-1969
    My crew (4) were air traffic controllers for the airfield. We along withe a few army and Air Force crew cheifs lived about 1/2 mile west of the compound. We were cut off complely and had now way to get to the compound. I radioed the 1ST sgt and he put me in touch with an artillery battery. Having had prior training in the artillery I started alling in artillery on the buildings around our location , the hospital and other buildings around us that were heavealy occupied by NVA.
    We were under fire most of the time however, the artillery fire sort of
    slowed them down. We had 7 NVA to surrender to us. I to this day do not know why they did not overrun us but am thankfur hey did not.We were creideted with over 120 killed. I just recentlu was able to get in touch with two other members of my team after all these years. We do plan to get together in the spring. Cpt Mike Downs arrived on the sixth day to our house and we were escorted back to the compound. I respect all of you that served in the Battle of Hue.

  25. Jim Mueller says:


    Thanks for all those interesting facts. So much was going on during the Battle, and many stories have not been told. I appreciate the information.
    Thank you for giving your time and effort to serve in Vietnam.


  26. Jim Mueller says:

    Today marks 45 years for Tet in Hue.
    I appreciate the efforts of all those who fought in this historic Battle.

  27. Jim Mueller says:


    I read about your dad..Lance Corporal Barney Barnes in the book
    FIRE IN THE STREETS. I am very impressed. I did not personally know your dad, but quite possibly passed him in the MACV Compound before he went out on assignment.
    Thank you for your question and concern

    Jim Mueller

    • jeremy says:

      Thank you Sir. He was also just on the Military Channel show “Ultimate Warfare, Hue the bloodiest battle” and also just returned from Vietnam where he went with a military tour group along with other vets. I dont know if the “Golf 2/5 association” web site is still up, but he was the president of that. Maybe you should look it up and pay a visit. He always loves to hear from vets especialy Marines! Thanks

  28. Jim Mueller says:


    The Golf 2/5 Association web site is interesting.
    Your Dad sounds like a very interesting guy.
    I owe my life to those Marines that came to Hue…
    …I will always be grateful!!
    Thanks for the information

    Jim Mueller

  29. David Capps says:

    Hey!! Just thought I would drop in and ask who all were the units in Hue during the saga of \TET\ 68 near the ramp or close to the MACV compound as I just wanted to say hey gang thanks for dragging me to a point to be medivaced out.. I can recall that moment as clear as anything possible… To the person that commented this guys got to get on last as he’s got to come off first !! Thanks A LOT!!! That was me that was loaded on that helo. With one big hole thru my cranium. What a real messed up Sunday 18 February 68, that turned out to be but I am here ALIVE and well, a few years older but aren’t we all… S/F Dave purpleheartcertificate.com

  30. David Capps says:

    Wonder how I got out and what happened to those at the ramp??

  31. David Capps says:

    Jim, lots of things I have learned from my experience in Hue City and having such a major life change . No to the question as if I use the VA services, not used them very much as I just retired from DOD myself and may have to start using them ., in many ways life has been very good to me since my injury in Viet nam. Good example I am about to go back into doing some public speaking on what life is and has been could I say a challenge YES it has but I have certainly learned a lot. Thank you for your service and having this link Great job. purpleheartcertificate.com

  32. Jim Mueller says:

    Dave Capps,
    Thank you for your insightful comments. Good to hear that you have a positive attitude…considering what you have been through.
    Good luck on your public speaking, many will learn a lot from your experiences.

  33. Jim Mueller says:

    Linda Mishler,

    Thank you for contacting individuals who are interested in the TET Offensive in Hue.
    Your interesting information is appreciated.

  34. David Capps says:

    Jim one of my complaints would … I am not happy to loose a big domain name : purpleheart.com due to a “WIPO decision!!?? As I know that was the gift from my brother that actually came into V/ N and saved my life…s/f

  35. David Capps says:

    Jim OMG Jim Jim Jim lol my initial question reply would be LOTS !!!!! My last job was considered sensitive at best . But if these notes are \automatically published in open public forum, I will be restricted with what I can /should say. I can say I was \evicted\ asked to walk behind my father UNYIL I RECEIVED MY MEDALS and uniforms… My oldest brother just passed away as he was so instrumental in my departure and arrival in Japan…..pretty messed UP…More to follow???? Interested ????? Supreme Court twice house of reps once, career in govt service 33 years some was sensitive, competed across the

  36. David Capps says:


    R/ David C

  37. Jim Mueller says:


    Sounds like you have had a VERY interesting life.
    Thank you for all your years devoted to America.
    We need more individuals like you.

  38. Charles Armstrong says:

    I’m very late to this article, but hope you can reply. I’m interested in the Australian special forces who were in the MACV compound, one of whom you suggest died of a throat wound. I appreciate that you may not remember names, but I’d be grateful if you could tell me anything about them, even to the roughest idea of numbers.

    My research shows that three WO’s from the AATTV (Special Forces) were there: WO2 Terry Egan, WO1 Ernest Ostara, and WO1 Max Evan. There may have been others. Egan was the Senior for the ARVN 1st Division Reconnaissance Company. During the fighting the company organized to a strength of 86 men; only 27 survived the 28 days of combat. They were placed on the American right flank, and cleared tunnels through the walls used to resupply PAVN/NVA forces. Many died in an attempt to breach the walls.

    Egan’s citation for his Distinguished Conduct Medal states that on the night of 30th January WO Egan with a platoon was on patrol 5 miles SW of the city. The platoon fought its way back to the compound on February 2nd. On arrival they mounted a rescue operation to a nearly compound to rescue four wounded American soldiers under heavy fire, which operation was successful.

    I have not been able to find more than this. I assume the casualties were mostly ARVN, but have not been able to confirm any Australian army casualties. Long after the war Egan did reunite with a US chopper pilot named Mark Skulborstad who was in the MACV compound during the attack. Sadly Egan died in 2006, and it seems his story is not recorded anywhere publicly available.

    The Australian presence is mentioned in a number of places, including on this site (article: What Really Happened at Hue), but no details are ever given. I’m grateful for any light you can shed, if you can, and grateful to you for sharing your story in any case.

  39. Moshegirl says:


    Around the 20th of February during the worst of the fighting in Hue City this priest ran up to me and told me that he was going to talk to the enemy and stop the fighting. He then disappeared into the streets and was not seen alive again. I think he had cracked up. I was already so far gone I did not bother to hold him back. One more regret for this 18 y.o. Marine.

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