Long An Province had long been
in the center of American Viet Nam . The original Staley-Taylor Plan of
the early Sixties called for "pacifying
all of South Viet Nam in 18 months. When that proved to be unattainable, the more modest McNamara plan was proposed with the goal of starting with the "pacification" of a single province, Long An. Regular troops were moved from central Viet Nam into Long An. This plan suffered a serious setback when starting New Year's Eve 1963, the notorious "Black Tiger" battalion was encircled and wiped out by NLF forces in Long An. Attempts to resupply the encircled battalion from the air resulted in ten tons of supplies falling into the enemies hands. The NLF also took advantage of the shifting of forces by launching sharp attacks in central Viet Nam, gaining sizable territory in the mid 1964 period. Much of the province remained under NLF control.
In September 1966, a battalion
of the American 25th Infantry Division occupied the Seat of Long An Province.
Rach Kien had been a Viet Cong
administered village up to that point. The battalion was battered by the PAVN Main Force Battalion, whose mission was to launch attacks on Saigon from bases in the Province. The arrival in January 1967 of the 3d Brigade of the 9th Division brought about a severe degradation of the revolutionary forces from 1967 to 1969.
The 3/39th established a Patrol Base/Fire Support Base (PB/FSB) in Rach Kien, occupying parts of the village which were used for housing. Each of the three rifle companies (A,B,C) defended one third of the perimeter. The Area of Operation (AO) extended outward many kilometers in operations which included platoon-size Search and Destroy patrols, night ambushes, helicopter assaults (Eagle Flights) within the AO and in the surrounding areas of The Plain of Reeds, The Parrot's Beak, Can Giouc and The Rung Sat. Combat operations were supported by organic indirect weapons of the company's 81mm mortars, 4.2 heavy mortars, twin 40's, and 105mm Howitzers of Battery A, 2nd Bn., 4th Field Artillery. The fire from the base went on at almost a continual basis which made sleeping at night very difficult. Harassing and Interdiction Fire (H&I) and support for our own as well as ARVN operations made for a busy schedule.
Our opposition, the Revolutionary
Main Force, consisted mainly of two battalions from the 506th Regiment
and the 2nd Independent Battalion as
well as local peasant Self Defense units.
Approaching Tet, there was an increase in PAVN units which infiltrated
by way of the HO Chi Minh Trail and
operated in Long An Province. In July of 1967, 9th Division Intelligence
estimated the Division was facing an enemy force of over
20,000 including 10,900 enemy combat personnel, 1,350 logistical support personnel, 3,930 guerrillas, 8,840 Self Defense forces and 3,130
infrastructure personnel. The 3d Brigade of the 9th Division consisted of the 2nd and 5th Battalions of the 5/60th Infantry and the 3/39th Infantry. They managed to keep the enemy at bay but also took heavy casualties in the process. Tan An served as the Forward Command Post of the 9th as well as 3d Brigade Headquarters. All Battalions fought with distinction.
From "War Comes to Long An" by Jeffrey Race and added to by G. Gapol and G. Grieb
Back to Table