First Battle of Quảng Trị

The First Battle of Quảng Trị resulted in the first major victory for the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) during the Easter Offensive of 1972. Quảng Trị Province was a major battleground for the opposing forces during the Vietnam War. As South Vietnamese soldiers were gradually replacing their American counterparts, North Vietnam's General Văn Tiến Dũng was preparing to engage three of his divisions in the province. Just months before the battle, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) deployed its newly formed 3rd Division to the areas along the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to take over former US bases. North Vietnamese forces deployed against the inexperienced ARVN 3rd Division included the PAVN 304th, 308th and 324B Divisions.


The battle for Quảng Trị began on 30 March with preparatory artillery barrages on the key areas of the province. Meanwhile, infantry assaults supported by tanks overran outposts and firebases. The lightning speed of the PAVN attacks on those positions delivered a great shock to the soldiers of the ARVN, who were largely unprepared for the onslaught.

Camp Carroll

In 1972 Camp Carroll was occupied by the ARVN 56th Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Pham Van Dinh. During the first hours of the Easter Offensive, Camp Carroll was one of the first targets to come under the PAVN artillery barrage.

The PAVN deployed a full artillery regiment against Camp Carroll with supporting infantry units, showing their full intention to take the camp. Throughout February and March 1972, the North and South Vietnamese armies exchanged artillery fire, but South Vietnamese resistance was gradually worn down as ARVN artillerymen began seeking shelter against the PAVN's devastatingly accurate 130mm guns.

By Easter, the morale of the ARVN had dropped after suffering heavy casualties, as a result Lieutenant Colonel Dinh informed his American advisors that what was left of the 56th Regiment would surrender to the PAVN. As the senior advisor to the ARVN 56th Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel William Camper refused to go through with the surrender, so he decided to leave Camp Carroll along with three officers. Six 175mm M107 guns were captured by PAVN.

On 2 April 1972, Camp Carroll was officially surrendered to the PAVN, with a white flag raised over the main gate of the camp. Following the surrender, a B-52 strike was ordered against Camp Carroll. However, it was too late as the PAVN had already moved the M107 guns out of the camp.

Dong Ha

On 30 March 1972 the 258th Marine Brigade was deployed to Đông Hà to support the 3rd Division.[4] By 1 April the PAVN had broken through the ARVN defensive positions along the DMZ and north of the Cam Lo River and fragmented ARVN units and terrified civilians began withdrawing to Đông Hà.[4]:45 By 11:00 on 2 April the ARVN 20th Tank Battalion moved forward to Đông Hà to support the 3rd Marine Battalion and 25th Marine Brigade in and around the town and defend the crucial road and rail bridges across the Cua Viet River.[4]:50–2 Marine ANGLICO units called in naval gunfire to hit PAVN forces near the bridges on the north bank of the river and destroyed 4 PT-76 amphibious tanks east of Đông Hà. More tanks were hit by a Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF) A-1 Skyraider before it was shot down.[4]:53 At midday PAVN tanks attempted to force the road bridge, but 6 tanks were destroyed by fire from the ARVN 20th Tank's M48s.[4]:55 At approximately 13:00 Captain John Ripley an adviser to the Vietnamese Marines swung under the road bridge and spent 3 hours installing demolition charges to destroy the bridge. The bridge was blown up at 16:30 and the damaged railway bridge was destroyed around the same time temporarily halting the PAVN advance. Naval gunfire and a B-52 strike were soon directed at PAVN forces gathered on the northern bank.[4]:56–60 At 18:00 a USAF EB-66 was shot down west of Đông Hà and a no-fire zone was imposed around the area allowing the PAVN to capture the Cam Lo Bridge intact.[4]:61–3

Over the next two weeks PAVN forces kept up a barrage of artillery, mortar and small arms fire on the ARVN positions and infiltrated small units across the river in boats.[4]:65 On 7 April the Marines withdrew from Đông Hà leaving the defense to the 1st ARVN Armored Brigade, 20th Tank Battalion, the 4th and 5th Ranger Groups and the 57th Regiment.[4]:68 On 18 April the PAVN 308th Division attacking from the southwest attempted to outflank Đông Hà but were repulsed.[4]:74–5

On 28 April the commander of the 20th Tank Battalion withdrew from Đông Hà to deal with a PAVN force threatening the Ái Tử Combat Base, seeing the tanks leaving the soldiers of the 57th Regiment panicked and abandoned their positions leading to the collapse of the ARVN defensive line.[4]:78 The VNMC 7th Battalion was sent to Ái Tử to help defend the base.[4]:78

At 02:00 on 29 April the PAVN attacked the ARVN positions north and south of the base and the ARVN defenses began to crumble, by midday on 30 April the 3rd Division commander ordered a withdrawal from Ái Tử to a defensive line along the south of the Thạch Hãn River and the withdrawal was completed late that day.[4]:79–80

Quảng Trị

On 1 May General Giai decided that any further defense of the city was pointless and that the ARVN should withdraw to a defensive line along the My Chanh River.[4]:82–3 As the 3rd Division headquarters departed the city in an armored convoy, the U.S. advisors remained in the Quảng Trị Citadel, however the command element finding Highway 1 blocked by refugees and PAVN ambushes soon returned to the Citadel and requested helicopter evacuation. By late afternoon USAF helicopters from the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron and Army helicopters evacuated all remaining forces in the Citadel.[4]:83–4 By 2 May all of Quảng Trị Province had fallen to the PAVN and they were threatening Huế.[4]:90


The fall of Quảng Trị gave North Vietnam its first major victory of the 1972 offensive. The North Vietnamese immediately imposed their authority in the province, as collective farms were set up and strict rules were forced on the villagers. Many victims and villagers eventually fled. According to Gary D. Murfin, one of the lead writers to have done a survey on Vietnamese refugees after 1975, the province was an area of particularly dense Catholic concentration, many of whom were anti-communist. He estimated that 41% fled the area in fear of communist reprisals, 37% feared fighting, shelling, and bombing, and others fled because they were a family related to an ARVN soldier, or were at one point landowners.

While the North Vietnamese tried to consolidate their rule over the so-called "Liberated Zones", South Vietnamese General Ngô Quang Trưởng was drawing up a plan to retake the province. The stage was set for the Second Battle of Quảng Trị which would last from 28 June to 16 September 1972, where the ARVN would retake their positions. Although the North Vietnamese eventually lost most of southern Quảng Trị Province, the northern parts of the Province would remain in their control until the end of the war in 1975.

See also


  1. ^ Vietnam War 1954–75 – Ðêm Dài Nhất Ở Cầu Ga Quảng Trị Archived 2007-10-23 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b The Easter Offensive Of 1972. By Lt. General Ngo Quang Truong
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Melson, Charles (1991). U.S. Marines In Vietnam: The War That Would Not End, 1971–1973. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. p. 43. ISBN 978-1482384055.


  • Donnell, John C., "South Vietnam in 1975: The Year of Communist Victory"
  • Asian Survey, Vol. 16, No. 1, A Survey of Asia in 1975: Part I. (Jan., 1976), pp. 1–13.
  • Murfin, Gary D., A. Terry Rambo, Le-Thi-Que, "Why They Fled: Refugee Movement during the Spring 1975 Communist Offensive in South Vietnam"
  • Asian Survey, Vol. 16, No. 9. (Sep., 1976): 855–863

External links

304th Division (Vietnam)

The 304 Division is an infantry division of the People's Army of Vietnam. It was established in January 1950 at Thanh Hoa.

308th Infantry Division (Vietnam)

The 308th Infantry Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam, first formed in August 1950 in southern China from the previous Regimental Group 308.

Battle of Quang Tri (1968)

The Battle for Quang Tri occurred in and around Quảng Trị City (Quảng Trị Province), the northernmost provincial capital of Republic of South Vietnam during the Tet Offensive when the Vietcong (VC) and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) attacked Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and American forces across major cities and towns in South Vietnam in an attempt to force the Saigon government to collapse. This included several attacks across northern I Corps, most importantly at Huế, Da Nang and Quảng Trị City. After being put on the defensive in the city of Quảng Trị, the Allied forces regrouped and forced the PAVN/VC out of the town after a day of fighting.

Combat Skyspot

Combat Skyspot was the ground-directed bombing (GDB) operation of the Vietnam War by the United States Air Force using Bomb Directing Centrals and by the United States Marine Corps using Course Directing Centrals ("MSQ-77 and TPQ-10 ground radars"). Combat Skyspot's command guidance of B-52s and tactical fighters and bombers—"chiefly flown by F-100's"—at night and poor weather was used for aerial bombing of strategic, close air support, interdiction, and other targets. Using a combination radar/computer/communications system ("Q" system) at operating location in Southeast Asia, a typical bombing mission (e.g., during Operation Arc Light with a "cell" of 3 Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses) had an air command post turn over control of the mission to the radar station, and the station provided bomb run corrections and designated when to release bombs.Planning of Vietnam GDB missions included providing coordinates with 10 m (11 yd) accuracy to the radar sites, handoff of the bomber from air controllers (e.g., a DASC) to the site, tracking the aircraft by radiating the bomber (e.g., activating the 400 Watt Motorola SST-181 X Band Beacon Transponder), and radioing of technical data from the aircrew to the radar site such as the airspeed/heading for the central to estimate wind speed on the bomb(s). With the bomber near a designated "Initial Point" the GDB site would begin a radar track (Bomb Directing Centrals would calculate a computer track and solve the "bomb problem" for the aircraft position.)

For B-52 missions the site personnel verbally transmitted guidance commands to the aircraft crew by radio (lead aircraft for multi-ship formations) to adjust the flight path toward an eventual release point for the actual bomb(s). Site personnel verbally directed release of the ordnance from the aircraft by voice countdown. This was a manual process requiring training, practice and adherence to procedure. Both the site and aircrew were authorized to "withhold" release at any point if doubt arose. All communications were tape recorded by the aircrew for post strike debriefing.

Lê Trọng Tấn

General Lê Trọng Tấn (3 October 1914 – 5 December 1986) was an officer of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) during 1945 to 1986. During this period of his military career, Lê Trọng Tấn held several senior positions of the Army. Lê Trọng Tấn participated in the Viet Minh movement before the August Revolution in 1945 and gradually became one of the most important figures of the Vietnam People's Army during the Second Indochina War. Being one of the key figures of the North Vietnam armed forces in Vietnam War, Lê Trọng Tấn was Deputy Commander of the Viet Cong (VC) and second commander of the 1975 Spring Offensive that effectively ended the war. Afterwards, he became Chief of the General Staff and Deputy Minister of Defence of Vietnam until his death in December 1986. Lê Trọng Tấn was widely appreciated by his comrades, whom of which include general Võ Nguyên Giáp, as one of the finest commanders of the Vietnam People's Army.

M48 Patton

The M48 Patton is a main battle tank (MBT) that was designed in the United States. It was the third tank to be officially named after General George S. Patton, commander of the U.S. Third Army during World War II and one of the earliest American advocates for the use of tanks in battle. It was a further development of the M47 Patton tank. The M48 Patton was in U.S. service until replaced by the M60 and served as the U.S. Army and Marine Corps' primary battle tank during the Vietnam War. It was widely used by U.S. Cold War allies, especially other NATO countries.

The M48 Patton tank was designed to replace the previous M47 Pattons and M4 Shermans. Although bearing some semblance to the M47, the M48 was a completely new design, featuring a complete new turret as well as modified hull. It was the last U.S. tank to mount the 90 mm tank gun, with the last model, the M48A5, being upgraded to carry the new standard weapon of the M60, the 105mm gun. Some M48A5 models served well into the 1980s with U.S. Army National Guard units, and many M48s remain in service in other countries. The Turkish Army has the largest number of modernized M48 MBTs, with more than 1,400 in its inventory. Of these, around 1,000 have been phased out, placed in storage, or modified as ARVs.

Nguyễn Huy Hiệu

Colonel General Nguyễn Huy Hiệu (born 1947) is an officer of the Vietnam People's Army and current Deputy Minister of Defence of Vietnam. Enlisted in 1965, Nguyễn Huy Hiệu fought in various battlefields during Vietnam War, especially the Battle of Quảng Trị where he was appointed commander of battalion at the age of 23. Nguyễn Huy Hiệu began to hold the position of Deputy Minister of Defence in 1994.

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.

Quảng Trị Combat Base

Quảng Trị Combat Base (also known as Ái Tử Combat Base or simply Quảng Trị) is a former United States Marine Corps, United States Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base northwest of Quảng Trị in central Vietnam.

Quảng Trị Province

Quảng Trị (Vietnamese: [kwa᷉ːŋ ʈîˀ] (listen)) is a province in the North Central Coast region of Vietnam, north of the former imperial capital of Huế.

Second Battle of Quảng Trị

The Second Battle of Quang Tri began on 28 June 1972 and lasted 81 days until 16 September 1972, when South Vietnam's Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) defeated the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) at the ancient citadel of Quảng Trị (Vietnamese: Thành cổ Quảng Trị) and recaptured most of Quảng Trị Province.

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