38. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, Pacific Forces (Sharp) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler)1

I have just talked with Westy by telephone. He provided me an assessment of the situation as of now by secure telephone and filled in the complete details which follow.
The situation is still confused but it is apparent that the enemy has taken advantage of the general state of relaxation existing during Tet. His forces infiltrated into Saigon in civilian clothes. They are moving throughout the city against government buildings and in a general campaign to terrorize and kill civilians. Their campaign has been well planned and obviously formed over a long period of time.
The expected attack against Khe Sanh or across the DMZ has not materialized, but it could come momentarily and we must be ready for [Page 85] it. It is possible that the massive air attacks conducted in I CTZ and along the DMZ may have thrown him off his time table but the threat of his attack still remains.
In the Capital District one of the most dramatic attacks took place against the U.S. Embassy. The enemy blew a hole in the wall and attempted to enter across the compound. A detachment of the 101st Airborne landed on the roof and joined Marine guards and MPs in repelling the attack. Westy had just returned from the Embassy where he viewed 19 VC bodies on the ground outside the Embassy building. Westy states that no VC actually entered the building. This changes many conflicting reports which we had received earlier in the day indicating that enemy troops were actually inside the Embassy. One Marine was KIA, and 4–5 Army MPs were killed at the Embassy. The building was partially defaced but there is no structural damage. There is minor damage in the lobby downstairs but nothing that cannot be repaired.
The enemy has been unsuccessful in getting into Tan Son Nhut and a friendly battalion is now sweeping the field. Two troops of cavalry have arrived at TSN and one company is engaging the enemy in the race track area. There is a big fight now in process there. Rockets from U.S. gun ships could be heard overhead while General Westmoreland made this report. He advised that the impact was approximately 1000 yards away.
An ordnance depot in Gia Dinh Province has been penetrated by the VC and they are now being engaged by ARVN Rangers. A VC captain has been captured and claims that 30 VC battalions are in the environs of Saigon. Another POW states that 21 battalions have infiltrated the city. Both reports are unconfirmed but it is obvious that infiltration is widespread, that the enemy can be expected in any kind of uniform, and that he is well equipped and armed with automatic weapons. Attacks have taken place against the palace, several of our BOQs and generally throughout the city.
Bien Hoa is closed to jets but the VNAF is taking off on an open runway. There is rocket fire now taking place there, with a battalion sweeping the area. The enemy has attacked the POW camp at Hien Hoa but has not penetrated. II Field Force headquarters has been infiltrated and mortared with one friendly KIA. 199th Brigade has been in an intense fire fight with the enemy in a village northeast of Bien Hoa. First reports indicate that upwards of 500 enemy KIA might be anticipated, but Westy does not attach too much reliability to this first report. Our casualties have been light in the 199th.
Note: Deliver during duty hours.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC History of the March 31st Speech, Vol. 2, Tabs A–Z and AA–ZZ. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Wheeler forwarded the telegram to the other JCS members and to Rusk, Helms, and Rostow at 1253Z. It was received in the White House at 2:02 p.m.