The Lost Battalion of TET: Breakout of the 2/12th Cavalry at Hue

By DeNevi, Don | Army, April 2008 | Go to article overview

The Lost Battalion of TET: Breakout of the 2/12th Cavalry at Hue


DeNevi, Don, Army


The Lost Battalion of TET: Breakout of the 2/12th Cavalry at Hue. Charles A. Krohn. Naval Institute Press. 171 pages; black and white photographs; maps; index; $23.95.

In addition to being an honest, fair and balanced example of military writing, what marks The Lost Battalion of TET: Breakout of the 2/12th Cavalry at Hue for importance is author Charles A. Krohn's uncanny ability to elucidate what went wrong during a sixweek period in January and February 1968 during the recapture of the city of Hue, when a U.S. infantry battalion was ordered to attack a North Vietnamese force of more than 2,000 without air or artillery support.

The former lieutenant colonel's conclusion: Steel is always cheaper than blood.

During one of the initial battles of the Tet Offensive, the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry (supported by Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment) prevented the enemy from driving free-world forces from the strategic Que Son Valley, terrain essential for control of Quang Nam Province. Although the battalion was encircled on February 4 by elements of the 6th North Vietnamese Army Regiment, the U.S. battle line could not be breached. In fact, that night U.S. troops exfiltrated enemy positions without being seen deep into the North Vietnamese lines of communication. Completely surprised, the enemy was interdicted. But out of a foxhole strength of 500, 81 American soldiers were killed in action and more than 250 wounded, a staggering casualty rate. In a Presidential Unit Citation prepared by Krohn for Richard Nixon and issued on August 11, 1970, the President stated that the troops "showed their gallant fighting timber during many days of sustained combat. Their outstanding bravery, determination, esprit de corps and devotion to duty blunted the enemy offensive and brought great credit on themselves, their unit and the U.S. Army."

Despite the high praise, considerable controversy continues among military experts over battle strategy during that tumultous combat period. …

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