Friday, June 2, 1972

Viets Win Part of Kontum

SAIGON (AP) -- South Vietnamese forces wrested back some lost ground in Kontum Wednesday behind diving aircraft that pelted entrenched Communists with bombs and rockets despite murky weather.

The senior U.S. adviser in the central highlands said the North Vietnamese were pulling back but will renew their attacks.

Over North Vietnam, U.S. Navy aircraft dropped tele-guided bombs around the key southern port of Vinh to block stored war supplies and destroy petroleum depots, the U.S. command said.

With most other fronts quiet, government defenders at Kontum claimed killing 194 Communists in clashes south of the airstrip at the city's northern edge.

John Paul Vann, the senior U.S. adviser in II military region that includes the highlands, said the bulk of the fighting would be over by mid-June but the battle of Kontum would continue beyond that time.

Vann told a Pleiku news conference that phase one of the battle has ended and the North Vietnamese are now pulling back to resupply, regroup their forces and get ready for more attacks.

He said that although the situation had improved for the South Vietnamese defenders at Kontum in the past week, the battle for the city has not been won by a long shot.

The North Vietnamese, now holding two military compounds in the northern part of Kontum and a small area on the southeast side, are short of supplies and troop replacements and troubled by low morale, Vann said.

Another senior U.S. adviser said, "If it weren't for our (air) firepower, we wouldn't still be holding Kontum."

In Saigon, military spokesmen said the U.S. Navy planes, using "smart" bombs with TV nose cameras for pinpoint accuracy, launched an aerial campaign to isolate Vinh, the big coastal city midway between Hanoi and the demilitarized zone.

Pilots from the carrier Midway said they knocked out the Tho Tuong railroad bridge 10 miles southwest of Vinh with two of the 1,100-pound high explosive bombs.

The glide bomb carries in its nose a television camera that relays pictures back to a screen in the plane. When the bomb focuses on the target, the pilot keeps it on course by transmitting electronic signals to four tail fins that steer it.

Vinh is a major transshipment point for war supplies moving into South Vietnam to support the North Vietnamese offensive now beginning its third month.

Waves of Navy jets from three carriers in the Tonkin Gulf concentrated their raids around Vinh on Tuesday.

Pilots said they also knocked out the Tam Da railroad bridge 11 miles north of the city and cut the railroad tracks to the northern approach of the Dien Chau railroad bridge eight miles farther north.

The Duc Lam highway bridge 34 miles southeast of Vinh was reported damaged.

Officers said the objective is to cut Vinh off from the rest of North Vietnam and attack war materials already there for shipment to the South. U.S. planes already have mined the harbor.

Navy fighter-bombers also hit two fuel depots on the outskirts of the city, and the pilots said they left both in flames.

Officials in Saigon claimed that most major bridges and roads and the northeast and northwest rail lines form Hanoi to China have now been cut.

"Viets Win Part of Kontum", by SAIGON (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Friday, June 2, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
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