The 1967 Battle of Dak To (8)

So the common belief that the 1968 North Vietnamese Tet Offensive took the U.S. military by surprise is untrue. They were forewarned. NSA published a report forecasting country-wide attacks, and I alerted General Westmoreland. No one believed us.

As noted in a recent post, I called that dilemma the Cassandra Effect. Like Cassandra, I was blessed with knowledge of what would happen in the future and cursed that I wasn’t believed.

With an irony worthy of Satan, it happened again at the very end of the war. In April 1975, I warned Graham Martin, the American ambassador, that the North Vietnamese were about to attack Saigon. He refused to believe me and didn’t call for an evacuation. He told President Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that the evidence of a forthcoming attack could be dismissed—it was due to “communications deception.”

He forbade me from evacuating my 43 subordinates and their families. I’ve reported here in detail how I used every ruse I could think of to get me people safely out of the country. By 27 April, all but three of us—myself and the two communicators who had volunteered to stay with me to the end—were gone. The attack began on 28 April. The two communicators were safely evacuated the next afternoon. I went out after dark that night under fire in the pouring rain.

My South Vietnamese partners, the men I was working with, weren’t so lucky. The North Vietnamese killed or captured some 2,700 of them. Those who survived were sent to “re-education” camps, really concentration camps, where many of them died.

The Cassandra Effect. And I will never cease grieving over my Vietnamese comrades who died because my warning went unheeded.

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