|1968 was the bloodiest year of
the Vietnam War for the American Army. Over 16,000 Americans
were killed and 45,000 wounded.
The North Vietnamese launched two
offensives that year. The first in February
(Tet) and a smaller one in May. Both offensives failed militarily, but
the Tet Offensive scored an unexpected political victory for the North
Vietnamese in the United States. It was the turning point of the war.
|Alpha Company, 3/506th|
During the first three weeks of the enemy's 1968 Tet offensive, Alpha
Company's rifle platoons suffered 13 dead and 33 wounded, out of
approximately 120 troopers in the field. In effect, more than one out of
three men in the line platoons was hit.
The number of KIAs that year could have been higher if not for the excellent
medical care the wounded received. This was true for the entire American
Army. A wounded soldier was never more than a 30 minute chopper ride
away from a modern air-conditioned medical facility.
Excerpts below from
by Ron Spector
"In WW II about 71% of men who became casualties survived their
wounds. In Korea the figure was 74%. In Vietnam over 81% of men wounded
in battle survived."
"In all, Army medevac helicopters carried at least 400,000 US
military personnel and a considerably larger number of Vietnamese troops
and civilians to hospitals during the ten years from 1963 to 1973. It is
impossible to say how many lives were saved..".
"The rate of loss to hostile fire for medevacs was three and half
times the loss rate for all other types of helicopter missions."
"Although officials in Washington were fond of pointing out that
the casualty rate for American forces in Vietnam was considerably lower
than in World War II and Korea, that had far more to do with the larger
percentage of personnel in support units and the availability of
improved medical care than with any differences in the intensity of
combat. Men in