Battle of Fire Support Base Ripcord, 1970

BATTLE OF FIRE SUPPORT BASE RIPCORD – VIETNAM WAR

12 March – 23 July 1970

Fire Support Base Ripcord

SUMMARY

An estimated 25,000 North Vietnamese soldiers attacked 4 battalions of the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division in a 4 ½ month battle that ended with the U.S. abandoning Fire Support Base Ripcord.

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BACKGROUND

As part of Operation Texas Star, the 101st Airborne rebuilt Fire Support Base Ripcord, in the A Shau Valley of Vietnam, in support of the Marines’ search and destroy mission against NVA supply lines.  U.S. forces found themselves surrounded and outnumbered 10 to 1 with diminishing supplies.  U.S. forces were forced to be evacuated by helicopter and the Air Force carpet-bombed the area with B-52 bombers.

Ripcord

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LOCATION

A Shau Valley, Thua Thien Province, Vietnam

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UNITED STATES ARMY

101st AIRBORNE INFANTRY DIVISION

Led by

Colonel Benjamin L. Harrison

Col. Harrison

Lieutenant Colonel Andre Lucas (killed in action)

Lt. Col. Lucas

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NORTH VIETNAMESE PEOPLE’S ARMY OF VIETNAM

803rd, 29th and 6th NVA REGIMENTS

Led by

General Võ Nguyên Giáp

Gen. Giap

Major General Chu Phuong Doi

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RESULT

A military victory for the North Vietnamese.

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Battle of Fire Support Base Ripcord

CONSEQUENCE

The official After Action Report of the 101st Airborne states 422 NVA killed in action, 6 prisoners of war, and 93 individual and 24 crew-served weapons captured.  U.S. forces suffered 71 killed in action and 460 wounded (other sources report 75 KIA and 139 KIA, respectively).  After nearly being overrun, the Americans abandoned the base; which gave the North Vietnamese an open route to the South.  NVA losses were so dire that the Easter Offensive has to be delayed 2 years in order to reorganize and resupply.

3 Medals of Honor and 5 Distinguished Service Crosses were awarded during this battle.

     Actual footage of Fire Support Base Ripcord can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w67-YKbVOog

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