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.

Background

During the initial phase of the Easter Offensive the PAVN quickly captured Quảng Trị in the First Battle of Quảng Trị (30 March - 2 May 1972) and overran all of Quảng Trị Province and the north of Thừa Thiên Province. The ARVN regrouped forming a defensive line along the My Chanh River north of Huế and together with U.S. airpower the PAVN offensive was halted by the end of the first week of May.

Planning

On 14 June, I Corps commander, Lieutenant General Ngô Quang Trưởng briefed President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu and MACV on his planned counterattack to retake Quảng Trị Province. Thiệu was not convinced, preferring a smaller-scale operation.[5]. Trưởng finally convinced the president, emphasizing that such an effort would be possible "employing the superior firepower of our American ally."[6] Thiệu finally approved the concept and Operation Lam Son 72 was launched on 28 June.

The operational plan called for the Airborne and Marine Divisions to advance abreast to the northwest to the Thạch Hãn River. The Airborne Division would deploy to the west from the foothills to Highway 1, while the Marine Division would deploy to the east from Highway 1 to the coast. Quảng Trị City would be in the Airborne Division's operational area, but the plan called for the city to be bypassed so as to concentrate on the destruction of PAVN forces. As a diversion the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade (9th MAB) would conduct a feint amphibious assault against the mouth of the Cua Viet River.[7]

Battle

On the morning of 27 June the 9th MAB launched their amphibious feint against the Cua Viet, reversing course when 7km from shore.[7]

On 28 June the South Vietnamese advance began and quickly ran into strong PAVN resistance and helicopter assaults were launched to land troops behind PAVN positions.[5]:65 On 29 June, following preparatory airstrikes the 1st and 4th Vietnamese Marine Battalions were landed by U.S. Marine helicopter squadrons HMM-164 and HMM-165 near the Wunder Beach area.[7]:110 That day a 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron OV-10 Bronco that was operating as a forward air controller in support of the Vietnamese Marines was hit by an SA-7 missile and ditched at sea, the pilot Captain Steven L. Bennett would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.[7]:110-2

By 7 July the Airborne division had reached the southern outskirts of Quảng Trị City, but then President Thieu intervened in the operation.[7]:112-3 Trưởng had planned to bypass the city and push on quickly to the Cua Viet River, thereby isolating any PAVN defenders.[5]:67 Thiệu, however, now demanded that Quảng Trị be taken immediately, seeing the city as "a symbol and a challenge" to his authority.[5]:89

The ARVN assault bogged down in the outskirts and the PAVN, apprised of the plans for the offensive, moved the 304th and 308th Divisions to the west to avoid the U.S. airpower that was about to be unleashed upon Quảng Trị.[8]

The defense of the city and its walled citadel was left to PAVN replacement units and militia. One participant recalled : "The new recruits came in at dusk. They were dead by dawn... No one had time to check where they were from, or who was their commander.[8]:213 Others described the defense as a "senseless sacrifice" and referred to Quảng Trị as "Hamburger City".[8]:213 Nevertheless, the PAVN units stationed within the citadel were well dug in, had the advantage of terrain and mass artillery supports. An early ARVN victory was denied, and the fighting continue unabated.

On 11 July, following preparatory B-52 strikes, the Vietnamese 1st Marine Battalion was deployed by HMM-164 and HMM-165 helicopters to two landing zones 2km northeast of the city to cut Route 560, the main PAVN supply line.[7]:113-4 This move would force the PAVN to reinforce and resupply across the Thạch Hãn River, making them vulnerable to air strikes. The helicopters were met by heavy anti-aircraft fire with one CH-53 being hit by an SA-7 and crashing with 2 U.S. Marine crewmen and 45 Vietnamese Marines killed. Two CH-46s were shot down and their crews rescued by helicopters from the U.S. Army Troop F, 4th Cavalry while another 25 helicopters were damaged.[7]:113-5 Despite these loses the Vietnamese Marines deployed successfully and consolidated their positions with air and artillery support. After a vicious, three-day battle against the 48th Regiment of the 320B PAVN Division broke and withdrew to the west.[9][7]:115-6

By 20 July the Marine Division had consolidated its position north of Quảng Trị City, while the Airborne continued trying to break in. On 22 July the Marines launched a three battalion operation against PAVN supply lines south of the Cua Viet River. The 5th Battalion would be landed by HMM-164 helicopters 4km north of the city, while the other two battalions, supported by tanks would attack north, the combined force would then move southeast. The helicopter landing proceeded smoothly, while the ground assault met heavy resistance and could only break through PAVN defenses with air and artillery support. After 2 days the Marines had killed 133 PAVN and destroyed 3 tanks.[7]:118-9

On 27 July, the Marine Division was ordered to relieve the Airborne units as the lead element in the battle. But progress was slow, consisting of vicious house-to-house fighting and incessant artillery barrages by both sides.[7]:121 On 9 September, the final assault to capture the heavily defended citadel was launched by Vietnamese Marine Brigades 147 and 258. The citadel was finally captured on 15 September.[7]:123-6 Meanwhile between 11 and 15 September the 2nd Marine Battalion advanced to the southern bank of the Thạch Hãn River, where they halted, exhausted and depleted by heavy casualties and unable to push on to Đông Hà. Almost one out of every four of the 8,000 ARVN Marines in the division had been killed or wounded during Lam Son 72.[8]:226

During July, U.S. aircraft flew 5,461 tactical sorties and 2,054 B-52 strikes and operated 5 aircraft carriers to support the counteroffensive.[8]:212

Aftermath

During the battle, the South Vietnamese marines suffered 3,658 KIA.[7]:126

See also

References

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

  1. ^ Về với Quảng Trị, mảnh đất anh hùng Archived 2009-02-08 at the Wayback Machine Hà Nội Mới Online, ngày 10-2-2008
  2. ^ Những Trận Đánh Cuối Cùng Của TQLC Ở Mặt Trận Cổ Thành -Vương Hồng Anh
  3. ^ History of Northern Quang Tri front 1966-73 - Chapter 5
  4. ^ "Search the Wall". The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d Ngo, Quang Truong (1980). The Easter offensive of 1972. U.S. Army Center of Military History. p. 66.
  6. ^ Nalty, Bernard (2000). Air War Over South Vietnam: 1968–1975 (PDF). Air Force History and Museums Program. p. 391. ISBN 9781478118640.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l 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. 106. ISBN 9781482384055.
  8. ^ a b c d e Andrade, Dale (1995). Trial By Fire: The 1972 Easter Offensive, America's Last Vietnam Battle. Hippocrene Books. p. 211-3. ISBN 9780781802864.
  9. ^ Fulghum, David (1984). South Vietnam on Trial: Mid-1970–1972. Boston Publishing Company. p. 178-80. ISBN 0939526107.

External links

1972 in the Vietnam War

1972 in the Vietnam War saw foreign involvement in South Vietnam slowly declining. Two allies, New Zealand and Thailand, which had contributed a small military contingent, left South Vietnam this year. The United States continued to participate in combat, primarily with air power to assist the South Vietnamese army, while negotiators in Paris tried to hammer out a peace agreement and withdrawal strategy for the United States. One American operation that was declassified years after the war was Operation Thunderhead, a secret mission that attempted to rescue POWs.

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.

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.

La Vang Base

La Vang Base (also known as La Vang Combat Base or Firebase La Vang) is a former Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base near Quảng Trị, Vietnam.

List of United States servicemembers and civilians missing in action during the Vietnam War (1972–75)

This article is a list of US MIAs of the Vietnam War in the period from 1972–75. No servicemembers or civilians were lost in 1974. In 1973, the United States listed 2,646 Americans as unaccounted for from the entire Vietnam War. By August 2017, 1604 Americans remained unaccounted for, of which 1026 were classified as further pursuit, 488 as no further pursuit and 90 as deferred.

Non-U.S. recipients of U.S. gallantry awards

This is a list of non-U.S. recipients of U.S. gallantry awards.

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.

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USS Alamo

USS Alamo (LSD-33) was a Thomaston-class dock landing ship of the United States Navy. She was named for the Alamo, site of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo.

Alamo was laid down on 11 October 1954 at Pascagoula, Miss., by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 20 January 1956; sponsored by Mrs. Daniel V. Gallery, the wife of Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery: and commissioned on 24 August 1956, Capt. James L. Semmes in command.

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