Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebookYouTube

Image Map
Categories Menu

Posted on Sep 11, 2007 in Front Page Features, War College

Tet With Tanks – The NVA Easter Offensive, 1972

By Frederick F. Lash Jr.

ACG Vietnam War Bonus Article!

The October/November 2007 issue of ARMCHAIR GENERAL® magazine is chock-full of articles on America’s longest war, Vietnam, including James Willbank’s outstanding retrospective of the entire war, featuring ACG’s exclusive “VIETNAM” gatefold map. As a special bonus to complement the articles in our magazine and to expand our coverage of the Vietnam War, we present Frederick Lash’s compelling account of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Easter Offensive.

On March 30, 1972, Hanoi sought to take advantage of the U.S. troop drawdown and attempted to quickly overrun South Vietnam by launching a war-winning “Blitzkrieg” offensive during which its forces abandoned guerrilla war tactics and adopted conventional “fire and maneuver” operations featuring masses of NVA regular infantry supported by tanks and long-range artillery. This “Tet with tanks” was a colossal failure, but it exposed the weaknesses of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and demonstrated that ARVN could not prevail without massive U.S. fire support (mainly airpower and helicopter “tank killers”). Later, when Congress cut off all U.S. support to South Vietnam due to domestic political pressure (1973-75), Hanoi knew it could break the 1973 cease-fire agreement and overpower South Vietnam without U.S. interference.

Subscribe Today

The lesson taught by the defeat during the 1972 Easter Offensive and the subsequent victory by Hanoi in April 1975 that can be applied to U.S. policy today regarding the new democratic governments in Iraq and Afghanistan seems clear: fledgling governments struggling against a determined enemy cannot survive without some level of continued U.S. military support.

Jerry Morelock
ACG Editor in Chief


KA-BOOOOM!!

The entire bunker heaved as fine dust filtered through sandbags and the overhead wooden ceiling, filling U.S. Marine Major Walter Boomer’s nostrils and sticking to the sweat on his face and arms. As the last NVA artillery round slammed directly into Boomer’s bunker, he threw himself against the plywood wall of the 10×20-foot underground room. Even with tiny balls of wadded toilet paper stuffed in his ears, the ringing in his head continued. He yelled into his radio handset, demanding to know why friendly artillery had not slowed the incoming enemy barrage.

Major Boomer was the lone American Marine adviser to 200 South Vietnamese Marines at Fire Support Base (FSB) Sarge (see Easter Offensive map), a tiny, remote outpost a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating South and North Vietnam. On March 30, 1972, three days before Easter, FSB Sarge and several other firebases came under intense artillery barrages and ground attacks lasting day and night. So began the Vietnam War’s largest and most destructive offensive. In the north, 30,000 NVA troops, 400 tanks and armored fighting vehicles, and five artillery regiments attacked across the DMZ into South Vietnam, while an even larger force struck farther south at the heart of the republic.

BA_map_2007_nov_small.jpg
Click for larger image
The 1972 Easter Offensive established a pattern that the North
Vietnamese would later follow – successfully – in 1975. The two-pronged
offensive combined a major assault across the DMZ with a strong offensive farther
south aimed at cutting South Vietnam in two. Departing from guerrilla
war tactics, the North Vietnamese invasions of 1972 and 1975 were
conventional attacks, using massed troops supported by tanks and artillery.
The South Vietnamese, supported by U.S. firepower, defeated the 1972
offensive. By 1975, American fire support had been withdrawn.
Image Credit: PETHO CARTOGRAPHY

Despite the Easter Offensive’s scope and intensity, this invasion and its outcome largely is unknown to the American public – even most Vietnam veterans know little about it. Stanley Karnow’s definitive work, Vietnam: A History, devotes only four pages to the event. Although the Easter Offensive was reported in the media, relatively few American ground troops were involved in the fighting, and the story never found roots. The ramifications of this last, massive shudder of America’s military presence in Vietnam, however, are significant. Three years later, had the forces of South Vietnam enjoyed the same U.S. airpower and military support as in they did in 1972, they might very well have prevented their final defeat by the invading North Vietnamese. The NVA plan and the forces committed to it in the NVA’s victorious 1975 campaign were virtually identical to those in the Easter Offensive in 1972. Only the absence of U.S. support in 1975 was different – with fatal results for the Republic of Vietnam.

[continued on next page]

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

65 Comments

  1. I also was stationed TDY at Firebase Sarge and wouldd like to hear from anyone that was on the firebase…. I was in Vietnam for19 months total and stationed at Phu Bai Our Commanding Officer was Lt. Col Gerard M. Dirx. Please feel free to contact me.

  2. To Brian Leon,
    In late November 1971 the 27th Combat Engineer Bn. based at Camp Eagle designed and built a bunker on Firebase Sarge for the 8th RRFS to house self-contained remote monitoring equipment. I took photos of the firebase in December 1971 including the bunker. Around mid-2000 locational information and the photos were shared with the then J.T.F.F.A. in Hawaii to aid their search for Westcott and Crosby, MIA’s.

  3. I was one of a few 407th soldiers who helped build the bunker on Sarge that December. I remember a nick name of one of the guys from the engineer unit named “Okie”. I ran into him at Phu Bai after we were evacuated from the DMZ area in Mar-Apr. He looked at me like I was a ghost. I was one of the guys who stayed on Sarge after the bunker was built. The other guys name was Crosby. I was moved to Con Thien in the beginning of 72 and Crosby stayed on Sarge. Of course, as you probably know Crosby and Wescott were killed on Sarge 30 Mar 72. Okie didn’t know I had moved to A-4(Con Thien) and of course his reaction to me there at Phu Bai that day. Always have good memories of the engineers. They helped us build up other areas that proved to save our lives from heavy artillery (130 mm) on A-4. We all survived on A-4 and a few of us are still in contact. Over and out.

    • I was at Phu Bai November, 70 and later at Con Thien on or about April/May 71. Floyd Youngblood and I were in the bunker when it took a direct hit and imploded. We were both hit. He was worse. Had him medevaced. Engineers “remodeled” the bunker. I left Con Thien November, 71. Guys there were Richard Petry, Kelvin Hunt, Greg Andrews, Ray Ridlon, Messinger, Youngblood, and myself. One hell of a ride.

  4. Richard

    I would like to see the pictures from Sarge if possible.

    • Greetings Chuck…I am Hap Hambric…in 1971 I commanded Company D, 27th Combat Engineer Battalion, Camp eagle. I was the Commander of the unit when we built Sarge, I have at least one photo I took from a chopper in late 71, and have acquired a couple recent ones claiming to be Sarge…they are from then and 2013 taken by the human remains team searching for the two MIAs.

      Interestingly I’m not sure the team was searching in the right place…it looked like they were on the chopper landing site.

      I am happy to share the few photos I have of Sarge if you relay your involvement there. haphambric@cs.com

  5. Thanks for the account. If you have pictures of Sarge, Quang Tri or any of the other northern locations on line somewhere, I like Chuck Martin, would surely be interested in seeing them. I was a member of the 407th RRD and have posted an account of the Easter Offensive from our perspective at the detachment (www.geocities.com/gdwhit2001).

    thanks again,

    - duane

    • Duane…I commanded D Co, 27th Combat Engineers…I commanded the unit that Built Sarge, and later in 1972 I was in the unit that expanded the defense at Phu Bai…8th RR…I have many photos.

      Hap Hambric

      • Hap, my guestbook (www.thelastsevendays.wordpress.com) has my email contact information if you still want to connect.

        regards,

        - duane

  6. In my opinion and from my research – this statment:

    “In this crucial battle, American advisers played a critical role, coordinating B-52 strikes and offshore naval gunfire and, in many cases, planning complex operations. Nonetheless, ARVN ground forces – backed by critical U.S. fire support – were the central players, displaying tenacity, resourcefulness and courage.”

    -while it is true…does not tell the whole story that our vets, our American soldiers, that were there and fought, provided multiple support roles and paid dearly, some even with their lives, deserves to be told.

    When is the whole story going to be told and not just what we are told to think? Please help do all of our Vietnam vets justice.

    Vets, like my husband who was an eighteen year old kid, who wasn’t a medic, doing medivacs with the 571st Evac and on his own helicopter because most of the medivac units were gone due to the U.S. pullout.

    The veterans that he served with. The veterans that gave their lives.

    How come their story doesn’t get told? They are not just ‘ U.S.fire support’. They are men…men that fought, bled, saved and some died there. They were heros.

  7. Thank you for telling the Marines story. Every single Marine that served in the Easter Offensive should be recognized as all of our men and women that served there then.

    Thank you.

  8. Also, March 29-30 1972 at Quang Tri, was the first time that SAMs and regular AAA weapons were used. The NVA introduced the Soviet-built SA-7 (Strella) heat-seeking, shoulder-fired missile, for use against low and slow-flying Allied aircraft. It was deadly, and numerous Allied aircraft losses were attributed to the weapon.

    Air cavalry units with the primary mission of supporting South Vietnamese Army forces were the only active Army combat units in Vietnam throughout 1972. Both the 11th CAG and the 12th CAG, (Combat Aviation Group), were there until at least Feb. 1973.

    Many of these men fought, supplied logistical lift and provided medevacs in support of the ARVN troops in the biggest battle of Vietnam, ‘The Easter Offensive’ or ‘The Spring Offensive’. ‘The Easter Offensive’ began and ended in ‘The Second Battle of Quang Tri’. Some of these men died there.

    Until USAF fire power could be transported back from Saigon, (sent there from the ‘drawdown’), 1st Calvary, Combat Aviation Groups held down the fort with help from the Marines that where still there. There were still some Navy offshore that helped too later with firepower. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam, backed by the United States Army, shelled more than 80,000 tons of ordnance, the destructive capacity equivalent to almost six Hiroshima-size atomic bombs.

    When the massive firepower was first unleashed, unsuspecting NVA soldiers reporting for duty were in the city at the time and Quang Tri was referred to as ‘Hamburger City’ by some that saw the aftermath.

    As well, leading out of the city was still ‘The Highway of Horrors’ from when South Vietnam had earlier lost its Quang Tri Province on May 1st, 1972 and the NVA cut down masses of panic civilians, war refugees, who were fleeing the city and got stuck at Truong Phuoc Bridge because of the traffic jam after an enemy artillery shell heavily damaged the bridge. Chaos occurred when enemy artillery began a rain of many hundreds shells from their 130mm guns on the refugees. A moment later, Communist foot soldiers attacked the crowd with infantry weapons that included mortars and grenade launchers.

    When ‘The Second Battle of Quang Tri’ was over, (Sept. 16, 1972 the city was taken back. On Oct. 22, 1972 Quang Tri Province firebases were secured), not one building remained standing. The intense bombing, combined with U.S. use of the Agent Orange defoliant, turned the land into a virtual moonscape.

    This all took place during ‘Operation Ceasefire’ when we were standing down and turning over the bases to the ARVN.

    Americans still have little knowledge of this time in Vietnam and the part that brave American troops, including U.S. Army Air Calvary, Combat Aviation Groups, took in it.

    As well, the brave nurses and doctors, many that volunteered, during this horrific time.

    • Hello Fran, very good research. Even though I was there, I am only now becoming more interested in the bigger picture of the strategic situation.

      Your point about the SA-7s is right on, for sure. The heat seekers forced us to operate at ground level (nap of the earth). That made it difficult for the SA-7 to lock on. Even so, we lost our company commander and his crew (48th AHC) to an SA-7. Also, the down side to nap of the earth flying was that it made us considerably more vulnerable to small arms fire. Small arms was the lesser of the two evils though.

  9. I was at Phu Bai from December, 70 to August 71. I transferred to Con Thien 407th in August to November, 71. Our bunker several direct hits until a delayed fuse rocket imploded and hit Floyd Youngblood and me. We had to rebuild it anew. others there were Richard Petry, Kelvin ‘kool breeze’ Hunt, Greg Andrews, Ron Messinger, Carrol, and myself , Felix Rodriguez.

    • Felix…I have a couple pictures of Alpha 4 with Shell Damage

      Hap Hambric
      1971/72 27th Combat Engineer Battalion

      • I sure would like to see them if possible, Hap. Thanks.

      • Does anyone remember the U.S. Marine major’s name at Con Thien in 1972?

  10. I was in the marines and we were brought in because danang was being overrun during this. I can’t find hardly anything to support my va claim on how we got hit with everything almost every night. I have lost hearing due to the fire fights rocket and mortar attacks with the sappers blowing themselves and other up and I still have the dreams of fighting at night. If anyone has anything on this time around Danang please contact me. james.joseph.green@gmail.com

    • Hello James
      Who were you with during the easter offensive? what were nyour circumstances? I too was there, and have had difficulty with obtaining documentation? Hope too hear from you,, semper fi,, oltg

    • Would like to help you James Green, but DaNang was not overrun in the easter offensive in 1972. I was with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade at that time. Sorry – good try I guess!

    • BJ Phillips is right, the Marines that were brought in, were in BLT,s and sat on ships waiting to debark, but did not. Instead, they provided support with choppers, and LVT,s and mike boats were used to land South Vietnamese Marines at Quang Tri Wunder Beach. Marines manned 30 and 50 cal weapons from those vessels and we were engaged with small arms fire, mortars etc etc, and several ships came under fire during operations along the coast, and up and into the Gulf of Tonkin.
      So if any Marines were brought into DaNang, I would like to know what units?
      Thanks and Semper Fi,,
      oltg

  11. I have enjoyed your article. I am trying to contact G Duane Whitman, I was with him at the 407thrrd the last days of its existence in 1972 Quang tri. I have made contact with other of the last nine there and would like to relay this information to him. Thank you if it is possible for you to do this for me . Larry Smith

  12. I was in Attack Squadron VA-94 aboard the USS Coral Sea during Easter, 1971. Our A7-E aircraft had all been grounded due to mishaps on take-offs from carriers caused by engine failures, but when the Easter offensive began the planes were quickly airborne. I copied the following from the VA 94 web site that I found a couple of days ago:

    The VA-94 Mighty Shrikes
    The Mighty Shrikes flying the A-7E Corsair II first deployment on United States Ship Coral Sea CVA 43. This was the Shrikes’s seventh combat cruise to Western Pacific/Vietnam.

    Navy Unit Commendation
    15 Dec 1971 to 01 Jul 1972
    • April 16, 1972:
    Commander D. L. Moss in A-7E BuNo. 156860 was shot down by a SAM, over North Vietnam. Commander Moss was rescued.
    • May 1, 1972:
    Lieutenant M. D. Surdyk in A-7E BuNo. 156888 was shot down by a SAM, over North Vietnam. Lieutenant Surdyk was was rescued.
    • May 9, 1972:
    The squadron participated in Operation Pocket Money, the mining of Haiphong harbor. Aircraft from VA-94, as well as the other attack squadrons deployed aboard United States Ship Coral Sea CVA 43, planned and executed the mining of the harbor.
    • May 24, 1972:
    Lieutenant Commander H. A. Eikel in A-7E BuNo. 156877 was shot down by a SAM, over North Vietnam. Lieutenant Commander Eikel was rescued.
    • May through June 1972:
    VA-94 participated in operation Linebacker I, heavy air strikes against targets in North Vietnam.

    • Bill, VA-94 was my first regular duty station and I was onboard Coral Sea when all of the pilots you mention were shot down.

    • I was with VA94 aboard CVA43 at that time as we. I remember us loading the mines dropped in the Harbor, I also remember Bob Hope not arriving at Xmas and have pictures of my decorating the tree which we eventually threw overboard and the painting of Bob Hopes head on to the Mighty Shrikes aircraft head. This all was a long time ago.

  13. I was at Tan My for the entire offensive and watched a good portion of it from a 40ft tower that shook 24/7 from the B52 strikes. I was USAF Security Police. We were same place as the fox/4th Air Cav. We had two marines and a platoon of the 196th helping with security. The mass exudus of the South Vietnamese was scary when, at night, you are seeing the war getting closer and closer. Spookies and Cobras were awesome to watch. We saw plenty.

    Mike Thomas, SSgt
    DaNang, 366SPS Det 1 TanMy 1972

    • Hi Mike
      I would really like to chat with you about your time at Tan My,? Do you remember the loading of South Vietnamese Marines on May 23? Do you remember the roles of the 2 Marines you mentioned? Do you remember the landing of the South Vietnamese at wunder beach on the 24th? and the Marine LVT and Navy MIke boats that landed them? How about Shore party personal? film crew? and that exodus of people departing,, a human wave or was it a shield?
      I thank you in advance for any information you could provide.
      Sincerely , oltg usmc

  14. Thank you General Truong for giving credit to the Americans that were there assisting the ARVN in the Battles of Quang Tri during the Easter Offensive until the very end and calling them by name. It means so much to me – especially since it has been the only reference that I have found on the Internet doing so.

    Our own American military have given them no public credit whatsoever, these troops that stayed and fought and served long after the all of the ground troops went home in August 1972.

    But you gave them credit where credit was due. Thank you.
    May you rest in peace.

    Ngo, Lieutenant General Quang Truong, The Easter offensive of 1972. Washington DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1980.

    “In addition to support provided the U.S. Air Force, I Corps forces also received much assistance from the U.S. Army 11th Combat Aviation Group whose activities were closely coordinated with those of ARVN units. This group provided essential support with troop lift logistical support and gunships.”

  15. Engineer Command Group MR 1 – I was a 18 yr old acting SSGT in
    MR 1 before – during – after tet 72 and yes we/I was in this thick shit and yet no reconition from US Army except 13th unamed campaign metal, a lasting PTSD, and now death due to congested heart failure due to agent orange that is being denied, but I would not trade any one moment of that experience as we/I have been there, witnessed the bull**** and not only survived but thrived to this day! Only thing I request fellow survivors is to not ever ever erver forget our fellow tet 72 survivors as officially it ” never happened – it is all in your head ” as I have been told ” officially ” many times. Percivier and **** them all individuall and collectively. SSGT Ken Terpening EngrCmdGrp 72

    • God Bless you Brother. I myself have been stricken by the Agent Orange and was in and around Danang during the Easter Offensive. I am suffering from cancer ptsd, hearing loss, not to mention other stuff they claim isn’t related. I to remember the bad days each saw and will continue to dream until we are gone. Take care my brother and Semper Fi.

  16. I was a cobra pilot with the US Army 48th assault helicopter company at Marble Mountain, on the beach, east of Danang during the 72 easter offensive.

    I flew gun cover for insertions of the ARVN marines around Quang Tri area. The troop ships were flown off a carrier by US marine pilots.

    I really respected the ARVN marines. We were inserting them nearly on top of NVA divisional HQ sometimes. They were really ripped up bad. They fought hard.

  17. I of course respect US marines too. The troop carrying marine helicopter pilots were superb.

    Its just I had no experience with any US ground troops when I was there because we were supporting the Vietnamese units. The war was pretty much fully Vietnamized by then, at least on the ground.

    But I have known plenty of marines who served in Vietnam in the earlier years of the war and have nothing but the greatest respect for the US marines.

    But I would also like to once again mention my respect for the dedication to duty, bravery, and fighting ability of the ARVN marines. So, so many did not survive. Let us remember and honor them too. What’s really sad is they ultimately lost their country.

    • To all who were in the 48th AHC in the 72 time-frame, I have also not forgotten about the despicable incident that resulted in Specialist Hill’s death. I certainly do not respect those ARVN marines involved with that incident. I do not wish to go into any details here other than to say it was an intentional so-called “friendly fire” incident. My previous comments are directed to those ARVN marines who fought bravely and eventually re-took Quang Tri city.

  18. I was at Bien Hoa during this time…we too got hit bad. I was with the 175thRRFS……(Radio Research Field Station)….just a cover designation.

  19. I was at marble mountain with the 11th cag in 72. Helicopters were in the air 24/7. My brother was there also serving with the 282nd black cats then later with the 48th blue jokers. I was 11b20 but there were no more ground troops operating in the field . i pulled alot of peremiter guard duty and actually flew north near quantri to help stand down one last fire base. little did i know the vast scale of the offensive being fought that close to danang. i am proud to have served with the 11th

    • I constantly hear that “there were no more ground troops operating in the field” and that is not true! The 196th L.I.B. was in the field constantly in 1972 west and northwest of Da Nang until the 3rd Bn 21st Inf was finally extracted from the bush in August 10, 1972. The 3/21 also was helicoptered out into the field in late spring/early summer to Hue then Camp Evans and to the field between Hue/Camp Evans and Quang Tri as a blocking force during the Easter Offensive that year. I get tired of hearing these type of incorrect comments or journalist/historians making these untrue statements!!!

  20. I’m wondering about all these replies, why nobody except for Mr Whitman Who has made a comment in his “The Last Seven Days” account, about “Three Star Compound”. Is this also referred to by a different name. A 1st Lt and I were sent up to “Three Star Compound on March 21, 1972,from the 37th Signal Bn in Da Nang, and we were evacuated by chinook on April 1, 1972.

  21. Iwas in da nang 1971_19 72

  22. Iall so have abad heart from agent orange and only get 10% disability because only have one stent so far left side hurts all the time and arm and chest hurts all the time like iam havin a heart attack

  23. I was a 91G20 Medic assigned to USA Support Command, Cam Ranh when Easter Offensive 72 started. Constant guard duty and alerts since my primary mission had changed due to drawdown of US forces. On April 9, 1972, the 510th SIgnal Company was attacked. Four KIA and several injured. Blew the hell out of their billeting. Pure adrenaline for 1.5 hours. I always felt that we who were present and reacted by defending our positions against further enemy attacks should have been recognized. By April 15th, I was sent to Bien Hoa to the Med Detachment. I had volunteered to go to Quang Tri but the situation was pretty much a cluster and the few support soldiers who were left were sent south. I really find the accounts of the events validating and I am honored to read of others’ stories after all these years. Too few accounts of subordinate units are available, with the exception of the bigger strategic picture. For us Joes on the ground, it was a frightening experience. The recognition I have received is PTSD, Ischemic heart disease (4x bypass), skin lesions, and service ribbons. Not one iota from Leadership for our participation. Without our witness, this Offensive and our willingness to defend our ground would fade away.

  24. To: G. Duane Whitman… Hello Whit, I don’t know if you remember me; we were stationed together at the 8th RRFS before you moved to 407th. I’m glad there are still a few of us hanging around. I went to Ft. Bragg after Phu Bai. Several other trips elsewhere. Back home in SC now. God Bless, take care…Bill Butler

  25. I was sent to Phu Bai on March 25, 1972 an an 04B2LVS, Vietnamese translator. I also served on the 8th’s Mortar Platoon. It was a wild time to hit Phu Bai. Left there in October for Danang before heading to Fort Meade to finish my enlistment. Thanks for the article..it gives some validation to my stay.

  26. I always here in the “history” of the 1972 Easter Offensive that there were no U.S. ground combat units involved, only air and naval support. I was in the 196th Light Infantry Brigade and we were constantly out in the field west and northwest of Da Nang during 1972. Also, in the late spring of 1972 we, the 3rd Bn 21st Inf went to Hue and then to Camp Evans and to the field between Hue and Quang Tri as a blocking force to the Invasion. How come that seems to be overlooked and forgotten in the “history” books and is never mentioned in virtually all the sites on the google site when you type in Easter Offensive or Invasion of 1972? I know that Nixon had restricted news coverage in this time period but at least someone should be aware of it! We had several brothers wounded in booby-traps during these missions and killed some NVA on those missions also. Are we just completely forgotten in history, by the American people, and our government? It is somewhat frustrating as a former ground combat veteran!!!

  27. Thank to Armchair General for being more accurate than many of the historical articles when you google Easter Invasion 1972! Thanks for recognizing the 196th L.I.B. and the 1st Cav for actually being ground combat infantry units during that largest N.V.A. offensive of the war while the U.S. was still involved militarily and not just as “advisors”. Much more could also be said of some of the U.S. helicopter combat units that took a very active role in the combat operations during that offensive! The 3rd Bn 21st INF of the 196th L.I.B. was also involved north of Hue and Camp Evans during the spring of 1972,but at least you got the 2/1 right – that is more than most sites on the internet get correct. I get tried of reading on other sites and “historical” articles and “first person” accounts how the U.S. was “not involved with ground combat units” at that time – it is clear distortion of history and a dis-service to the grunts that served during 1972! Thanks!!!

  28. Not sure of postion or existence of 21st arvn in Quang Tri province. Also “Tet with Tanks” Heading does not make make sense since Tet holiday was well past.

    • I agree with I. Wuong that “Tet for Tanks” doesn’t make much sense, because the NVA didn’t begin actual offensive until close to the American/Christian holiday of Easter. I assume that it is a reference to the other Offensive of Tet, 1968, as a compared in intensity of combat. However, the offensive of 1972 was much more intense at the fronts since it was a conventional type of combat involving at least 14 full N.V.A. divisions with armor and artillery support advancing on several fronts; especially in the MR1 sector of highway 1 until Quang Tri and west of Hue. Also, in the Tay Ninh province A.O. Don’t know or remember any 21st ARVN in Hue/Quang Tri area in the Spring/Early Summer of 1972. 196th L.I.B. of the U.S. Army did time in field west and northwest of Hue in spring of 1972.

      • While “Tet with Tanks” may not be historically accurate based on time, Tet had passed, I feel that Tet of 68 is what most people will say is the largest invasion of the war. Hence by calling it Tet with Tanks relates the size and differentiates the two invasions. Stars and Stripes ran an article during that time where part of the 196th was to come up and guard the 8th. At first they refused saying it was too dangerous, too many booby traps. They were eventually sent up our way.

  29. I agree with Michael Redding that “most people will say that (Tet 68) is the largest of the war”, however that type of thinking is a perfect example how mistaken “most people” are of the war AFTER 1968 and Nixon reduced independent journalism to a bare minimum. The 1972 Easter invasion was by far the largest of the Vietnam War. A Full 14 Division with armor and artillery support crossing DMZ and other avenues of infiltration routes as compared to smaller size N.V.A. units occupying Hue and smaller scale V.C. attacks and occupations of radio stations, U.S. Embassy, etc. I don’t remember the 196th L.I.B. coming to “guard” the 8th or anyone else in the Spring of 1972! The 196th was moved from the field/bush working the A.O.’s west and north west of Da Nang to the areas of west and northwest of Hue to block the N.V.A. from advancing into Hue from the N.V.A.’s newly occupied ARVN/ U. S. firebases in the mountains west of Hue. The booby traps in the Da Nang A.O. had many more booby traps than the areas in the Hue A.O.’s!!! Don’t know where you got your information about the 196th “refusing” to do their job, but it is probably due to lack of REAL history recorded at that time!
    Cannot believe the Stars & Stripes printed an article saying any unit “refused” to do their ordered assignment!

  30. Mr. Phillips I have a photo of the article in question. I don’t know how to post it here. Is there an email that I may use to send it to you? I am sorry you don’t remember or believe that Stars and Stripes would print such a thing. It was printed in April of 1972.

  31. With just a little effort and Google, I have found two articles about the 196th balking at orders to support the 8th RRFS, one is the Stars and Stripes article and one is from Newsweek, April 1972. Please before you insinuate that information is false because you don’t recollect, make an effort to do some research.

    • No, I haven’t done any research into this, but the only article attached is an article that is not referenced and has headline that begins, ” Yankees..”, and is obviously not an article from anyone in the 8th RRFS and you must consider that at the time there was much propaganda and misleading info from BOTH sides. Please give date, issue of Stars & Stripes report.

    • I’m not “insinuate”ing anything, but rather speaking from first hand experience as I was with the 3rd Bn 21st Inf of the 196th L.I.B. during this time. I know FOR A FACT that the 3/21 did not “Balk” on orders to “support the 8th RFFS”. Cannot speak for the 2nd Bn 1st Inf of the 196th, so I have ask for combat veterans of that battalion on the 196th L.I.B. Association for input concerning this subject and am awaiting response. Also, contacted Newsweek concerning what they may have been talking about on April 14, 1972. However, research consist of MUCH MORE than two possible articles of archive reports – one of which has NO way to reference with “Yanks…” article. I really do not understand WHY members of the 196th would have been taken out of the field to “support” the 8th RFFS since most rear area installations at that time had their own security forces (S.P.) to guard such installations (Example: The 502nd S.P. at Can Tho). Upon reading the “Yanks…” article I can say that the 3/21 was never loaded up in Deuce & 1/2 trucks for insertions and ALWAYS did helicopter insertions, so that is strange indeed! If someone tried to move them in trucks I can understand a problem because to load a platoon of grunts into trucks during a massive N.V.A. offensive would be totally stupid and a horrible decision! I suggest for you to request Morning reports and such from the ARMY to get a real accurate perspective of what actually occurred – if anything occurred at all! I viewed your air-conditioned rear area buildings and swimming pool on the 8th RFFS site – musta been rough duty! Good luck if you want to do some real research!

      • Sir, I was only relaying information that I had read. 1. an AP article 2. Newsweek. I have never had anything but respect for all who served their time. I have obviously upset you and that was never my intention. My apologies, Mike

  32. I was a Medic in Phu Bai on Easter Sunday 1972 . With the 142nd Med/Surg Clinic . That was after the 85th EVAC stood down . About 9 of us stayed in Phu Bai . A rescued pilot was brought in on Easter Sunday, I believe he was a Lt. Col. He went to Da Nang after we stabilized him . I don’t remember his name but I think he said he was from Arkansas . Jerry – aka – Doc Hutch . If anybody can jog my memory please let me know .

  33. As stated earlier, this invasion was pretty big. Was with 101st when we stood down at Camp Evans in late 71. Got transferred to the 1st Cav in 3 corps. Was a scary time as I heard of our 101st fire bases were over run. As a grunt in the Cav during this, we were near An Loc and the ARVN,s did the fighting. There weren’t many grunts left at that point of the war.

    Like stated earlier, a lot of Nam Vets know little of this invasion.

    • I was with the 1st Cav at Fort Hood prior to October, 1971 but with the 196th 3/21 in Nam so I cannot speak for the Cav there, but returned to Cav after the war and grunts that was there say the 1st Cav WAS quite active during the Easter Offensive of 1972. Don’t know if you were with the 1/7 and a part of Task Force Gerry Owen or not, but this is what many who were say! “We did combat assaults. set ambushes on trails and blew bunker complexes”, said Captain Bob McConnell (1/7). Lt. Sandler Heller says,”It was the wrong image projected back to the World. We were in the field well past the time the President announced the U.S. no longer had ground combat troops in Vietnam.” Sgt. Maximo Carraso (81mm mortar) said,” During the Easter Invasion FSB Spudis was constantly hit.” This definitely sounds like combat and “fighting” to me!!! However, Nixon’s lies seems to carry on! As with the invasion in I Corp it was U.S. Air (Army helicopters and Air Force) and that stopped the N.V.A. in An Loc also. Give credit were it is due because the A.R.V.N. were simply token units that dissolved there as they did everywhere else! To my knowledge the 101st were NOT manning any fire bases after February 1972!The Easter Offensive did not begin until the end of march 1972! The 1/7 Cav was instrumental in containing the “invasion” beyond An Loc!!!

  34. I did not say the 101st was manning Fire Bases during this. We gave those bases to the ARVN’s. I was with guy’s who were with the 327th,101st at Fort Hood. They came to Hood the same time as me, May 1972. Never asked them what part of country they were in. They were my roomates in the 8th Cav.(1st Cav)

    I was out of the bush during this.Had a mortar MOS and was on many Fire Bases and not a one I was on was hit. I did observe green going in and red going out as a nearby ARVN base was hit one night.

    Yes,Cav units were still in the bush during this. The last fire fight the Cav was in that there was loss of life was Jan. 3, 1972. Was in the 5th Cav,(1st Cav)as we were rushed over to help out.

    And yes, air power is what saved ARVN butt during this.

    • Sorry for misunderstanding about who was manning the firebases up north that you referred to during the Easter Offensive! The 196th was manning several firebases west and north of Da Nang at that time with artillery and I assume mortar companies, but they also were not directly attacked per my knowledge! Glad you guys were not attacked also in Jan. or Feb. 1972. However, the N.V.A. and what few V.C. still operating then (The V.C. were pretty much decimated as large fighting units after Tet 1968 and operated mainly as guides for the N.V.A. or setting mines and booby traps) were very astute at selecting who and when they attacked and in the months prior to the Easter Offensive did not attack too many U.S. controlled areas due to trying to create complacency of the U.S. command – they did this very wisely and basically it worked to their advantage! However, according to “Last Infantry Combat Units in Vietnam, 1972″ (V.F.W. mag in 2012) the 1st Cav. had 12 U.S. K.I.A. during 1972 due to “small arms and mines”!The 1st Cav. also had one unit called the “Deadly Delta” that stayed after the Feb. 1972 stand down and was involved in the Easter Offensive! Perhaps one of those grunts (Infantrymen) can comment on their actions then. My view is that the artillery and mortar units to the grunt in the bush was like the helicopter/air support – You guys did a great job and saved our asses more than once! Thank You!!!

  35. Me again. This brought back lots of memories when I stumbled on this site.

    My Mortar Squad got a odd assignment in Feb. 1972. They took 4 of us off our Fire Base and sent us to Vung Tau, a in country R and R Center. Our job was to fire illumination rounds if anywhere nearby got hit. No HE’s we’re issued to us. Nothing happened and we got to spend a week on a beautiful beach.

    The reason I am talking about this is I assume intelligence knew something was up. And yes, a few weeks later the s=#t hit the fan. My greatest fear was to face that 4 lettered word. TANK.

    Like others have stated, this should not be called Tet with Tanks. It was the Easter Offensive.

  36. I don’t remember a Feb. 72 stand down. Our units were in the bush as far as I know when I left at the end of April.

    I may be wrong, but those 12 killed were the result of a direct hit on a bunker by a 122 rocket, not a fire fight.

    And I also agree with you that the NVA was selective of their targets. They knew we were leaving town.

    • I could be wrong about a Feb. 1st Cav stand down since I was not with them overseas, so you know those facts better than I! I was sort of going by the “Last Days of the Infantry in Vietnam, 1972″ article in VFW mag (August 2012). It says “As 1972 opened only two Divisions (1st Cav and 101st) fielded … 14 battalions… Five of those … were gone in February” so I guess I was assuming 1st Cav was one of them (The article is not real clear on that point!)It goes on “On June 15, when the 3rd Brigade left… Deadly Delta was created … filling the remaining ranks” and stayed until “August 8, 1972″. Either way being a member of 1/5 stateside I have much respect and loyality to the 1st Cav and what you guys did in the Nam! Thanks bro!

  37. Have to mention about a terrible Chinook crash during this. D Company 2/8 Cav was on route to Vung Tau from Bien Hoa for a 3 day R and R on May 10th I believe. The bird had mechanical failure and crashed. At first it was thought it was a shoot down because the gooks had ground to air missiles at this late time of the war. 29 Grunts and 5 Air Crew died.

    I was in E Company when I got sent home at the end of April. There was a good chance I could of been on that bird. E Company was heavy weapons and Recon. We were never sent to Vung Tau as a company because some one had to stay behind with the mortars. We went with A,B,C or D.

    I wasn’t a fan of Nixon but sometimes I think he may of saved my life because I got a early out of that place.

  38. I was in Quang Tri at the 407th RRD during the last seven days. I want to thank all of you for what you did during the easter offensive of 1972. I seen no hesitation by any american military personnel during this time and as a band of brothers we got the job done in a few months and regained most of the ground that the PAVN took.

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>