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50 Years Later, Pittsburg Veteran Remembers the Outbreak of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam

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     50 years ago the North Vietnamese Army broke the Tet Ceasefire and launched an aggressive strike against US and Allied installations across the country.
     A Pittsburg native was an Air Force journalist when the Tet Offensive began.
Retired Air Force Staff Sergeant Rick Fulton lays flowers at the Vietnam Memorial at Pittsburg State University.. Panel 40E, which bears the names of two men he served with during Vietnam...
50 years ago...
Fulton: "1968 was probably the worst year of the Vietnam war in a lot of ways."
NVA forces launched what was ultimately called the "Tet Offensive." 
Fulton: "About 3:00 in the morning, I woke up, looked up through the screen wire and i saw this stream of tracer fire that was just floating by and then we heard it, and sat up, pulled our boots on."
 The attack pushed to the far south reaches of Vietnam, to the Mekong River, Saigon, Hue, striking bases hard.
Fulton: "Out at Bien Hoa and out at Tan Son Nhut, you've got conventional forces making a mainstream type of attack coming against the perimeters of the air bases."
At the Tan Son Nhut airbase, snipers had managed to enter the base, the way they got there, was surprising.
Fulton: "You had Vietnamese people that were actually Viet Cong that were workers on the air base that worked in the cafeteria and that sort of thing, that when they went home, they picked up their rifles, they went back that night and they had their little fighting holes dug, they had their positions picked out up in the attics."
There were heavy military casualties within the first two days of the Tet Offensive...but the NVA didn't stop with just military targets.
Fulton: "It was very hard on the Vietnamese citizens that were caught up in this thing."
NVA and Viet Cong forces killed a number of civilians as well during their siege of the south.
While the Tet Offensive served as a major turning point in the Vietnam War, Sergeant Fulton sums up the importance of remembering those bloody days and months.
Fulton: "I think you can simplify it by simply saying it's a time to remember the service, the valor, and the sacrifice of the people who served and defended freedom."
?Click here to hear more from Rick Fulton

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Chris Warner
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A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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