U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS MAP One of the most historically desireable maps from the war... (the Dak To map would make a good companion piece to this one... they fit side-by-side...see my other auctions) Dak Mot Lop BEN HET SF-CIDG Camp Ho Chi Minh Trail 4th Battalion, 173d Airborne Brigade, 503rd Infantry One of only seven SF/CIDG Surveillance camps, they were, from north to south, Ben Het (located at heliport noted on map) , Plei Djereng, Duc Co, Tieu Atar, Ban Don, Duc Lap, and Bu Prang. I have maps showing all of them if needed. "173d Border Battles" Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos Borders US Special Forces Operations. Kontum - Dak To Provinces /History/hist_benhet.html Some good info on Ben Het CIDG camp at above site Areas on the map... FSB 6, FSB 12, FSB 13, FSB 15, FSB 16, Hill 664, Hill 823, Hill 830, Hill 875, Hill 889, Action on Hill 882... /individual-topic-post.php?topicid=582&category=813&tpostid=543 Battle for Hill 875
At 09:43 on 19 November, the three companies (330 men) of 2/503 moved into jumpoff positions from which to assault Hill 875. Charlie and Delta companies moved up the slope followed by two platoons of Alpha Company in the classic "two up one back" formation utilized since WWI. The Weapons Platoon of Alpha remained behind at the bottom of the hill to cut out a landing zone. Instead of a frontal assault with massed troops, the unit would have been better served by advancing small teams to develop possible North Vietnamese positions and then calling in air and artillery support.U.S. 105 mm artillery battery in action in the Central Highlands.
At 10:30, as the Americans moved to within 300 meters of the crest, PAVN machine gunners opened fire on the advancing paratroopers. Then B-40 rockets and 57mm recoilless rifle fire were unleashed upon them. The paratroopers attempted to continue the advance, but the North Vietnamese, well concealed in interconnected bunkers and trenches, opened fire with small arms and grenades. The American advance was halted and the men went to ground, finding whatever cover they could. At 14:30 PAVN troops hidden at the bottom of the hill launched a massed assault on Alpha Company. Unknown to the Americans, they had walked into a carefully prepared ambush by the 2nd Battalion of the 174th PAVN Regiment.The men of Alpha Company retreated up the slope, lest they be cut off from their comrades and annihilated. They were closely followed by the North Vietnamese. All that prevented the company-strength North Vietnamese onslaught from overrunning the entire battalion was the heroic efforts of American paratroopers who stood their ground and died to buy time for their comrades. Soon, U.S. air strikes and artillery fire were being called in, but they had little effect on the battle because of the dense foliage on the hillside. Resupply became a necessity because of high ammunition expenditures and lack of water, but it was also an impossibility. Six UH-1 helicopters were shot down or badly damaged that afternoon trying to get to 2/503. At 18:58 one of the worst friendly-fire incidents of the Vietnam Conflict occurred when a Marine Corps fighter-bomber dropped two 500-pound bombs into 2/503's perimeter. One of the bombs exploded, a tree burst above the center of the position, where the combined command groups, the wounded, and the medics were all located. It killed 42 men outright and wounded 45 more, including the overall on-scene commander, Captain Harold Kaufman. 1Lt. Bartholomew O'Leary, Delta Company Commander, was seriously wounded. (Alpha company's commander had been killed in the retreat up the slope). U.S. troops in combat on Hill 875.
The next morning, the three companies of 4/503 were chosen to set out and relieve the men on Hill 875. Because of intense PAVN sniper and mortar fire (and the terrain) it took until nightfall for the relief force to reach the beleaguered battali...