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Conclusion! Search and destroy!
"Lost Battles of the Vietnam War"
Again, thanks to G2mil in all cases. This makes for very difficult and painful reading!
"According to G2mil: 'Internet research turns up these 70 lost battles of the Vietnam war'."
American infantry units on search and destroy missions during the Vietnam War often rather BEING FOUND BY THE ENEMY AND THEMSELVES DESTROYED! Overwhelming firepower not always such an advantage when in contact with the light infantry of the North Vietnamese Army [NVA].
13. "Operation Utah - On Mar 4, 1966, the 2nd battalion of the 7th Marines helicoptered into an area near Quang Ngai to investigate reports of an NVA regiment in the area. They found it dug into fortifications around Hill 50. Their attacked failed and the Marines fell back, but were surprised when the NVA counterattacked. The battalion was in trouble and more Marine units where flown in to join the battle. The enemy withdrew, but only after the Marines lost 98 dead, 278 wounded, with several aircraft destroyed."
14. "Battle of Xa Cam My - A battalion from the 1st Infantry Division conducted another "search and destroy" sweep. Its three companies were deployed miles apart in hopes the NVA would attack one. They surrounded and blasted Charlie company, killing 38 and wounding 71 of its 134 soldiers before its other two companies came to the rescue."
15. "Operation Paul Revere IV - Two cavalry battalions swept the Cambodian border area in search of the enemy. None were found, until Company C ran into a large force near Duc Co. Details are scarce, but two platoons were overrun and destroyed; only one soldier survived. The American dead were so numerous that they were hauled away in external cargo nets by helicopters."
22. "Battle near Vinh Huy - During Operation Union II, six rifle companies from the 5th Marines swept the Que Son Valley in search of the enemy. They located a large enemy force 1000 yards ahead across an open rice paddy. After some air and artillery strikes, three companies were ordered to charge across the open ground, and were shot to pieces. The bloodied Marines fell back during this June 2, 1967 battle with 71 KIA and 139 wounded."
24. "Battle of Prek Klok - During Operation Junction City, Company B from the 1st Battalion/16th Infantry went in search of the NVA. Independent accounts cannot be found, yet the Army's official history notes the company was blasted and nearly surrounded until rescued when another company came to its aid, allowing it to retreat. Company B was extracted by helicopter after suffering 25 dead and 28 wounded."
25. "Kingfisher Battle - In 1967, "Operation Kingfisher" was launched to destroy NVA forces just south of the DMZ. On Sept. 21st, the 2nd battalion, 4th Marines began a "search and destroy" mission and quickly encountered the entrenched 90th NVA regiment. The Marines lacked tank support because recent rains limited road mobility, while the dense vegetation and close proximity of the enemy restricted air and artillery support. After a day-long battle, the Marines had suffered at least 16 dead and 118 wounded while trying to break out of the enemy's kill zone. The battalion withdrew at dusk, although flee may be a better term since 15 dead Marines were left behind. Details are sketchy, but the battalion didn't return to collect its dead until three weeks later. Veterans of the battle state they lost 34 KIA that day."
27. "The Battle of Thon Cam Son - In July 1967, the 2nd battalion of the 9th Marines crossed into the DMZ to find the NVA. They found abandoned base camps and bunkers because the NVA had pulled out and moved around behind them. The Marines had to fight their way back home, and more than half the unit bled as it lost 41 killed and 355 wounded."
28. "Battle for Nui Ho Khe (Hill 88) - Marines were concerned that enemy units near their big Con Thien base threatened their main supply route. On Sept 10, 1967, the 3rd battalion of the 26th Marines ventured forward to secure Hill 88. It was surprised to encounter an entire NVA regiment, which counterattacked causing a bloody fight in which 3/26 suffered 300 casualties (40% including 37 KIA) and lost several tanks. It withdrew to Hill 48 where it made a successful last stand. While the NVA suffered more causalities, poor intel resulted in this clumsy assault that failed to reach its objective."
29. "Slaughter at LZ Margo - The 2nd battalion of the 26th Marines helicoptered into LZ Margo near the DMZ on a standard search and destroy mission. Contact was light over the next three days as units swept the area. On Sept. 16, 1968, the battalion received an order from higher headquarters to withdraw into the small LZ where they had arrived, because a big B-52 air strike was planned in the area. Marines were worried because they were tightly grouped and the ground was rock hard so they couldn't dig in. They knew the NVA kept them under observation and were a perfect target for a mortar barrage. A short time later, hundreds of mortar rounds tore into the tightly packed Marines, killing 30 and wounding nearly 200 until the NVA ran out of ammo."
30. "Operation Swift - U.S. Marines fought tough battles along the DMZ when NVA units moved across the border to inflict heavy causalities. Marine Generals sent rifle companies with ~140 Marines to search for and destroy the NVA intruders with artillery and airpower. This was effective, but larger NVA units sometimes trapped them in kill zones. In September 1967, they ambushed two Marine companies in the Que Son Valley. Operation Swift was launched to save them from destruction, but the two companies sent to the rescue were mauled. The end result was 127 Marines killed and 362 wounded. The NVA suffered more casualties, but accomplished their mission and withdrew northward."
32. "Task Force Black Mauled - Half of the 1st Battalion/501st Regiment/173rd Airborne Brigade went in search for the NVA who had recently attacked their base. They ran into two NVA battalions, who shot them up from three directions. The rest of the battalion was sent to save them, and withdrew with 20 dead, 154 wounded, and two missing."
33. "Battle near Ap Bac - The U.S. Army's 9th Infantry Division operated in the marshy delta region of southern Vietnam, often with Navy river patrol boats. During a routine battalion sweep, Alpha company from the 2nd Brigade crossed an open rice paddy and encountered Viet Cong ready to fight from concrete bunkers. Most of the company was wiped out in the first five minutes, and rest pinned down in the kill zone for hours until other companies arrived. This battle left 40 American dead and 140 wounded."
34. "Battle for Hill 861 - In 1967, Bravo Company, 1st battalion, 9th Marines went to search for caves on Hill 861. After a skirmish, the company attacked up the hill without knowing that it had encountered a large enemy force. Most of Bravo was wiped out and the survivors were pinned down until rescued by Kilo company that night."
36. "Ambush at Hoc Mon - In 1968, 92 American soldiers of C Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 25th Division began a search-and-destroy mission near Saigon. They were looking for a Viet Cong force that had been firing rockets into their Tan Son Nhut Air Base. As they rushed along a road without flank security to catch up with their battalion, they ran into an ambush. Within eight minutes, 49 American soldiers were dead or dying, and 29 were wounded."
39. "Battle of the Slopes - A company of American paratroopers was searching for the NVA in rough terrain when it was attacked by a large force. It suffered 76 KIA as it was nearly overrun, with two platoons wiped out. Newly arrived airborne officers had ignored warnings that they should maneuver as battalions because the NVA units in that area were larger, aggressive, and would attack a lone rifle company."
40. "Battle of No Goi Island - The Viet Cong liked to fortify ambush sites and wait for the Americans to discover them. During Operation Allen Brook, three battalions of Marines swept through No Goi Island and found lots of Viet Cong ready to fight from bunkers near the village of Le Bac. During several days of bloody assaults, the Marines suffered 138 killed and 686 wounded (576 seriously) before the surviving Viet Cong fled. The extreme heat resulted in another 283 Marines evacuated due to heat stroke. Having suffered 50% causalities, Allen Brook was halted until fresh Marine units arrived."
41. "Battle at the Ben Cui Rubber Plantation - American mechanized units had the firepower and mobility to rout any NVA force. An exception occurred in 1968 during a routine road sweep when Company C, 1st Bn (Mech), 25th Division ran into an aggressive NVA regiment. It quickly lost 5 APCs (right), with 17 killed (leaving just one officer), and two dozen wounded before it retreated to its home base, leaving most of its dead behind."
42. "Battle of Dai Do - A Marine Corps infantry battalion was mauled and forced to retreat after a disorganized attempt to dislodge a large North Vietnamese force near the DMZ. The Marines suffered 81 KIA and 397 wounded while killing hundreds of NVA. Accounts of this action are hidden within reports of operations in region of Dong Ha."
43. "Battle of Ong Thanh - After minor enemy contact the previous day, a battalion commander led 155 American soldiers single-file into the bush to destroy the enemy. They ran into an NVA regiment with some 1400 men. Alpha company was wiped out in 20 minutes, and by sundown, 59 American soldiers lay dead with 75 wounded."
45. "Operation Houston II - In May 1968, as Mike company from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines moved up a ridge called Hill 1192, they wandered into an NVA base camp and were shot to pieces with 14 killed and dozens wounded. Three helicopters were shot down attempting to rescue wounded Marines. The surviving marines remained pinned down and bleeding for several days until rescued by another company."
52. "Ambush near Khe Sahn - On Feb 25, 1968, a 41-man platoon from the 26th Marines was sent on a short patrol "outside the wire" to test the strength of NVA units near Khe Sahn village. They pursed three VC scouts who led them into an ambush. The platoon was wiped out during a three-hour battle that left 31 Marines KIA, one taken prisoner, while nine Marines escaped back to their base."
55. "Battle near Hill 689 - On April 16, 1968 a Marine Corps company began a patrol near its Khe Sahn base. It wandered into tall vegetation and was decimated by concealed NVA soldiers in bunkers. Two more companies from 1st Battalion, 9th Marines were dispatched to save them, but they became ensnarled in this confusing battle in which dead and wounded Marines were left behind as the battalion retreated back to Khe Sahn in disarray. This resulted in 41 KIA, 32 wounded, with 2 of 15 MIAs later rescued by helicopters. The battalion commander was relieved of duty."
62. "Battle of Plei Trap - During Operation Wayne Grey, 115 soldiers from Alpha Company of the 4th Infantry Division helicoptered into a remote area in search of the NVA. They found lots of them, and suffered 35 KIA, 51 WIA, and 7 MIA as they were overrun. A lieutenant who heroically led a retreat of the survivors was almost court-martialed by senior officers trying to cover-up this disaster."
65. "Battle near FSB Professional - The NVA shot down a big CH-47 helicopter as it delivered supplies to this fire support base. Company A of the Army's 1/46 Infantry with 91 soldiers was sent outside the wire to eliminate the threat. It was mauled during a 35-hour battle, and its 47 surviving soldiers fled, leaving their dead and some wounded behind."
67. "Battle for Firebase Ripcord - American Generals made one final attempt to block the Ho Chi Minh trail, and found more NVA troops than expected. As the NVA assaulted remote Fire Support Base Ripcord, Generals decided to evacuate the base. Four American battalions from the 3rd Brigade, 101st Division conducted a fighting aerial evacuation that lasted 23 days, with the loss of at least 75 American KIA and 463 wounded. Dozens of helicopters were shot down or damaged, while several soldiers and all major items of equipment were left behind."
What is so disheartening is that in the preponderance of these cases the American military units as decimated quite often consisted of Marines or paratroopers. At that exact moment the best and most elite combat infantry units the U.S. military could place in the field.
These American infantry units I also might well assume commanded by officers with an excessive gung ho attitude, troops deployed without that necessary proper degree of prudence and caution. INERRANT, POOR OR NON-EXISTENT RADIO SECURITY PERHAPS IN ADDITION A FACTOR.
And again not so much that American units were so bad as the enemy was so good! This too!