Battle of Duc Lap

The Battle of Duc Lap was a battle of the Vietnam War where North Vietnamese forces attempted to overrun the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) Duc Lap Camp between 24 and 27 August 1968.

Battle of Duc Lap
Part of the Vietnam War
Date24-27 August 1968
Location
Duc Lap Camp, South Vietnam
Result ARVN/U.S. victory
Belligerents
 South Vietnam
 United States
Vietnam North Vietnam
Commanders and leaders
South Vietnam General An
United States General William R. Peers
Col. Herbert J. McChrystal
General Hoàng Văn Thái
Strength
South Vietnam 45th Regiment
CIDG
United States 5th Special Forces Group
66th Regiment
20th Sapper Battalion
Casualties and losses
South Vietnam 107 killed
United States 7 killed
US/ARVN body count: 700+ killed

Background

In late July 1968 in developing their plans for the Phase III Offensive, the North Vietnamese politburo and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) chief of staff, General Văn Tiến Dũng decided that while the main area of operations would be Tây Ninh Province, the Central Highlands would be a secondary area of operations. The PAVN 1st Division was tasked with seizing the Duc Lap Camp and then moving northeast to threaten Buôn Ma Thuột. The PAVN 24th Regiment would cut Highway 14 between Buôn Ma Thuột and Pleiku. The 95C and 101D Regiments would make diversionary attacks on Allied bases across Kon Tum Province.[1]:642

Battle

On the night of 23 August the 66th Regiment and the 20th Sapper Battalion gathered near Duc Lap Camp in preparation for their attack on the base while the 320th Regiment established a blocking position on Highway 14 northeast of Duc Lap to intercept allied ground units.[1]:658

After midnight on 24 August 2 squads from the 20th Sapper Battalion cut through the perimeter wire around the Duc Lap subsector headquarters, entered the compound and threw satchel charges at buildings and fighting positions while infantry provided covering fire. One of the satchel charges hit the advisory team headquarters, wounding 5 U.S. advisers inside. When the advisers emerged from the headquarters they were hit by heavy weapons fire which killed 1 adviser and forced the rest back into the building, they then radioed Duc Lap camp for assistance but were informed that it was also under attack.[1]:658-9

At Duc Lap Camp the PAVN had penetrated the northern perimeter wire and occupied part of a hill inside the camp. An AC-47 Spooky gunship soon arrived overhead and began firing on PAVN mortar and machine-gun positions.[1]:659

After a meeting at ARVN 23rd Division headquarters in Buôn Ma Thuột, I Field Force, Vietnam commander General William R. Peers ordered the 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment to be airlifted from Tuy Hòa Base Camp to Buôn Ma Thuột to join a newly created Task Force Spoiler to be commanded by Col. Herbert J. McChrystal. Task Force Spoiler would include McChrystal's 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, two troops from the 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry and seven artillery batteries. 23rd Division commander, General An, ordered a battalion from the 47th Infantry Regiment to redeploy from Phú Yên Province to Buôn Ma Thuột and 2 battalions from the 45th Regiment to proceed towards Duc Lap and also received permission from the II Corps commander to fly several MIKE Force companies into Duc Lap.[1]:659

On the morning of 24 August U.S. helicopters landed a MIKE Force company outside the Duc Lap camp and they proceeded to engage the PAVN forces on the north end of the camp suffering heavy losses. When helicopters landed on the camp airfield to evacuate casualties, PAVN machine guns on the hill shot down 4 UH-1s.[1]:660 Later that afternoon the ARVN 2nd Battalion, 45th Regiment was landed near the Duc Lap subsector headquarters with 2 UH-1s shot down. At dusk 2 MIKE Force companies were landed 3km south of Duc Lap Camp.[1]:660-1

On 25 August the PAVN renewed their attack against the subsector headquarters, but the remaining 61 troops defenders held out until rescued later that day by the ARVN 2nd Battalion, 45th Regiment which then forced the PAVN to retreat from the village. Meanwhile at Duc Lap Camp the PAVN had forced the defenders back into the southern end of the camp. Battery A, 4th Battalion, 42nd Artillery Regiment was airlifted into the landing zone 3km south of the camp and the 2 MIKE Force companies there then moved north and fought their way into Duc Lap Camp by 13:00. The MIKE Forces hit the PAVN flank as they were assaulting the southern end of the camp pushing them back to the northern hill. Following air and artillery strikes the original 2 companies plus a third which had been flown in from Pleiku then assaulted the hill. Three U.S. advisers and a number of the CIDG troops were killed in the assault, but by 19:00 they had cleared the PAVN from the camp.[1]:661

On 26 August the ARVN 2nd Battalion, 45th Regiment, continued to pursue the PAVN north in the hills north of the town and by 27 August the battle was over.[1]:661[2][3]

Aftermath

Allied casualties for the battle of Duc Lap were 114 killed (including 7 U.S. advisers) and 238 wounded. I Field Force estimated that over 700 PAVN had been killed, most from air and artillery strikes.[1]:662

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 j 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. ^ Stanton, Shelby (2008). Special Forces at War: An Illustrated History, Southeast Asia 1957–1975. Zenith Press. pp. 244–7. ISBN 9780760334492.
  3. ^ Lindsey, Fred (2012). Secret Green Beret Commandos in Cambodia: A Memorial History of MACV-SOG's Command and Control Detachment South (CCS), and Its Air Partners, Republic of Vietnam, 1967–1972. Author House. pp. 189–90. ISBN 9781477273081.
1st Division (Vietnam)

The 1st Infantry Division was a division of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), first formed from PAVN units in 1965.

23rd Division (South Vietnam)

The 23rd 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 II Corps that oversaw the region of the central highlands north of the capital Saigon.

Australian Army Training Team Vietnam

The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) was a specialist unit of military advisors of the Australian Army that operated during the Vietnam War. Raised in 1962, the unit was formed solely for service as part of Australia's contribution to the war, providing training and assistance to South Vietnamese forces. Initially numbering only approximately 30 men, the size of the unit grew several times over the following years as the Australian commitment to South Vietnam gradually grew, with the unit's strength peaking at 227 in November 1970. Members of the team worked individually or in small groups, operating throughout the country from the far south to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in the north. Later they were concentrated in Phuoc Tuy province as Australian forces prepared to withdraw from Vietnam. It is believed to be the most decorated Australian unit to serve in Vietnam; its members received over 100 decorations, including four Victoria Crosses, during its existence. The unit was withdrawn from Vietnam on 18 December 1972 and was disbanded in Australia on 16 February 1973. A total of 1,009 men served with the unit over a period of ten years, consisting of 998 Australians and 11 New Zealanders.

Battle of Thượng Đức (1968)

The Battle of Thượng Ðức was a battle of the Vietnam War where North Vietnamese forces attempted to overrun the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) Thường Ðức Camp between 28 and 30 September 1968.

Duc Lap Camp

Duc Lap Camp (also known as Duc Lap Special Forces Camp or Hill 722) is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base southwest of Buôn Ma Thuột in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

Phase III Offensive

Phase III of the Tet Offensive of 1968 (also known as the August Offensive or Third Offensive) was launched by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and Viet Cong (VC) from 17 August to 27 September 1968. The offensive was divided into two waves of attacks from 17 to 31 August 1968 and from 11 to 27 September of that same year.

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