Operation Billings

Operation Billings was a search and destroy operation conducted during the Vietnam War by the U.S. 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division north of Phước Vĩnh, South Vietnam from 12 to 26 June 1967.


In early June U.S. intelligence learned that the Viet Cong (VC) 271st Regiment, 9th Division was moving into the area north of Phước Vĩnh. 1st Infantry Division commander MG John H. Hay decided to launch a preemptive attack.[1]:339


The operation commenced on 12 June as 1st Infantry battalions moved progressively north of Phước Vĩnh.[1] MG Hay came to believe that the 271st had moved to a large clearing designated Landing Zone X-Ray (11°27′50″N 106°47′46″E / 11.464°N 106.796°E)[2](a different location from the landing zone of the same name that was the scene of the Battle of Ia Drang), where he suspected that the VC would be preparing to ambush a helicopter landing and so he ordered Col. Sidney Marks' 3rd Brigade to LZ Rufe (11°24′07″N 106°47′20″E / 11.402°N 106.789°E) and then proceed overland to LZ X-Ray.[1]:342[2]:5–450

On the morning of 17 June preceded by a moving barrage, the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, entered LZ X-Ray. The 1/16th Infantry established a perimeter 30-50m into the tree line around the clearing and waited for the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment to arrive. As the first units of 2/28th Infantry arrived X-Ray, a patrol reported a group of VC approaching from the northwest. At 13:00 the VC attacked, penetrating the northern and northwestern perimeters before being forced back by artillery and gunship support. The VC then launched a second attack against the southeast perimeter and despite heavy defensive fire overran the defending platoon with the survivors withdrawing into the center of the perimeter to form a new defensive line. At 13:45 air strikes forced the VC to begin to withdraw and they disengaged under cover of a steady mortar barrage. U.S. losses were 35 killed. A search of the immediate area found 226 VC dead. Over the next few days the Americans found more VC dead, in one assembly area 35 were found killed by artillery and airtrikes.[1]:342–3

Airtrikes and ambushes were set on the 271st Regiment's likely withdrawal routes, but there was minimal additional contact.[1]:343


The operation concluded on 26 June 1967. It was considered a success with a total of 347 VC killed and 1 captured against U.S. losses of 57 killed.[1]:343


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

  1. ^ a b c d e f MacGarrigle, George (1998). United States Army in Vietnam Combat Operations Taking the Offensive October 1966 to October 1967. Center of Military History United States Army. ISBN 9781519301956. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b Kelley, Michael (2002). Where we were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press. p. 5–554. ISBN 978-1555716257.
16th Infantry Regiment (United States)

The 16th Infantry Regiment ("Semper Paratus") is a regiment in the United States Army. It has traditionally been a part of the 1st Infantry Division.

1st Infantry Division (United States)

The 1st Infantry Division is a combined arms division of the United States Army, and is the oldest continuously serving in the Regular Army. It has seen continuous service since its organization in 1917 during World War I. It was officially nicknamed "The Big Red One" (abbreviated "BRO") after its shoulder patch and is also nicknamed "The Fighting First". However, the division has also received troop monikers of "The Big Dead One" and "The Bloody First" as puns on the respective officially sanctioned nicknames. It is currently based at Fort Riley, Kansas.

9th Division (Vietnam)

The 9th Infantry Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), first formed from Viet Cong units in 1964/5 in the Mekong Delta region.

Battle of Ong Thanh

The Battle of Ong Thanh was fought at the stream of that name (Ông Thành) on the morning of 17 October 1967, in Chơn Thành District, at the time part of Bình Dương Province, South Vietnam, today in Bình Phước Province.

During the first few months of 1967, the Viet Cong (VC) absorbed heavy losses as a result of large-scale search and destroy missions conducted by the United States Army, and it prompted North Vietnamese leaders to review their war strategy in South Vietnam. In light of the setbacks which People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and VC forces had experienced early in 1967, PAVN General Trần Văn Trà suggested that PAVN and VC forces could still be victorious if they inflicted as many casualties as possible on U.S. military units, hoping that the Americans would conclude that the war was too costly and withdraw from Vietnam. Thus, towards mid-1967, the VC 7th and 9th Divisions returned to the battlefield again, with the objective of inflicting casualties on U.S. military formations in III Corps. On June 12, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division launched Operation Billings to destroy elements of the VC 9th Division, which had built-up strength around northern Phước Vĩnh. When the operation concluded on June 26, the 1st Infantry Division had lost 57 killed while the VC had lost 347 killed. Then in September, following a string of attacks on allied military installations by VC and PAVN troops, Major General John H. Hay decided to temporarily stop conducting large-scale operations until the true intentions of PAVN/VC forces were known. Towards October, the VC 271st Regiment marched into the Long Nguyen Secret Zone, to rest and refit for their next major operation. To disrupt the VC's resting period, General Hay launched Operation Shenandoah II to clear a section of Highway 13 which stretched from Chơn Thành to Lộc Ninh.

Starting from 28 September, elements of the 1st Infantry Division were air-lifted into positions around Long Nguyen, but again only few contacts were made with the VC. However, on 16 October, the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment found a major VC bunker system located south of their night defensive position near the Ong Thanh Stream, and a short fire fight broke out. To avoid fighting a long battle, the commander of the 2nd Battalion decided to pull back, and made preparations for a frontal assault on the next day. On the morning of 17 October, two rifle companies of the 2nd Battalion returned to the bunker system they had found the previous day, but they were defeated by the VC 271st Regiment which had set up an ambush in anticipation of the American attack.


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List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (1967)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War in 1967, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States and their allies.

List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (A–F)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War, a war fought by America to try to stop communism in Southeast Asia, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States and their assorted allies. This is not a complete list. Operations are currently listed alphabetically, but are being progressively reorganised as a chronology.

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