From the S&S archives:Attleboro battered Reds' supply system
Saigon — More than 1,000 communists were killed in 43 days of bitter fighting, but U.S. military spokesmen say the most significant result of Operation Attleboro was the severe blow struck against the communists' supply system. The operation was officially ended Friday. The Reds lost some 2,400 tons of precious rice that was to feed their troops for months. They also lost more than 25,000 grenades, 127 individual weapons, 19 crew-served weapons, more than 1,000 pounds of ammunition, bombs, clothing, cooking oil, bicycles, tobacco, fifth and other food supplies.
The final toll of communist troops was 1,106 killed, 44 captured and 60 suspects detained. Nine base camps were destroyed, as were 260 buildings, 124 tunnels or caves and 502 bunkers.
Troops of the 196th Light Inf. Brigade first began uncovering stockpiled Viet Cong supplies about Nov. 1, two weeks after Attleboro began. Day after day, as they advanced through the thick jungle forests, they came upon VC camps and storage areas. At first it was considered a joke when a unit would stumble onto a large rice cache. Later, such a discovery was turned into drudgery, since the captured supplies and equipment had to be loaded and evacuated.
The first big battle of Operation Attleboro began on Thursday, Nov. 3, when A Co. of the 1st Bn., 27th Inf., 25th Inf. Div., fought an estimated company of Viet Cong and captured a jungle war factory 12 miles northeast of Tay Ninh City.
The following morning, A Co., joined now by C Co., moved out of the clearing into heavy jungle — and suddenly came under intense fire from Viet Cong well-shielded in bunkers. Both companies took heavy casualties before being reinforced by nine infantry companies rushed in by helicopter.
Within a week, the operation had become so big that 17 U.S. infantry battalions and two Republic of Vietnam Ranger battalions had been committed, with heavy support by artillery, helicopters and Air Force fighter planes and heavy bombers. At one time, the entire 1st Inf. Div. and units of the 25th Inf. Div., the 196th Light Inf. Brigade, the 173d Airborne Brigade, the 11th Armored Cav. Regt. and elements of the 2d Bn., 34th Armored, were fighting.
On 20 days of the campaign, B-52 bombers saturated suspected enemy concentrations with high-explosive bombs. And 1,571 sorties were flown against the enemy by fighter aircraft.
The enemy throughout the campaign was the 9th Viet Cong Div., reinforced by the 101st north Vietnamese Regt. No heavy contact with the enemy has been reported for more than two weeks, although there were almost daily fire fights and nightly mortar attacks.
Friday night, only 15 minutes before the operation officially closed, the Tactical Command Post of the 2d Brigade, 1st Inf. Div., was hit with 30 rounds of enemy mortar fire near Dau Tieng.
Artillery, mortars, armed helicopters and a rejuvenated old Gooney Bird with 20th Century gatling guns responded.