Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam (Battles and Campaigns Series)
Thomas P. McKenna
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
In the spring of 1972, North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam in what became known as the Easter Offensive. Almost all of the American forces had already withdrawn from Vietnam except for a small group of American advisers to the South Vietnamese armed forces. The 23rd ARVN Infantry Division and its American advisers were sent to defend the provincial capital of Kontum in the Central Highlands. They were surrounded and attacked by three enemy divisions with heavy artillery and tanks but, with the help of air power, managed to successfully defend Kontum and prevent South Vietnam from being cut in half and defeated.
Although much has been written about the Vietnam War, little of it addresses either the Easter Offensive or the Battle of Kontum. In Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam, Thomas P. McKenna fills this gap, offering the only in-depth account available of this violent engagement. McKenna, a U.S. infantry lieutenant colonel assigned as a military adviser to the 23rd Division, participated in the battle of Kontum and combines his personal experiences with years of interviews and research from primary sources to describe the events leading up to the invasion and the battle itself.
Kontum sheds new light on the actions of U.S. advisers in combat during the Vietnam War. McKenna's book is not only an essential historical resource for America's most controversial war but a personal story of valor and survival.
the local dates found on letters, logs, and other documents created in Vietnam and the US dates for events taking place in the United States. The Vietnam datelines on American newspaper articles were not always accurate but were seldom off by more than one day. News stories in the military newspaper Pacific Stars and Stripes were more accurately dated. Determining the time of day when something happened was especially difficult. Military messages between Saigon and Washington and the messages
Front’s subordinate units were identified as the 2nd and 320th NVA Infantry Divisions plus the entire 203rd Tank Regiment4 from Hanoi High Command and other independent infantry and artillery units. VC main and localforce units supplemented the NVA units. All those nondivisional units assigned to the B-3 Front equaled another division, so the equivalent of three enemy divisions would be attacking into the Central Highlands in II Corps. A captured document revealed that both 122-mm and 130-mm
persuaded his counterpart, Lieutenant Colonel Thong, to break down one company of his regiment into small hunter-killer teams and send them out to destroy the oncoming enemy tanks. That effort was rewarded when the hunter-killer teams reported they knocked out two T-54s west of the town.34 At 0326 on Monday, Spectre reported that ten of the enemy tanks were moving to the high ground north of the compound near the airstrip. The remaining armor was proceeding south of Tan Canh Village and then west
25,000 people was liberated. For the first time in the history of the Central Highlands, our forces had destroyed McKenna Kontum book.indb 112 6/14/2011 10:17:35 AM THE COLLAPSE AT TAN CANH • 113 an enemy divisional base camp located behind a fortified line of defenses.55 After dark Tuesday night, 25 April, reports of enemy tanks continued to flow into the II Corps headquarters—three tanks here, five there, nine more in another place. A few were spotted west of Dak To II and others 28
the Vietnamese staff. One .51-caliber round blew the door gunner’s head to pieces. The NVA was issuing a challenge with this move, but the 22nd Division’s response was ineffectual. For five days, the 47th Regiment tried to drive out the NVA troops in this position by using three battalions of infantry, tanks, and 10,000 rounds of artillery fire. All that harassment finally wore down the NVA, so they packed up and left. The 47th should have wiped out that much smaller enemy force in a day. Kaplan