Ngô Quang Trưởng

Ngô Quang Trưởng (13 December 1929 — 22 January 2007) was an officer in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Trưởng gained his commission in the Vietnamese National Army in 1954 and moved up the ranks over the next decade, mostly in the Airborne Brigade. In 1966, Trưởng commanded a division for the first time after he was given command of the 1st Division after helping to quell the Buddhist Uprising. He rebuilt the unit after this divisive period and used it to repel the communists and reclaimed the imperial citadel of Huế after weeks of bitter street fighting during the Tết Offensive. In 1970, Trưởng was given command of IV Corps in the Mekong Delta and improved the situation there to such an extent that he allowed some of his forces to be redeployed to other parts of the country that were finding the communist pressure difficult.

In 1972, he was made the commander of I Corps after incompetent leadership by General Hoàng Xuân Lãm resulted in a South Vietnamese collapse in the face of the Easter Offensive, a massive conventional invasion by North Vietnam. He stabilized the ARVN forces before turning back the communists.

In 1975, the communists attacked again. This time, President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu gave contradictory orders to Trưởng as to whether he should stand and fight or give up some territory and consolidate. This led to the demoralization of I Corps and its collapse, allowing the communists to gather momentum and overrun South Vietnam within two months. Trưởng fled South Vietnam during the fall of Saigon and settled in Virginia in the United States.

Ngô Quang Trưởng
Ngo Quang Truong ARHQ
Born13 December 1929
Kiến Hòa Province, Cochinchina, French Indochina
(now Bến Tre Province, Vietnam)
Died22 January 2007 (aged 77)
Falls Church, Virginia, U.S.
Allegiance South Vietnam
Service/branch French Army
Vietnamese National Army
 Army of the Republic of Vietnam
Years of service1954–1975
RankB ARVN-OF-8.svg Lieutenant General (Trung Tướng)
Commands held1st Division (1966–1970), IV Corps (1970–1972), I Corps (1972–1975)
Battles/warsBattle of Saigon (1955), Buddhist Uprising, Battle of Huế, Easter Offensive, Hồ Chí Minh Campaign

Early years and military beginnings

Trưởng was born in 1929 to a wealthy family in the Mekong Delta province of Kiến Hòa (now Bến Tre Province). At the time, Vietnam was part of French Indochina. After graduating from Mỹ Tho College,[1] a French colonial-run school in the Mekong Delta provincial town of Mỹ Tho, Trưởng attended the reserve officer school at Thủ Đức in Saigon, and was commissioned as an infantry officer in the Vietnamese National Army in 1954. Upon graduation from Thủ Đức, Trưởng went immediately on to airborne school at the Command and Staff School of the Vietnamese National Military Academy at Đà Lạt. He served in the elite airborne brigade the next 12 years. His first posting was as commander of 1st Company, 5th Airborne Battalion.[1]

After graduating from Đà Lạt, he soon saw action in a 1955 operation to eliminate the Bình Xuyên river pirates who were vying with President Diệm's government for control of Saigon and the surrounding area. In recognition of his performance against the Bình Xuyên, Trưởng was promoted to first lieutenant.[1] When the Republic of Vietnam was created in 1955, the VNA became the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN).

Rising through the ranks

In 1964, Trưởng was promoted to major and made commander of the 5th Airborne Battalion. He led a heliborne assault into Đỗ Xá Secret Zone in Minh Long District, Quảng Ngãi Province, in central Vietnam. This attack destroyed the base area of the Việt Cộng's B-1 Front Headquarters. In 1965, Trưởng led the 5th Airborne Battalion on a helicopter assault into the Hắc Dịch Secret Zone in the vicinity of the Ong Trinh Mountain in Phước Tuy Province (now Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province) southeast of Saigon, the base area of the 7th Việt Cộng Division. In two days of fighting, Trưởng's 5th Battalion inflicted heavy casualties on two communist regiments, and he was awarded a battlefield promotion to lieutenant colonel and the National Defense Medal, Fourth Class. After the battle, Trưởng became chief of staff of the Airborne Brigade and then became chief of staff of the division later in the year. His reputation for valour and fairness gained the attention of the senior generals in Saigon. General Cao Văn Viên, chief of the Joint General Staff from 1965 to 1975, later described Trưởng as "one of the best commanders at every echelon the Airborne Division ever had."[2]

In 1966, civil disorder broke out in central Vietnam, and Buddhists protested military control of the government.[3] Trưởng was asked to quell the rebellious 1st Division in Huế, which had decided to stop military operations with the communists in solidarity with the Buddhist protest movement. A Buddhist, Trưởng, was uncomfortable with his mission, but he carried out his orders.[1] On 18 June, he commanded three airborne battalions that entered the city and restored order within two days and he put the 1st Division under government control.[4]

General

As a result of his efficient display, Saigon made the appointment permanent. With his hands-on leadership, Trưởng quickly moulded the unit, which had a poor reputation prior to his arrival,[1] and had been heavily weakened by the infighting of the past year,[5] into one of the best units in the ARVN.[1] Trưởng handpicked his leading subordinate officers and put his battalions in the hands of majors who had many years of combat experience. Unlike most, he eschewed politics in choosing his officers,[6] and implemented new training programs to improve the capability of his troops and Regional (RF) and Popular Forces (PF) that augmented them. Trưởng's dedication to his unit and leadership significantly raised the morale of his subordinates.[5] As part of his strategy of better integrating the territorial forces with the regular army, Trưởng had his battalion commanders act as district chiefs, who normally worked only with the territorial forces. As a result, the regulars began to coordinate their pacification campaigns more effectively with the paramilitary forces.[7] In 1967, Trưởng's 1st Division assaulted and dismantled the Việt Cộng infrastructure and a large part of their fighters from the Luong Co-Dong Xuyen-My Xa Front in Hương Trà District in Thừa Thiên-Huế Province. Trưởng was rewarded with a promotion to brigadier general.[1]

During the Tết Offensive, Trưởng led the 1st Division in the Battle of Huế as the communists were expelled from the old imperial city after three weeks of bitter street fighting. Following the famous victory in the citadel, Trưởng was given a second star and made a major general. In August 1970, he was assigned to command IV Corps, which oversaw the Mekong Delta region. He was based at the corps headquarters in Cần Thơ. General Creighton Abrams, the head of American forces in Vietnam, recommended Trưởng to President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, saying, "I can recommend, without any reservations at all ... Trưởng. I think he's proved over and over and in all facets — pacification, military operations, whatever it is".[8] He was promoted to lieutenant general in June 1971.[1]

Corps commander

During his tenure in the Mekong Delta, Trưởng established a system of outposts along the border with Cambodia to block infiltration of communist personnel and supplies into the region. He used the three divisions in his corps in regimental-sized combined arms task forces and staged sweeps to seek and destroy communist forces in their strongholds. He increased the capability of the Regional Forces and Popular Forces—which had a reputation for unreliability—in his area, making them a productive part of his anti-communist apparatus.[1] Trưởng later said that these forces "shed their paramilitary origins and increasingly became full-fledged soldiers".[9] It was estimated that although they provided 50% of the manpower, the RF and PF cost only 5% of total military costs.[10] During his period in charge of IV Corps, the region's regular forces were depleted because a proportion of them were across the border as part of the Cambodian Campaign,[11] seeking to destroy communist jungle bases, supplies and staging grounds for an invasion into South Vietnam.

Trưởng used the Regional and Popular Forces that he had enhanced to fill the void, and they strengthened the government control in the region despite having nominally less resources.[11] In the forests surrounding U Minh, Trưởng's outpost building programs resulted in a record number of communist defectors as the populace became more confident in his forces' ability to provide security. When American Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker came to inspect an outlying military base that Trưởng had built, he asked if the general intended to stay there. Trưởng replied "Yes, forever".[11] Trưởng was so successful in pacifying the Mekong Delta that he allowed some of his forces to be redeployed to other parts of South Vietnam.[12]

Known for his unbending integrity, Trưởng vigorously moved against "ghost" and "ornamental" soldiers, deserters and conscription evaders in his region.[1] Abrams said that only Trưởng and Phạm Văn Phú among the division and corps commanders had not begun to psychologically crack under the pressure of the communist onslaught.[13]

During the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) Nguyen Hue Offensive (known in the West as the Easter Offensive) of 1972, he was given command of I Corps, replacing the disgraced Lieutenant General Hoàng Xuân Lãm. General Trưởng held communist forces at bay before Huế and then launched (against the initial resistance of President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu and MACV) Operation Lam Son 72. During the counteroffensive, he successfully pushed PAVN forces back to the city of Quang Tri (which was retaken in September) and advanced on to the Cửa Việt river.[1]

Collapse of South Vietnam

Trưởng remained in command of I Corps until the collapse of South Vietnam, when the north of the country lapsed into anarchy amid confused leadership by President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. I Corps fielded three infantry divisions, the elite Airborne and Marine Divisions,[14][15] four Ranger Groups and an armored brigade.[14][15][16] Until mid-March, due to Trưởng's highly effective leadership, the North Vietnamese had only tried to cut the highways, despite having five divisions and 27 further regiments far outnumbering Trưởng's men. At a meeting on March 13, Trưởng and the new III Corps commander, Lieutenant General Nguyễn Văn Toàn briefed Thiệu.[14][15] By this time, South Vietnam was suffering from severe cutbacks in US aid, and the loss of Ban Mê Thuột in the central highlands, which threatened to split the country in two and isolate Trưởng's I Corps from the capital. Thiệu laid out his plan to consolidate a smaller proportion of territory so that the forces could more effectively defend the area. As Trưởng understood it, he was free to redeploy his forces south to hold Đà Nẵng,[17] South Vietnam's second largest city, thereby abandoning Huế. Offshore oil deposits were thought to be nearby the port of Đà Nẵng.[18] Fearful of and preoccupied with stopping a coup, Thiệu also decided to remove the Airborne and Marines to Saigon, leaving I Corps exposed.[14][15]

Thiệu called Trưởng to Saigon on 19 March to brief him on the withdrawal plan. Trưởng intended to order a retreat to Huế, Đà Nẵng and Chu Lai, and then move all the forces to Đà Nẵng to regroup and dig in.[17] The president then stunned Trưởng by announcing that he had misinterpreted his previous orders:[19] The old imperial capital of Huế was not to be abandoned, despite losing two divisions in recent days.[16][20] In the meantime, the withdrawal preparations and the increasing North Vietnamese pressure caused civilians to flee in fear, clogging the highway and hampering the withdrawal.[21] Trưởng requested permission to withdraw his forces into the three enclaves as planned; Thiệu ordered him to "hold onto any territory he could with whatever forces he now had, including the Marine Division", implying that he could retreat if needed.[22] Trưởng returned to Đà Nẵng to be greeted by the start of a North Vietnamese offensive.[23] President Thiệu made a nationwide radio broadcast that afternoon proclaiming that Huế would be held "at all costs",[24] contradicting the previous order. That evening Trưởng ordered a retreat to a new defense line at the My Chanh River to defend Huế,[25] thereby ceding all of Quảng Trị Province. He was confident that his forces could hold Huế, but was then astounded by a late afternoon message from Thiệu that ordered "that because of inability to simultaneously defend all three enclaves, the I Corps commander was free ... to redeploy his forces for the defense of Đà Nẵng only."[20][24][26] The people of Quảng Trị and Huế began to leave their homes by the hundreds of thousands, joining an ever-growing exodus toward Đà Nẵng.[17]

Meanwhile, the North Vietnamese closed in on Đà Nẵng amid the chaos caused by Thiệu's confused leadership.[24][27] Within a few days I Corps was beyond control.[28] The South Vietnamese tried to evacuate from the other urban enclaves into Đà Nẵng, but the 1st Division collapsed after its commander, Brigadier General Nguyễn Văn Diệm, angered by Thiệu's abandonment, told his men, "We've been betrayed ... It is now sauve qui peut (every man for himself) ... [S]ee you in Đà Nẵng."[24][25][29] The overland march, pummeled by communist artillery the entire way,[20][24] degenerated into chaos as the 1st Division descended into anarchy as it moved toward Đà Nẵng. The remainder of the force deserted or began looting.[25] Only a minority survived and some disillusioned officers committed suicide.[30][31]

As anarchy and looting enveloped Đà Nẵng, and a defense of the city becoming impossible, Trưởng requested permission to evacuate by sea, but Thiệu, baffled, refused to make a decision.[30][32] When his communications with Saigon were sundered by communist shelling, Trưởng ordered a naval withdrawal, as Thiệu was not making a decision either way.[32][33]

With no support or leadership from Thiệu, the evacuation turned into a costly debacle, as the communists pounded the city with artillery, killing tens of thousands of people. Many drowned while jostling for room on the boats; with no logistical support from Saigon, those vessels sent were far too few for the millions of would-be evacuees.[32] Only around 16,000 soldiers were pulled out,[34] and of the almost two million civilians that packed Đà Nẵng, a little more than 50,000 were evacuated.[34] As a result, 70,000 troops were taken prisoner,[35] along with around 100 fighter jets.[36][37] Trưởng and his officers swam to a boat in the sea and evacuated to Saigon.[38][39] In quick succession the remaining cities along the coastline collapsed and half the country had fallen in two weeks.[40][41]

Upon arriving in Saigon, Trưởng was reportedly hospitalized for a nervous breakdown as a result of the collapse in I Corps. An American officer who had worked closely with him heard of Trưởng's plight, and arranged for his family to leave on an American ship amid the chaos of the fall of Saigon and the communist takeover of South Vietnam. Truong fled Vietnam with former Vice President Nguyễn Cao Kỳ by chopper on the morning of 30 April 1975, the day of the fall of Saigon.[1]

Life in the United States

Trưởng's family was initially broken up amid the confusion. His wife and eldest son ended up in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, while his two daughters and second son fled Saigon with a US State Department employee to Seattle. Trưởng's youngest son, aged four, ended up at Camp Pendleton, California; the toddler did not speak English and was not identified for a few weeks.[1] After his family was fully accounted for, Trưởng relocated with them to Falls Church, Virginia.

In 1983, he became an American citizen and moved to Springfield, Virginia. He studied computer programming at Northern Virginia Community College and worked as a computer analyst for the Association of American Railroads for a decade until he retired in 1994.[42]

Trưởng wrote several military history works commissioned by the United States Army Center of Military History, as part of its Indochina Monographs series. These were The Easter Offensive of 1972 (1979), RVNAF and US Operational Cooperation and Coordination (1980) and Territorial Forces (1981).[1]

Death

Trưởng died of cancer on 22 January 2007, at the Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia. At the time of his death, Trưởng was survived by his wife, three sons, two daughters, twelve grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.[1] After his death, the Virginia House of Representatives and Senate passed a joint resolution "Celebrating the Life of Ngo Quang Truong".[1]

Assessment

Trưởng was widely regarded as South Vietnam's finest officer, and the US officers that worked with him generally rated him to be superior to most American commanders. He was also renowned for his integrity and his uninvolvement in corruption, favoritism or political cronyism, as well as his empathy and solidarity with his soldiers.[1][43]William Westmoreland, the US commander in Vietnam from 1964–68, said that Trưởng "would rate high on any list of capable South Vietnamese leaders ... [other U.S. commanders] so admired Trưởng that they would trust him to command an American division."[1][44] His successor Creighton Abrams, who oversaw the American war effort until 1972, said that Trưởng "was capable of commanding an American division".[1]

Lieutenant General Robert E. Cushman Jr., and his main subordinate, Lieutenant General Richard G. Stilwell, who operated alongside Trưởng in I Corps in the 1960s said that because of Trưởng's efforts, the ARVN 1st Division was "equal to any American unit". General Bruce Palmer Jr. said that Trưởng was "probably the best field commander in South Vietnam."[1] In 1966, Trưởng's American adviser wrote to General Harold K. Johnson, describing the Vietnamese officer as "dedicated, humble, imaginative and tactically sound."[45]

General Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded US forces during the Gulf War against Iraq in 1991, served as Trưởng's adviser in the 1960s when he was deployed to South Vietnam as a major during a campaign at Ia Drang. He wrote in his autobiography It Doesn't Take A Hero, that Trưởng "did not look like my idea of a military genius: only five feet seven ... very skinny, with hunched shoulders and a head that seemed too big for his body ... His face was pinched and intense ... and there was always a cigarette hanging from his lips. Yet he was revered by his officers and troops—and feared by those North Vietnamese commanders who knew of his ability." Schwarzkopf said that Trưởng was "the most brilliant tactical commander I'd ever known" and that "by visualizing the terrain and drawing on his experience fighting the enemy for fifteen years, Truong showed an uncanny ability to predict what they were going to do".[1][43]

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Willbanks, who served in Vietnam and was a professor of military history at the United States Army Command and General Staff College, said of Trưởng:

A humble man, Truong was an unselfish individual devoted to his profession. He was fiercely loyal to his subordinates, and was known for taking care of his soldiers, often flying through heavy fire to stand with them in the rain and mud during enemy attacks. He treated everyone the same and did not play favorites.[1]

Unlike some South Vietnamese generals who had grown rich as they ascended the ranks, Trưởng was regarded as being completely incorruptible and lived a "spartan and ascetic" life. According to Lieutenant General Cushman, Trưởng did not own a suit, and by the time he was appointed to command IV Corps, his wife tended to pigs, which were kept behind his basic living quarters in the headquarters at Cần Thơ. Cushman added that Trưởng was always looking for means to raise his soldiers' material and family lives. Trưởng did not tolerate favoritism. He once received a request to transfer his nephew from the front line to a desk job; he refused and the nephew later was killed in action. General Bruce Palmer Jr., said Trưởng "deserved a better fate" than the mauling of his soldiers amid Thiệu's confused orders and the collapse of South Vietnam.[1]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Willbanks, James H. (2007). "'The Most Brilliant Commander': Ngo Quang Truong". Historynet. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  2. ^ Dale Andrade, Trial by Fire. New York: Hippocrene, 1993.
  3. ^ Wiest, pp. 55-65.
  4. ^ Wiest, p. 62.
  5. ^ a b Wiest, p. 63.
  6. ^ Wiest, p. 70.
  7. ^ Wiest, p. 69.
  8. ^ Sorley, p. 266.
  9. ^ Sorley, p. 73.
  10. ^ Sorley, p. 74.
  11. ^ a b c Sorley, p. 269.
  12. ^ Tucker, p. 293.
  13. ^ Sorley, p. 330.
  14. ^ a b c d Willbanks, p. 246.
  15. ^ a b c d Dougan and Fulghum, p. 66.
  16. ^ a b Dougan and Fulghum, p. 69.
  17. ^ a b c Willbanks, p. 247.
  18. ^ Dougan and Fulghum, p. 68.
  19. ^ Dougan and Fulghum, pp. 68-69.
  20. ^ a b c Willbanks, p. 248.
  21. ^ Willbanks, pp. 247-48.
  22. ^ Vien, p. 102.
  23. ^ Dougan and Fulghum, pp. 69-70.
  24. ^ a b c d e Dougan and Fulghum, p. 70.
  25. ^ a b c Willbanks, p. 250.
  26. ^ Vien, p. 104.
  27. ^ Willbanks, pp. 247-50.
  28. ^ Dougan and Fulghum, p. 74.
  29. ^ Hosmer, Kellen and Jenkins, p. 109.
  30. ^ a b Dougan and Fulghum, p. 73.
  31. ^ Willbanks, pp. 250-51.
  32. ^ a b c Willbanks, pp. 252-53.
  33. ^ Dougan and Fulghum, pp. 80-81.
  34. ^ a b Dougan and Fulghum, p. 83.
  35. ^ Willbanks, p. 253.
  36. ^ Willbanks, p. 255.
  37. ^ Momyer, p. 76.
  38. ^ Willbanks, p. 251.
  39. ^ Dougan and Fulghum, pp. 74-80.
  40. ^ Isaacs, p. 380.
  41. ^ Willbanks, pp. 254-55.
  42. ^ Hung, p. 361.
  43. ^ a b Sullivan, Patricia (25 January 2007). "Ngo Quang Truong; South Vietnamese Army General". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  44. ^ William C. Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports. New York: Doubleday, 1976, pp. 303, 488.
  45. ^ Tucker, pp. 293–94.

References

  • Cao Van Vien (1983). The Final Collapse. Washington DC: United States Army Center of Military History.
  • Dougan, Clark; Fulghum, David; et al. (1985). The Fall of the South. Boston: Boston Publishing Company. ISBN 0-939526-16-6.
  • Hosmer, Stephen T.; Konrad Kellen; Jenkins, Brian M. (1980). The fall of South Vietnam: statements by Vietnamese military and civilian leaders. New York City: Crane, Russak. ISBN 0-8448-1345-1.
  • Isaacs, Arnold R. (1983). Without Honor: Defeat in Vietnam and Cambodia. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-3060-5.
  • Momyer, William W. (1975). The Vietnamese Air Force, 1951–1975: An Analysis of its Role in Combat. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Air University Press.
  • Nguyen Tien Hung; Schecter, Jerrold L. (1986). The Palace File. New York City: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-015640-6.
  • Sorley, Lewis (1999). A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam. New York City, New York: Harvest Books. ISBN 0-15-601309-6.
  • Tucker, Spencer C. (2000). Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social and Military History. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-040-9.
  • Wiest, Andrew A. (2008). Vietnam's forgotten army: heroism and betrayal in the ARVN. New York City: New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-9410-6.
  • Willbanks, James H. (2004). Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press. ISBN 0-7006-1331-5.

External links

2nd Division (South Vietnam)

The 2nd Division (Vietnamese: Sư đoàn 2) was a 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. It was part of the I Corps that oversaw the northernmost region of South Vietnam, the centre of Vietnam.

3rd Division (South Vietnam)

The 3rd 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 I Corps that oversaw the northernmost region of South Vietnam, the centre of Vietnam.

The Division was initially raised in October 1971 in Quảng Trị and composed of 2nd Infantry Regiment (from the 1st Division), 56th Infantry Regiment and 57th Infantry Regiment, the first commander was Brigadier General Vu Van Giai the former deputy commander of the 1st Division.

The division collapsed in 1972 during the Easter Offensive, was reconstituted and finally destroyed at Da Nang in 1975 during the Hue-Da Nang Campaign.

Army of the Republic of Vietnam

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN; Vietnamese: Lục quân Việt Nam Cộng hòa), were the ground forces of the South Vietnamese military from its inception in 1955 until the Fall of Saigon in April 1975. It is estimated to have suffered 1,394,000 casualties (killed and wounded) during the Vietnam War.The ARVN began as a post-colonial army trained and closely affiliated with the United States and had engaged in conflict since its inception. Several dramatic changes occurred throughout its lifetime, initially from a 'blocking-force' to a more modern conventional force using helicopter deployment in combat. During the U.S. intervention, the role of the ARVN was marginalised to a defensive role with an incomplete modernisation, and transformed again most notably following Vietnamization as it was up-geared, expanded and reconstructed to fulfil the role of the departing U.S. forces. By 1974, it had become much more effective with foremost counterinsurgency expert and Nixon adviser Robert Thompson noting that Regular Forces were very well-trained and second only to U.S. and IDF forces in the free world and with General Creighton Abrams remarking that 70% of units were on par with the U.S. Army. However, the withdrawal of American forces through Vietnamization meant the armed forces could not effectively fulfil all the aims of the program and had become completely dependent on U.S. equipment, given it was meant to fulfill the departing role of the United States.At its peak, an estimated 1 in 9 citizens of South Vietnam were enlisted and it had become the fourth-largest army in the world composed of Regular Forces and more voluntary Regional Militias and Village-level militias.Unique in serving a dual military-civilian administrative purpose in direct competition with the Viet Cong. The ARVN had in addition became a component of political power and notably suffered from continual issues of political loyalty appointments, corruption in leadership, factional in-fighting and occasional open conflict between itself.After the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), the ARVN was dissolved. While some high-ranking officers had fled the country to the United States or elsewhere, thousands of former ARVN officers were sent to reeducation camps by the communist government of the new, unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Five ARVN generals commit suicide to avoid capture by the PAVN/VC.

Battle of Cửa Việt

Battle of Cửa Việt was a battle in the Vietnam War, occurring between 25–31 January 1973 at the Cửa Việt naval base and its vicinity, in northeast Quảng Trị Province. The battle involved a combined task force of South Vietnamese Marine and armored units that tried to gain a foothold at the Cua Viet Port just as the ceasefire was about to take effect on January 28 in accordance with the Paris Peace Accords. The South Vietnamese forces were finally forced to retreat by a North Vietnamese counterattack with considerable losses on both sides.

Battle of Duc Duc

The Battle of Duc Duc took place from 18 July to 4 October 1974 in Duc Duc District, Quảng Nam Province. The North Vietnamese made some minor territorial gains and suffered heavy losses, while South Vietnamese forces were severely weakened by the fighting.

Battle of Phú Lộc

The Battle of Phú Lộc took place from 28 August to 10 December 1974 when North Vietnamese forces captured a series of hills and installed artillery that closed Phu Bai Air Base and interdicted Highway 1. The hills were recaptured by the South Vietnamese in costly fighting that depleted its reserve forces.

Battle of Thượng Đức (1974)

The Battle of Thượng Ðức was a decisive battle of the Vietnam War which began on 18 July and concluded on 3 November 1974.

Easter Offensive

The Easter Offensive, officially known as The 1972 Spring - Summer Offensive (Vietnamese: Chiến dịch Xuân Hè 1972) by North Vietnam, or Red fiery summer (Vietnamese: Mùa hè đỏ lửa) as romanticized in South Vietnamese literature, was a military campaign conducted by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN, the regular army of North Vietnam) against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN, the regular army of South Vietnam) and the United States military between 30 March and 22 October 1972, during the Vietnam War. This conventional invasion (the largest offensive operation since 300,000 Chinese troops had crossed the Yalu River into North Korea during the Korean War) was a radical departure from previous North Vietnamese offensives. The offensive was not designed to win the war outright but to gain as much territory and destroy as many units of the ARVN as possible, to improve the North's negotiating position as the Paris Peace Accords drew towards a conclusion.

The U.S. high command had been expecting an attack in 1972 but the size and ferocity of the assault caught the defenders off balance, because the attackers struck on three fronts simultaneously, with the bulk of the North Vietnamese army. This first attempt by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) to invade the south since the Tet Offensive of 1968, became characterized by conventional infantry–armor assaults backed by heavy artillery, with both sides fielding the latest in technological advances in weapons systems. In the I Corps Tactical Zone, North Vietnamese forces overran South Vietnamese defensive positions in a month-long battle and captured Quảng Trị city, before moving south in an attempt to seize Huế. PAVN similarly eliminated frontier defense forces in the II Corps Tactical Zone and advanced to seize the provincial capital of Kon Tum, which would have opened the way to the sea, splitting South Vietnam in two. North-east of Saigon, in the III Corps Tactical Zone, PAVN forces overran Lộc Ninh and advanced to assault the capital of Bình Long Province at An Lộc.

The campaign can be divided into three phases: April was a month of PAVN advances; May became a period of equilibrium; in June and July the South Vietnamese forces counter-attacked, culminating in the recapture of Quảng Trị City in September. On all three fronts, initial North Vietnamese successes were hampered by high casualties, inept tactics and the increasing application of U.S. and South Vietnamese air power. One result of the offensive was the launching of Operation Linebacker, the first sustained bombing of North Vietnam by the U.S. since November 1968. Although South Vietnamese forces withstood their greatest trial thus far in the conflict, the North Vietnamese accomplished two important goals: they had gained valuable territory within South Vietnam from which to launch future offensives and they had obtained a better bargaining position at the peace negotiations being conducted in Paris.

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.

Hoàng Xuân Lãm

Hoàng Xuân Lãm (10 October 1928, Huế–2 May 2017, Davis, California) was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Given responsibility for the I Corps Tactical Zone in 1967, Lãm coordinated the South Vietnamese offensive known as Operation Lam Sơn 719 which aimed at striking the North Vietnamese logistical corridor known as the Hồ Chí Minh Trail in southeastern Laos during 1971.

During the Siege of Khe Sanh village 1,500 civilians 400 of which were ethnic Bru, were looking for refuge. Hoang Xuan Lam authorized the evacuation of the 1,100 Vietnamese. The Bru were told to stay, Hoang Xuan Lam insisting that, 'there was no place for minority refugees.'

Due to his political connections with President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, he was still serving as I Corps commander when the North Vietnamese launched the Nguyên Huế Offensive (called the Easter Offensive) in 1972. Lãm was recalled to Saigon on 2 May 1972 by Thiệu, who relieved him of his command, due to complaints regarding Lãm's fitness and competency as a general. Lãm was named to head an anti-corruption campaign at the Ministry of Defense.Lãm's replacement as I Corps commander, Lieutenant General Ngô Quang Trưởng, said “I had served in I Corps under General Lãm and the disaster that occurred there was no surprise to me. Neither General Lãm nor his staff were competent to maneuver and support large forces in heavy combat.”

Hue–Da Nang Campaign

The Hue–Da Nang Campaign was a series of military actions conducted by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) during the Vietnam War, also known in Vietnam as the American War. The campaign was centred on the cities of Huế (Thừa Thiên-Huế Province) and Da Nang (Quảng Nam Province), with secondary fronts in the provinces of Quảng Trị and Quảng Ngãi. The campaign began on March 5 and concluded on April 2, 1975.

During the spring season of 1975, the PAVN High Command in Hanoi made the decision to seize the major South Vietnamese cities of Huế and Da Nang, and also destroy the various South Vietnamese units in I Corps Tactical Zone, led by ARVN General Ngô Quang Trưởng. Originally, the campaign was planned to take place over two phases; during the seasons of spring-summer and autumn. However, as the North Vietnamese forces rolled over South Vietnamese defences on the outskirts of Huế and Da Nang, President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu ordered General Trưởng to abandon all territories under his control, and pull his forces back to the coastal areas of I Corps. The South Vietnamese withdrawal quickly turned into a rout, as the PAVN 2nd Army Corps picked off one South Vietnamese unit after another, until Huế and Da Nang were completely surrounded. By March 29, 1975, PAVN troops had full control of Huế and Da Nang, while South Vietnam lost all territories and most of the units belonging to I Corps.

The fall of Huế and Da Nang did not spell the end of the misery suffered by the ARVN. On March 31, ARVN General Phạm Văn Phú—commander of II Corps Tactical Zone—attempted to form a new defensive line from Qui Nhơn to cover the retreat of the ARVN 22nd Infantry Division, but they too were destroyed by the PAVN. By April 2, South Vietnam had lost control of the northern provinces, as well as two army corps.

I Corps (South Vietnam)

The I Corps Tactical Zone (Vietnamese: Vùng 1 Chiến thuật) was a corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the army of the nation state of South Vietnam that existed from 1955 to 1975. It was one of four corps of the ARVN. This was the northernmost region of South Vietnam, bordering North Vietnam. These five provinces are Quảng Trị Province, (Khe Sanh, Đông Hà, Quảng Trị City), Thừa Thiên-Huế Province, (Phu Bai, Huế City), Quảng Nam Province, (Đà Nẵng, Hội An), Quảng Tín Province, (Tam Kỳ, Chu Lai) and Quảng Ngãi Province, (Quảng Ngãi). The region included the DMZ area where 3rd Marine Division intelligence estimated the combat strength of NVA and VC forces in January 1968 was 40,943 troops.I Corps became operational in November 1957.Among its formations and units were the 1st Division. The I CTZ, later Military Region 1, was partnered with the U.S. III Marine Expeditionary Force and the XXIV Corps.

Marble Mountain Air Facility

Marble Mountain Air Facility (MMAF) (also known as Da Nang East Airfield and Marble Mountain Army Airfield) was an aviation facility used primarily by the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. It was a helicopter facility that was constructed in August 1965 and served as home to Marine Aircraft Group 16 (MAG-16), the 5th Special Forces Group and an assortment of other squadrons until May 1971. It was controlled by the United States Army from May 1971 to August 1972 and finally by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force from 29 August 1972 to 29 March 1975 when it fell to the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN). It was located in Quảng Nam Province 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Da Nang Air Base on a strip of beach between China Beach and the Marble Mountains.

Nguyễn Văn Hiếu

Major General Nguyễn Văn Hiếu (23 June 1929, Tientsin, China – 8 April 1975, Biên Hòa, Vietnam) was a general in the South Vietnamese army. As a child he lived in Shanghai. He later emigrated with his ethnic Vietnamese parents to Saigon when the Chinese Communist Party took over China in 1949. He attended Aurore University in Shanghai, China. In 1950, he attended the Vietnamese Military Academy, graduating second in his class in 1951. In 1963, he graduated from Command and General Staff College, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

His assignments included G3/Joint General Staff, G3/1st Corps, Chief of Staff of 1st Division, Chief of Staff of I Corps, Chief of Staff of II Corps, Commander of 22nd Division, Chief of Staff of II Corps, Commander of 5th Division, Deputy Commander of I Corps, Minister of Anti-Corruption under Vice-President Trần Văn Hương, Deputy Commander of III Corps, Commander of Forward HQ III Corps, and MG Deputy Commander of III Corps. He was found dead on 8 April 1975 at III Corps Headquarters, Biên Hòa, and theories that he had been assassinated emerged. Two days later, he was posthumously promoted to lieutenant general.

Ngô

Ngô (Vietnamese pronunciation: [ŋo˧]) is a Vietnamese surname, related to the Chinese surnames Ng, Ngo and Wu.

Operation Vinh Loc

Operation Vinh Loc was an operation conducted by the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) 54th Regiment on Vinh Loc Island, Phú Vang District, lasting from 10 to 20 September 1968.

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"

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.

Tây Lộc Airfield

Tây Lộc Airfield (also known as Huế Citadel Airfield) is a former United States Air Force (USAF), U.S. Army and Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) airfield located within the Huế Ciadel in Thừa Thiên–Huế Province, Vietnam.

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