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By James Mesko

ISBN-10: 0897471598

ISBN-13: 9780897471596

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Additional resources for Airmobile: The Helicopter War in Vietnam (Vietnam Studies Group Series 6040)

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Tonc revealed to the Marines that two PAVN divisions—his and the 304th—were preparing for an attack on Khe Sanh that would begin that night with the initial assault against Hills 861 and 881 South. Once these hills were taken, two PAVN regiments would attack Khe Sanh itself from the northeast and south. S. bases along the DMZ and then subsequently liberating Quang Tri Province. 19 The Marines were not sure whether to believe Tonc, but they went on alert anyway. Tonc’s predictions were soon borne out when just after midnight on January 21, following a mortar, rocket, and rocket-propelled-grenade barrage, three hundred PAVN soldiers spearheaded by sappers using satchel charges, bangalore torpedoes, and bamboo ladders breached the perimeter wire and attacked Hill 861.

In late October, intelligence indicated that four PAVN main-force regiments were moving into the Dak To region. At the time, there was only one American battalion in the area, but Westmoreland quickly sent in reinforcements. S. and six ARVN infantry battalions in the area. The first engagement between the allied forces and PAVN troops erupted on November 17, and it was followed by a series of pitched battles that ranged over an area of 190 square miles and lasted for twenty-two days. During the bitter fighting, three PAVN regiments were severely crippled, suffering an estimated 1,400 soldiers killed, but allied losses were heavy, too.

When the Marines told the men to stop, they did not respond. The Marines opened fire, killing five of the men and wounding the sixth. This party turned out to be a PAVN regimental commander and his staff, who were apparently conducting a reconnaissance of the Marine positions. For these officers to be in the area could only mean that the PAVN were planning a major assault. There were additional signs that there was a major PAVN buildup around Khe Sanh and the surrounding area. Marine patrols discovered fighting positions, widened trails, and even new roads.

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Airmobile: The Helicopter War in Vietnam (Vietnam Studies Group Series 6040) by James Mesko

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