Forty Years Later: Vietnam Symposium Looks Back at Tet Offensive

The Texas Tech University Vietnam Center’s Sixth Triennial Vietnam Symposium, scheduled for March 13-15 at the Holiday Inn Park Plaza, offers a total 35 sessions featuring nearly 100 panelists and speakers providing insights into diverse aspects of the conflict. This includes the Tet Offensive and the role media coverage played in the conflict.

Written by Cory Chandler

Forty years ago, fading Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops used the beginning of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year to launch an audacious and desperate military campaign that surprised Allied U.S. troops.

The Tet Offensive ultimately resulted in a U.S. victory, but public sentiment for the war – prompted by media coverage – quickly began to sour and ultimately turned the win into a tactical and public relations quagmire.

This topic – the media and the Tet Offensive – is the theme of the first plenary session of the Texas Tech University Vietnam Center’s Sixth Triennial Vietnam Symposium, scheduled for March 13-15 at the Holiday Inn Park Plaza, 3201 S. Loop 289, in Lubbock.

Later discussions also will focus on the Tet Offensive and on the media’s role in the war, but the conference will feature a wide range of topics. It offers a total 35 sessions featuring nearly 100 panelists and speakers providing insights into diverse aspects of the conflict.

Sessions include:
• The Media and the Tet Offensive
• The Media and the Vietnam War
• Sects, Diem, and the Early Opposition Press in the U.S.
• Teaching the Tet Offensive and 1968: A Roundtable Discussion
• Major Battles of the Tet Offensive
• Agent Orange and Herbicides in Vietnam and Thailand
• Pham Xuan An: Unraveling the Mystery of a Perfect Spy
• Special Operations and Missions during the Vietnam War

Speakers include:
• Peter Arnett, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, will speak about his 13 years as a war correspondent with the Associated Press in reporting the Vietnam War.
• Barry Zorthian will discuss his tenure as head of the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office in Saigon during the Vietnam War.
• Richard Pyle will speak about his years as a war correspondent in Vietnam and Saigon Bureau Chief with Associated Press.
• Don North will discuss his years as a war correspondent with ABC and NBC News.
• George Esper will discuss his ten years as an Associated Press war correspondent in Vietnam.
• Louis Campomenosi of Tulane University will speak on Early Roots of an "Opposition Press": An Examination of the New York Times’ Editorials from the Spring of 1965.
• Carolyn Eisenberg of Hofstra University will speak on 1968 and its Aftermath: Why did the Vietnam War Continue?
• Erik B. Villard, of the U.S. Army Center of Military History, will speak on New Insights into the Battle of Hue, Tet 1968.
• Jonathan Hood, of the Office of the Surgeon General, will speak on Who Goes First? Prioritizing Casualty Evacuation during the Vietnam War.

The symposium also will feature keynote addresses from:
• Ambassador Raymond Burghardt, director of east-west seminars for the East-West Center in Hawaii and former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam.
• Ambassador Charles Ray, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office and former U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia.
• Mark Moyar, Kim T. Adamson chair of insurgency and terrorism at the U.S. Marine Corps University will speak on Major Debates on the History of the Vietnam War.

To see an online copy of the agenda, visit:
http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/vietnamcenter/events/2008_symposium/2008agenda.pdf

Founded in 1989, the Texas Tech Vietnam Center is one of the largest collections of Vietnam-era related documents in the world. Only the Pentagon has more material on the Vietnam War.

For more information, or to register for the conference, visit:
http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/vietnamcenter/events/2008_Symposium

Contact: Stephen Maxner, director of the Vietnam Center, Texas Tech,
(806) 742-9010 or steve.maxner@ttu.edu.