Operation Elk Canyon

Operation Elk Canyon was a search and clear operation during the Vietnam War near Khâm Đức, Quảng Tín Province, that took place from 12 July to 29 September 1970.


Since the loss of Khâm Đức to the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) during the Battle of Kham Duc from 10-12 May 1968, the PAVN had used the area as a base for operations in Quảng Tín Province. It was decided that US forces should sweep the area to disrupt the PAVN logistics buildup and forestall a PAVN offensive in the autumn and winter.


On 12 July 1970 elements of the 196th Infantry Brigade launched the operation by securing Khâm Đức airfield.[1]:84 After securing the airfield and establishing a firebase for A Battery, 1st Battalion, 82nd Artillery there, the 196th Infantry proceeded to patrol the surrounding area meeting limited opposition, while suffering several casualties in small skirmishes and mortar attacks.[1][2] While they occupied Khâm Đức U.S. forces conducted searches for the remains of the Americans missing in the battle two years earlier.

The operation concluded on 26 August with the US forces evacuated by helicopter to Landing Zone Judy (15°22′N 108°05′E / 15.37°N 108.08°E), 32km to the southeast.[3] As one of the CH-47s (#67-18445) carrying personnel and munitions came in for landing at Judy it was hit by PAVN fire and crashed in flames killing 30 onboard and 1 soldier on the ground. [4][2]:18

Operation Elk Canyon II began on 26 August and continued until 19 September.[2] Its objective was to disrupt the PAVN's Dak Rose supply route.[2]:11


US losses were 37 killed while PAVN losses were 107 killed and 1 captured.[2]:42


  1. ^ a b Cosmas, Graham (1988). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: Vietnamization and Redeployment 1970–1971. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. ISBN 978-1482384123. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Operational Report, Lessons Learned, Headquarters, 23rd Infantry Division, Period ending 31 October 1970" (PDF). 15 November 1970. p. 1. Retrieved 20 November 2018. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Kelley, Michael (2002). Where we were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press. p. 5–267. ISBN 978-1555716257.
  4. ^ " "Accident Boeing CH-47B Chinook 67-18445 26 Aug 1970". Retrieved 20 November 2018.
82nd Field Artillery Regiment

82nd Field Artillery Regiment is a field artillery regiment of the United States Army. The regiment has been involved with American conflicts dating back to then US involvement in the Mexican Civil War and more recently with the War on Terrorism. Currently, there are two active and three inactivate battalions in the regiment. Traditionally, the regiment has been aligned with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas and Fort Bliss, Texas.

Battle of Kham Duc

The Battle of Kham Duc was a major battle of the Vietnam War. The event occurred in Khâm Đức, now district capital of Phước Sơn District, then in Quảng Tín Province (now part of Quảng Nam Province, South Vietnam), from 10–12 May 1968. During the Tet Offensive of 1968, the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) 2nd Division tried to capture Đà Nẵng, but they were defeated in the Battle of Lo Giang by elements of the U.S. 1st Marine Division, the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal). PAVN General Chu Huy Mân decided to disengage from the fight in the outskirts of the city, and pull the 2nd Division into the mountains where they could rest, rebuild, and prepare for the next major operation. Khâm Đức, a small district in the north of Quảng Tín, was chosen as the next target for the 2nd Division. Following their defeat at Đà Nẵng, U.S. military intelligence agencies in I Corps Tactical Zone were confused by the movements of the 2nd Division, because they could not track down the unit.

During March and April, U.S. military intelligence began to detect elements of the PAVN 2nd Division moving towards Khâm Đức, but their opponent's true intentions were largely unknown. In response to what could be a major attack, General William Westmoreland decided to build up the defenses of the Khâm Đức Special Forces, by sending in U.S. Army engineers to upgrade the local airstrip for sustained use by large transport aircraft, as well as airlifting weapons and ammunition for the U.S.-led Detachment A-105. Australian-led 11th Mobile Strike Force (MSF) Company was ordered to take up positions in Ngok Tavak (Ngok Ta Vak), an outpost serving Khâm Đức, to boost allied intelligence-gathering capabilities in the area. However, unbeknownst to the United States and other allied forces, the Viet Cong (VC) 1st Regiment had been watching the build-up around Khâm Đức for some time, and were preparing to initiate the assault by taking out Ngok Tavak.

In the early hours of 10 May, elements of the VC 1st Regiment attacked Ngok Tavak, and they successfully overran much of the outpost. By dawn, the 11th MSF Company was devastated, but they later received reinforcements from the 12th Mobile Strike Force Company. Despite having received assurances that further reinforcements would arrive to relieve the outpost, the commander of the 11th MSF Company decided to evacuate his troops and move towards Khâm Đức. By that time, however, the PAVN had already turned their attention to the main target at Khâm Đức, and they only left behind some local force units to destroy allied reinforcements. Meanwhile, elements of the Americal Division had been airlifted into Khâm Đức as part of Operation Golden Valley, to bolster the strength of the Special Forces Camp there. On the morning of 11 May, the PAVN 2nd Division surrounded Khâm Đức, and they gradually forced U.S.-led forces into their bases after several outposts were overrun. Westmoreland then ordered Khâm Đức to be evacuated, so the 834th Air Division was told to make an all-out effort to extract all the people in Khâm Đức, both military and civilian. By the time the evacuation was completed, nine U.S. military aircraft had been shot down, including two C-130s. On 12 May, the PAVN were in complete control of Khâm Đức.

List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (1970)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War in 1970, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the Khmer Republic, 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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