The Battle of An Lộc was a major battle of the Vietnam War that lasted for 66 days and culminated in a tactical victory for South Vietnam. The struggle for An Lộc in 1972 was an important battle of the war, as South Vietnamese forces halted the North Vietnamese advance towards Saigon.
Although South Vietnam won prolonged siege Battle of An Loc, North Vietnam launched a whole invasion much of South Vietnam in spring 1975. General Le Van Hung, the hero of An Loc, commit suicide in Can Tho after hearing the surrender on Black April.
|Battle of An Lộc|
|Part of the Vietnam War|
An Lộc, as viewed from the air in 1972.
|Commanders and leaders|
|Trần Văn Trà||
Lê Văn Hưng|
Lê Nguyên Vỹ
Richard J. Tallman †
3rd Ranger Group: 1,300
|Casualties and losses|
ARVN reported: 2,280 killed
10 aircraft, 20 helicopters lost:188
An Lộc is the capital of Bình Phước Province located northwest of Military Region III. During North Vietnam's Easter Offensive, (known in Vietnam as the Nguyen Hue Offensive) of 1972, An Lộc was at the centre of People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) strategy, its location on QL-13 near Base Area 708 in Cambodia allowed safeguarding supplies based out of a "neutral" location in order to reduce exposure to U.S. bombing. To protect this critical area, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) had essentially a single division in Bình Phước Province, the 5th Division. During the battle, the 5th Division was outnumbered by a combined force consisting of three PAVN and Viet Cong divisions. This fighting which ensued became the most protracted conflict of the 1972 Easter Offensive.
On the same day that Lộc Ninh, a small town 20 miles (32 km) north of An Lộc on the border with Cambodia was assaulted, the PAVN 7th Division launched an attack on QL-13 in an attempt to cut off An Lộc from Saigon. To control route QL-13 was to control the road to Saigon, roughly 90 miles (140 km) to the south. This prevented resupply of ARVN forces in An Lộc battle.
On the evening of April 7, elements of the PAVN 9th Division overran Quần Lợi Base Camp. Its defenders, the 7th Regiment of the 5th Division, were ordered to destroy their heavy equipment (including a combined 105mm and 155mm artillery battery) and fall back to An Lộc.:70 Once captured, the PAVN used Quần Lợi as a staging base for units coming in from Cambodia to join the siege of An Lộc.:91 Key members of COSVN were based there to oversee the battle.:119
On April 8, the small town of Lộc Ninh was overrun and about half of the defenders escaped to An Lộc.:56–57
The ARVN defenders of An Lộc were made up of several units of the 5th Division, including the Division's 8th Regiment with about 2,100 men; the 7th Regiment which was short one battalion and only had 850 men; the 9th Regiment, most of which was destroyed at Lộc Ninh had only had 200 men; Task Force 52, 500 men; the 3rd Ranger Group, 1,300 men; as well as Binh Long Provincial Regional Force, Popular Forces, and People's Self-Defense Forces (PSDF), about 2,000 men.:80 The defenders were later reinforced by the elite 81st Airborne Commando Battalion and the 1st Airborne Brigade, brought in by air because QL-13 was blocked by the PAVN. Because the ARVN defense had little artillery, it was heavily reliant on U.S. air support. Other reinforcements consisted of the 21st Division which was plagued by a very slow move from the Delta area in the south of the country and cleared QL-13 after protracted fighting.
The ARVN defenders did have one card to play throughout the battle, the immense power of U.S. air support. The use of B-52 Stratofortress bombers (capable of carrying 108 MK82 (500 pound) bombs on one run) in a close support tactical role, as well as AC-119 Stinger and AC-130E Spectre gunships, fixed wing cargo aircraft of varying sizes, AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF) A-37s. These methods worked to blunt the PAVN offensive. At this stage in the war, the PAVN often attacked with PT-76 amphibious and T-54 medium tanks spearheading the advance, usually preceded by a massive artillery barrage. These tactics reflected Soviet doctrine, as the PAVN had been supplied with Soviet and Chinese Communist equipment, including jets, artillery, and surface to air missiles since the beginning of the war. The battle eventually stagnated and became a periodic trade of artillery barrages. This was most probably a result of casualties sustained in the frustrated attacks on heavily entrenched enemy positions in control of a withering array of supporting firepower.
The first attack on the city occurred on April 13 and was preceded by a powerful artillery barrage. The PAVN captured several hills to the north and penetrated the northern portion of the city held by the 8th Regiment and 3rd Ranger Group.:88–97 ARVN soldiers were not accustomed to dealing with tanks, but early success with the M72 LAW, including efforts by teenaged members of the PSDF went a long way to helping the overall effort.:90 The 5th Division commander, General Hung, later ordered tank-destroying teams be formed by each battalion, which included PSDF members who knew the local terrain and could help identify strategic locations to ambush tanks.:98 They took advantage of the fact that the PAVN forces, who were not used to working with tanks, often let the tanks get separated from their infantry by driving through ARVN defensive positions. At that point, all alone inside ARVN lines, they were vulnerable to being singled out by tank-destroying teams.
April 15 saw the second attack on the city. The PAVN were concerned that because the ARVN 1st Airborne Brigade had air-assaulted into positions west of the city, that they were now coming to reinforce the defenders. Again the PAVN preceded their attack with an artillery barrage followed by a tank-infantry attack. Like before, their tanks became separated from their infantry and fell prey to ARVN anti-tank weapons.:101 PAVN infantry followed behind the tank deployment, assaulted the ARVN defensive positions, and pushed farther into the city. B-52 strikes helped break up some PAVN units assembling for the attack. This engagement lasted until tapering off on the afternoon of April 16.:103
Unable to take the city, the PAVN kept it under constant artillery fire. They also moved in more anti-aircraft guns to prevent aerial resupply. Heavy anti-aircraft fire kept RVNAF helicopters from getting into the city after April 12.:113 In response, fixed wing RVNAF aircraft (C-123s and C-119s) made attempts, but after suffering losses, the U.S. Air Force took over on April 19.:113 The US used C-130s to parachute in supplies, but many missed the defenders and several aircraft were shot down or damaged. Low altitude drops during day and night did not do the job, so by May 2, the USAF began using High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) techniques. With far greater success, this method of resupply was utilized until June 25, when the siege was lifted and aircraft could land at An Lộc.:115 Over the entire course of the resupply effort, the garrison recovered several thousand tons of supplies—the only supplies it received during the siege.
On May 11, 1972, the PAVN launched a massive all-out infantry and armor (T-54 medium tanks) assault on An Lộc. The attack was carried out by units of the 5th and 9th PAVN divisions.:145 This attack was repulsed by a combination of U.S. airpower and the determined stand of ARVN soldiers on the ground. Almost every B-52 in Southeast Asia was called in to strike the massing enemy tanks and infantry. The commander of the defending forces had placed a grid around the town creating many "boxes", each measuring 1 km by 3 km in size, which were given a number and could be called by ground forces at any time. The B-52 cells (groups of 3 aircraft) were guided onto these boxes by ground-based radar. During May 11 and 12, the U.S. Air Force managed an "Arc Light" mission every 55 minutes for 30 hours straight—using 170 B-52s and smashing whole regiments of PAVN in the process. Despite this air support, the PAVN made gains, and were within a few hundred meters of the ARVN 5th Division command post.:150 ARVN counter-attacks were able to stabilize the situation. By the night of May 11, the PAVN consolidated their gains.:152 On May 12, they launched new attacks in an effort to take the city, but again failed.:153 The PAVN launched one more attack on May 19 in honor of Ho Chi Minh's birthday. The defenders were not surprised, and the attack was broken up by U.S. air support and an ambush by the ARVN paratroopers.:157
After the attacks of May 11 and 12, the PAVN directed its main efforts to cutting off any more relief columns. However, by the 9th of June this proved ineffective, and the defenders were able to receive the injection of manpower and supplies needed to sweep the surrounding area of PAVN. By June 18, 1972, the battle had been declared over.
The victory, however, was not complete, QL-13 still was not open. The ARVN 18th Division was moved in to replace the exhausted 5th Division. The 18th Division would spread out from An Lộc and push the PAVN back, increasing stability in the area.
On August 8, the 18th Division launched an assault to retake Quần Lợi, but were stopped by the PAVN in the base's reinforced concrete bunkers. A second attack was launched on August 9 with limited gains. Attacks on the base continued for 2 weeks; eventually one third of the base was captured.:198 Finally, the ARVN attacked the PAVN-occupied bunkers with TOW missiles and M-202 rockets, breaking the PAVN defense and forcing the remaining defenders to flee the base.:201
The fighting at An Lộc demonstrated the continued ARVN dependence on U.S. air power and U.S. advisors. For the PAVN, it demonstrated their logistical constraints; following each attack, resupply times caused lengthy delays in their ability to properly defend their position.:213–214
In 1974, Le Van Hung was promoted to IV Corps Brigadier General at Can Tho. Brigadier General Le Van Hung stayed at Can Tho to protect and defend the Mekong Delta region to prevent VC taking over Can Tho. He was a brilliant leader in Can Tho. When South Vietnam was about to collapse due to military aid cuts from the U.S, General Le Van Hung planned a secret counteroffensive in the Mekong Region to maintain stability after the Fall of Saigon. However, many Can Tho residents opposed continued resistance against VC units. On the evening of 30 April 1975, General Le Van Hung committed suicide in his bedroom after a farewell to his ARVN soldiers and his family; the defenses of Can Tho dissolved. His friend, General Le Nguyen Vy, committed suicide at Lai Khe the same day. General Le Van Hung and Le Nguyen Vy were two of the five generals who commited suicide in Black April.
The Fifth Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN)—the army of the nation state of South Vietnam that existed from 1955 to 1975—was part of the III Corps that oversaw the region of the country surrounding the capital, Saigon.
The Fifth Division was based in Biên Hòa, a town on the northern outskirts of Saigon, and due to the division's close proximity to the capital Saigon was a key factor in the success or failure of the various coup attempts in the nation's history. As a result, the loyalty of the commanding officer of the division was crucial in maintaining power.9th Division (Vietnam)
The 9th Infantry Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), first formed from Viet Cong units in 1964/5 in the Mekong Delta region.An Lộc
An Lộc is a ward (phường) of the town of Bình Long in Bình Phước Province in southern Vietnam. It is located approximately 90 km north of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) with a population of 8,599 (2009). The town was formerly part of Bình Long Province before merger with Phước Long Province to create Bình Phước Province. The town became famous during the Vietnam War, as the location of a major battle and Boeing B-52 Stratofortress air strike in 1972. Today the town has a mass grave memorial with 3,000 bodies.April 13
April 13 is the 103rd day of the year (104th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 262 days remain until the end of the year.Battle of Loc Ninh
The Battle of Lộc Ninh was a major battle fought during the Easter Offensive during the Vietnam War, which took place in Bình Long Province, South Vietnam between 4–7 April 1972. Towards the end of 1971, North Vietnamese leaders decided to launch a major offensive against South Vietnam, with the objective of destroying Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) units and capturing as much territory as possible, in order to strengthen their bargaining position in the Paris Peace Accords. On 30 March 1972, two People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) divisions smashed through the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone, marking the commencement of the Easter Offensive. They quickly overwhelmed South Vietnamese units in the I Corps Tactical Zone. With the rapid collapse of South Vietnamese forces in the northern provinces of South Vietnam, PAVN and Viet Cong (VC) forces began preparing for their next offensive, targeting Bình Long Province in the rubber plantation region north of Saigon. On 4 April, the VC 5th Division opened their attack on Lộc Ninh, defended by the ARVN 9th Infantry Regiment. After three days of fighting, the vastly outnumbered ARVN forces, though well supported by American air power, were forced to abandon their positions in Lộc Ninh.Battle of Tong Le Chon
The Battle of Tong Le Chon took place from 25 March 1973 to 12 April 1974 when North Vietnamese forces lay siege to and finally captured the Vietnamese Rangers' Tong Le Chon camp.Chơn Thành Camp
Chơn Thành Camp is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base south of An Lộc in southern Vietnam.Field artillery
Field artillery is a category of mobile artillery used to support armies in the field. These weapons are specialized for mobility, tactical proficiency, short range, long range, and extremely long range target engagement.
Until the early 20th century, field artillery were also known as foot artillery, for while the guns were pulled by beasts of burden (often horses), the gun crews would usually march on foot, thus providing fire support mainly to the infantry. This was in contrast to horse artillery, whose emphasis on speed while supporting cavalry units necessitated lighter guns and crews riding on horseback.
Whereas horse artillery has been superseded by self-propelled artillery, field artillery has survived to this day both in name and mission, albeit with motor vehicles towing the guns, carrying the crews and transporting the ammunition. Modern artillery has also advanced to rapidly deployable wheeled and tracked vehicles and precision delivered munitions capable of striking targets at ranges between 15 and 300 kilometers.James F. Hollingsworth
James Francis Hollingsworth (March 24, 1918 – March 2, 2010) was a United States Army lieutenant general.Lê Nguyên Vỹ
Brigadier General Lê Nguyên Vỹ (Hán tự: 黎元偉, 22 August 1933, Son Tay—30 April 1975) was an officer in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.Lê Văn Hưng
Lê Văn Hưng (27 March 1933 – 30 April 1975) was born in Hóc Môn, in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, and graduated from Thủ Đức Military Academy, 5th class, in 1955. He held many commands from company to battalion level. However, Hưng was perhaps best known as the "Hero of An Lộc" in 1972 when he commanded the 5th Division in defense of the city of An Lộc from the coordinated attacks of the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces in the Battle of An Lộc.
Living in a tiny underground bunker for almost three months, Hưng commanded soldiers of the 5th Division, the 81st Airborne Ranger Battalion, the 11th Airborne Brigade, the 21st Division and the Provincial Forces of Bình Long Province. His forces repelled countless waves of attack by the North Vietnamese infantry, supported by T-54 tanks.
Hưng vowed, "If I’m still alive, An Lộc still stands." His strong determination to hold An Lộc at any cost, and the fighting spirit of the South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) soldiers, kept An Lộc from falling into communist hands.
Hưng was promoted to General in the field; and later commanded the 21st Division before becoming Deputy Commander of the 4th Military Region (MR4).
When the communists made their "Hồ Chí Minh Campaign" final assault on South Vietnam in April 1975, before listening to the capitulation order of President Dương Văn Minh, General Hung planned a secret operation to send remaining ARVN soldiers and officers at jungles and military bases that would continue counterattack against VC units after Fall of Sagion. There he and his soldiers follow orders by the colonel to execute the location of secret delta places on long-term strategic resistance against VC for few months until PAVN/VC declare a ceasefire hoping a new South Vietnam country at Mekong Delta. Unfortunately, the colonel and the captain who planned to execute the order of secret operation escaped to sea shortly after President Minh surrender. Both ARVN generals in Can Tho were seriously concerned the future of Can Tho after RVN government dissolved. ARVN soldiers in Can Tho start to disband when no order was made to secret places in Mekong Region. VC captured several districts across Mekong Delta. Both ARVN generals decided not to counterattack in Can Tho realized the VC will shelled bombarded heavily in Can Tho. At 8 P.M, General Hưng gathered his headquarters staff, ARVN soldiers, and family to say goodbye. He was unable to fight to the death because the townspeople of Cần Thơ had begged him not to resist, believing that it would cause futile bloodshed. Hưng was one of five ARVN generals who committed suicide that day. The IV Corps was shortly handed over to VC after the death of Le Van Hung. His commander, Major General Nguyen Khoa Nam, commit suicide on the early morning of 1 May 1975.Michael Blassie
Michael Joseph Blassie (April 4, 1948 – May 11, 1972) was an officer in the United States Air Force. Prior to the identification of his remains, Blassie was the unknown service member from the Vietnam War buried at the Tomb of the Unknowns. After his identification, his remains were moved to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in South St. Louis County, Missouri.Outline of the Vietnam War
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Vietnam War:
Vietnam War – Cold War-era proxy war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War (1946–54) and was fought between North Vietnam—supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies—and the government of South Vietnam—supported by the United States, Philippines and other anti-communist allies. The Viet Cong (also known as the National Liberation Front, or NLF), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The People's Army of Vietnam, also known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large units to battle.Quần Lợi Base Camp
Quần Lợi Base Camp (also known as LZ Andy or Rocket City) is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base east of An Lộc in southern Vietnam.Richard J. Tallman
Richard J. Tallman (March 28, 1925 – July 9, 1972) was a United States Army brigadier general who was killed by North Vietnamese artillery fire in 1972 during the Battle of An Lộc. He was the last U.S. Army general and last general officer to die in the Vietnam War. He also served in World War II and the Korean War.Role of the United States in the Vietnam War
The role of the United States in the Vietnam War began after World War II and escalated into full commitment during the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1973. The U.S. involvement in South Vietnam stemmed from 20 long years of political and economic action. These had the common incentive of ending the growing communist domination in Vietnam. At the time, French forces, allies of the U.S., were backed by America — President Harry S. Truman provided progressively increasing amounts of financial and military assistance to French forces fighting in Vietnam. From the spring of 1950, their involvement increased from just assisting French troops to providing direct military assistance to the associated states (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia). Eventually, U.S. missions were carried out at a more constant rate by sending out increasing number of military assistance from the United States. Their main intent was to restrict the Communist domination that was present in the government of Vietnam as it would soon lead to a chain of neighbouring countries adopting the same. This would have resulted in a change in balance of power throughout Southeast Asia. The U.S. foreign policy establishment saw national security interests being disturbed due to the rise of this communist expansion and strived to take any measure to end it. Their actions came to be questioned by other segments of government and society, however, including the US congress..
Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from 966,000 to 3,812,000. The conflict also resulted in 58,318 US soldiers dead.Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city, or fortress, with the intent of conquering by attrition, or a well-prepared assault. This derives from Latin: sedere, lit. 'to sit'. Siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static, defensive position. Consequently, an opportunity for negotiation between combatants is not uncommon, as proximity and fluctuating advantage can encourage diplomacy. The art of conducting and resisting sieges is called siege warfare, siegecraft, or poliorcetics.
A siege occurs when an attacker encounters a city or fortress that cannot be easily taken by a quick assault, and which refuses to surrender. Sieges involve surrounding the target to block the provision of supplies and the reinforcement or escape of troops (a tactic known as "investment"). This is typically coupled with attempts to reduce the fortifications by means of siege engines, artillery bombardment, mining (also known as sapping), or the use of deception or treachery to bypass defenses.
Failing a military outcome, sieges can often be decided by starvation, thirst, or disease, which can afflict either the attacker or defender. This form of siege, though, can take many months or even years, depending upon the size of the stores of food the fortified position holds.
The attacking force can circumvallate the besieged place, which is to build a line of earth-works, consisting of a rampart and trench, surrounding it. During the process of circumvallation, the attacking force can be set upon by another force, an ally of the besieged place, due to the lengthy amount of time required to force it to capitulate. A defensive ring of forts outside the ring of circumvallated forts, called contravallation, is also sometimes used to defend the attackers from outside.
Ancient cities in the Middle East show archaeological evidence of having had fortified city walls. During the Warring States era of ancient China, there is both textual and archaeological evidence of prolonged sieges and siege machinery used against the defenders of city walls. Siege machinery was also a tradition of the ancient Greco-Roman world. During the Renaissance and the early modern period, siege warfare dominated the conduct of war in Europe. Leonardo da Vinci gained as much of his renown from the design of fortifications as from his artwork.
Medieval campaigns were generally designed around a succession of sieges. In the Napoleonic era, increasing use of ever more powerful cannons reduced the value of fortifications. In the 20th century, the significance of the classical siege declined. With the advent of mobile warfare, a single fortified stronghold is no longer as decisive as it once was. While traditional sieges do still occur, they are not as common as they once were due to changes in modes of battle, principally the ease by which huge volumes of destructive power can be directed onto a static target. Modern sieges are more commonly the result of smaller hostage, militant, or extreme resisting arrest situations.Tonle Cham Camp
Tonle Cham Camp (also known as Tonle Cham Special Forces Camp or Tong Le Chon Special Force camp) is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base southwest of An Lộc in southern Vietnam.Vietnamese Rangers
The Vietnamese Rangers, properly known in Vietnamese as the Biệt Động Quân and commonly known as the ARVN Rangers, were the light infantry of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Trained and assisted by American Special Forces and Ranger advisers, the Vietnamese Rangers infiltrated beyond enemy lines in daring search and destroy missions. Initially trained as a counter-insurgency light infantry force by removing the fourth company each of the existing infantry battalions, they later expanded into a swing force capable of conventional as well as counter-insurgency operations, and were relied on to retake captured regions. Later during Vietnamization the Civilian Irregular Defense Group program was transferred from MACV and integrated as Border Battalions responsible for manning remote outposts in the Central Highlands.Rangers were often regarded as among the most effective units in the war, the most well-led ARVN unit and formed part of the highly-mobile response units operating in key areas. Part of this was due to the specialized role of these units, given that they had their origins in French-raised Commando Units, the GCMA which were drawn from Viet Minh defectors and Tai-Kadai groups, operating in interdiction and counter-intelligence roles, and were trained specifically for counter-insurgency and rough-terrain warfare in the region. Ranger Units often had a US Military Adviser attached to these units although operated independently. The foremost counterinsurgency expert Sir Robert Thompson remarked in 1974 that the ARVN as a whole were the third-best trained army in the free-world and second only to the Israelis in counter-insurgency, with the Rangers, ARVN Airborne and Marine Division forming the vanguard. With improvements in the ARVN from 1969 onward and the growing prestige of the Airborne and Marine Division, depredation had caused the Central Highlands-based Rangers to become manned by deserters, released convicts and Montagnards nevertheless the unit continued to perform critical roles in the Easter Offensive and frontier skirmishes in 1973 and 1974.
A total of 11 U.S Presidential Unit Citation (United States) were issued to the 22 original Ranger Battalions, including one unit whom earned three total citations from two different presidents. See List of Non-US Presidential Unit Citations in Vietnam.
Easter Offensive (1972)
Post-Paris Peace Accords (1973–1974)