'changed into new khakis.' At 2000, the regiment 'resumed its march.'''
At this point the 6th NVA divided into three columns, each with its particular objective in the Citadel. At 2200, about four kilometers southwest of Hue, the commander of the 1st ARVN Division Reconnaissance Company, First Lieutenant Nguyen Thi Tan, was on a river surveillance mission with about 30 men, when a Regional Force company to his east reported that it was under attack. Remaining under cover. Lieutenant Tan and his men observed the equivalent of two enemy battalions filter past their positions, headed toward Hue. Tan radioed this information back to the 1st Division. The two battalions were probably the 800th and 802d Battalions ofthe6/ANVA.'
Despite Tan s warning, the enemy troops continued toward Hue unmolested. In the enemy command post to the west of the city, the NVA commander waited for word that the attack had begun. At approximately 0230 .31 January, a forward observer reported, 'I am awake, I am looking down at Hue ... the lights of the city are still on, the sky is quiet, and nothing is happening.' Anxiously, the NVA officers looked at one another, but no one voiced their doubts. A few minutes later, the observer came back upon the radio and announced that the assault was under way.'
At 0233, a signal flare lit up the night sky above Hue. At the Western Gate of the Citadel, a four-man North Vietnamese sapper team, dressed in South Vietnamese Army uniforms, killed the guards and opened the gate. Upon their flashlight signals, lead elements of the 6th NVA entered the old city. In similar scenes throughout the Citadel, the North Vietnamese regulars poured into the old imperial capital.'
The 800th and 802d Battalions pushed through the Western Gate and then drove north. On the Tay Loc airfield, the 'Black Panther' Company, reinforced by the division's 1st Ordnance Company, stopped the 800th Battalion. Although the enemy battle account stared that the South Vietnamese 'offered no strong resistance,' the NVA report acknowledged 'the heavy enemy [ARVN] fire enveloped the entire airfield. By dawn, our troops were still unable to advance.'9
While the righting for the airfield continued to seesaw
with first the ARVN having the upper hand and then the Communists, the 802d
Battalion struck the l st Division headquarters at Along Ca. Although the enemy
battalion penetrated the division compound, an ad hoc 200-man defensive force
consisting of staff officers, clerks, and other headquarters personnel managed
to stave off the enemy assaults. General Truong called back most of his Black
Panther Company from the airfield to bolster the headquarters defenses. With the
reinforcements, the division headquarters remained secure. Nevertheless, by
daylight, more than The southern gate to the Citadel, with its flagpole, is
where the North Vietnamese raised the Viet Ciin^ haniiti:
Photo courtesy of Col Talman C. Bud