Battle of An Bao

The Battle of An Bao took place from 5-6 May 1968 in Bình Định Province during the Vietnam War when elements of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) 3rd Division ambushed a unit of the 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment (Mechanized).

Coordinates: 14°17′17″N 109°03′04″E / 14.288°N 109.051°E

Background

As part of the May Offensive, PAVN General Chu Huy Mân Commander of Military Region 5 ordered the 3rd Division to attack the 1/50th Infantry in Bình Định Province with a series of large-scale ambushes. The 1/50th Infantry was based at Landing Zone Uplift, 8 kilometres north of the town of Phù Mỹ.[1]:547-8

Battle

On the morning of 5 May, the 3rd Division attacked Landing Zone Salem (14°17′17″N 109°05′06″E / 14.288°N 109.085°E), 5 kilometres north of LZ Uplift, and Landing Zone Ollie (14°19′30″N 109°03′50″E / 14.325°N 109.064°E) a further 3 kilometres north.[2] The commander of the 1/50th Infantry, Lt. Col. John B. Carter ordered two platoons from Company A, 1/50th Infantry to the village of An Bao, 2 kilometres west of LZ Salem, where signal intercepts indicated a PAVN regimental headquarters might be located. At 08:00 the force of 9 M113s left LZ Uplift and headed north on Highway 1. By 10:00 the force had turned west off Highway 1 towards An Bao and were crossing some dry rice paddies in a clearing when they saw a group of approximately 15 PAVN run into the tree line. The M113s moved into line abreast and fired their machine guns into the tree line but received no return fire. After searching the area the force formed a defensive perimeter and the men ate lunch. As they were preparing to move out, the position was hit by Rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and recoilless rifle fire which disabled the command and medical vehicles. Mortar rounds and machine gun fire then began to hit the U.S. position. Realizing that they were surrounded, the commander Lieutenant Dennis E. Hinton radioed for support.[1]:548-50

The PAVN forces comprising the 97th Battalion, 2nd Regiment, and the 7th and 9th Battalions, 22nd Regiment began closing in on the U.S. position. Two M113s attacked on the PAVN positions but both were soon disabled by RPGs. An M132 Armored Flamethrower was also hit and its fuel tanks caught fire. The remaining 4 M113s and some soldiers on foot retreated through their entry point into the clearing and headed back to Highway 1 leaving behind 15 men in a small perimeter a few hundred metres northwest of the disabled M113s.[1]:550

On learning of the ambush, Lt. Col Carter ordered Company C, 1/50th Infantry and Company B, 1st Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment with its 7 M48s to go to the assistance of Company A.[1]:550-1 The 1/69th tanks overshot the turnoff to An Bao by 1.5 kilometres and when they did turn west off of Highway 1, one of the tanks got stuck in the mud, leaving one tank to assist in retrieving the wedged tank, 5 M48s proceeded towards An Bao. Company C reached the ambush site first and entered the clearing as the PAVN were closing in on the 15 men from Company A, the M113s moved in to form and armored perimeter but were soon hit by intense fire that killed and wounded several of the men of Company C. The 5 M48s then arrived in the clearing and the U.S. forces were able to withdraw and regroup while air and artillery strikes hit the clearing and surrounding forest.[1]:551

At 17:00, a platoon of tanks from Landing Zone English and Company B, 1/50th Infantry, joined the force and the combined force re-entered the clearing to engage the PAVN. Despite the preceding hours of air and artillery strikes heavy fire again met the U.S. force. The previously dry paddyfields were now filling up with water from a dike that had been deliberately opened or destroyed in the bombing and the ground was now too muddy to be crossed. The Americans withdrew to establish a night defense position while air and artillery strikes continued.[1]:551

At 03:30 on 6 May the PAVN attacked the northwest of the U.S. perimeter with over a hundred soldiers advancing behind a hail of mortar and RPG fire that detonated an ammunition stockpile, injuring several Americans. The assault was beaten back and the PAVN withdrew at 05:00, dragging away their dead and wounded. Three Americans had been killed in the attack.[1]:551-2

Later that morning the Americans advanced again on the tree line but the PAVN had left the battlefield and they found only empty bunkers and fighting positions.[1]:552

Aftermath

The battle was claimed as a U.S. victory with MACV claiming 117 PAVN were killed with 70 weapons recovered, with 18 Americans killed.[1]:552

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Villard, Erik (2017). United States Army in Vietnam Combat Operations Staying the Course October 1967 to September 1968. Center of Military History United States Army. ISBN 9780160942808. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ Kelley, Michael (2002). Where we were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press. p. 5–456. ISBN 978-1555716257.
3rd Division (Vietnam)

The 3rd Infantry Division also known as the Yellow Star Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), first formed from Viet Cong (VC) and PAVN units in September 1965.

May Offensive

PHASE II of the Tet Offensive of 1968 (also known as the May Offensive, Little Tet, and Mini-Tet) was launched by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and Viet Cong (VC) against targets throughout South Vietnam, including Saigon from 29 April to 30 May 1968. The May Offensive was considered much bloodier than the initial phase of the Tet Offensive. US casualties across South Vietnam were 2,169 killed for the entire month of May making it the deadliest month of the entire Vietnam War for U.S. forces, while South Vietnamese losses were 2,054 killed. PAVN/VC losses exceeded 24,000 killed and over 2,000 captured. The May Offensive was regarded as a defeat for the PAVN/VC.

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