Chapter 12    The Ring Tightens Around Hue

Throughout the early months of 1974, the NVA maintained continual pressure against RVNAF defenses north of the Hai Van Pass and concentrated on the ARVN Airborne Division and 1st Infantry Division positions west and south of Hue. Aware that with three full-strength Marine brigades holding the line in Quang Tri Province an overly aggressive campaign would invoke retaliations against its burgeoning logistical complex around Dong Ha, the NVA did little to disturb the balance in the northernmost province. The most serious erosion of ARVN defenses took place during the skirmishes for the high ground south of Phu Bai, the only major airfield serving Hue. There the ARVN 1st Infantry Division was responsible for protecting the airfield, Highway 1 as it passed through the narrow defile in Phu Loc District, and the vital Ta Trach corridor to Hue.

Nui Mo Tau, Nui Bong, and Hill 350

The Hai Van Ridge formed the Thua Thien quan Nam Province boundary from the sea to Bach Ma Mountain, which was occupied by the enemy in October 1973. The ridge continued west past Bach Ma until it descended into the valley of the Song Ta Trach at Ruong Ruong, where the NVA had established a forward operating base. Local Route 545 twisted through the mountains north from Ruong Ruong, joining Highway 1 just south of Phu Bai. As it crossed over the western slopes of the Hai Van Ridge, Route 545 passed between two lower hills, Nui Mo Tau on the west, and Nui Bong on the east. Nui Mo Tau and Nui Bong were only about 300 meters and 140 meters high, respectively, but the ARVN positions on them, and on neighboring hills, formed the main outer ring protecting Phu Bai and Hue on the south. Outposts were placed on hills 2,000 to 5,000 meters farther south, including hills as identified by their elevations of 144, 224, 273 and 350 meters.

At first, the corps commander, General Truong, viewed the see-saw contest for the hills south of Nui Mo Tau as hardly more than training exercises and of no lasting tactical or strategic importance. That assessment was supportable so long as the enemy was unable to extend his positions to within range of Phu Bai. Once this extension occurred, protecting Hue's vital air and land links with the south became matter of great urgency.

During inconclusive engagements in the spring of 1974, the ARVN 1st Division managed to hold on to Nui Mo Tau and Nui Bong, losing Hill 144 between the two but regaining it on 7 April. Hills 273 and 350 were lost; then Hill 350 was recaptured by the 3d Battalion, 3d ARVN Infantry, in a night attack on 4 June. By this time, I Corps units were bothered by reductions in artillery ammunition. Tight restrictions had been imposed by General Truong on the number of rounds that could be fired in counter-battery, preparatory, and defensive fires. These conditions impelled the infantry commanders to seek means other than heavy artillery fires to soften objectives before the assault. In recapturing Hill 350, the 3d ARVN Infantry worked around behind the hill and blocked the enemy's access to defenses on the hill. Within a few days, NVA soldiers on the hill were out of food and low on ammunition. When the ARVN commander, monitoring the enemy's tactical radio net, learned this, he ordered the assault. No artillery was used; mortars and grenades provided the only fire support for the ARVN infantrymen. But they took the hill on the first assault even though the NVA defenders fired a heavy concentration of tear gas against them. ARVN casualties were light while the NVA 5th Regiment lost heavily in men and weapons.

Order of Battle

As the 1st ARVN Division pressed southward against the NVA 324B Division's battalions trying to hold hard-won outposts in the hills, another new NVA corps headquarters was organized north of the Hai Van Pass and placed in command of the 304th, 324B, and 325th Divisions. Designated the 2d Corps, it was a companion to the new 1st Corps in Thanh Hoa Province of North Vietnam, the 3d Corps south of the Hai Van, and the 301st Corps near Saigon. In the Thua Thien campaign, the 324B Division eventually assumed control of five regiments: its own 803d and 812th and three independent NVA infantry regiments, the 5th, 6th, and 271st.

In early June 1974, after releasing the 1st Airborne Brigade to the reserve controlled by the Joint General Staff, General Truong made major adjustments in command and deployments north of the Hai Van Pass. The Marine Division was extended to cover about 10 kilometers of Thua Thien Province and was reinforced with the 15th Ranger Group of three battalions and the 1st Armored Brigade and had operational control of Quang Tri's seven RF battalions. The division commander, Brig. Gen. Bui The Lan, positioned his forces with the 258th Marine Brigade, with one M-48 tank company attached, defending from the sea southwest to about five kilometers east of Quang Tri City. The 369th Marine Brigade held the center sector, Quang Tri City and Highway 1. Southwest of the 369th was the attached 15th Ranger Group along the Thach Han River, and the 147th Marine Brigade was on the left and south of the 15th Rangers. When he had to extend his forces southward to cover the airborne sector, General Lan used a task force of the 1st Armored Brigade, two Marine battalions, and an RF battalion, keeping three tank companies on the approaches to Hue.

The Airborne Division retained the responsibility for the Song Bo approach, placing its two remaining brigades, the 2d and 3d, to the west. The 2d Brigade had two RF battalions and one company of M-41 tanks attached. The 4th NVA Regiment was the principal enemy unit in the 2d Brigade's sector, while the 271st NVA Regiment opposed the 3d Airborne Brigade to the south near Fire Support Base Bastogne.

The four regiments and two attached RF battalions of the 1st ARVN Infantry Division were deployed in a long arc from the Airborne Division's left through the hills to Phu Loc District, with the 54th Infantry Regiment protecting Highway 1 from the Truoi Bridge, just north of Nui Bong, to the Hai Van Pass.

The Railroad

The national railroad paralleled Highway 1 through Thua Thien Province, and daily freight and passenger trains ran between Da Nang and Hue. Since the restoration of traffic in April 1973, passenger trains were heavily used because of low fares and regular service. In January 1974, the railroad carried 128,000 passengers and 1,500 tons of freight along a 100-kilometer run. In mid-May, the Communists increased their efforts to disrupt this service, for although the railroad had negligible economic and military value, it was popular with the people and its operation demonstrated the South Vietnamese government's ability to provide security.

Saboteurs concentrated their attacks along the stretch of rail that ran along the coast from the Lang Co Bridge, the first major bridge north of the Hai Van Pass, and northern Phu Loc District, just south of Phu Bai. More than 40 bridges and numerous defiles were in this section. By mid-June attacks became so frequent that work crews refused to repair track and roadbed without greater protection; one of their work trains was hit by rocket fire near Phu Loc District Town. The enemy placed large stone blocks on the rails, and the workmen, suspecting that they were mined, refused to remove them. Large sections of rail went unrepaired, and the line had to be closed on 22 June.

With territorials providing security for the crews, service on the line was restored on 9 July, only to be closed again the same day when a mine tore up 100 meters of rail. Nevertheless, the line was back in service the following day. In early August, the attack shifted to south of the Hai Van Pass. A large mine planted between the first and second tunnels north of Da Nang destroyed three cars and caused a few civilian casualties.

Interest in riding the railroad naturally began to wane. In August only 4,500 passengers and 180 tons of freight were carried until traffic was again suspended on the 20th. During the eight months of operation in 1974, a locomotive and 15 cars had been destroyed, 3,000 meters of rail had been torn up, and civilian casualties numbered 11 killed and 50 wounded. When he chose to do so the enemy showed that he could close down the railroad.

Naval Engagement Off Quang Tri

While skirmishing for the hills south of Hue occupied the 1st ARVN and 324B NVA Divisions, an event occurred along the Quang Tri coast, demanding the attention of the high commands on both sides. On 20 June 1974, a South Vietnamese Navy patrol sighted a convoy of two steel-hulled landing craft and 30 wooden boats off the South Vietnam coast, south of the mouth of the Cua Viet River. Although there was no clear line of demarcation defining the depth of the NVA's control south of the Cua Viet, these boats were about three kilometers off shore and, by RVNAF reckoning, in South Vietnamese waters. Accordingly, a VNAF helicopter gunship was sent to attack. After a few rounds, the helicopter's guns jammed, and it broke off the attack. Meanwhile, the small convoy changed course and headed north toward the Cua Viet, its original destination; poor navigation had caused it to miss the channel and continue south.

But one of the steel-hulled boats, its master apparently still confused about his location, lumbered on towards Hue, and the forward headquarters of I Corps at Hue ordered its capture. By this time, ARVN units along the coast and Vietnamese Navy elements had been alerted. Eventually, the ARVN 17th Armored Cavalry Squadron, using TOW missiles and tank gunfire, sank the boat off the coast of Thon My Thuy Village, northeast of Hai Lang District Town. The boat's log, recovered along with the bodies of the eight-man crew and part of the cargo (200 cases of Chinese canned pork and 1,000 NVA uniforms), revealed that the vessel belonged to the 102d Boat Company and that there were 10 other boats and 2 barges in the 102d, 7 of which routinely operated between North Vietnam and Dong Ha in the Cua Viet.

The North Vietnamese protested the sinking, claiming that the boat, on a peaceful mission in their waters, was wantonly and illegally destroyed in an act of piracy. The South Vietnamese replied in equally strong terms, charging hostile intrusion by an armed vessel into their territorial waters. Both sides were obviously embarrassed; the North because of the demonstrably poor seamanship of its boat crew; the South because of the uncoordinated action that resulted in the sinking of an enemy boat that could have been easily captured. But the GVN was clearly the winner; it did have the ship's log with its interesting information concerning NVA logistics, and it had a few cases of good canned pork.

An Assist From the Hungarians

While the RVNAF was gaining a modicum of intelligence through the sinking of the enemy boat the NVA was apparently reaping a bountiful harvest of data concerning RVNAF dispositions, defenses, and operations through its connections with the Hungarian delegation on the International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS). Strong indications that this was so appeared north of the Hai Van Pass early in 1974, and the case was the subject of a detailed report submitted in June by the National Police of Military Region 1 to police headquarters in Saigon.

The essence of the report was that several members of the Hungarian delegation to the ICCS had been observed since February taking pictures and making notes at RVNAF bases, outposts, bridges, and other sensitive sites and that this activity bore all the earmarks of espionage. The inescapable conclusion was that the information so collected was delivered to the NVA. Because of the diplomatic status accorded ICCS delegations, South Vietnamese authorities could not confiscate anything from the Hungarians but did try to limit their apparent espionage activities. The following elements of the report were considered significant examples of the kind of reconnaissance the Hungarians were engaged in:

February - Lieutenant Colonel Markus, Chief of the Hungarian ICCS group in Quang Tri, together with Lieutenant Gyori and Sergeant Szabo toured Phu Vang and Phu Thu Districts of Thua Thien Province, using maps and a camera to record the RVNAF defensive positions in the area.

March - LTC Markus, with camera and maps, was stopped at an RVNAF checkpoint on a road leading to the forward positions of the 3d Infantry Regiment, 1st ARVN Division. A few days later, LTC Markus and another member of his team drove from Hue to Quang Tri, recording on maps the GVN positions and installations along Highway 1. On the last day of the month, LTC Markus and CPT Gyula Toser were seen photographing all bridges on Highway 1 between Hue and Da Nang.

April - Three Hungarian field-grade officers arrived in Quang Tri from Saigon and, guided by LTC Markus, drove around the ruined city taking pictures of the Marine positions.

May - Hungarian Signal Sergeant Toth and two other members of the Da Nang team drove from Da Nang to the Hai Van Pass, taking pictures of the Nam O Bridge, the Esso gasoline storage area, and RVNAF military installations en route. Later in the month, Major Kovacs, chief of the Hungarian unit at Phu Bai was observed photographing, with a telephoto lens, aircraft landing and departing Phu Bai Airbase. He was also seen using binoculars and recording the locations of the RVNAF defenses around Phu Bai. Also in May, LTC Varkegyi and Lt. Borkely from Saigon toured the Hai Van Pass with Major Kovacs - taking pictures of all RVNAF installations.

June - Another delegation visited from Saigon. Brigadier General Csapo, Colonel Vida and three others were given the tour to the Hai Van Pass by Lieutenant Colonel Horvath (Chief of the Hue unit) and Major Kovacs. Using a map to note the locations, the party took pictures of installations all along the way.

There was probably no direct connection, but during the last week of June enemy sappers got to the fuel storage area at Camp Evans northwest of Hue and the ammunition storage at Phu Bai. About 8,000 gallons of gasoline burned at Camp Evans; 4,600 tons of ammunition blew up at Phu Bai.

Infiltration into the Thua Thien Lowlands

Ever since the flurry of battles following the January 1973 cease-fire subsided, the lowlands of Thua Thien had been considered almost totally free of Communist-controlled hamlets. Unlike the other southerly coastal provinces of Military Region 1, there were no so-called leopard spots of VC enclaves in either Thua Thien or Quang Tri Provinces. In the fall of 1974, however, disturbing evidence began to appear indicating that three small VC fortified areas had been established since June in Phong Dien District north of Hue. This district of Thua Thien was lightly populated, mostly a wasteland of sand dunes and tidal marsh, little of which was suitable for agriculture or even habitation.

One enclave was in the northwestern corner of the district on the edge of Phong Hoa Village. Occupying an area approximately two kilometers square, it was controlled by a body of about 50 VC political cadre and sheltered about 20 political and armed cadre from neighboring Hai Lang District of Quang Tri. During late October, a company from the 33d NVA Sapper Battalion entered the enclave and helped local forces construct bunkers and install antiaircraft machine guns. The company also mined the perimeter with 105-mm. howitzer projectiles and posted signs warning citizens of the minefields. One of these mines blew the tracks off an ARVN armored personnel carrier during an ARVN probe of the area, but a later operation eventually penetrated and cleared the area.

Another enclave, larger but less well defended was in eastern Phong Dien District. Located in Phong Hien Village, it provided a base for a small armed unit that raided other hamlets in the region and attempted to proselyte in nearby refugee resettlements. But these disturbances in rear areas were of minor importance when measured against the expanding conflict in the hills south of Phu Bai.

The Hills of Phu Loc and Nam Hoa

Hills 144, 273, 224, 350, and Nui Bong, and Nui Mo Tau, overlooking the lines of communication through Phu Loc District and providing observation and artillery sites in range of Phu Bai, were generally along the boundary between Phu Loc and Nam Hoa Districts of Thua Thien Province. Having recaptured Hill 350 on 4 June, the ARVN 1st Division continued the attack toward Hill 273. A fresh battalion, the 1st Battalion, 54th Infantry, took the hill on 27 June, incurring light casualties, and by the next day, the 1st ARVN Division controlled all of the important high ground south of Phu Bai.

On 29 June General Truong directed his deputy north of the Hai Van Pass, General Thi, to constitute a regimental reserve for the expected NVA counterattacks against the newly won objectives. General Thi accordingly replaced the 54th Infantry with the 3d Infantry on July, the 54th becoming the corps reserve north of the Hai Van. General Truong had good reason to be concerned. The NVA was preparing for increased and prolonged operations in Thua Thien Province, as revealed by aerial photography of NVA rear areas on 30 June. A 150,000-gallon fuel tank farm, connected to the pipeline through the A Shau Valley, was photographed under construction in far western Quang Nam, only 25 kilometers south of the NVA base in Ruong Ruong. The Ruong Ruong region, also called the Nam Dong Secret Zone, was seen growing in logistic capacity. Local Routes 593 and 545 were shown to be repaired and in use, and a tank park and two new truck parks were discernable.

The 324B NVA Division took a while to get organized for renewed attacks in southern Thua Thien. Its battalions had taken severe beatings, and a period of re-equipping and re-planning was necessary. In the meantime, action shifted to the old Airborne Brigade sector in northern Thua Thien where the 6th and 8th Marine Battalions, attached to the 147th Brigade, came under heavy attack. Attacks continued through July, and some Marine outposts, targets for 130-mm. gunfire, had to be given up. No important changes in dispositions took place, however.

Mid-July passed in southern Thua Thien without much activity. But on 25 July, as the 2d Infantry Regiment, 3d ARVN Division, was trying to regroup following a devastating engagement above Duc Duc, General Truong ordered the 54th Infantry, 1st ARVN Division, from Thua Thien to Quang Nam for attachment to the 3d. The 1st Infantry Division, with only three regiments, was left with a 60-kilometer front including Highway 1 and no reserve north of the Hai Van Pass. Since this situation was hazardous, General Troung on 3 August ordered General Thi to reconstitute a reserve using the 15th Ranger Group, at that time attached to the Marine Division on the Thach Han River.

Consequently, on 5 August the 121st RF Battalion replaced the 60th Ranger Battalion on the Quang Tri front. Shortly afterward the 61 st and 94th Ranger Battalions pulled out, relieved respectively by the 126th RF Battalion and the 5th Marine Battalion. But events in Quang Nam forced General Truong to change his plans for the 1 5th Group; because Truong Duc had just fallen, he needed the 3d Airborne Brigade in Quang Nam. So, as soon as the Marines and territorials replaced the battalions of the 15th Group, the relief of the 3d Airborne Brigade began in the Song Bo corridor. But, General Thi was still without a reserve north of the Hai Van Pass, and fresh opportunities for the new NVA 2d Corps appeared in Phu Loc District.

While General Truong was shifting forces to save Quang Nam, the NVA 2d Corps was moving new battalions near Hill 350. First to deploy, in late July, was the 271st Independent Regiment, previously under the control of the 325th Division. In mid-August, the 812th Regiment, 324B Division, began its march from A Luoi in the northern A Shau Valley. Covering the entire 50 kilometers on foot, the regiment arrived undetected on 26 August. On 28 August attacks on ARVN positions in the Nui Mo Tau-Hill 350 area began. Over 600 artillery rounds hit Nui Mo Tau where the 2d Battalion, 3d Infantry, was dug in. The ARVN battalion held the hill against the assault of the NVA infantrymen, but an adjacent position, manned by the 129th RF Battalion, collapsed, and the battalion was scattered. To the east, on Nui Bong and Hills 273 and 350, the other two battalions of the 3d Infantry were bombarded by 1,300 rounds and driven from their positions by the 6th and 812th NVA Regiments. Meanwhile, the 8th Battalion, 812th NVA Regiment, overran Hill 224. Thus, in a few hours, except for Nui Mo Tau, all ARVN accomplishments of the long summer campaign in southern Thua Thien were erased. The 51st Infantry of the 1st ARVN Division was rushed into the line, but the momentum of the NVA attack had already dissipated. The casualties suffered by the 324B NVA Division were high, but it now controlled much of the terrain overlooking the Phu Loc lowlands and Phu Bai.

Heavy fighting throughout the foothills continued into the first week of September with strong NVA attacks against the 3d Battalion, 51st Regiment, and the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 3d Regiment. The 6th and 803d NVA Regiments lost nearly 300 men and over 100 weapons in these attacks, but the 3d ARVN Infantry was no longer combat effective due to casualties and equipment losses.

Immediate reinforcements were needed south of Phu Bai. Accordingly, General Truong ordered the 54th Infantry Regiment back to Thua Thien Province, together with the 37th Ranger Battalion, which had been fighting on the Duc Duc front. General Thi took personal command of the ARVN forces in southern Thua Thien and moved the 7th Airborne Battalion from north of Hue and the 111th RF Battalion, securing the port at Tan My, to Phu Bai. These deployments and the skillful use of artillery concentrations along enemy routes of advance put a temporary damper on NVA initiatives in the foothills.

In an apparent diversion to draw ARVN forces northward away from Phu Loc, the NVA on 21 September strongly attacked the 5th and 8th Marine and the 61st Ranger Battalions holding the Phong Dien sector north of Hue. Although some 6,600 rounds, including hundreds from 130-mm. field guns, and heavy rockets, struck the defenses, the South Vietnamese held firmly against the ground attacks that followed. Over 240 enemy infantrymen from the 325th Division were killed, mostly by ARVN artillery, in front of the 8th Marines, and General Thi made no deployments in response to the attack. The next week, however, renewed assaults by the 803d NVA Regiment carried it to Nui Mo Tau, and by the end of September, the 324B NVA Division had consolidated its control over the high ground south of Phu Bai from Nui Mo Tau east to Nui Bong and Hill 350. The NVA 2d Corps immediately began to exploit this advantage by moving 85-mm. field gun batteries of its 78th Artillery Regiment into position to fire on Phu Bai Air Base, forcing the VNAF to suspend operations at the only major airfield north of Hai Van Pass.

The attack to retake the commanding ground around Phu Bai began on 22 October with a diversionary assault on Hill 224 and Hill 303. The 1st ARVN Infantry Regiment was to follow with the main attack against the 803d NVA Regiment on Nui Mo Tau. Bad weather brought by Typhoon Della reduced air support to nothing, and little progress was made by ARVN infantrymen. Nevertheless, the attack on Nui Mo Tau, with a secondary effort against elements of the 812th NVA Regiment on Nui Bong, began on 26 October. The 54th ARVN Infantry, with the 2d Battalion, 3d Infantry, attached, made slight progress on Nui Mo Tau, and the 3d Battalion, 1st Infantry, met strong resistance near Nui Bong. But the ARVN artillery was taking its toll of the NVA defenders, who were also suffering the effects of cold rains sweeping across the steep, shell-torn slopes. Heavy, accurate artillery fire forced the 6th Battalion, 6th NVA Infantry, to abandon its trenches on Hill 312, east of Hill 350, and the 803d Regiment's trenches, bunkers, and communications were being torn up by the ARVN fire placed on Nui Mo Tau. Toward the end of October, the 803d and 812th NVA Regiments were so depleted that the 2d NVA Corps withdrew them from the battle and assigned the defense of Nui Mo Tau and Nui Bong to the 6th Regiment and 271st Regiment respectively.

As heavy rains continued, movement and fire support became increasingly difficult, and the ARVN offensive in southern Thua Thien Province slowed considerably. Enemy artillery continued to inhibit the use of Phu Bai Air Base, and 1st ARVN Division infantrymen around Nui Bong suffered daily casualties to NVA mortars and field guns. On 24 November, Maj. Gen. Nguyen Van Diem, commanding the 1st Division, secured permission to pull his troops away from Nui Bong and concentrate his forces against Nui Mo Tau.

For a new assault on Nui Mo Tau, General Truong authorized the reinforcement of the 54th Infantry Regiment by the 15th Ranger Group drawn out of the Bo River Valley west of Hue; the 54th would make the main attack. The 54th Infantry commander selected his 3d Battalion to lead, followed by the 2d Battalion and the 60th and 94th Ranger Battalions. When the 3d Battalion had difficulty reaching the attack position, it was replaced on 27 November by the 1st Battalion. Weather was terrible that day, but two Ranger battalions made some progress and established contact with the enemy on the eastern and southeastern slopes of the mountain. On 28 November, with good weather and long-awaited support from the VNAF, the 1st Battalion, 54th Infantry, began moving toward the crest of Nui Mo Tau. On the mountain the enemy was approaching a desperate state; one battalion of the 5th NVA Regiment was moving to reinforce but washouts on Route 545 between Ruong Ruong and Thon Ben Tau south of Nui Mo Tau had all but eliminated resupply.

Despite difficulties, however, the enemy continued to resist strongly on both mountains. On 1 December, Colonel Vo Toan, the highly respected commander of the 1st ARVN Infantry, returned to his regiment from a six-month absence at South Vietnam's Command and General Staff College. His timely arrival was probably responsible for injecting new spirit and more professional leadership into the attack, which had bogged down so close to its objective. But help also arrived for the defenders; the 812th NVA Regiment, refitted and somewhat recovered from its earlier combat, returned to Nui Mo Tau, replacing the badly battered 6th NVA Regiment. Over on Nui Bong, however, the remnants of the 271st NVA Independent Regiment were without help. On 3 December, the 1st Reconnaissance Company and the 1st and 3d Battalions, 1st ARVN Infantry Regiment, were assaulting a dug-in battalion only 50 meters from the crest. But the expected victory slipped from their grasp. Intense fires drove the South Vietnamese back, and although the 1st Infantry retained a foothold on the slopes, it was unable to carry the crest.

The attack by the 54th ARVN Infantry and the 15th Ranger Group had more success. On 10 December, the 1st Battalion of the 54th took one of the twin crests of Nui Mo Tau and captured the other the following day. As bloody skirmishing continued around the mountain for weeks, the NVA executed another relief, replacing the 812th Regiment with the 803d. Although the enemy remained entrenched on Nui Bong, his access to lines of communication and the base in Ruong Ruong were frequently interdicted by the ARVN units operating in his rear. Furthermore, the 78th NVA Artillery Regiment was forced to remove its batteries because resupply past the ARVN position around Nui Mo Tau became too difficult. The VNAF, meanwhile, resumed military traffic into Phu Bai on 13 December.

By making timely and appropriate economy-of-force deployments, often accepting significant risks, General Truong was able to hold the NVA main force at bay around Hue. But the ring was closing on the Imperial City. Reinforced NVA battalions - equipped with new weapons, ranks filling with fresh replacements from the north - were in close contact with ARVN outposts the length of the front. Behind these battalions, new formations of tanks were being assembled and large logistical installations were being constructed, heavily protected by antiaircraft and supplied by newly improved roads. While the situation in the north appeared ominous, one of the most tragic events of the war was unfolding in Phuoc Long Province to the south.

Note on Sources

As in the previous chapter, heavy reliance was placed on the reports of the Consul General, Da Nang, and weekly summaries from DAO and J2/ JGS. DAO's regional liaison office in Da Nang filed numerous valuable reports during this period. and these were also useful for this chapter. Comments by the I Corps commander, General Truong, were essential to establish the accuracy and completeness of the data.

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