South Viet Nam: Forecast: Showers & a Showdown

Like the distant thunder that precedes a monsoonal line squall, the rumble of Communist guns last week signaled an end to the long lull in Viet Nam's ground war. Moving out in strength from their jungle strongholds for the first time in nine weeks, the Viet Cong struck in half a dozen spots—and only the hard, hot application of U.S. air power saved Saigon's forces from severe defeat.

The first Red lightning bolt struck at

Songbe, a scruffy cluster of hamlets atop a bluff just 75 miles northeast of Saigon. As the capital...