Dear Mr. Heslin:
Thank you for accurately reporting the "Battle of Kontum".
I was there, from April 22nd, 1972 until after the 1973 cease-fire. Our 23rd.Division was attacked on its way to Kontum, at the Chu Pao impasse on QL 14. As a surgeon, I was not privy to a lot of information, but thanks to our electronic intelligence combat team, we knew in advance of the enemy attack on May 14th.
When Mr. Vann set an example by staying overnight at the 23rd.Div field HQ, we knew that he was our friend and would not let us down. As long as I live, I will remember him.
I will inform Gen. Ba of your site.
Again, thank you for your noble sacrifices for my country, and God bless the USA,
Signed -- A Vietnamese Doctor
REFLECTIONS: I have received many e-mails from Vietnamese veterans who participated in the Battle of Kontum. Most of those who have contacted me remember John Paul Vann in a very positive way. During the Battle of Kontum, I remember having a keen sense that Mr. Vann was in charge and had enough political power to get the support we needed. I remember the night he died in the Kontum Pass - I remember his voice on the radio as he left the helicopter pad at the II Corps HQ headed for Kontum. I remember LTC Jack Anderson asking me to go with him that night to recover Mr. Vann's body... John Vann and Gen. Ba went back ten years to the Battle of Ap Bac in January 1963 when Ly Tong Ba was a Captain and John was LTC Vann. I remember some American advisors were critical of Gen. Ba during the Battle of Kontum for not being aggressive enough, for not going out to attack the enemy. I think Gen. Ba knew his troops better than the Americans did and he played to the strength of his soldiers in letting them fight from defensive positions.