• Captain Patrick Gordon

We Are Looking at an American Tet Offensive


“Capt. Pat” spent nearly four decades flying Middle Eastern officials, royal family members, VIPs and VVIPs throughout the world. His first book “F-T-F-A, (Fly The Friggin’ Airplane), Book One,” is now available on Kindle E-books.

Over a half century ago our forces in Vietnam, the American government, the news media, and the American people, were caught by complete surprise when the Tet Offensive occurred. Tet is the name of the Vietnamese New Year Holiday, so that was the name of the offensive. A simultaneous attack by approximately 85,000 troops under the direction of the North Vietnamese government struck major cities, military bases and scores of towns and villages throughout South Vietnam.

We, the American people, had been confidently informed by the talking heads on TV, our military forces, and our government, that the war was nearly won. The “enemy” was virtually crushed. I served in the U.S. Army from 1960 to 1963. Fortunately for me, it was between the Korean and Vietnam wars. (I refuse to think of either as a “conflict.”) At the time of my discharge from the military I knew we had “advisors” in Vietnam but didn’t know we were already at “war”. I remember watching the first heavily televised war in living/dying color, through the terms of several presidents. I listened to the reports that we were winning the war, but we just needed a few more troops. The number of American troops in Vietnam eventually rose to 500,000 under President Johnson.

With Tet, the North Vietnamese hoped to foment discontent in the South, force the collapse of the government and army, and hopefully let Americans know that we could not win that war. Historians estimate approximately 50,000 communist troops died in that effort, but it was a stunning propaganda victory for the communists. It’s often credited with turning the war in their favor.


In our culture, it’s strange that some other cultures hold human life in such little value. Other cultures think in long-term goals of tens, scores, and hundreds of years. For them the loss of 50,000 troops in one, extended battle is a reasonable price to pay for a long-term goal of uniting a country. In America our long-term goals extend to the end of the month, maybe a year and, at the most, a presidential period of four years.


Unfortunately, Tet was a half century ago and, here in America, it might be ancient history. There might not be enough people remembering it to prevent a recurrence. A Tet-like offensive within our own porous borders.


We’ve been involved in a war with terrorists since 9/11. The purpose of this ongoing war is to, “fight them over there instead of over here.” The news sources make it blatantly clear that our southern border is wide open. I don’t care what I’m told by government officials, I tend to believe my “lying eyes.” What I see is hundreds of young, military age men running across the border. They are unimpeded because of an emperor like, Presidential Decree, which prevents fencing and adequate enforcement.


We frequently hear of the occasional known terrorist and/or criminal being caught, almost by accident, and returned to Mexico. That offender is probably back in the United States the next night.


Tet in Vietnam worked because the North Vietnamese army secretly infiltrated the South with thousands of troops and a grand plan. On a given date the hockey puck hit the fan.

We are being infiltrated right now. We’re seeing an unarmed invasion taking place right before the blind eyes or, perhaps, the evil intention of an administration. Given the freedom we have in our democracy, the ready transfer of funds, illegal weapons, communications equipment, and transportation, we could be blindly welcoming our own American Tet Offensive. All the invaders need is minimal time to get organized and act in one, grand, unified stroke.


Tet was not a successful military maneuver in Vietnam, but it caused tremendous damage and thousands upon thousands of casualties. An American Tet would probably not be immediately successful but the cost to us would be unfathomable. Even if recovery was remotely possible, it would take decades to recover, if ever.

What’s our last line of defense when we’re fighting them here instead of over there? Selected National Guard units have the training and experience in urban warfare, one of the most challenging environments in which to fight. Visit YouTube and see the damage done to the city of Hue during the Tet Offensive. Should an American Tet happen let’s hope the National Guard can respond quickly and efficiently. Many of the cities in the US could swiftly resemble Hue, Baghdad, and Damascus.


I’ve spent decades flying private jets around Europe, the Middle East and Africa. I’ve seen the destruction with my own eyes. There’s a smell of fear, defeat and desperation that can’t be transmitted via television. I watched a member of the Taliban strut on the airplane parking ramp at Kandahar Airport back in the early 1990s. He was dressed in rags, car-tire slippers on his feet and holding his staff of authority, a long stick wrapped in crumbled aluminum foil. One hand on his hip, chin up, his ragged clothing whipping in an airport gust, he might have taken the city alone. He was a winner; he was now the ruling class. After we spent what? A trillion dollars over there? He and his long stick wrapped in crumbled aluminum foil are back. Once again, the ruling class.

The Americans who think our country is terrible and must be radically changed should visit the war-torn and less fortunate countries around the world. Our democracy is chaotic at best but let’s live with our own chaos without allowing more into our midst. America is a fabulous country offering the opportunity, not the guarantee, but the opportunity to succeed.


So far we’ve had two major, unexpected attacks on our homeland. Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Is the stage being set for attack number three?