The Battle of Kontum Banner Image

Nguyen Huu Tien  

The 2nd Airborne Brigade at the Fire Support Bases

In order to reinforce the defenses of Kontum, the 2nd Airborne Brigade (ARVN) was sent to secure a string of Fire Support Bases on Rocket Ridge. These Bases dominated Route 511 to the west and National Route 14 and the Poko River to the east, forming a screen protecting Tan Canh and Kontum City. The 2nd Airborne Brigade Headquarters was located at Vo Dinh that was located north west of Kontum along National Route 14.

On April 6, 1972, the 2nd Airborne Battalion at Fire Support Base Delta was attacked, but the enemy forces were pushed back, with heavy losses. On April 9, 1972, after a half-day of heavy artillery fire with mortars, rockets and 130 mm field guns, two regiments of the NVA 320th Division launched massive assaults against Fire Support Base Charlie which was defended by the 11th Airborne Battalion. In spite of a vigorous fight by the paratroopers, the enemy pressure did not relent. On April 12th, Lt. Colonel Nguyen Dinh Bao, the 11th Airborne Battalion commander was killed by heavy artillery and the paratroopers suffered heavy casualties. For lack of ammunition and support, they had to evacuate the Base during the night after inflicting serious losses on the enemy forces.

A week later, Fire Support Base Delta, defended by the 2nd Airborne battalion, was overrun by enemy armor and infantry after several days of heavy artillery fire. The 9th Airborne was to defend the immediate vicinity of Tan Canh - Dak To, supporting elements of the 22nd ARVN Division.

After the fall of the Fire Support Bases on Rocket Ridge, the enemy artillery fire against the base in Tan Canh - Dak To area had increased very significantly.

On April 24, the enemy forces launched an attack on Tan Canh with extensive use of the wire-guided antitank missile which disabled M.41 tanks and M.113 armored personnel carriers. Realizing that the situation was hopeless, the American division advisers were extracted by helicopters with Mr. John Paul Vann aboard. At 10:30 am, the Division tactical operation center took a direct blast, all communications equipment was destroyed by the explosion. ARVN forces inside and out-side the compound ran away to save their lives. In the early afternoon, Colonel Le Duc Dat was killed outside his headquarters.

Tan Canh fell and the 9th Airborne Battalion was forced to retreat in the direction of Vo Dinh, where the 2nd Airborne Brigade headquarters was located. The mission of the 2nd Airborne Brigade was finished in the Highlands of Military Region II and the ARVN general staff ordered it to a new mission in the Military Region I. It arrived in Hue on May 8 and was immediately deployed to reinforce the northern sector at My Chanh.

Thank you,
Sincerely Yours,
Nguyen Huu Tien

Nguyen Huu Tien <>
USA - Monday, July 28, 2003 at 06:47:12 (PDT)

[ Back to Memories Book Index ]