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Author Topic: WHAT HAPPENED TODAY IN THE VIETNAM WAR  (Read 58353 times)
AzPatriot
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« Reply #60 on: March 11, 2011, 03:48:24 PM »

Mar 12, 1968:
McCarthy does well in the Democratic primary

Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-Minnesota), an outspoken critic of the Johnson administration's policies in Vietnam, polls 42 percent of the vote in New Hampshire's Democratic presidential primary. President Lyndon B. Johnson got 48 percent. A Harris poll later showed that anti-Johnson, rather than antiwar, sentiment provided the basis for McCarthy's surprisingly strong performance.

McCarthy had been a contender to be President Lyndon B. Johnson's running mate in the 1964 election, but since then he had become increasingly disenchanted with Johnson's policies in Vietnam and the escalation of the war. In 1967, he published The Limits of Power, an assessment of U.S. foreign policy that was very critical of the Johnson administration. McCarthy announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in January 1968, saying that he hoped to harness the growing antiwar sentiment in the country, particularly among the young. His showing in the New Hampshire primary astonished most of the political pundits. Johnson, frustrated with his inability to reach a solution in Vietnam and stunned by his narrow victory in New Hampshire, announced on March 31, 1968, that he would neither seek nor accept the nomination of his party for re-election.

The rest of McCarthy's campaign was almost an anticlimax. Senator Robert Kennedy of New York entered the race and won most of the Democratic primaries until his assassination in June. When the Democratic National Convention opened in Chicago, a conflict immediately erupted over the party's Vietnam platform. While demonstrations against the war took place in the streets outside the convention hall, Vice President Hubert Humphrey won the party nomination.

Humphrey was defeated in the general election by Republican Richard Nixon. McCarthy retired from the Senate in 1971, but his surprising showing in the primary was evidence of the strong antiwar sentiment in the country.

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AzPatriot
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« Reply #61 on: March 11, 2011, 03:51:27 PM »

Mar 13, 1954:
Viet Minh attack French garrison

A force of 40,000 Viet Minh with heavy artillery surround 15,000 French troops at Dien Bien Phu. French General Henri Navarre had positioned these forces 200 miles behind enemy lines in a remote area adjacent to the Laotian border. He hoped to draw the communists into a set-piece battle in which he hoped superior French firepower would destroy the enemy. He underestimated the enemy.

Viet Minh General Vo Nguyen Giap entrenched artillery in the surrounding mountains and massed five divisions around the French positions. The battle began with a massive Viet Minh artillery barrage, followed by an infantry assault. Fierce fighting continued to rage until May 7, 1954, when the Viet Minh overran the last French positions. The shock of the fall of Dien Bien Phu led France, already plagued by public opposition to the war, to agree to the independence of Vietnam at the Geneva Conference in 1954


Mar 13, 1975:
Ban Me Thuot falls

Ban Me Thuot, capital of Darlac Province in the Central Highlands, falls to North Vietnamese troops.

In late January 1975, just two years after the cease-fire established by the Paris Peace Accords, the North Vietnamese launched Campaign 275. The objective of this campaign was to capture Ban Me Thuot in the Central Highlands. The battle began on March 4 and the North Vietnamese quickly encircled the city with five main force divisions, cutting it off from outside support.

As it became clear that the communists would take the city and probably the entire province, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu decided to withdraw his forces in order to protect the more critical populous areas to the south. Accordingly, he ordered his forces in the Central Highlands to pull back from their positions. Abandoning Pleiku and Kontum, the South Vietnamese forces began to move toward the sea, but what started out as an orderly withdrawal soon turned into panic and the South Vietnamese forces rapidly fell apart. The North Vietnamese were successful in both the Central Highlands and further north at Quang Tri, Hue, and Da Nang. The South Vietnamese soon collapsed as a cogent fighting force while the North Vietnamese continued their attack all the way to Saigon. South Vietnam surrendered unconditionally to the North Vietnamese on April 30 and the war was over


Once again amazing to see 20 years to the day these events happening....Almost the beginning and the end here.

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AzPatriot
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« Reply #62 on: March 14, 2011, 12:21:46 PM »

Mar 14, 1965:
Allies launch second wave of Rolling Thunder

Twenty-four South Vietnamese Air Force planes, led by Vice-Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky and supported by U.S. jets, bomb the barracks and depots on Con Co ("Tiger") Island, 20 miles off the coast of North Vietnam. The next day, 100 U.S. Air Force jets and carrier-based bombers struck the ammunition depot at Phu Qui, 100 miles south of Hanoi. This was the second set of raids in Operation Rolling Thunder and the first in which U.S. planes used napalm.

Operation Rolling Thunder was a result of President Lyndon B. Johnson's decision in February to undertake the sustained bombing of North Vietnam that he and his advisers had been contemplating for a year. The operation was designed to interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in the southern part of North Vietnam and slow infiltration of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam. In July 1966, Rolling Thunder was expanded to include the bombing of North Vietnamese ammunition dumps and oil storage facilities, and in the spring of 1967, it was further expanded to include power plants, factories, and airfields in the Hanoi-Haiphong area.

The White House closely controlled operation Rolling Thunder and President Johnson sometimes personally selected the targets. From 1965 to 1968, about 643,000 tons of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam. A total of nearly 900 U.S. aircraft were lost during Operation Rolling Thunder. The operation continued, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson, under increasing domestic political pressure, halted it on October 31, 1968.

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AzPatriot
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« Reply #63 on: March 15, 2011, 10:58:32 AM »

Mar 15, 1965:
Army Chief of Staff reports on South Vietnam

Gen. Harold K. Johnson, Army Chief of Staff, reports on his recent visit to Vietnam to President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. He admitted that the recent air raids ordered by President Johnson had not affected the course of the war and said he would like to assign an American division to hold coastal enclaves and defend the Central Highlands.

General Johnson also advocated creating a four-division force of Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and U.S. troops to patrol the Demilitarized Zone along the border separating North and South Vietnam and Laos. Nothing ever came of General Johnson's recommendation on the SEATO troops, but President Johnson ordered the 173rd Airborne Brigade to Vietnam in May 1965 and followed it with the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in September of the same year. These forces, along with the first contingent of U.S. Marines--which had arrived in March--were only the first of a massive American build up. By 1969, there were more than 540,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam.

Mar 15, 1973:
President Nixon hints at re-intervention

President Nixon hints that the United States might intervene again in Vietnam to prevent communist violations of the truce. A cease-fire under the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords had gone into effect on January 27, 1973, but was quickly and repeatedly violated by both sides as they jockeyed for control of territory in South Vietnam. Very quickly, both sides resumed heavy fighting in what came to be called the "cease-fire war."

Nixon had been instrumental in convincing the reluctant South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to sign the peace treaty, promising him repeatedly that, "We will respond with full force should the settlements be violated by North Vietnam." As the fighting continued throughout 1973 and into 1974, Thieu appealed to Nixon to make good on his promises. For his part, Nixon was increasingly embroiled in the developing Watergate scandal, and resigned from office in August 1974. His successor, Gerald Ford, was unable to persuade a hostile Congress to provide the promised support to South Vietnam. The United States did nothing when the North Vietnamese launched their final offensive in the spring of 1975. South Vietnam was defeated in less than 55 days, surrendering unconditionally to the North Vietnamese on April 30


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« Reply #64 on: March 15, 2011, 07:06:07 PM »

    * Operation DEWEY CANYON II's rear support base at Khe Sanh comes under Communist mortar and rocket fire. Sappers penetrate the perimeter. Results are 3 US KIA and 14 US WIA.

    * Operation DOK SOO RI initiated 22 Feb 71 in Phu Yen Province under control of the White Horse ROK Infantry Division, is terminated. Results are 410 enemy killed, 5 detained, 23 ROK KIA and 74 ROK WIA.
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AzPatriot
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« Reply #65 on: March 16, 2011, 11:25:49 AM »

Mar 16, 1968:
U.S. troops massacre South Vietnamese


In what would become the most publicized war atrocity committed by U.S. troops in Vietnam, a platoon slaughters between 200 and 500 unarmed villagers at My Lai 4, a cluster of hamlets in the coastal lowlands of the northernmost region of South Vietnam.

My Lai 4 was situated in a heavily mined region where Viet Cong guerrillas were firmly entrenched and numerous members of the participating platoon had been killed or maimed during the preceding month. Lt. William L. Calley, a platoon leader, was leading his men on a search-and-destroy mission; the unit entered the village only to find women, children, and old men. Frustrated by unanswered losses due to snipers and mines, the soldiers took out their anger on the villagers. During the ensuing massacre, several old men were bayoneted; some women and children praying outside the local temple were shot in the back of the head; and at least one girl was raped before being killed. Others were systematically rounded up and led to a nearby ditch where they were executed.

Reportedly, the killing was only stopped when Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, an aero-scout helicopter pilot, landed his helicopter between the Americans and the fleeing South Vietnamese, confronting the soldiers and blocking them from further action against the villagers. The incident was subsequently covered up, but came to light a year later. An Army board of inquiry investigated the massacre and produced a list of 30 persons who knew of the atrocity. Only 14, including Calley and his company commander, Captain Ernest Medina, were charged with crimes. All eventually had their charges dismissed or were acquitted by courts-martial except Calley, who was found guilty of personally murdering 22 civilians and sentenced to life imprisonment. His sentence was reduced to 20 years by the Court of Military Appeals and further reduced later to 10 years by the Secretary of the Army. Proclaimed by much of the public as a "scapegoat," Calley was paroled in 1974 after having served about a third of his 10-year sentence.


Mar 16, 1975:
South Vietnamese flee Pleiku and Kontum



The withdrawal from Pleiku and Kontum begins, as thousands of civilians join the soldiers streaming down Route 7B toward the sea. In late January 1975, just two years after the cease-fire established by the Paris Peace Accords, the North Vietnamese launched Campaign 275. The objective of this campaign was to capture the city of Ban Me Thuot in the Central Highlands. The battle began on March 4 and the North Vietnamese quickly encircled the city with five main force divisions, cutting it off from outside support. The South Vietnamese 23rd Division, which had been sent to defend the city, was vastly outnumbered and quickly succumbed to the communists.

As it became clear that the city—and probably the entire Darlac province—would fall to the communists, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu decided to withdraw his forces in order to protect the more critical populous areas to the south. Accordingly, he ordered his forces in the Central Highlands to pull back from their positions. Abandoning Pleiku and Kontum, the South Vietnamese forces began to move toward the sea. By March 17, civilians and soldiers came under heavy communist attack; the withdrawal, scheduled to take three days, was still underway on April 1. Only 20,000 of 60,000 soldiers ever reached the coast; of 400,000 refugees, only 100,000 arrived. The survivors of what one South Vietnamese general described as the "greatest disaster in the history of the ARVN [Army of the Republic of Vietnam]" escaped down the coastal highway toward Saigon.

The North Vietnamese overran the South Vietnamese forces in both the Central Highlands and further north at Quang Tri, Hue, and Da Nang. The South Vietnamese collapsed as a cogent fighting force and the North Vietnamese continued the attack all the way to Saigon. South Vietnam surrendered unconditionally to North Vietnam on April 30 and the war was over.


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« Reply #66 on: March 16, 2011, 12:03:41 PM »

In the chaos that existed following the battle, the first order of civilian business was emergency relief, in the form of food shipments, prevention of epidemics, emergency medical care, etc. Then came the home rebuilding effort. Only later did Hue begin to tabulate its casualties. No true post-attack census has yet been taken. In March local officials reported that 1,900 civilians were hospitalized with war wounds and they estimated that some 5,800 persons were unaccounted for.

The first discovery of Communist victims came in the Gia Hoi High School yard, on February 26 ; eventually 170 bodies were recovered.

In the next few months 18 additional grave sites were found, the largest of which were Tang Quang Tu Pagoda (67 victims), Bai Dau (77), Cho Thong area (an estimated 100), the imperial tombs area (201), Thien Ham (approximately 200), and Dong Gi (approximately 100). In all, almost 1,200 bodies were found in hastily dug, poorly concealed graves.

At least half of these showed clear evidence of atrocity killings: hands wired behind backs, rags stuffed in mouths, bodies contorted but without wounds (indicating burial alive). The other nearly 600 bore wound marks but there was no way of determining whether they died by firing squad or incidental to the battle.

The second major group of finds was discovered in the first seven months of 1969 in Phu Thu district-the Sand Dune Finds and Le Xa Tay-and Huong Thuy district-Xuan Hoa-Van Duong-in late March and April. Additional grave sites were found in Vinh Loc district in May and in Nam Hoa district in July. The largest of this group were the Sand Dune Finds in the three sites of Vinh Luu, Le Xa Dong and Xuan 0 located in rolling, grasstufted sand dune country near the South China Sea. Separated by salt-marsh valleys, these dunes were ideal for graves. Over 800 bodies were uncovered in the dunes.

In the Sand Dune Find, the pattern had been to tie victims together in groups of 10 or 20, line them up in front of a trench dug by local corvee labour and cut them down with submachine gun (a favourite local souvenir is a spent Russian machine gun shell taken from a grave). Frequently the dead were buried in layers of three and four, which makes identification particularly difficult.

In Nam Hoa district came the third, or Da Mai Creek Find, which also has been called the Phu Cam death march, made on September 19, 1969. Three Communist defectors told intelligence officers of the 101st Airborne Brigade that they had witnessed the killing of several hundred people at Da Mai Creek, about 10 miles south of Hue, in February of 1968. The area is wild, unpopulated, virtually inaccessible. The Brigade sent in a search party, which reported that the stream contained a large number of human bones.

By piecing together bits of information, it was determined that this is what happened at Da Mai Creek: On the fifth day of Tet in the Phu Cam section of Hue, where some three-quarters of the City's 40,000 Roman Catholics lived, a large number of people had taken sanctuary from the battle in a local church, a common method in Vietnam of escaping war. Many in the building were not in fact Catholic.

A Communist political commissar arrived at the church and ordered out about 400 people, some by name and some apparently because of their appearance (prosperous looking and middle-aged businessmen, for example). He said they were going to the "liberated area" for three days of indoctrination, after which each could return home.

They were marched nine kilometres south to a pagoda where the Communists had established a headquarters. There 20 were called out from the group, assembled before a drumhead court, tried, found guilty, executed and buried in the pagoda yard. The remainder were taken across the river and turned over to a local Communist unit in an exchange that even involved banding the political commissar a receipt. It is probable that the commissar intended that their prisoners should be re-educated and returned, but with the turnover, matters passed from his control.

During the next several days, exactly how many is not known, both captive and captor wandered the countryside. At some point the local Communists decided to eliminate witnesses: Their captives were led through six kilometres of some of the most rugged terrain in Central Vietnam, to Da Mai Creek. There they were shot or brained and their bodies left to wash in the running stream. The 101st Airborne Brigade burial detail found it impossible to reach the creek overland, roads being non-existent or impassable. The creek's foliage is what in Vietnam is called double-canopy, that is, two layers, one consisting of brush and trees close to the ground, and the second of tall trees whose branches spread out high above. Beneath is permanent twilight. Brigade engineers spent two days blasting a hole through the double-canopy by exploding dynamite dangled on long wires beneath their hovering helicopters. This cleared a landing pad for helicopter hearses. Quite clearly this was a spot where death could be easily hidden even without burial.

The Da Mai Creek bed, for nearly a hundred yards up the ravine, yielded skulls, skeletons and pieces of human bones. The dead had been left above ground (for the animists among them, this meant their souls would wander the lonely earth forever, since such is the fate of the unburied dead), and 20 months in the running stream had left bones clean and white.

Local authorities later released a list of 428 names of personswhom they said had been positively identified from the creek bed remains. The Communists' rationale for their excesses was elimination of "traitors to the revolution." The list of 428 victims breaks down as follows: 25 per cent military: two officers, the rest NCO's and enlisted men; 25 per cent students; 50 per cent civil servants, village and hamlet officials, service personnel of various categories, and ordinary workers.

The fourth or Phu Thu Salt Flat Finds came in November, 1969, near the fishing village of Luong Vien some ten miles east of Hue, another desolate region. Government troops early in the month began an intensive effort to clear the area of remnants of the local Communist organization. People of Luong Vien, population 700, who had remained silent in the presence of troops for 20 months apparently felt secure enough from Communist revenge to break silence and lead officials to the find. Based on descriptions from villagers whose memories are not always clear, local officials estimate the number of bodies at Phu Thu to be at least 300 and possibly 1,000.

The story remains uncompleted. If the estimates by Hue officials are even approximately correct, nearly 2,000 people are still missing. Re-capitulation of the dead and missing.

An Excerpt from the Viet Cong Strategy of Terror, by Professor Douglas Pike, p. 23-39
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AzPatriot
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« Reply #67 on: March 17, 2011, 12:07:45 PM »

Mar 17, 1964:
National Security Council reviews situation

President Lyndon B. Johnson presides over a session of the National Security Council during which Secretary of Defense McNamara and Gen. Maxwell Taylor present a full review of the situation in Vietnam. During the meeting, various secret decisions were made, including the approval of covert intelligence-gathering operations in North Vietnam; contingency plans to launch retaliatory U.S. Air Force strikes against North Vietnamese military installations and against guerrilla sanctuaries inside the Laotian and Cambodian borders; and a long-range "program of graduated overt military pressure" against North Vietnam. President Johnson directed that planning for the bombing raids "proceed energetically."

A statement issued to the public afterwards stated that the United States would increase military and economic aid to support South Vietnamese President Nguyen Khanh's new plan for fighting the Viet Cong. Khanh's intention was to mobilize all able-bodied South Vietnamese males, raise the pay and status of paramilitary forces, and provide more equipment for the South Vietnamese armed forces.
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« Reply #68 on: March 17, 2011, 02:09:24 PM »

An Excerpt from the Viet Cong Strategy of Terror, by Professor Douglas Pike, p. 23-39[/u]
Yes, here at Radio Vietnam we are fair and balanced in the chronicling of atrocities, right Huyen?  Wink

Strange - none of this appeared in the mainstream media  Question

-- RR
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AzPatriot
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« Reply #69 on: March 19, 2011, 02:21:06 AM »

Mar 18, 1969:
U.S. bombs Cambodia for the first time

U.S. B-52 bombers are diverted from their targets in South Vietnam to attack suspected communist base camps and supply areas in Cambodia for the first time in the war. President Nixon approved the mission--formally designated Operation Breakfast--at a meeting of the National Security Council on March 15. This mission and subsequent B-52 strikes inside Cambodia became known as the "Menu" bombings. A total of 3,630 flights over Cambodia dropped 110,000 tons of bombs during a 14-month period through April 1970. This bombing of Cambodia and all follow up "Menu" operations were kept secret from the American public and the U.S. Congress because Cambodia was ostensibly neutral. To keep the secret, an intricate reporting system was established at the Pentagon to prevent disclosure of the bombing. Although the New York Times broke the story of the secret bombing campaign in May 1969, there was little adverse public reaction
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AzPatriot
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« Reply #70 on: March 19, 2011, 02:31:27 AM »

Mar 19, 1966:
Seoul agrees to send additional troops

The South Korean Assembly votes to send 20,000 additional troops to Vietnam to join the 21,000 Republic of Korea (ROK) forces already serving in the war zone. The South Korean contingent was part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon B. Johnson to enlist allies for the United States and South Vietnam. By securing support from other nations, Johnson hoped to build an international consensus behind his policies in Vietnam. The effort was also known as the "many flags" program.

South Korean forces had been in South Vietnam since August 1964, when Seoul sent a liaison unit to Saigon. The first contingent was followed in February 1965 by engineer units and a mobile hospital. Although initially assigned to non-combat duties, they came under fire on April 3. In September 1965, in response to additional pleas from Johnson, the South Korean government greatly expanded its troop commitment to Vietnam and agreed to send combat troops. By the close of 1969, over 47,800 Korean soldiers were actively involved in combat operations in South Vietnam. Seoul began to withdraw its troops in February 1972, following the lead of the United States as it drastically reduced its troop commitment in South Vietnam.



Korea always a good friend to us...did some work with ROK marines once...tough SOB's
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« Reply #71 on: February 25, 2012, 06:18:37 AM »

Hi All,  25th Feb 1969, just came accross this on a page on the www, and was was talking about today 43 years ago


While the enemy generally avoided contact, American and South Vietnamese forces operating in northern I Corps continued their efforts to keep the enemy off balance. They struck at traditional base areas and infiltration routes, and increased security within populated areas. Leading the American effort in Quang Tri Province was the 3d Marine Division under the command of Major General Ray Davis. Davis has been described as a “Marine’s Marine.” He was a veteran of Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, and Peleliu. He was awarded a Medal of Honor for leading a contingent of Marines through bitterly cold temperatures, snow, and wind to relieve the beleaguered men of Fox Company at Toktong Pass during the breakout from Chosin during the Korean War. Now, under Davis’ leadership, tactical disposition of the 3d Marine Division was turned upside down.

When he took command in May 1968, much of the 3d Marine Division was tied down to combat bases, places like Vandegrift and Camp Carroll. They were part of the “McNamara Line” conceived to shut down enemy use of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. And according to Davis this simply wasn’t working. Marine battalions were being pulled back into defensive positions at the combat bases at night. This, he felt, was contrary to the way Marines think. Marines attack. They don’t hunker down. He saw combat being broken off when nightfall was eminent so that combat bases could be manned.

All that changed very quickly under Davis. The division would no longer be tied to defensive positions but, with helicopter support, would assume a highly mobile posture. Davis later stated,

“Forgetting about bases, going after the enemy in key areas-this punished the enemy most….The way to get it done was to get out of these fixed positions and get mobility, to go and destroy the enemy on our terms, not sit there and absorb the shot and shell and frequent penetrations that he was able to mount….As soon as I heard that I was going, it led me to do something I had never done before or since, and that is to move in prepared in the first hours to completely turn the command upside down. They were committed by battalion in fixed positions in such a way that they had very little mobility. The relief of CGs took placed at eleven o’clock. At one o’clock I assembled the staff and commanders. Before dark, battalion positions had become company positions….Everyone else was expected to be in the field.”

So how did one of these high mobility missions play out? Armed with intelligence supplied by these recon patrols or through radio intercepts, the Marines advanced rapidly into the area of operations. Forward artillery positions, fire support bases, defended by a minimum of personnel would be established on key terrain features-hilltops. These bases were constructed about 8,000 meters apart, and provided ground troops with an umbrella of continuous artillery support. Ground units were inserted in the area and were able to move rapidly and largely on foot throughout the area to be searched-these were search and destroy missions!

Those serving in the 3d Marine Division found themselves confronting the enemy from the Laotian border to the coastal lowlands. There were no named battles, only named operations, endless patrols and missions which blended together.  Those who fought, and bled and died did so in places largely forgotten by history, remembered only by those who served there, or by their families and loved ones.


Early 1969 found the 4th Marines operating just south of the Demilitarized Zone.
The 4th Marines were responsible for patrolling the mountainous region north of Vandegrift Combat Base and south of the Demilitarized Zone. To the northwest of Vandegrift, two platoons of Company H, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, along with elements of  3d Battalion, 12th Marines held Fire Support Base Neville, located atop Hill 1103. Ten kilometers east, additional elements of the 12th Marines, and a detachment from the 1st Searchlight Battery, held Fire Support Base Russell. Both bases had been carved out of the mountainous terrain in late 1968.

The fire support bases south of the DMZ, about the size of a football field, and bordered on one side by a steep cliff, Neville was described by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Hopkins, as a “very rocky piece of ground often overwhelmed by low-lying clouds.” Said another Marine,

“I was shocked when I first saw it, a big, red, dirt splotch on the valley floor with bomb craters in every direction, all with water in them. The steel mat runaway was still in place and six aircraft parking revampments(sic). That was it, nothing else. As the chopper neared the base I looked out the starboard porthole and saw a little bald spot on a hill below. A thin trail wound up to it from the valley and wound away from it on the other side. I remember thinking how small it looked and it could only hold a squad or so on it….I was glad I wasn’t on that hill as we passed it…Just then the chopper pitched to over to starboard and started corkscrewing down onto the hilltop.

Although protected by concertina wire, listening posts, mines and sensors, Neville was regularly probed by NVA forces. Wrote one Marine in a letter home, “It’s getting weird around here. The gooks come up to our wire almost every night and then do nothing.”

Captain John E. Knight, Jr., commanding Hotel Company, described the early morning hours of 25 February 1969 as a typical night on FSB Neville. It was, he said, “very foggy; it looked like something right out of a horror movie with fog drifting through the trees; visibility almost nil…The first indication we had that anything was out of the ordinary other than just normal movement was when a trip flare went off…”

Neville was under attack by some 200 sappers from the 246th NVA Regiment.  According to Sergeant Terry Webber, “The earth trembled and the noise was deafening. I felt as if the world was ending that foggy night.” After infiltrating the concertina wire  on the west side of the perimeter, the sappers crisscrossed that portion of the base occupied by 1st Platoon and Battery G’s number six gun pit.  Tossing satchel charges, they forced the defenders into bunkers, which they then destroyed.


During the attacks on 25 February, the NVA sappers tossed satchel charges into the bunkers. Combat artist LtCol Michael Leahy, painted this scene featuring a bunker. (Courtesy of the Art Collection, National Museum of the Marine Corps)

Despite the destruction, the Marines began to rally. Sergeant Alfred P. LaPorte, Jr. commenced directing devastating counter-mortar fire and illumination on the assaulting force. As the Marines' supply of mortar rounds became depleted, he fearlessly moved about the fire-swept terrain to ensure the rapid resupply of mortar ammunition. Awarded the Navy Cross for his actions, the citation reads,

“When an enemy round detonated in an 81-mm. mortar emplacement and ignited an uncontrollable fire, Sergeant LaPorte quickly directed the men of his mortar crew to evacuate the position and led them to a covered location, then returned and organized a firefighting crew to extinguish the blaze. Observing two wounded Marines lying in positions dangerously exposed to the North Vietnamese fire, he boldly maneuvered through the hazardous area and assisted his injured companions to a location of relative security. As he reached the command post, an 81-mm. mortar round impacted in the vicinity. He unhesitatingly seized the extremely hot projectile and, despite severely burning his hands, threw it over an embankment, thereby preventing injury or destruction to nearby personnel and equipment. His heroic actions and calm presence of mind during a prolonged critical situation inspired all who observed him and saved the lives of numerous Marines.”

Said Gunnery Sergeant John E. Timmermeyer, in an interview done shortly after the attack,

“We beat these sappers, which are supposed to be the worst thing the North Vietnamese got…We beat these people not with air, not with arty, not with any supporting arms; we beat them and we beat them bad with weapons we had in our own company….M16s, M79s, or 60s or frags, everything we had in the rifle company….We didn’t have to have supporting arms. We did it without them.”

The command chronology submitted by 3d Battalion, 12th Marines clearly states, “Only through heroic efforts were the positions defended and the NVA finally repulsed.” In all, 14 Marines, and attached naval personnel were killed in action:

HM2 Walter P. Seel, Moorestown, NJ

Cpl Jeffrey M. Barron, La Puente, CA

LCpl Thomas H. Mc Grath, Homewood, IL

Cpl Gerald D. Zawadzki, Brooklyn, OH

LCpl Steven V. Garcia, Phoenix, AZ

HM3 John M. Sullivan, El Cajon, CA

PFC Raymond L. Flint, Skaneateles, NY

PFC Walter L. Lamarr, Sturtevant, WI

PFC Samuel C. Macon, Delray Beach, FL

PFC David A. Mallory, Huntsville, AL

PFC Royce E. Roe, Pewaukee, WI

PFC Carey W. Smith, Doraville, GA

PFC Willie F. Smith, Houston, TX

PFC Michael L. Zappia, Des Moines, IA

Ten kilometers to the east, Fire Support Base Russell also came under attack, obviously in an effort to destroy the guns located there. Once again, the attack began with a heavy mortar barrage, and supporting artillery fire from within the DMZ. Sappers from the 27th NVA Regiment quickly breached the northeast perimeter of the base.  Said Captain Albert H. Hill, “In the first few minutes, the 81mm mortar section and the company CP, both located on the east and southeast side were decimated.”

In the initial moments of the attack, PFC William Castillo, worked feverishly to free Marines trapped inside bunkers. His Navy Cross citation states,

“Diving into his gun pit, he commenced single-handedly firing his mortar at the invaders, and although blown from his emplacement on two occasions by the concussion of hostile rounds impacting nearby, resolutely continued his efforts until relieved by some of the men he had freed. Observing a bunker that was struck by enemy fire and was ejecting thick clouds of smoke, he investigated the interior, and discovering five men blinded by smoke and in a state of shock, led them all to safety. Maneuvering across the fire-swept terrain to the command post, he made repeated trips through the hazardous area to carry messages and directions from his commanding officer, then procured a machine gun and provided security for a landing zone until harassing hostile emplacements were destroyed. Steadfastly determined to be of assistance to his wounded comrades, he carried the casualties to waiting evacuation helicopters until he collapsed from exhaustion.”

Much of the fighting was hand-to hand. Another Marine, Gunnery Sergeant Pedro P. Balignasay was instrumental in minimizing the number of casualties, and in rallying the men on Fire Support Base Russell. According to his Silver Star citation,

“Sergeant Balignasay was momentarily stunned when thrown to the ground. Recovering quickly, he was immediately wounded by the detonation of a mortar round nearby. Ignoring his painful injuries, he raced through the fire-swept area to the point of heaviest contact and, organizing uninjured Marines, deployed them into effective fighting positions. Shouting words of encouragement to the men, he directed their effective suppressive fire against the advancing hostile soldiers and was instrumental in the Marines' killing numerous enemy and successfully defending their position. As he was moving across the hazardous terrain to ensure that all casualties were being treated, he was again seriously wounded, but resolutely assisted other injured men to covered places to await medical evacuation. After ensuring the security of the defensive perimeter and that all his comrades had received care, he then resolutely proceeded to the Command Post to relate the current situation before allowing himself to be medically evacuated.”

At daybreak, Marine air came on station. Only two officers and one staff non-commissioned officer remained. The Marines suffered 29 killed in action:

LCpl Kenneth R. Gilliam, Lexington, KY

LCpl Norman W. Kellum, Corpus Christi, TX

LCpl Donald R. Lewis, Maysville, KY

LCpl Larry W. Liss, Oroville, CA

LCpl Gerald Przybylinski, Buchanan, MI

LCpl Larry J. Sikorski, Fairmount, ND

PFC Marion W. Lyons, Brentwood, AR

PFC James D. Peschel, Boulder, CO

PFC David L. Rutgers, Marshalltown, IA

HM2 Kenneth Davis, Zanesville, OH

2ndLt William H. Hunt, Merritt Island, FL

Cpl Tommy N. Miller, Bethalto, IL

LCpl James D. Logan, Flint, MI

LCpl Bruce A. Saunders, Roanoke, VA

PFC Robert A. Coffey, Greensburg, KY

PFC Michael L. Jenkins, Covington, VA

PFC Randolph R. Ramsey, Williamsfield, OH

PFC Allen M. Sharp, Covington, KY

HN Donald K. Walsh, East Lyme, CT

PFC Robert H. Brogan, Cincinnati, OH

PFC Odell Dickens, Whitakers, NC

PFC Douglas B. Forsberg, Minneapolis, MN

PFC Juan Gaston, New York, NY

PFC Robert A. McCarthy, Alden, NY

PFC Norman R. Surprenant, Plainfield, CT

PFC Robert H. Trail, Baltimore, MD

PFC James E. Tucker, Miami, FL

PFC George W. Weldy, Amarillo, TX

Pvt Michael A. Harvey, Milwaukee, WI

In a single night, 43 Marines died on those two remote fire bases south of the DMZ. Today, their names can be found on panel 31W of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. Their sacrifices have not be forgotten….A note left on the Virtual Wall, speaks eloquently of Hospital Corpsman Walter Seel:

“I first meet Phil (as he liked to be called) when I reported to Golf 3/12 3rd MARDIV in December of 1968. Being new, Phil took me under his wing and began to teach me the ropes of being a Corpsman in a combat zone. He was soft spoken and I never heard him raise his voice in anger to anyone. The Marines of Golf battery respected Phil and this made it easier to complete his job of being a Corpsman. The closeness between Phil and myself was like that of brothers, which in a way we were. Without Phil, I would have been lost.

On 25 February 1969, Phil was killed on FSB Neville. He died doing his job as a Navy Corpsman. A piece of me died when I lost a great and gentle friend. As I am sure his family felt a deep sadness, I at the same time also felt this terrible sadness that has stayed with me since that day. Rest easy, Phil. You have completed everything you were assigned. Now you can take care of your Marines in heaven. Semper Fi.”

Another note was left on the Virtual Wall for PFC Robert McCarthy. Dated 28 May, 2006, it says, “REMEMBERED by his Mom.”

A friend once told me that as long as a Marine is remembered he is not dead. These 43 Marines, who gave their lives defending two fire support bases, hacked out of low jungle and mountainous terrain, are part of Marine Corps history. They will never be forgotten.

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« Reply #72 on: March 23, 2012, 08:55:17 PM »

This day in history -- thirty nine years ago on March 23, 1973 AFVN signed off the air at midnight, ending years of radio and television service to the American fighting man and woman -- "From the Delta to the DMZ".

The American Forces Vietnam Network -- and its predecessor - Armed Forces Radio Service -- had seven men killed in action during the war.

[With thanks to Bob Morecook, AFVN Yahoo Site Moderator.]  

-- RR
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