BATTLE FOR THE FIRE SUPPORT BASES
During the latter part of March, the FSBs on "Rocket Ridge" had received probing attacks and attacks by fire (ABF) from a mixed caliber of weapons. The intensity of the attacks increased until the first major assault took place on the 4th of April.
This early morning attack against FSB D marked the beginning of Phase I, the battle for the fire support bases. The attacks were made by elements of the NVA 320th Infantry Division and consisted of heavy infantry assaults supported by direct and indirect artillery and rocket fire.
For the next several days the enemy pounded the FSBs located on "Rocket Ridge." Several ground assaults were successfully repulsed with enemy forces suffering heavy losses from the concentrated fire of gunships, TACAIR, and artillery. The ARVN soldiers did well defending their positions although it was clear to all concerned that their survival was due in large measure to the immediately available fire support.
As the battle for the FSBs wore on, there were numerous reports that NVA armored vehicles were operating in the area. Although helicopter crews reported sighting what appeared to be tank tracks in the valley west of "Rocket Ridge", the presence of armored vehicles could not be confirmed.
After bitter fighting and the lose of several bases, General Ngo Dzu, the II Corps Commander, ordered the evacuation of the remaining FSBs on "Rocket Ridge." The troops walked out of these bases leaving their 105mm artillery pieces behind. Some of the units made heavy contact and took many casualties as the withdrawal turned into an exercise in escape and evasion. Some of the troops made it to the border camp at Ben Het and were extracted several days later by helicopter. Others were able to make their way to QL 14 and then, later, back to Kontum City. Many ARVN soldiers were lost, either captured or simply not able to make their way back to friendly locations.