The Battle of Thượng Ðức was a decisive battle of the Vietnam War which began on 18 July and concluded on 3 November 1974.
On 18 July 1974, a regiment of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) 324th Division overran the An Hoa Industrial Complex and then attacked the town of Thượng Ðức 40 km southwest of Danang, which was defended by Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Rangers.
The Rangers held out against the initial attack, but the PAVN renewed their attack in early August using 37mm anti-aircraft guns as direct fire weapons against the Rangers' positions. Given Thường Ðức's strategic location on the south-western approach to Danang, the I Corps commander General Ngô Quang Trưởng released a Ranger group and a Regiment from the 1st Division from his reserve forces to supplement units from the 3rd Division to push the PAVN out, but the PAVN had also sent an additional Regiment to support their attack and dug in on the western approaches to Thượng Ðức. Losses on both sides were heavy with the ARVN losing more than 4,700 killed and wounded.:96
Despite ARVN efforts, Thuong Duc finally fell to the PAVN on 7 August. With the situation at Thuong Duc apparently stabilised, General Trưởng withdrew his reserve units to counter a PAVN buildup in the mountains southeast of Huế, however this redeployment allowed the PAVN to capture Hill 1062 ( ) 5 km northeast of Thượng Ðức putting Danang within range of PAVN artillery. To counter this new threat General Trưởng ordered his elite 1st and 3rd Airborne Brigades to retake Hill 1062.:96 On 18 September the ARVN Airborne captured Hill 1062, but they were driven off by a PAVN counterattack the next day. The battered Regiment of the 324th Division was soon replaced by a fresh Regiment from the 304th Division. On 2 October the ARVN Airborne launched a new attack recapturing the hill and killing over 400 PAVN soldiers. The PAVN was then reinforced with a second and later a third Regiment of the 304th Division in an increasingly gruelling effort to retake the hill. On 1 November following a two-day artillery barrage the PAVN recaptured the hill only to be pushed off again by the Airborne two days later. This marked the end of the battle, Hill 1062 remained in ARVN hands while the PAVN controlled Thượng Ðức. The airborne had lost 500 dead and more than 2,000 wounded, while PAVN casualties were estimated to exceed 7,000.:97 However, PAVN claimed only 921 deaths and more than 2,000 wounded.
The Battle of Thượng Ðức was costly for both sides. Despite successfully stalling the PAVN advance, the ARVN failed to recapture the town due to shortages of supplies and replacement troops.:96 In the opinion of one ARVN commander, the PAVN goal had been to secure the left flank of I Corps to continue the building of the eastern corridor of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, while another believed that had it not been for the actions of the Airborne, Danang would have fallen in 1974. Moreover, the ARVN had suffered irreplaceable losses among its elite forces and expended large amounts of ordinance which could not be replaced due to decreased U.S. aid. The 304th Division was rendered combat ineffective and would play only a marginal role in the 1975 Spring Offensive, however ARVN intelligence did not appreciate the 304th's weakness and so General Trưởng maintained substantial forces west of Danang to counter any thrust by the 304th from Thường Ðức.:277
Thường Ðức Camp (also known as Thường Ðức Special Forces Camp) is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base southwest of Da Nang in Quảng Nam Province, central Vietnam.
Easter Offensive (1972)
Post-Paris Peace Accords (1973–1974)