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 Airborne Division |
Binh chủng Nhảy Dù
Shoulder sleeve insignia
|Active||1 January 1948 – 30 April 1975|
|Allegiance||Republic of Vietnam|
|Branch||Army of the Republic of South Vietnam|
|Size||13,000 in 1967|
|Garrison/HQ||Tan Son Nhut, near Saigon|
|Nickname(s)||Bawouans (in French), Nhảy Dù (in Vietnamese), Thiên thần mũ đỏ (Red Hat Angels)|
|Motto(s)||Nhẩy dù sát Cộng (Jump to kill Communist)|
|Engagements||First Indochina War |
Cambodian Civil War
Laotian Civil War
The Airborne Division had its origins in Indochinese-specific units raised under the "jaunissement" program, separating Indochinese members of French paratrooper units of the French Far East Expeditionary Corps forming separate battalions under the Vietnamese National Army. Among these includes the 1e BPVN, 3e BPVN and 5e BPVN whom were airdropped into combat during the Siege of Dien Bien Phu. Most were killed afterwards upon capture by the Viet Minh, who regarded them as traitors, rather than bargained as the French had been. They were later reformed into the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces and restructured upon the expulsion of the French by Ngo Dinh Diem following the Geneva Accords.
Vietnamese Airborne Division was among the elite fighting forces in the ARVN and placed as a reserve unit along with the Republic of Vietnam Marine Division. Headquarters of the Airborne Division was outside of Saigon. The Airborne Division would mobilize anywhere within the four corps at a moments notice. The main use of the Airborne was to engage and destroy People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and Viet Cong (VC) forces, not hold a specific region like the infantry units.
On the afternoon of 10 June 1965 during the Battle of Đồng Xoài, the 7th Airborne Battalion was landed in Đồng Xoài to reinforce the defenders in the camp. The following day the battalion marched 4km north into the Thuận Lợi rubber plantation where elements of the 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division had been ambushed the previous day and they collected seven survivors and 55 bodies. In the afternoon, as elements of the battalion continued searching the plantation, the VC 271st Regiment started attacking them. Taking advantage of the poor weather conditions that had limited US air strikes, as well as their numerical superiority, the VC broke the battalion into small groups and destroyed many of them. On 12 June, the strength of the 7th Airborne Battalion was reduced from 470 to just 159 soldiers.:401
From 4-7 March 1966 the 1st and 5th Airborne Battalions participated in Operation Utah with the ARVN 37th Ranger Battalion and elements of the US 1st Marine Division fighting the PAVN 21st Regiment northwest of Quảng Ngãi.:109
From 20-25 March 1966 the 5th Airborne Battalion participated in Operation Texas with the ARVN 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 5th Regiment, 2nd Division and elements of the US 1st Marine Division fighting elements of the PAVN 21st Regiment and VC 1st Regiment around Hill 141 northwest of Quảng Ngãi.:120-8
On 4 August 1967 as part of Operation Greeley the 8th Airborne Battalion was deployed to aid the 1st Battalion, 42nd Regiment, 22nd Division which was locked in combat with a PAVN force on a hilltop west of Dak Seang Camp. After a 3 day battle ARVN forces found 189 PAVN bodies, large quantities of ammunition and equipment, and a sophisticated regimental command post with training areas and an elaborate mock-up of the Dak Seang Camp.:298
The Tết ceasefire began on 29 January 1968, but was cancelled on 30 January after the VC/PAVN prematurely launched their Tet Offensive attacks in II Corps and II Field Force, Vietnam commander, LG Frederick C. Weyand deployed his forces to defend Saigon.:323-4 General Cao Văn Viên, chief of the Joint General Staff, ordered the 8th Airborne Battalion, which was to deploy north to Quảng Trị Province, to remain at Tan Son Nhut Air Base and the Battalion participated in the defense of both the Tan Son Nhut Air Base and the Joint General Staff Compound. The 6th Airborne Battalion also late joined the fighting at the JGS Compound.:342-3
During the Battle of Hue, after resisting the initial PAVN/VC attacks on its Mang Ca Garrison headquarters on the morning of 31 January 1968, 1st Division commander General Ngô Quang Trưởng called in reinforcements including the 1st ARVN Airborne Task Force to relieve the pressure on Mang Ca. Responding to the call at PK-17 base 17 km north of Huế, the 3rd Troop and the 7th Battalion of the Airborne task force rolled out of their base area in an armored convoy onto Highway 1. A PAVN blocking force stopped the ARVN relief force about 400 meters short of the Citadel wall. Unable to force their way through the enemy positions, the Airborne asked for assistance.:168 The 2nd Airborne Battalion then reinforced the convoy, and the ARVN finally penetrated the lines and entered the Citadel in the early morning hours of 1 February. The cost had been heavy: the ARVN suffered 131 casualties including 40 dead, and lost four of the 12 armored personnel carriers in the convoy. The ARVN claimed to have killed 250 PAVN, captured five prisoners, and recovered 71 individual and 25 crew-served weapons.:168 The ARVN would attempt to regain the Citadel while the Marines regained the new city south of the Perfume River. Within the Citadel the ARVN 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment and the 1st Airborne task force cleared out the north and western parts of the Citadel including Tây Lộc Airfield and the Chanh Tay Gate, while the 4th Battalion, 2nd Regiment moved south from Mang Ca towards the Imperial Palace, killing over 700 PAVN/VC by 4 February. On 5 February General Trưởng exchanged the Airborne with the 4th Battalion, which had become stalled.:192 On 11 February the Vietnamese Marines Task Force A comprising the 1st and 5th Battalions, began to be lifted by helicopter into Mang Ca to replace the Airborne, however due to poor weather this deployment would not be completed until 13 February. The ARVN Airborne had withdrawn from eastern wall of the Citadel when the Vietnamese Marines began to arrive at Mang Ca and the PAVN defenders had used this opportunity to reoccupy several blocks and reinforce their defenses.:197-9
At the start of the Battle of Quang Tri on 31 January 1968 the 9th Airborne Battalion was deployed around Quảng Trị with one Airborne company bivouacked in Tri Buu village on the northern edge of the city with elements in the Citadel, and two Airborne companies positioned just south of the city in the area of a large cemetery where Highway 1 crosses Route 555. As the 600-man VC 814th Battalion, 324th Division was moving into position to attack Quảng Trị from the northeast, it unexpectedly encountered the 9th ARVN Airborne company in Tri Buu village, which engaged it in a sharp firefight lasting about 20 minutes. The Airborne company was nearly annihilated and an American adviser killed, but its stubborn resistance stalled the battalion's assault on the Citadel and the city. By 04:20, the PAVN's heavy pressure and overwhelming numbers forced the surviving Airborne soldiers to pull back into the city, and the 814th attacked and attempted to enter the Citadel unsuccessfully.:167–8 At the same time the PAVN K6 Battalion, 812th Regiment encountered the Airborne forces in the cemetery south of the city preventing an attack on the ARVN 1st Infantry Regiment, 1st Division's La Vang Base. In the afternoon 2 companies of the US 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment were landed southeast of Quảng Trị engaging the K6 Battalion from the rear in a heavy firefight, while Airborne troops blocked and attacked it from the direction of the city. US helicopter gunships and artillery hit the K6 Battalion hard causing significant further casualties. By nightfall on the 31st, the battered 812th Regiment decided to withdraw, though clashes continued throughout the night.:56 Quảng Trị was clear of PAVN/VC troops by midday on 1 February, and ARVN units with U.S. air support had cleared Tri Buu Village of PAVN troops. The remnants of the 812th, having been hit hard by ARVN defenders and US air power and ground troops on the outskirts of the city, particularly artillery and helicopters broke up into small groups, sometimes mingling with crowds of fleeing refugees, and began to exfiltrate the area, trying to avoid further contact with Allied forces.:56 Between 31 January and 6 February, the Allies killed an estimated 914 PAVN/VC and captured another 86 in and around Quang Tri.:57
From 11 March to 7 April 1968 the Division participated in Operation Quyet Thang in Gia Định Province with the Marine Brigade and the US 199th Light Infantry Brigade to reestablish South Vietnamese control over the areas immediately around Saigon in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive.:460-1 On 26 March, east of Hóc Môn Airborne forces found 128 dead VC who had apparently been killed by air and artillery strikes while moving south towards Saigon.:462
From 8 April to 31 May 1968 the 1st Airborne Task Force participated in Operation Toan Thang I to continue pressure on PAVN/VC forces in III Corps. The operation involved nearly every combat unit in III Corps. The operation was a success with allied forces claiming 7645 VC/PAVN killed, however the operation did not prevent the VC/PAVN from launching their May Offensive attacks against Saigon.:464-6
During the May Offensive at 10:00 on 5 May the Airborne was engaged by VC north of Tan Son Nhut Air Base.:22
On 13 September 1968 during the Phase III Offensive, the VC 3rd Battalion, 272nd Regiment attacked Firebase Buell II. After a 600 round mortar barrage the infantry attacked the base but were easily repulsed leaving 76 dead for no U.S. losses. The VC retreated west taking refuge in a hamlet southwest of Tây Ninh where they were engaged late that day by the 2nd Airborne Battalion who killed 150 VC for the loss of 9 dead and 17 wounded.:670 After midnight on 20 September the 1st Battalion, 272nd Regiment, attacked a Regional Forces outpost in Phước Tân hamlet, 20km west of Tay Ninh City, losing 35 killed in the brief assault. The 1st Marine Battalion was deployed to Phước Tân later that day to defend against any renewed assault. That evening the 271st Regiment attacked, the assault was repelled with air and artillery support, killing 128 VC with 6 captured. The 8th Airborne Battalion was also deployed to Phước Tân and on the night of 27 September the 272nd Regiment attacked again losing 150 killed.:670
From 3 December 1968 the 2nd Airborne Task Force participated in Operation Goodwood under the operational control of the 1st Australian Task Force. On 15 January 1969 the 1st Marine Battalion replaced the 2nd Airborne Task Force.:31
On 1 May 1970 as part of Operation Toan Thang 43 (Total Victory), an early phase of the Cambodian Campaign, the 3rd Airborne Brigade together with other US forces crossed into Kampong Cham Province of Cambodia. The Airborne played a significant role in the campaign, with battalions participating in most of the individual operations and finding significant caches of supplies, alongside being the sole force dropped behind enemy lines to cut-off a potential retreat.
From 8 February to 25 March 1971 the 2nd Airborne Battalion and the 3rd Airborne Brigade Headquarters and the 3rd Airborne Battalion participated in Operation Lam Son 719. The two battalions developed firebases along Route 9 in Laos to serve as tripwires for any PAVN advance into the zone of the ARVN incursion.:8-12 On 23 February the PAVN began shelling the 3rd Battalion's Fire Support Base 31. Airborne Division commander General Đống had opposed stationing his elite paratroopers in static defensive positions and felt that his men's usual aggressiveness had been stifled.:82 Vicious PAVN anti-aircraft fire made reinforcement and resupply of the firebase impossible. General Đống then ordered elements of the 17th Armored Squadron to advance north from A Loui to reinforce the base. The armored force never arrived, due to conflicting orders that halted the armored advance several kilometers south of FSB 31.:144–5 On 25 February the PAVN deluged the base with artillery fire and then launched a conventional armored/infantry assault. Smoke, dust and haze precluded observation by an American forward air control (FAC) aircraft, which was flying above 4,000 feet (1,200 m) to avoid anti-aircraft fire. When a U.S. Air Force F-4 Phantom jet was shot down in the area, the FAC left the area of the battle to direct a rescue effort for the downed aircraft crew, sealing the fate of the base.:150 PAVN troops and tanks then overran the position, capturing the ARVN brigade commander in the process. FSB 31 was secured by the PAVN at an estimated cost of 250 killed, and 11 PT-76 and T-54 tanks destroyed. The Airborne had suffered 155 killed and over 100 captured.:85 the 2nd Battalion at Fire Support Base 30 lasted only about one week longer. Although the steepness of the hill on which the base was situated precluded armored attack, the PAVN artillery bombardment was very effective. By 3 March the base's six 105mm and six 155mm howitzers had been put out of action. In an attempt to relieve the firebase, ARVN armor and infantry of the 17th Cavalry moved out to save their comrades.:66–7.
Much of the Airborne was decimated during the later Hue–Da Nang Campaign by a series of well-coordinated armoured attacks flanking from the Central Highlands towards the coast. Units of Airborne, Rangers and others held out during the Battle of Xuân Lộc
Like all major ARVN units the Airborne were assigned a U.S. military advisory element, originally the Airborne Brigade Advisory Detachment and later redesignated the 162nd Airborne Advisory Detachment or U.S. Airborne Advisory Team 162. About 1,000 American airborne-qualified advisors served with the Brigade and Division, receiving on average two awards for valour per tour; over the years, they were able to build and maintain a good working relationship with their Vietnamese counterparts and airborne units, a situation unfortunately not always found in other ARVN formations. U.S. officers were paired with their Vietnamese counterparts, from the Brigade/Division commander down to company commanders, as well with principal staff officers at all levels. U.S. NCOs assisted the staff and company advisors.
The South Vietnamese airborne forces used the standard weaponry and equipment of French and U.S. origin issued to ANV and ARVN units. Paratrooper companies also fielded crew-served heavy weapons, such as mortars and recoilless rifles, whilst divisional artillery batteries were provided with Howitzers.
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David L. Grange (born December 29, 1947) is a retired United States Army major general. He served with the 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War. He was later assigned to Delta Force, commanding a squadron during the invasion of Grenada and was deputy commander during the Gulf War. His last command was of 1st Infantry Division before he retired in 1999.M102 howitzer
The M102 is a light, towable 105 mm howitzer used by the United States Army in the Vietnam War, the First Gulf War, and the Iraq War.Non-U.S. recipients of U.S. gallantry awards
This is a list of non-U.S. recipients of U.S. gallantry awards.Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.
Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. (; August 22, 1934 – December 27, 2012) was a United States Army General. While serving as the commander of United States Central Command, he led all coalition forces in the Gulf War.
Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Schwarzkopf grew up in the United States and later in Iran. He was accepted by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army in 1956. After a number of initial training programs, Schwarzkopf interrupted a stint as an academy teacher, and served in the Vietnam War first as an adviser to the South Vietnamese Army and later as a battalion commander. Schwarzkopf was highly decorated in Vietnam, being awarded three Silver Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, and the Legion of Merit. Rising through the ranks after the conflict, he later commanded the U.S. 24th Infantry Division and was one of the commanders of the Invasion of Grenada in 1983.
Assuming command of United States Central Command in 1988, Schwarzkopf was called on to respond to the Invasion of Kuwait in 1990 by the forces of Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Initially tasked with defending Saudi Arabia from Iraqi aggression, Schwarzkopf's command eventually grew to an international force of over 750,000 troops. After diplomatic relations broke down, he planned and led Operation Desert Storm—an extended air campaign followed by a highly successful 100-hour ground offensive—which defeated the Iraqi Army and liberated Kuwait in early 1991. Schwarzkopf was presented with military honors.
Schwarzkopf retired shortly after the end of the war and undertook a number of philanthropic ventures, only occasionally stepping into the political spotlight before his death from complications of pneumonia in late 2012. A hard-driving military commander with a strong temper, Schwarzkopf was considered an exceptional leader by many biographers and was noted for his abilities as a military diplomat and in dealing with the press.Royal Lao Army Airborne
The Royal Lao Army Airborne was composed of the élite paratrooper battalions of the Royal Lao Army (RLA), the Land Component of the Royal Lao Armed Forces (commonly known by its French acronym FAR), which operated during the First Indochina War and the Laotian Civil War from 1948 to 1975.
Republic of Vietnam Airborne Division
|Ranks and insignia|