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'changed into new khakis.' At 2000, the regiment 'resumed its march.'5

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 of the 6th NVA.6

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.7

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.8

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 fighting for the airfield continued to seesaw with first
the ARVN having the upper hand and then the Communists, the 802d
Battalio
n struck the lst Division headquarters at Mang 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

Photo courtesy of Col Talman C. Budd II, USMC (Ret)

The southern gate to the Citadel, with its flagpole, is

where the North Vietnamese raised the Viet Cong banner.






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