Ed Blanco's Remembers the Tet Offensive
Memorial service at Alpha Company
1968 was the bloodiest year of the Vietnam War for the American Army. Approximately 11,000 Americans were killed and 45,000 wounded.
The North Vietnamese launched two offensives that year. The first in February (Tet) and a smaller one in May. Both offensives failed militarily, but the Tet Offensive scored an unexpected political victory for the North Vietnamese in the United States. It was the turning point of the war.
Alpha Company, 3/506th (Currahees*) Tet Casualties
During the first three weeks of the enemy's 1968 Tet offensive, Alpha Company's rifle platoons suffered 13 dead and 33 wounded, out of approximately 120 troopers in the field. In effect, more than one out of three men in the line platoons was hit.
The number of "killed in action" that year could have been higher if not for the excellent medical care the wounded received. This was true for the entire American Army. A wounded soldier was never more than a 30 minute chopper ride away from a modern air-conditioned medical facility.
Edward Blanco Remembers Three Friends
(From left to right: John Melgaard, 2nd Platoon medic; medic Jim Mezzetta, replaced Melgaard; and Jose Santana, Blanco's friend from Brooklyn, killed on New Year's Eve, 1967