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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Elite Viet troops destroy 878 Reds

A tank rolls through a Saigon street as local Vietnamese walk by, three days after the beginning of the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive in February 1968.

HENRY HANSEN, GERARD F. FORKEN, DAN PRATT/STARS AND STRIPES

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 14, 1968

SAIGON — South Vietnamese airborne troops killed at least 878 Reds in five major cities throughout the republic on Jan. 31.

The elite government soldiers sustained light casualties, capturing 29 of the enemy, along with 91 crew-served and 398 individual weapons. The initial action was triggered when a special Viet Cong commando platoon forcibly entered Saigon's radio station at 3:30 a.m.

Two companies of the 1st Bn. were rushed to the scene where they killed the 14-man enemy unit. At 5 a.m., two companies of the 8th Bn. battled a large enemy force outside the western perimeter of Tan Son Nhul Air Base, saving the Vietnamese Joint General Staff Headquarters at the base from being overrun.

Meanwhile, the two other companies of the 8th Bn. were joined by members of the 6th Bn. as they counterattacked enemy forces rocketing the base from the southwest.

As this fierce action continued throughout the day, the airborne headquarters’ mortar platoon and U.S. Army gunships supported the Maroon Berets and eventually crushed the Reds on both fronts, killing 259 and capturing nine.

Forty-six crew served and 216 individual weapons were seized in the day-long battle.

The newly-formed 11th Bn. near Vung Tau came under Communist attack in the early morning hours. The Reds were driven off by government paratroopers. Eighty Viet Cong bodies were left behind along with four crew-served and 34 individual weapons.

At 11 a.m., in the northern provincial capital of Hue, elements of the 2nd and 7th Bn. killed 275 and captured 5 of the enemy. The 5th Bn. battled an enemy battalion at Da Nang, killing 50 and capturing two.

When North Vietnamese soldiers attacked Quang Tri, the 9th Bn. repulsed the superior-sized enemy force, killing 200 and capturing 12. The fighting in the five cities claimed 114 airborne troopers' lives.

In the 24-hour period the South Vietnamese paratroopers had killed almost one-fourth of the total enemy soldiers they killed in all of 1957.

Two battalions of the division commanded by Maj. Gen. Du Quoz Dong, the 7lh and 8th, have received the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation for past actions of valor.
 

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