BATTLE OF AP BAC



BATTLE OF AP BAC


On July 7, 1954 Bao Dai, president of Vietnam appointed Ding Diem as Prime Minister. Dai was a pro French president who did not have communist beliefs for Vietnam. Diem was man who refused French rule and favored American ideas. He was a Roman Catholic, thus causing him to be an opponent of communism as well. He also maintained a link to the CIA through Colonel Edward Lansdale, renowned expert on counterinsurgency. In April 1955 Diem launched an offensive against his main rivals in the south (Coa Dai and Hoa Hoa sects well as the powerful Binh Xuyen pirates) and declared himself president. Since the south was a mainly Buddhist and Diem was Catholic, it caused him to be isolated from the people. His fear of a coup and obsession with power caused him to distrust all, but his own family. Between Diem and his family there was a spread of corruption throughout the country. By the late 1950\'s South Vietnam had degenerated into repressive, undemocratic state, which left its people angry and isolated. 1957 sparked the first sign of trouble as guerillas launch attacks on government agencies in rural areas. It was believed that the Vietnamese Communist launched the attacks; also know as the Viet Cong (VC), who was of the Viet Ming party that stayed behind. They had gone under ground a few years earlier in 1954. They gained the support of North Vietnam and in 1959 began a policy to reunify Vietnam with a large-scale infiltration of armed cadres into the south along the Ho Chi Man Trail. Due to the resentment caused by Diem, a substantial part of South Vietnam was taken over by the communist (VC). The US, under the leadership of President John F. Kennedy, was convinced that the insurgency in South Vietnam was part of a Sino-Soviet campaign to ensure the spread of Communism. The US government sent aid to South Vietnam in the form of US supplied M-113 armored personnel carriers, helicopters, aircraft along with pilots and mechanics to train South Vietnamese personnel on their use. Also US Special Forces (green berets) and Army advisors were deployed to boost the capability of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). At the end of 1961, about 3,160 US service personnel were in Vietnam. The number would rise to about 16,000 two years later. Even the advantages of US military technology and advisors to South Vietnam, after a short time the VC learned to operate around them. This was due to the AVRN unit commanders, many of who were just political appointees, lacked resolve. Thus allowing the VC to escape instead of risking heavy AVRN casualties. The VC was engaging in new techniques ranging from the relocation of villagers to more fortified areas to use of air and artillery strikes in rural areas. This resulted in more alienation of the people from Diem\'s cause, ultimately leading to the peasant class assisting the VC. January 2, 1963 the AVRN 7th Division was ordered to destroy a VC in the hamlet (AP) of Tan Thoi. The plan was for AVRN infantry to be landed by helicopter to the north of the hamlet, while two Civil Guard battalions supported by a company of M-113s approached from the south through the neighboring hamlet of Bac. Originally it was believed that the transmitter was guarded by an estimate of 120 VC. In reality it was guarded by about 360. The AVRN attack went wrong from the very start. After the infantry had landed at 0703 hrs, it was discovered that the weather was not good enough for any more helicopter operations, due to a thick ground fog. Further operations had to post-poned until 0930 hrs. The first clash occurred at 0745 where the Civil Guard blundered into the VC section across their route. After the loss of their company commander the South Vietnamese Army went to the ground and called for much needed reinforcements. Helicopters were landed 300 yards west of Bac and were supported by UH-1 gunships. It is said that US pilots landed 200 yards from the hamlet into a VC ambush. As they came in at about 1020 hrs they were hit by machinegun and rifle fire from hidden foxholes. One of the