Battle of Kontum

The lead-up to the Battle of Kontum began in mid-1971, when North Vietnam decided that its victory in Operation Lam Son 719 indicated that the time had come for large-scale conventional offensives that could end the war quickly. The resulting offensive, planned for the spring of 1972, would be known as the Easter Offensive in the South and the Nguyen Hue Offensive in the North, Nguyen Hue being a hero of Vietnamese resistance against the Chinese in 1789. The Easter Offensive would make use of fourteen divisions and would be the largest in the war.[3]

The 1972 Easter Offensive/Nguyen Hue Campaign began with a massive attack on the Demilitarized Zone with 30,000 People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) soldiers and more than 100 tanks. Two thrusts of equivalent size, one towards Saigon and a third to the Central Highlands and provincial capital of Kontum began soon after. The North Vietnamese knew that if they could capture Kontum and the Central Highlands, they would cut South Vietnam in half.[4]

The Battle for Kontum would pit the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) 22nd and (later) the 23rd Divisions under the command of Lt. Gen. Ngô Du and later Maj. Gen. Nguyễn Văn Toàn against the equivalent of three PAVN divisions, the 320th and 2nd Divisions plus combat units of the 3rd Division, B-3 Front, and local Viet Cong forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Hoang Minh Thao.[5]

There were two factors that persuaded North Vietnam that all out assaults of this kind could be successful. First, due to President Nixon's Vietnamization policy, there were no American divisional forces in the Central Highlands, only advisers and U.S. aviation units including Air Cavalry helicopter units from the 7/17 Air Cavalry Squadron. By June of that year there were less than 50,000 U.S. forces in all of Vietnam.[3]:23

Second, the North Vietnamese had persuaded the Soviets and Chinese to provide 400 PT-76, T-34-85, T-54s, and Type 59 tanks before the spring offensive.[3]:120

Background

North Vietnam had been using the Ho Chi Minh Trail along the border as a logistical artery for years. The mountainous terrain and the jungle were a shield against American air attack.

The ARVN bases at Tân Cảnh and Đắk Tô, were protected by the 42nd Regiment of the 22nd Division. The 22nd also controlled five fire support bases (FSBs) that stretched south-west from Tan Canh towards Kontum along a backbone of mountains nicknamed Rocket Ridge.[4]:755

John Paul Vann, the civilian "general" of II Corps, had received intelligence that a major battle was coming. Lt. Gen. Du responded by gathering the 23rd Division into the Tan Canh/Kontum area. Vann also ordered increased B-52 air attacks that February and March.

Attacks on the Fire Support Bases

On the morning of 4 April 1972, an early morning attack was launched against Firebase Delta. Instead of the usual artillery fire from the jungle, elements of the PAVN 320th Infantry Division made a massed attack supported by artillery and rockets. For several days the PAVN hit FSB Delta and the other fire support bases along Rocket Ridge. Helicopters from the 52nd Combat Aviation operating out of Camp Holloway in Pleiku, were dispatched to provide support.[6] The FSBs were totally dependent on helicopter support for supplies and ammunition and in spite of the heavy anti-aircraft fire, the helicopters went on the offensive to provide fire support the FSBs.

At one point, the northern part of FSB Delta became overrun by elements of the 320th Division. John Paul Vann, already in the area for an air rescue, was able to direct attacks on the PAVN soldiers entering the base with Cobra gunships. The PAVN attack was stopped in its tracks.[4]:756-7

The attacks on the FSBs continued as April wore on. Finally on April 21, FSB Delta was taken by the PAVN. Several of the other bases had to be given up soon after with heavy casualties.

Loss of Tân Cảnh and Đắk Tô

In early 1972 the ARVN 42nd Regiment of the 22nd Division was stationed at Tân Cảnh.

On 7/8 February following intelligence showing a PAVN buildup in the area the 22nd Division forward command post, 47th Regiment and supporting units were moved from Ba Gi to the Đắk Tô/Tân Cảnh area. Elements of the 19th Cavalry Regiment were attached to the Division to support its organic 14th Cavalry Regiment equipped with M-41 light tanks. The armored units would be deployed forward at Ben Het Camp which was regarded as the most likely direction of a PAVN armored attack.[5]

Since the start of the Easter Offensive at the end of March, the base areas had come under increasing PAVN artillery and rocket fire, which had gone from 20-50 rounds per day in March to up to 1000 per day by mid-April. During early April the 47th Regiment withdrew to Đắk Tô II, while the 42nd Regiment and one Battalion of the 41st Regiment were at Tân Cảnh supported by armor and artillery. In addition ARVN Airborne and Rangers occupied a string of firebases along Rocket Ridge.[5]:K-6 On 23 April, the PAVN 2nd Division started their attack on Tân Cảnh by hitting the ARVN tanks with AT-3 missiles and this was followed by a direct hit on the 42nd Regiment command bunker injuring the senior U.S. Adviser and several of the ARVN commanders and severely undermining the confidence of COL Dat the 22nd Division commander. By midday all 5 of the M-41 tanks in the base and several more bunkers had been destroyed by the missiles. At 11:00 John Paul Vann landed to assess the situation and instructed the U.S. advisers to prepare to escape and evade from the camp. At 19:00 PAVN rocket fire ignited the base ammunition dump[5]:K-7

At 21:00 a column of 18 PAVN tanks was spotted in the area, an Air Force AC-130 gunship arrived at 23:00 and began to engage the T-54 tanks with its 105mm cannon. Three T-54s were disabled but later recovered by the PAVN.[5]:K-7 At midnight the tank column turned towards Tân Cảnh and the ARVN artillery began firing on the column until stopped by PAVN counterbattery fire. Two bridges on the approach to Tân Cảnh were abandoned without being destroyed. The ARVN organised hunter-killer teams and these destroyed two tanks.[5]:K-8

Just before 06:00 on 24 April the PAVN tanks attacked Tân Cảnh in two columns. One column of T-54s attacked the main gate, the other moving to secure the airstrip. The advance of the tanks caused the 900 support troops to panic. The new command bunker was hit by further artillery fire destroying the radio antennas. With the collapse of all command and control on the base, the American advisers abandoned the command bunker and moved to a new position to call in airstrikes, however fog made such airstrikes impossible.[5]:K-8 At dawn Vann arrived over Tân Cảnh in his OH-58A and made contact with the advisers who had escaped from the base perimeter. Vann landed and 6 advisers squeezed into the helicopter while frightened ARVN troops hung onto the skids. The helicopter flew to Đắk Tô II to drop off the passengers and then flew back to Tân Cảnh where they picked up the remaining 3 advisers, however the helicopter was swarmed by panicky ARVN and crashed on takeoff. Another helicopter came in and picked up Vann, his pilot and the 3 advisers and flew them to Pleiku.[5]:K-9

One hour after the main PAVN attack on Tân Cảnh commenced, the PAVN began their attack on Đắk Tô. A UH-1H helicopter #69-15715 landed to evacuate the 6 U.S. advisers who had been rescued from the Tân Cảnh perimeter, this helicopter was hit by PAVN anti-aircraft fire and crashed, 5 passengers and crew were killed in the crash while 5 survived, evaded capture and were recovered up 13 days later.[7] The PAVN penetrated the base perimeter suffering heavy losses, the remaining U.S. advisers called in airstrikes as the morning fog cleared but by 10am the 47th Regiment commander had lost contact with most of his subordinates and the command group evacuated the command bunker for a bunker in the inner perimeter.[5]:K-9 A T-54 moved into the base and began direct fire on the command post, the two remaining M-41s engaged the T-54, however their 76mm guns had no apparent effect on the T-54 which quickly knocked out both M-41s. A relief column of M-41s supported by infantry arrived from Ben Het around this time, but all the M-41s were knocked out by B-40 rockets and recoilless rifle fire and the infantry dispersed. With the failure of this counterattack and the loss of command and control the ARVN forces began to evacuate the base towards the south. As the ARVN attempted to cross the Dak Poko river they came under intense PAVN fire and the senior U.S. adviser LTC Robert Brownlee disappeared during this engagement.[8] At 20:00 the 47th Regiment command group attempted to escape the base and by 04:30 on 25 April after losing several men to PAVN fire escaped the base perimeter and were recovered the following day.[5]:K-10

On 25 April the PAVN mopped up the remaining ARVN positions around Tân Cảnh/Đắk Tô. The 22nd Division had ceased to exist as a fighting unit, the Division commander and his entire staff had disappeared and the PAVN had captured 23 105mm and 7 155mm howitzers and large supplies of ammunition and stores.[5]:K-11 With the loss of the main camps, the remaining firebases along Rocket Ridge were abandoned and the PAVN had a clear approach to Kon Tum.[5]:K-12

Prelude

With the loss of Tan Canh, little stood between the PAVN and Kontum. Whether because of logistical issues or lack of leadership, the PAVN did not pursue their advantage. Instead of refilling their tanks and traveling 25 miles to Kontum, the PAVN waited for almost three weeks.[3]:156

John Vann took direct control of the ARVN II Corps forces. The remaining FSBs were evacuated. Lieutenant General Du was ordered to Saigon and replaced by Major General Toàn.[5]:K-12 John Vann also coordinated the replacement of the 22nd with the 23rd ARVN Division under the command of Colonel Ly Tong Ba, an experienced commander. He also unified the 23rd with its organic regiments that had been stationed elsewhere.

On the ground in Kontum, Colonel John Truby, the acting Senior Advisor for the 23rd (awaiting the arrival of Col. Rhotenberry), had the task of tactical coordination of defense. Outlying units were brought into the city. A perimeter defense of the city and proper defence was implemented. The ARVN soldiers, believing that the T-54 tanks were unstoppable, were trained on how to attack them using M72 LAW missiles.[5]:K-14

In early May the PAVN turned their attention to the Polei Kleng Camp which blocked the avenue for attack on Kontum and to Ben Het Camp which threatened their supply lines. Polei Kleng had been subjected to artillery fire since 24 April, but from midday on 6 May the volume of fire increased dramatically with over 500 rounds systematically destroying the base bunkers and at 19:00 the two U.S. advisers at the base were evacuated by helicopter. The ARVN continued to hold for a further 3 days during which time U.S. airpower, including 16 B-52 strikes, was concentrated on the attacking PAVN. On the morning of 9 May the ARVN abandoned the base in the face of a PAVN tank and infantry assault.[5]:K-14 At Ben Het on 9 May elements of the PAVN 203rd Armored Regiment assaulted the camp. ARVN Rangers destroyed the first three PT-76 tanks with BGM-71 TOW missiles, thereby breaking up the attack.[9] The Rangers spent the rest of the day stabilising the perimeter ultimately destroying 11 tanks and killing over 100 PAVN.[5]:K-14

Battle

Main action

On 13 May 1st Combat Aerial TOW Team (Hawk's Claw) pilots noticed signs of a large buildup to the north. At 22:30 that night there were reports of lights moving down Route 14.[5]:K-15

As captured documents stated that the attack would take place at 04:00 on May 14, Col. Truby suggested to Vann that they order an air strike in preparation. However, the heavy PAVN artillery build up that had signalled attack at Tan Canh and the FSBs was absent. Even so, air support was requested. Another captured document indicated the attack had been moved back to 04:30, again, no attack occurred. Finally the defenders realized that PAVN intelligence would be operating on Hanoi time. At 05:30 as predicted, the attack began.[5]:K-15

The PAVN attacked Kontum without the heavy artillery preparation that had been used at Tan Canh and drove straight down Route 14. The 48th PAVN Regiment and 203rd Tank Regiment attacked the city from the northwest. The 28th PAVN Regiment came from the north and the 64th and 141st PAVN Regiments attacked from the south.[5]:K-15

The ARVN artillery began targeting the T-54 tanks moving down Route 14. This targeting separated the supporting PAVN infantry from their tanks and allowed the ARVN tank killers to do their work. Two T-54s were destroyed by teams with LAWs.

The sky was overcast and tactical air support was not able to operate. However, Hawk's Claw helicopters had arrived on the scene from Camp Holloway. Their helicopters and Jeeps had BGM-71 TOW missiles, which were powerful enough to penetrate a T-54. They found the PAVN tanks before they could find cover in the jungle and destroyed two more tanks. By 09:00 hours, the attack had been stopped.[5]:K-15

The PAVN continued their rocket and artillery fire throughout the day. Then at 20:00 on the 14th, the PAVN launched a second attack, putting heavy pressure on the north, west and south. There were two B-52 strikes scheduled and Col. Truby asked Vann if those strikes could be used to target the PAVN battalion that was already very close to their lines. The two forces were now close enough for hand-to-hand combat. Col. Truby called Lt. Col. Tom McKenna, senior advisor to the 44th ARVN Regiment, and told him to pull his men back and to have his troops find deep foxholes. As the hour for the B-52 strike approached, ARVN troops laid down cover fire to allow those in close proximity to the PAVN forces to be pulled back. At the same time the ARVN 44th was holding its own against the PAVN along its perimeter with the aid of AC-130s and helicopters.

The two B-52 air strikes were close enough that as McKenna stated, "it was like they [the bombs] came from the center of the earth – just like the bowels of the earth exploding."[3]:156 The PAVN forces pulled back having suffered significant casualties. On 15 May the PAVN attack continued, but the 44th held its positions assisted by tactical air support.

On the night of 16 May the PAVN pushed the 53rd from its positions and the perimeter was partially penetrated. Col. Ba blocked the nose of the penetration by ensuring that the 53rd's reserve force was put in proper location; but he did not want to move an additional blocking force through Kontum at night. There was considerable risk that enemy units would break through the lines and capture the city. A new B-52 strike was requested for the base of the penetration. This request was denied by the MACV staff because the intended strike area was too close to a small village shown on the map. After considerable debate and analysis by the advisory staff, Col. Truby remembered a technique taught at Ft. Leavenworth and suggested to Col. Ba that the troops at the nose of the penetration be withdrawn 500 yards despite the obvious difficulty of such a nighttime maneuver.[5]:K-17 This would clear the threat to the town. Truby and Ba convinced Vann that if the ARVN forces could be pulled back during the cover of darkness, their safety concerns could be met.[5]:K-17 The request was approved by II Corps and MACV and the new strike was adjusted by the B-52 in flight while ARVN artillery continued heavy fire to hold enemy forces in place. The strike was delivered on schedule with devastating results as PAVN forces had massed to break the perimeter defense. The attack had been stopped and numerous tanks destroyed.[5]:K-18 The strike was decisive, for the first time since Tan Canh, the PAVN momentum had been broken. The three weakened PAVN divisions regrouped in the jungle surrounding Kontum.

Final attack on Kontum

The strike was decisive for the battle, but the PAVN still had superior numbers and quickly began to regroup. During this period, Col. Rhotenberry, the advisor originally assigned to work with Col. Ba, arrived in country. Mr. Vann returned Col. Truby to his original job of overseeing other actions within II Corps.

During the next two weeks, the ARVN and PAVN forces tested each other.[5]:K-19 The ARVN forces responded to artillery attacks with their own artillery or by calling in Hawk's Claw helicopter fire. B-52 sorties were again used. However the PAVN had years of experience with the B-52s and knew not to mass troops as they had while trying to break the perimeter defense.

At 03:45 on 20 May, the 53rd ARVN Regiment was attacked by the first of three all-out assaults from the north. On the third attack the 53rd was pushed from their positions. Throughout that day the 53rd tried to regain their position but the PAVN was now dug in.

Col. Rhotenberry, the division's new senior adviser, and Col. Ba decided to pull up nine M-41 tanks and to direct all that fire to the enemy position along with helicopter gunships.[5]:K-19 The front was restored. Three additional assaults were made in the early morning hours. Each was pushed back after fierce hand-to-hand combat.[5]:K-20 It was clear that the PAVN was preparing for another major assault.

Then in the early hours of 25 May, PAVN mortar and artillery fire increased enough to indicate preparation for a major attack. In the southern quadrant, the artillery fire kept the ARVN 23rd Division in their bunkers. Under the artillery cover, the PAVN sappers, some dressed in ARVN uniforms, moved into the buildings south of the Kontum Airfield.[5]:K-22

In the early morning of 26 May, the PAVN attacked the ARVN 23rd Division from the north with tank/infantry teams. At first light, Hawk's Claw was able to destroy nine tanks, two machine guns, and one truck. This effectively stopped the momentum of the attack.[5]:K-22 Later in the day Col. Ba threw a battalion of the 44th Regiment into the fight. This limited the enemy penetration of the ARVN lines. After dark, attacks on the ARVN 45th and 53rd Regiments increased with the 45th facing the heaviest action. Tactical air support was diverted to supporting the regiment. Lt. Col. Grant and Col. Rhotenberry were able to divert two B-52 strikes scheduled for 02:30 on 27 May and this blunted the attack.[5]:K-22

That same morning the ARVN 44th Regiment woke to discover PAVN tank and infantry within their perimeter. The area hadn't been properly secured and T-54 tanks were within 50 yards of the bunkers.[5]:K-23 If these PAVN units breached the 44th's defenses, they could pour into the city. The defenders were able to use M-72 LAW fire to slow the tanks.

By dawn, Hawk's Claw helicopters arrived from Pleiku. The dense smoke obscured the action but the Hawk's Claw crews were still able to destroy two T-54 tanks.[5]:K-23 With helicopters to neutralize the tanks, the ARVN infantry was able to stop the advance of the PAVN.

The battle see-sawed back and forth on 28 May. The PAVN occupied bunkers and buildings in sections of the city and were too well fortified to be destroyed by air or artillery attacks.[5]:K-24 However, their ability to launch a sustained attack seemed to be gone. With US and RVNAF air superiority, PAVN troops could not receiving adequate food and supplies from their bases in the jungle.

On 6 June, the PAVN's B3 Front Command mobilized their last reserve unit, the 66th Regiment to cover the withdrawal of all remaining within the town.

From 29 May to 8 June the ARVN forces went bunker to bunker cleaning out the remaining PAVN forces. On 9 June the city of Kontum was declared fully secure by the 23rd ARVN Division Commander, Ly Tong Ba, who had been promoted to Brigadier General. The combined efforts of the ARVN troops and US aviation units had finally stopped the massive assault.

Aftermath

That same night John Paul Vann and his pilot were flying through the mountains. The night was rainy and there were low clouds. The pilot didn't realize his altitude and flew into the hillside.[4]:787 A Vietnamese account stated that the helicopter carrying him was shot down. The purpose of the flight was to deliver a celebration cake to the advisers and ARVN commanders for the Kontum victory. John Paul Vann had been a key in developing a more subtle and flexible approach to the war, one based on winning over the hearts and minds of the local population while using the US military's traditional strengths. His death was a huge loss.

The Battle of Kontum, a key success during this period, was virtually ignored in the US. The victory was written off simply as an example of B-52 power. Certainly the hundreds of missions between February and June were a major element of the success, but the PAVN had neutralized this advantage in large part by using the jungle and attacking at night.

The other keys to success, in addition to the B-52 strikes, were the close integration of US advisers and their ARVN counterparts and the moment-to-moment edge provided by aviation units flying in support of the ARVN forces. If the ARVN forces had not been able to hold their ground, the battle would have been lost. The 23rd's determined defense under the leadership of Gen. Ly Tong Ba forced the PAVN forces to compensate by attempting a breakthrough of the perimeter. This exposed them to a decisive strike which killed a great many of their soldiers. Without these two elements, the 23rd ARVN might not have pulled itself together and successfully resisted three divisions of battle-hardened PAVN soldiers and armor units. Nevertheless, their capabilities and the leadership of Col. Ba were of primary importance

References

  1. ^ Andrade, Dale (1995). Trial By Fire: The 1972 Easter Offensive, America's Last Vietnam Battle. Hippocrene Books. p. 368. ISBN 0781802865.
  2. ^ Kontum: Battle for the Central Highlands. Project CHECO. 1972. pp. 88–9.
  3. ^ a b c d e Fulghum, David; Maitland, Terrence (1984). The Vietnam Experience: South Vietnam on Trial. Boston Publishing Company. p. 116. ISBN 9780939526109.
  4. ^ a b c d Sheehan, Neil (1988). A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. Random House. p. 754. ISBN 9780679724148.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af "U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Command History 1972, Annex K. Kontum, 1973. MACV" (PDF). p. K-1. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  6. ^ . Battle of Kontum website http://www.thebattleofkontum.com/phase1.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Information on Helicopter UH-1H 69-15715". Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  8. ^ "Report of the Senate Select Committee on POW-MIA Affairs: Appendix 2j". MIA Facts. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  9. ^ Starry, Donn (1978). Mounted Combat In Vietnam Vietnam Studies. Department of the Army. pp. 215–217. ISBN 978-1780392462.

Bibliography

Secondary Sources

External links

1972 in the Vietnam War

1972 in the Vietnam War saw foreign involvement in South Vietnam slowly declining. Two allies, New Zealand and Thailand, which had contributed a small military contingent, left South Vietnam this year. The United States continued to participate in combat, primarily with air power to assist the South Vietnamese army, while negotiators in Paris tried to hammer out a peace agreement and withdrawal strategy for the United States. One American operation that was declassified years after the war was Operation Thunderhead, a secret mission that attempted to rescue POWs.

22nd Division (South Vietnam)

The 22nd Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) was part of the II Corps that oversaw the region of the central highlands north of the capital Saigon. The 22nd Division was based in Ba Gi near the south central coast.

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.

320th Division (Vietnam)

The 320th Division or Đồng Bằng Division (Vietnamese: Sư đoàn Đồng Bằng, Delta Division) is a formation and one of the six original "Steel and Iron Divisions" of the Vietnam People's Army. It was established in January 1951.

Ben Het Camp

Ben Het Camp (also known as Ben Het Special Forces Camp, Ben Het Ranger Camp and FSB Ben Het) is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base northwest of Kon Tum in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The camp was notable for being the site of a tank battle between the U.S. Army and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), one of the few such encounters during the Vietnam War.

Firebase 6

Firebase 6 (also known as Hill 1001) is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base southwest of Đắk Tô in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

Firebase Delta

Firebase Delta is a former Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base northwest of Kontum in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

John Paul Vann

John Paul Vann (July 2, 1924 – June 9, 1972) was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, later retired, who became well known for his role in the Vietnam War.

Kon Tum

Kon Tum is the capital city of Kon Tum Province in Vietnam. It is located inland in the Central Highlands region of Vietnam, near the borders with Laos and Cambodia.

Kontum Airfield

Kontum Airfield is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base located in Kon Tum in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

Polei Kleng Camp

Polei Kleng Camp (also known as Camp Le Vanh, Firebase Bass, Landing Zone Bass or Polei Kleng Special Forces Camp) is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base west of Kontum in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

Presidential Unit Citation (United States)

The Presidential Unit Citation (PUC), originally called the Distinguished Unit Citation, is awarded to units of the Uniformed services of the United States, and those of allied countries, for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after 7 December 1941 (the date of the Attack on Pearl Harbor and the start of American involvement in World War II). The unit must display such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign.

Since its inception by Executive Order on 26 February 1942, retroactive to 7 December 1941, to 2008, the Presidential Unit Citation has been awarded in conflicts such as World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Iraq War, and the War in Afghanistan.

The collective degree of valor (combat heroism) against an armed enemy by the unit nominated for the PUC is the same as that which would warrant award of the individual award of the Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross or Navy Cross. In some cases, one or more individuals within the unit may have also been awarded individual awards for their contribution to the actions for which their entire unit was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation. The unit with the most Presidential Unit Citations is the USS Parche (SSN-683) with 9 citations.

Thomas P. McKenna

Thomas P. McKenna (born July 23, 1930) is a retired United States Army officer and author. His book Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam won the 2013 William E. Colby Award.

Tân Cảnh Base Camp

Tân Cảnh Base Camp (also known as Đắk Tô 1) is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base northwest of Kon Tum in the Central Highlands of 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.

Zone 5 Military Museum, Danang

The Zone 5 Military Museum (Bao Tang Khu 5) is a military museum located at 3 Duy Tân, Da Nang, Vietnam. It covers all Vietnamese resistance to foreign occupation from the Chinese occupation, the First Indochina War with the French, the Vietnam War and the current standoff with China over the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands.

The Museum's opening hours are from 07:30 to 10:30 and from 13:30 to 16:30 daily except Monday. Admission is free for Vietnamese and VND 60,000 for non-Vietnamese, plus VND 10,000 to take photos.

Đắk Tô Base Camp

Đắk Tô Base Camp (also known as Đắk Tô 2 Airfield and Phoenix Airfield) is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base northwest of Kon Tum in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

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