Battle of Xuân Lộc

The Battle of Xuan Loc (Vietnamese: Trận Xuân Lộc) was the last major battle of the Vietnam War in which the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) committed almost all their remaining mobile forces, especially the ARVN 18th Infantry Division, under General Lê Minh Đảo to the defence of Xuân Lộc, hoping to stall the advance of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN). The battle was fought between April 9 and 21, 1975, and ended when the town of Xuân Lộc was captured by the PAVN 4th Army Corps. This was the ARVN III Corps' last defensive line of South Vietnam's capital, Saigon. The line connected the city of Bình Dương, Bien Hoa Air Base, Vũng Tàu, Long An and the lynchpin centered on the strategic city of Xuân Lộc, where both the ARVN-JGS and RVNAF-JGS committed the nation's final reserve forces in Saigon's defense. Once Xuân Lộc fell on 21 April 1975, the PAVN battled with the last remaining elements of III Corps Armored Task Force, remnants of the 18th Infantry Division, and depleted ARVN Marine, Airborne and Ranger Battalions in a fighting retreat that lasted nine days, until they reached Saigon and PAVN armored columns crashed throughout the gates of South Vietnam's Presidential Palace on 30 April 1975, effectively ending the war.

From the beginning of 1975, PAVN forces swept through the northern provinces of South Vietnam virtually unopposed. In the Central Highlands, South Vietnam's II Corps Tactical Zone was completely destroyed, whilst attempting to evacuate to the Mekong Delta region. In the cities of Huế and Da Nang, ARVN units simply dissolved without putting up resistance.[7] The devastating defeats suffered by the ARVN prompted South Vietnam's National Assembly to question President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu's handling of the war, thereby placing him under tremendous pressure to resign.[8]

In the last-ditch effort to save South Vietnam, President Thiệu ordered his last military units, namely the ARVN 18th Infantry Division, to hold Xuân Lộc at all cost.[9] The PAVN 4th Army Corps, on the other hand, was ordered to capture Xuân Lộc in order to open the gateway to Saigon.[10] During the early stages of the battle, the ARVN 18th Infantry Division managed to beat off early attempts by the PAVN to capture the town, forcing PAVN commanders to change their battle plan.[11] However, on April 19, 1975, Dao's forces were ordered to withdraw after Xuân Lộc was almost completely isolated, with all remaining units badly mauled. The 18th disintegrated shortly afterward.

This defeat also marked the end of Thiệu's political career, as he resigned on 21 April 1975.[8]

Background

In the first half of 1975, the government of the Republic of Vietnam was in deep political turmoil, which reflected the military situation on the battlefield. At least two assassination attempts specifically targeting President Thiệu were foiled. On January 23, an ARVN officer tried to shoot President Thieu with his pistol but failed. The officer was subsequently tried by a military court.[12] On April 4, South Vietnamese pilot Nguyen Thanh Trung bombed the Independence Palace with his F-5 Tiger. It later turned out that the pilot had been an undercover member of the Viet Cong since 1969.[12] Following those failed assassination attempts, President Thiệu grew suspicious of his own military commanders.[12]

On April 2, the South Vietnamese Senate recommended the formation of a new government with Nguyễn Bá Cẩn as the new leader. As a result, Prime Minister Trần Thiện Khiêm resigned from his position. President Thiệu, in response to the Senate's recommendations, immediately approved Tran Thien Kiem's resignation and swore in Nguyen Ba Can as the new Prime Minister.[13] On April 4, while announcing the changes of government on Saigon television, President Thiệu also requested the arrest of three army commanders; Major General Phạm Văn Phú for the debacle in the Central Highlands, General Phạm Quốc Thuần for his failure to hold Nha Trang, and Lieutenant General Dư Quốc Đống for the loss of Phước Long. General Ngô Quang Trưởng, commander of I Corps Tactical Zone, was spared as he was undergoing medical treatment.[14]

During a meeting with U.S. General Frederick C. Weyand on April 3, President Thiệu outlined his final strategy to defend South Vietnam, vowing to hold what was left of his country against North Vietnam. In his strategy, President Thiệu decided that Xuan Loc would be the center of his country's resistance, with Tây Ninh and Phan Rang on either side.[9] Eventually, the meeting became more intense when Thiệu produced a letter written by former U.S. President Richard Nixon, which promised military retaliation against North Vietnam if they violated the terms of the Paris Peace Accords. The meeting then concluded with Thiệu accusing the United States Government of selling out his country the moment they signed the Paris Peace Accords.[12]

In contrast to the situation faced by their opponents in Saigon, the North Vietnamese government were buoyed by the victories achieved by their armies since December 1974. By April 8, 1975, the PAVN had captured all the provinces in South Vietnam's I and II Corps Tactical Zones, as well as Phước Long Province. While the South Vietnamese army were disintegrating all over the battlefield, North Vietnam had two army corps moving towards the last South Vietnamese stronghold at Xuan Loc.[10] The PAVN 4th Army Corps, which overran Phước Long several months earlier, approached Xuan Loc from the north-east after they conquered Tây Ninh, Binh Long and Long Khánh. The 3rd Army Corps, on the other hand, moved towards Xuan Loc from the north-west after they defeated the ARVN in the Central Highlands.[10]

Order of battle

South Vietnam

Xuanloc 18th
General Le Minh Dao, commander of the South Vietnamese army at Xuan Loc.

On April 8, 1975, the ARVN 18th Infantry Division was the main unit defending Xuan Loc, which had three regiments (43rd, 48th and 52nd Infantry Regiments). There were also five armoured brigades, four regional force battalions (340th, 342nd, 343rd and 367th Battalions), two artillery units (181st and 182nd Artillery Battalions) equipped with forty-two artillery guns, and two companies of civilian self-defence forces.[3] On April 12, Xuan Loc was reinforced with the 1st Airborne Brigade, three armoured brigades (315th, 318th and 322nd Armoured Brigades), the 8th Task Force from the 5th Infantry Division, and the 33rd Ranger Battalion. Air support came in the form of two RVNAF divisions; the 5th Air Force Division based at Bien Hoa, and the 3rd Air Force Division at Tan Son Nhut. The commander of the South Vietnamese army at Xuan Loc was General Lê Minh Đảo.[3]

North Vietnam

As the PAVN 4th Army Corps was the first army to arrive on the battlefield at Xuan Loc, the Central Military Committee decided that the 4th Army Corps would lead the assault. The 4th Army Corps at Xuan Loc fielded three combat divisions (6th, 7th and 341st Infantry Divisions). Those divisions had support from the 71st Anti-Aircraft Regiment, two combat engineering regiments (24th and 25th Engineering Regiments), the 26th Communications Regiment, two armoured battalions, two artillery battalions, and two Long Khánh provincial infantry battalions.[2] On April 3, 1975, the 4th Army Corps Command came up with two options for attack; the first option would involve capturing all ARVN outposts in the surrounding areas, and isolating the town centre in the process. If the opportunity arose, the 4th Army Corps would launch a full frontal assault on the town centre to capture all of Xuan Loc. In the second option, if enemy forces in Xuan Loc did not have the strength to resist, the 4th Army Corps would strike directly at the town centre using infantry units, with armoured and artillery units in support.[15]

Prelude

In March 1975 as the PAVN 3rd Army Corps attacked Ban Me Thuot in the Central Highlands, the PAVN 4th Army Corps also initiated their own operations against South Vietnamese forces in Tây Ninh and Bình Dương, in the southwestern regions of South Vietnam. Unlike the previous three years, South Vietnamese defences around Tây Ninh and Bình Dương were significantly weakened due to the lack of manpower and resources. Even though Tây Ninh and Bình Dương did not play a significant role in the defensive posture of South Vietnam, large ARVN units made their way into those areas as a result of the early defeats in 1975. Tây Ninh became a refuge for elements of the ARVN 25th Infantry Division, four armoured brigades and two Ranger battalions. Bình Dương, on the other hand, hosted the ARVN 5th Infantry Division, one Ranger battalion and one armoured brigade. To stop ARVN units from gathering in Tây Ninh and Bình Dương, and thereby regrouping for further resistance, the North Vietnamese decided to finally capture those regions.[16]

The PAVN 4th Army Corps Command selected Dầu Tiếng–Chon Thanh as the first target for their operation, as it was the weakest point in the South Vietnamese defensive line in the north-west area. South Vietnam maintained four Regional Force battalions (35th, 304th, 312th and 352nd Battalions) which totalled 2,600 soldiers in the area, along with one armoured brigade and ten 105 mm artillery guns. The military zone of Dầu Tiếng–Chon Thanh located in area adjacent to the three provinces of Tây Ninh, Bình Dương and Binh Long. The task of capturing Dầu Tiếng–Chon Thanh was entrusted to the PAVN 9th Infantry Division, whose strength were bolstered by the 16th Infantry Regiment, the 22nd Armoured Battalion, one artillery battalion and one air-defence battalion. At 5 am on March 11, the PAVN 9th Infantry Division commenced their attack on Dầu Tiếng. ARVN artillery positions in Rung Nan, Bau Don and Cha La were the primary targets of the 9th Infantry Division on the first day of the attack.[17]

On the afternoon of March 11, ARVN General Le Nguyen Khang ordered the 345th Armoured Squadron to move out from Bau Don to relieve the military zone of Dầu Tiếng, but they were defeated by the PAVN 16th Infantry Regiment at Suoi Ong Hung, and were forced to retreat to their base. At the same time, ARVN artillery units at Bau Don and Rung Nan were subdued by elements of the 9th Infantry Division, so they were unable to return fire.[18] By March 13, the PAVN was in complete control of the Dầu Tiếng military zone. After three hours of fighting, the PAVN 3/9th Infantry Division also captured ARVN positions at Vuon Chuoi, Nga ba Sac, Cau Tau and Ben Cui. The ARVN 3rd Brigade had planned to retake Dầu Tiếng using elements of the 5th Infantry Division, but President Thiệu ordered them to pull back and defend Truong Mit, Bau Don and Tây Ninh instead.[19]

On March 24, two regiments from the PAVN 9th Infantry Division, in coordination with two provincial infantry battalions from Bình Phước, attacked Chon Thanh with full force but were repeatedly driven back from ARVN defensive lines. On March 31, the PAVN 4th Army Corps sent the 273rd Regiment to bolster the strength of the 9th Infantry Division, and one artillery battalion equipped with 15 artillery guns. Following the arrival of fresh reinforcements, the PAVN continued their assault on the military zone of Chon Thanh. South Vietnam responded by deploying the 3rd Armoured Brigade to relief Chon Thanh, but they were stopped by elements of the PAVN 9th Infantry Division along Route 13.[20] To avoid destruction, all surviving members from the ARVN 31st Ranger Battalion retreated to Bau Don in the east. On April 2, the PAVN captured Chon Thanh; they claimed to have killed 2,134 enemy soldiers, as well as capturing 472 men, and shot down 16 aircraft.[20] In addition, North Vietnam captured 30 military vehicles (including eight tanks) and about 1,000 guns (including five artillery pieces) of various kinds. With the province of Binh Long firmly in their hands, the PAVN then set their sights on Xuan Loc.[20]

Battle

HCMC5
Movement of North and South Vietnamese forces

After capturing all key objectives surrounding Xuan Loc in Long Khánh Province, the PAVN 4th Army Corps had four days to prepare for the final push against the ARVN 18th Infantry Division. PAVN Major General Hoang Cam personally took control of the operation; he decided to launch a full-frontal assault on Xuan Loc using his infantry, tank and artillery units from the north and northwest. Colonel Bui Cat Vu, deputy commander of the 4th Army Corps, would dictate operations from the east.[21] While the PAVN were closing in on Xuan Loc, ARVN General Le Minh Dao and the chief of Long Khánh Province, Colonel Nguyen Van Phuc, was also busy lining up their units in anticipation of the enemy onslaught. Prior to the battle, General Le Minh Dao told foreign media that: "I am determined to hold Xuan Loc. I don’t care how many divisions the Communist will send against me, I will smash them all! The world shall see the strength and skill of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam".[22]

At 5.40 am on April 9, 1975, the PAVN 4th Army Corps began bombarding South Vietnamese positions around the town of Xuan Loc. From the north of Xuan Loc, the PAVN 341st Infantry Division captured the ARVN communications centre and the local police station after more than one hour of heavy fighting.[23] However, all PAVN units moving down from the north were forced to stop when elements of the ARVN 52nd Task Force counter-attacked from the south. From the east, the PAVN 7th Infantry Division advanced on ARVN positions without tank support, so they sustained heavy casualties in the initial stages of the fighting. At 8 am the 4th Army Corps Command sent eight tanks to support the 7th Infantry Division, but three were destroyed by entrenched ARVN soldiers at Bao Chanh A.[23]

By midday, the PAVN 209th and 270th Infantry Regiments captured the Headquarters of the ARVN 18th Infantry Division and the Governor's Residence, which was defended by the ARVN 43rd and 48th Infantry Regiments, setting ablaze seven ARVN tanks in the process.[23] In the south, the PAVN 6th Infantry Division attacked ARVN positions on Highway No.1 from Hung Nghia to Me Bong Con, where they destroyed 11 tanks from the ARVN 322nd Armoured Brigade.[24] Throughout the day on April 9, the ARVN 18th Infantry Division staged counter-attacks on the PAVN flanks to slow down their momentum, especially movements from the north and northwest.[25]

Between April 10 and 11, elements of the PAVN 7th Infantry Division tried to destroy the ARVN 18th Infantry Division, the 52nd Task Force and the 5 Armoured Cavalry, but on each occasion they were forced to stop and deal with enemy counter-attacks on their flanks.[26] In the northwest the PAVN 226th and 270th Infantry Regiments, from the 341st Infantry Division, were also forced to deal with counter-attacks by the ARVN 43rd Infantry Regiment and the 322nd Armoured Brigade. During those two days, RVNAF fighter-bombers from the 5th Air Force Division flew more than 200 bombing sorties in support of the ARVN 18th Infantry Division. On the night of April 11, General Le Minh Dao secretly relocated the headquarters of the ARVN 18th Infantry Division to the military zone of Tan Phong, to continue his resistance. Colonel Pham Van Phuc, on the other hand, also moved his headquarters to Nui Thi.[26]

On April 12, the ARVN General Staff made the decision to bolster the defences at Xuan Loc with units drawn from the ARVN general reserve. Subsequently, the ARVN 1st Airborne Brigade arrived at the Bao Dinh rubber plantation, while two Marine battalions defended the eastern corridor leading to Bien Hoa. In addition, Tan Phong and Dau Giay received reinforcements from the 33rd Ranger Battalion, 8/5th Infantry Division, 8th Artillery Battalion and three armoured brigades (315th, 318th and 322nd Armoured Brigades). As the reinforcements were making their way onto the battlefield, RVNAF fighter-bombers from Bien Hoa and Tan Son Nhat flew between 80 and 120 combat sorties per day to support the defenders at Xuan Loc.[27] At 2 pm on April 12, South Vietnamese C-130 Hercules dropped two CBU-55 Fuel Air Explosive bombs on PAVN positions in the town of Xuan Vinh, close to Xuan Loc, killing about 200 PAVN soldiers.[28]

On April 13, General Tran Van Tra, commander of the Viet Cong arrived at the headquarters of the 4th Army Corps. During the meeting with other commanders, General Tran Van Tra decided to alter certain aspects of the combat operation; the 6th Infantry Division and elements of the 341st Infantry Division would attack Dau Giay, which was the weakest point in the defensive line around Xuan Loc, set up blocking positions along Highway 2 leading to Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu, and Highway 1 between Xuan Loc and Bien Hoa.[11] On the same day, the PAVN 2nd Army Corps ordered the 95B Infantry Regiment to join the units of the 4th Army Corps, in their efforts to capture Xuan Loc. As PAVN commanders began to implement their new strategy, the South Vietnamese military declared it had successfully repulsed the "Communist attack" on Xuan Loc, thereby ending a period of continuous defeats. President Thiệu, buoyed by the fierce resistance of his army at Xuan Loc, announced that the ARVN had "recovered its fighting ability" to defend the country.[29]

On April 15, the situation on the battlefield began to change as PAVN artillery stopped their shelling of Xuan Loc, but started pounding Bien Hoa instead. In just one day, the RVNAF 3rd Air Force Division at Bien Hoa was forced to cease all operations due to continuous PAVN artillery bombardments. To continue their support of ground troops at Xuan Loc, the RVNAF mobilised the 4th Air Force Division based at Binh Thuy Air Base to conduct further missions.[30] On the same day, the PAVN 6th Infantry Division and the 95B Infantry Regiment defeated a combined ARVN formation which included the 52nd Task Force and the 13th Armoured Squadron west of Xuan Loc. Between April 16 and 17, the PAVN 6th Infantry Division and the 95B Infantry Regiment defeated the ARVN 8th Task Force and 3rd Armoured Brigade, when the ARVN tried to recapture the military zone of Dau Giay. Around Xuan Loc the ARVN 43rd and 48th Infantry Regiments, as well as the 1st Airborne Brigade, suffered heavy casualties as PAVN infantry units attacked them from all sides.[30]

With Dau Giay and all the main roads under PAVN control, Xuan Loc was completely isolated, the 18th Division was cut off from reinforcements and surrounded by the PAVN 4th Army Corps. On April 19, the ARVN General Staff ordered General Le Minh Dao to evacuate the 18th Infantry Division and other support units from Xuan Loc, in order to continue their resistance at Bien Hoa.[6] On April 20, under the cover of heavy rain, South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians began pulling out from Xuan Loc, in a convoy of about 200 military vehicles. On April 21, the town centre of Xuan Loc was completely abandoned, with the ARVN 1st Airborne Brigade being the last unit to be evacuated from the area. At 4 am on April 21, the 3/1st Airborne Brigade was completely destroyed by the PAVN at the hamlet of Suoi Ca. By the end of the day Xuan Loc was under North Vietnamese control and the gateway to Saigon was open.[6][31]

Aftermath

Military outcome

Xuan Loc victory
The Xuan Loc victory monument dedicated to the Vietnam People's Army, in Đồng Nai Province

Following their costly victory at Xuan Loc, the PAVN effectively controlled two-thirds of South Vietnam's territory. The loss of Xuan Loc dealt a severe blow to the military strength of South Vietnam, which had lost almost every unit from its general reserve. On April 18, 1975, General Nguyen Van Toan, commander of the ARVN III Corps, informed President Thiệu that the South Vietnamese forces at Xuan Loc had been beaten and South Vietnam's armed forces could only hold out for a few more days as a result of their losses on the battlefield.[32] According to North Vietnam's official account of the battle, about 2,036 South Vietnamese soldiers were either killed or wounded and another 2,731 were captured.[6] Total casualties on the Communist side are largely unknown, but the 4th Army Corps alone claimed to have suffered 460 killed in action, and another 1,428 wounded.[5] While Le Minh Dao claim that the battle cost the PAVN over 50,000 KIA and 370 tanks destroyed, American estimates only put PAVN casualties at around 10 percent of those figures with 5,000 troops killed and/or wounded and 37 tanks destroyed.[4]

Political outcome

In the days following the loss of Xuan Loc, there was still much debate in both houses of South Vietnam's National Assembly about the country's wartime policies. Pro-war elements in the National Assembly argued South Vietnam should fight until the very end, in the belief that the United States would eventually give the country the necessary amount of aid to resist the North Vietnamese.[8] Anti-war elements, on the other hand, strongly opposed the idea. They believed the Government of South Vietnam should negotiate with the Communists, in order to avoid a catastrophic defeat. Despite their differences of opinion, members in both houses of South Vietnam's National Assembly agreed that President Thiệu should be held responsible for the country's dire military and political situation, because his policies had allowed the enemies to easily penetrate South Vietnam's military defences.[8]

Finally at 8 pm on April 21, 1975, Nguyễn Văn Thiệu officially resigned from his position as the President of the Republic of Vietnam upon learning that Xuan Loc had fallen that morning. In his final effort to save South Vietnam, Thiệu gambled his political career by sending the very last units of the South Vietnamese army to Xuan Loc in an attempt to hold off the PAVN.[8] Ultimately, however, Thiệu's effort came too late. Trần Văn Hương was appointed as South Vietnam's President, and he was ordered to seek a negotiated peace with North Vietnam at any cost, to the disappointment of many in South Vietnam's political elite, who argued that the situation could have been different if Thieu had gone earlier.[33]

Notes

  1. ^ Halstead, Dick. "Welcome to the Paris of the Orient". White Christmas. Archived from the original on 20 February 2005. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  2. ^ a b Ho Son Dai, p.112
  3. ^ a b c Duong Hao, pp.229–230
  4. ^ a b Cao Van Vien, p.132
  5. ^ a b Pham Ngoc Thach & Ho Khang, p.369
  6. ^ a b c d Pham Ngoc Thach & Ho Khang, pp.392–393
  7. ^ James Willbanks, p. 251
  8. ^ a b c d e Alan Dawson, p. 66
  9. ^ a b Alan Dawson, p. 59
  10. ^ a b c Pham Ngoc Thach & Ho Khang, pp. 372–376
  11. ^ a b Ho Son Dai, pp. 138–189
  12. ^ a b c d Duong Hao, p.208
  13. ^ Frank Snepp, p.75
  14. ^ Alan Dawson, p.63
  15. ^ Pham Ngoc Thach & Ho Khang, p.381
  16. ^ Duong Hao, p.219
  17. ^ Dinh Van Thien & Do Phuong Linh, p.3
  18. ^ Ho Son Dai, p.102
  19. ^ Dinh Van Thien & Do Phuong Linh, pp.3–5
  20. ^ a b c Ho Son Dai, pp.104–105
  21. ^ Hoang Cam, p.168
  22. ^ Duong Hao, pp.228–229
  23. ^ a b c Tran Xuan Ban, p.146
  24. ^ Pham Ngoc Thach & Ho Khang, p.382
  25. ^ Hoang Cam, p.172
  26. ^ a b Ho Son Dai, p.135
  27. ^ Ho Son Dai, pp.136–137
  28. ^ Pham Ngoc Thach & Ho Khang, p.384
  29. ^ Ho Son Dai, pp.138–139
  30. ^ a b Le Anh Dai Kiet, p.181
  31. ^ Le Anh Dai Kiet, pp.181–182
  32. ^ Frank Snepp, p.99
  33. ^ Duong Hao, pp.241–242

References

  • Alan Dawson. (1983) The Collapse of Saigon in 55 Days. Hanoi: Su That Publishing (1st Ed. Publ. 1977 Prentice-Hall, Inc.).
  • Can Van Vien. (1983). The Final Collapse. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of Military History
  • Dinh Van Thien. (2005). Battles on the Doorstep of Saigon. Hanoi: People's Army Publishing House.
  • Duong Hao. (1980). A Tragic Chapter. Hanoi: People's Army Publishing House.
  • Frank Snepp. (2001). A Disastrous Retreat. Ho Chi Minh City: Ho Chi Minh City Publishing.
  • Hoang Cam. (2001). The Journey of Ten Thousand Days. Hanoi: People's Army Publishing House.
  • Ho Son Dai. (2004). History of the 4th Army Corp-Cuu Long Corp. Hanoi: People's Army Publishing House.
  • Le Dai Anh Kiet. (2003). The Narratives of Saigon Generals. Hanoi: People's Police Publishing.
  • Nguyen Van Bieu. (2005). The Army at the Tây Nguyên Front- 3rd Army Corp. Hanoi: People's Army Publishing House
  • Pham Ngoc Thach & Ho Khang. (2008). History of the War of Resistance against America (8th edn). Hanoi: National Politics Publishing House.
  • Tran Xuan Ban. (2006). History of the 7th Infantry Division. Hanoi: People's Army Publishing House.
  • Veith, George; Pribbenow, Merle (January 2004). ""Fighting Is an Art": The Army of the Republic of Vietnam's Defense of Xuan Loc, 9-21 April 1975". Journal of Military History. 68 (1): 163–213. doi:10.1353/jmh.2003.0418.
  • James H. Willbanks. (2004). Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War. Lawrence KS: University of Kansas Press.

External links

Coordinates: 10°55′56″N 107°14′3″E / 10.93222°N 107.23417°E

18th Division (South Vietnam)

The 18th Division was an infantry division in the III Corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam considered the 18th as undisciplined and was well known throughout the ARVN for its "cowboy" reputation. In 1975 the 18th was made famous for its tenacious defense of Xuân Lộc, the last major battle before the Fall of Saigon.

1975 Spring Offensive

The 1975 Spring Offensive (Vietnamese: Chiến dịch Mùa Xuân 1975) or officially known as The General Offensive and Uprising of the Spring 1975 (Vietnamese: Tổng Tiến công và Nổi dậy Mùa Xuân 1975) was the final North Vietnamese campaign in the Vietnam War that led to the capitulation of South Vietnam. After the initial success capturing Phước Long Province, the North Vietnamese leadership increased the scope of the People's Army of Vietnam's (PAVN) offensive and captured and held the key Central Highlands city of Buôn Ma Thuột between March 10 and 18. These operations were intended to be preparatory to launching a general offensive in 1976.

Following the attack on Buôn Ma Thuôt, the South Vietnamese realized they were no longer able to defend the entire country and ordered a strategic withdrawal from the Central Highlands. The retreat from the Central Highlands, however, was a debacle as, under fire, civilian refugees fled with soldiers, mostly along a single highway reaching from the highlands to the coast. This situation was exacerbated by confusing orders, lack of command and control, and a well-led and aggressive enemy, which led to the utter rout and destruction of the bulk of South Vietnamese forces in the Central Highlands. A similar collapse occurred in the northern provinces.

Surprised by the rapidity of the South Vietnamese collapse, North Vietnam transferred the bulk of its northern forces more than 350 miles (560 km) to the south in order to capture the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon in time to celebrate their late President Ho Chi Minh's birthday and end the war. South Vietnamese forces regrouped around the capital and defended the key transportation hubs at Phan Rang and Xuân Lộc, but a loss of political and military will to continue the fight became ever more manifest. Under political pressure, South Vietnamese President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu resigned on 21 April, in hopes that a new leader that was more amenable to the North Vietnamese could reopen negotiations with them. It was, however, too late. Southwest of Saigon IV Corps, meanwhile, remained relatively stable with its forces aggressively preventing VC units from taking over any provincial capitals. With PAVN spearheads already entering Saigon, the South Vietnamese government, then under the leadership of Dương Văn Minh, capitulated on 30 April 1975. Both ARVN generals in the Mekong Delta, Le Van Hung and Nguyen Khoa Nam, committed suicide after the surrender.

1975 in the Vietnam War

1975 marked the end of the Vietnam War, sometimes called the Second Indochina War or the American War. The North Vietnamese army (PAVN) launched the Spring Offensive in March, the South Vietnamese army (ARVN) was quickly defeated. The communist North Vietnamese captured Saigon on April 30, accepting the surrender of South Vietnam. In the final days of the war, the United States, which had supported South Vietnam for many years, carried out an emergency evacuation of its civilian and military personnel and more than 130,000 Vietnamese.

At the beginning of the Spring Offensive the balance of forces in Vietnam was approximately as follows; North Vietnam: 305,000 soldiers, 600 armored vehicles, and 490 heavy artillery pieces in South Vietnam and South Vietnam: 1.0 million soldiers, 1,200 to 1,400 tanks, and more than 1,000 pieces of heavy artillery.The capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, was captured by the Khmer Rouge on April 17. On December 2 the Pathet Lao took over the government of Laos, thus completing the communist conquest of the three Indochinese countries.

341st Division (Vietnam)

The 341st Infantry Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam, first formed in the 1960s.

7th Infantry Division (Vietnam)

The 7th Infantry Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), first formed in 1966 in the Mekong Delta region from the 141st Infantry Regiment and the 209th Infantry Regiment which were detached from the 312th Division.

BLU-82

The BLU-82B/C-130 weapon system, known under program "Commando Vault" and nicknamed "Daisy Cutter" in Vietnam for its ability to flatten a section of forest into a helicopter landing zone, is an American 15,000-pound (6,800 kg) conventional bomb, delivered from either a C-130 or an MC-130 transport aircraft. 225 were constructed. It was used successfully during military operations in Vietnam, the Gulf War and Afghanistan. The BLU-82 was retired in 2008 and replaced with the more powerful GBU-43/B MOAB.

List of battles 1901–2000

This article lists all the battles that occurred in the years of the 20th century (1901-2000).

List of war museums and monuments in Vietnam

There are numerous war museums, memorials and monuments in Vietnam, this page presents a partial list of museums and monuments located in Vietnam relating to the First Indochina War and the Second Indochina War. This list is organized by location.

Lê Minh Đảo

Lê Minh Đảo (born c. 1933) is a former South Vietnamese major general who led the 18th Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), nicknamed "The Super Men", at Xuân Lộc, the last major battle of the Vietnam War. He currently lives in the United States. Brigadier General Đảo became the ground commander during the last Battle for Saigon.

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.

Republic of Vietnam Airborne Division

The Vietnamese Airborne Division was one of the earliest components of the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces (Vietnamese: Quân lực Việt Nam Cộng hòa – QLVNCH). The Vietnamese Airborne Division began as companies organised in 1948, prior to any agreement over armed forces in Vietnam. After the partition of Vietnam, it became a part of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. This division had its distinct origins in French-trained paratrooper battalions, with predecessor battalions participating in major battles including Dien Bien Phu and retained distinct uniforms and regalia . With the formation of an independent republic, the colonial paratroopers were dissolved, however regalia and aesthetics alongside the nickname "Bawouans" would be retained.

The Airborne Division, alongside the Vietnamese Rangers and the Marine Division were often regarded as among the most effective units, with former airborne advisor General Barry McCaffrey noting that "those of us privileged to serve with them were awe-struck by their courage and tactical aggressiveness. The senior officers and non-commissioned officers were extremely competent and battle hardened." Eight of nine battalions and three headquarters had earned US Presidential Unit Citation (United States) of which eight of these were earned by the Airborne between 1967-1968 which included the Tet Offensive period. Airborne commanders were often highly rated, with Airborne Commander Ngô Quang Trưởng once described by former Airborne-adviser and Gulf War commanding General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. "as the most brilliant tactical commander I have ever known".

Republic of Vietnam Marine Division

The Republic of Vietnam Marine Division (RVNMD, Vietnamese: Sư Đoàn Thủy Quân Lục Chiến [TQLC]) was part of the armed forces of South Vietnam. It was established by Ngo Dinh Diem in 1954 when he was Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam, which became the Republic of Vietnam in 1955. The longest-serving commander was Lieutenant General Le Nguyen Khang. In 1969, the VNMC had a strength of 9,300, 15,000 by 1973., and 20,000 by 1975.The Marine Division trace their origins to French-trained Commandos Marine divisions recruited and placed under the command of the French Navy but officially incorporated in 1960. From 1970 onwards, the South Vietnamese marines and Airborne Division grew significantly, supplanting the independent, Central Highlands based Vietnamese Rangers as the most popular elite units for volunteers. Along with the Airborne the Marine Division formed the General Reserve with the strategic transformation under Vietnamization, with elite and highly-mobile units meant to be deployed in People's Army of Vietnam attacking points and incursions. By then, the level of training had improved considerably and U.S. General Creighton Abrams who oversaw Vietnamization stated that South Vietnam's Airborne and Marines had no comparable units to match it in the PAVN.This division had earned a total of 9 U.S. presidential citations, with the 2nd Battalion "Crazy Buffaloes" earning two.

South Vietnam

South Vietnam, officially the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, Vietnamese: Việt Nam Cộng Hòa; French: République du Viêt Nam, lit. Vietnam[ese] Republic), was a country that existed from 1955 to 1975, the period when the southern portion of Vietnam was a member of the Western Bloc during part of the Cold War. It received international recognition in 1949 as the "State of Vietnam" (a self-governing entity in the French Empire), which was a constitutional monarchy (1949–1955). This became the "Republic of Vietnam" in 1955. Its capital was Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). South Vietnam was bordered by North Vietnam to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, Thailand across the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, and the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast.

The Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed on 26 October 1955, with Ngô Đình Diệm as its first president, after having briefly served as premier under Emperor Bao Dai who was exiled. Its sovereignty was recognized by the United States and 87 other nations. It had membership in several special committees of the United Nations, but its application for full membership was rejected in 1957 because of a Soviet veto (neither South nor North Vietnam were members of the UN during the Vietnam War, but the united Vietnam became a member state in 1977). South Vietnam's origins can be traced to the French colony of Cochinchina, which consisted of the southern third of Vietnam which was Cochinchina [Nam Kỳ], a subdivision of French Indochina, and the southern half of Central Vietnam or Annam [Trung Kỳ] which was a French protectorate. After the Second World War, the anti-Japanese Viet Minh guerrilla forces, led by Ho Chi Minh, proclaimed the establishment of a Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi in September 1945, issuing a Declaration of Independence modeled on the U.S. one from 1776.In 1949, anti-communist Vietnamese politicians formed a rival government in Saigon led by former emperor Bảo Đại. Bảo Đại was deposed by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm in 1955, who proclaimed himself president after a referendum. Diệm was killed in a military coup led by general Dương Văn Minh in 1963, and a series of short-lived military governments followed. General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu then led the country after a U.S.-encouraged civilian presidential election from 1967 until 1975. The beginnings of the Vietnam War occurred in 1959 with an uprising by the newly organized National Liberation Front for South Vietnam (Viet Cong), armed and supported by the northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam, with other assistance rendered by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact communist satellites, along with neighboring People's Republic of China and North Korea. Larger escalation of the insurgency occurred in 1965 with the landing of United States regular forces of Marines, followed by Army units to supplement the cadre of military advisors guiding ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) southern forces. A regular bombing campaign over North Vietnam was conducted by offshore U.S. Navy airplanes, warships, and aircraft carriers joined by Air Force squadrons through 1966 and 1967. Fighting peaked up to that point during the Tet Offensive of February 1968, when there were over a million South Vietnamese soldiers and 500,000 U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam. Later on the war turned into a more conventional fight as the balance of power became equalized. An even larger, armored invasion commenced during the Easter Offensive following US ground-forces withdrawal, and had nearly overran some major northern cities until beaten back.

Despite a truce agreement under the Paris Peace Accords, concluded in January 1973, after a torturous five years of on and off negotiations, fighting continued almost immediately afterwards. The North Vietnamese regular army and Viet Cong launched a major second combined-arms invasion in 1975, termed the Spring Offensive. Communist forces overran Saigon on 30 April 1975, marking the end of the Republic of Vietnam. On July 2, 1976, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam merged to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

South Vietnam Air Force

The South Vietnam Air Force (Vietnamese: Không lực Việt Nam Cộng hòa – KLVNCH), officially the Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF) (sometimes referred to as the Vietnam Air Force or VNAF) was the aerial branch of the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces, the official military of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) from 1955 to 1975.

The RVNAF began with a few hand-picked men chosen to fly alongside French pilots during the State of Vietnam era. It eventually grew into the world's sixth largest air force at the height of its power, in 1974. It is an often neglected chapter of the history of the Vietnam War as they operated in the shadow of the United States Air Force (USAF). It was dissolved in 1975 after the Fall of Saigon; many of its members emigrated to the United States.

Vietnam War

The Vietnam War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh Việt Nam), also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America (Vietnamese: Kháng chiến chống Mỹ) or simply the American War, was an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war is considered a Cold War-era proxy war from some US perspectives. It lasted some 19 years with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973 following the Paris Peace Accords, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist states in 1975.

American military advisors began arriving in what was then French Indochina in 1950 to support the French in the First Indochina War against the communist-led Viet Minh. Most of the funding for the French war effort was provided by the U.S. After the French quit Indochina in 1954, the US assumed financial and military responsibility for the South Vietnamese state. The Việt Cộng, also known as Front national de libération du Sud-Viêt Nam or NLF (the National Liberation Front), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, initiated a

guerrilla war against the South Vietnamese government in 1959. U.S. involvement escalated in 1960, and continued in 1961 under President John F. Kennedy, with troop levels gradually surging under the MAAG program from just under a thousand in 1959 to 16,000 in 1963.By 1964, there were 23,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam, but this escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a U.S. destroyer was alleged to have clashed with North Vietnamese fast attack craft. In response, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave President Lyndon B. Johnson broad authorization to increase U.S. military presence, deploying ground combat units for the first time and increasing troop levels to 184,000. Past this point, the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), also known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) engaged in more conventional warfare with US and South Vietnamese forces. Every year onward there was significant build-up of US forces despite little progress, with Robert McNamara, one of the principal architects of the war, beginning to express doubts of victory by the end of 1966. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery, and airstrikes. The U.S. conducted a large-scale strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam. The Tet Offensive of 1968, proved to be the turning point of the war; despite years of American tutelage and aid the South Vietnamese forces were unable to withstand the communist offensive and the task fell to US forces instead. The Tet Offensive showed that the end of US involvement was not in sight, increasing domestic skepticism of the war. The unconventional and conventional capabilities of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) increased following a period of neglect and became modeled on heavy firepower-focused doctrines like US forces. Operations crossed international borders; bordering areas of Laos and Cambodia were used by North Vietnam as supply routes and were heavily bombed by U.S. forces.

Gradual withdrawal of U.S. ground forces began as part of "Vietnamization", which aimed to end American involvement in the war while transferring the task of fighting the communists to the South Vietnamese themselves and began the task of modernizing their armed forces. Direct U.S. military involvement ended on 15 August 1973 as a result of the Case–Church Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress. The capture of Saigon by the NVA in April 1975 marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year. The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities (see Vietnam War casualties). Estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from 966,000 to 3.8 million. Some 275,000–310,000 Cambodians, 20,000–62,000 Laotians, and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict, and a further 1,626 remain missing in action. The Sino-Soviet split re-emerged following the lull during the Vietnam War and confllict between North Vietnam and its Cambodian allies in the Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea, and the newly-formed Democratic Kampuchea begun almost immediately in a series of border raids by the Khmer Rouge and erupted into the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, with Chinese forces directly intervening in the Sino-Vietnamese War. The end of the war and resumption of the Third Indochina War would precipitate the Vietnamese boat people and the bigger Indochina refugee crisis, which saw an estimated 250,000 people perish at sea. Within the US the war gave rise to what was referred to as Vietnam Syndrome, a public aversion to American overseas military involvements, which together with Watergate contributed to the crisis of confidence that affected America throughout the 1970s.

Xuân Lộc Base Camp

Xuân Lộc Base Camp (also known as Xuân Lộc Airfield or Firebase Husky) is a former U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base in the town of Xuân Lộc in Đồng Nai Province in southern Vietnam.

Xuân Lộc District

Xuân Lộc is a district of Đồng Nai Province, Vietnam, in the South East region of the country. Located on the National Highway 1 leading out of Ho Chi Minh City, it is most notable for the battle of Xuân Lộc, which took place in April 1975. This was the final large battle of the Vietnam War, where the Army of the Republic of Vietnam poured all of its reserve units in order to halt the advance of the Vietnam People's Army 4th Corps.

It also has Vietnam's largest mosque, built in 2006.

As of 2003 the district had a population of 207,773. The district covers an area of 727 km2 (281 sq mi). The district capital lies at Gia Ray.

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