Sunday, May 14, 1972
1,800 U.S. Sorties Hit DMZ
The communiqué issued by the command said in part, "More than 128 enemy trucks and 31 field guns were either destroyed or damaged during these strikes ... in addition, seven SAM sites were destroyed and one damaged and three sites were destroyed ... during the past five days, all the pumping stations along the main communist pipeline running down the southern panhandle of North Vietnam into the DMZ were destroyed."
U.S. bombers knocked out two important railroad bridges in the North, the communiqué said, attacked railroad yards, oil storage areas, boatyards, warehouses, ammunition dumps and numerous supply buildings.
The command said seven U.S. aircraft were lost during the week and that over 1,000 surface to air (SAM) missiles had been fired at American planes since the Red country-wide offensive began March 30.
"1,800 U.S. Sorties Hit DMZ", by S&S Vietnam Bureau, published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Thursday, May 14, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Tuesday, May 23, 1972
A Touch Of Self-Respect... And Analysis
by William F. Buckley Jr.
The stock market, which must be the major poltroon of the western world, instantly dove for cover, for reasons unclear to the uninitiated: if we are going to have a world war, does it really matter whether our money is in or out of the market? As has happened in the past, the silent majority is speaking out, apparently in support of Richard Nixon, and disdaining the kind of hysteria which one day is going to get the editors of the New York Times committed, so help me.
One would hope that the people would not be disappointed. That, in the end, they would have got something more than the purely rhetorical satisfaction of hearing the commander-in-chief say to the enemy: you are not going to get away with it. Our navy and our air force will not permit it, will not permit and end to the Indochinese affair whose meaning for America is 50,000 dead soldiers and nothing accomplished. As regards standing behind Mr. Nixon, one does so full-heartedly. At times like this, he is our president.
But then, inevitably, analysis sets in...
1. We have drastically reduced our peace terms. We have said to the enemy that he need not withdraw to his own borders. He may stand where he is, his twelve divisions remaining where they are now situated in South Vietnamese territory, occupying one provincial capital, at the gates of two others. Indeed Mr. Nixon didn't even say that his terms lapse if they are not immediately accepted. They appear to be open-ended, so that there seems to be nothing to stand in the way of the North Vietnamese continuing their offensive until the opportune moment and then announcing that they will go for cease-fire.
2. We are then pledged (assuming they will give us back our 500 prisoners) within a period of four months to end totally our military role in all of Indochina. Pull out our troops, open up the harbors, stop aerial activity. During this period there would appear to be nothing to prevent the enemy from stocking up his military inventories, preparatory to launching an offensive sometime after the four months are up -though they might not even need to do that, at that demoralized moment.
3. At four months plus X, it would all appear to reduce to: the North Vietnamese, armed by the Soviet Union and the Chinese with the most advanced weapons in their armory, against the South Vietnamese deprived of an air force that can retaliate against the enemy, and of the use of the American air force. It is impossible to find anywhere in Mr. Nixon's speech or in any statement issuing out of the Pentagon anything at all that would suggest that the intervening four months would find the South Vietnamese military situation critically improved.
4. The Soviet Union is not gravely challenged. We have not imposed on it the humiliation of demanding that its ships be boarded or searched. They can putter about as they like, attempting, if they find it productive, to penetrate the harbor under escort of minesweepers. If one or two of them go down, the blame is impersonally visited on the mine, rather than on the captain of the United States warship, and the psychological impact is different. Meanwhile Soviet officials can permit Richard Nixon to come to Moscow under rhetorical cover of he para-blockade-confident in their strategic knowledge that four months from now the North Vietnamese will consummate their aggression against South Vietnam, and that the great American people, speaking through three presidents, with our vast army, navy and air force, who went to war to defend our allies, after seven years of ambiguity, were reduced to shouting our defiances into the television cameras, while we tucked ourselves back in between the big comforting oceans.
"A Touch of Self-Respect... And Analysis", by William F. Buckley Jr., published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Tuesday, May 23, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Thursday, May 25, 1972
Admirals Agree: Mining Effective
Mack said the American flotilla off North Vietnam had "warned one to five merchant ships of the mines protecting Haiphong Harbor. Some turned back, some turned away," he said.
"It's very effective," the admiral told newsmen aboard his flagship. "No ships are going in or out of Haiphong to our knowledge, and certainly the one claimed by the North Vietnamese to have gone in or out has not."
He referred to the East German freighter Frieden, which North Vietnamese officials claimed had sailed through the minefield into Haiphong last week.
American ships are using international flag hoists, flashing lights, loudspeakers and even foreign language tapes to warn the foreign ships of the minefields.
He denied, however, that U.S. warships were involved in a blockade, since they had no orders to stop vessels or to seize them.
The handsome, relaxed admiral, 56, denied North Vietnamese claims U.S. mines were being swept out of the harbors but admitted the seeding of the explosives was still going on.
"It's not finished," he said, "and it never would by. We would continue as we saw fit to put more mines in depending on the situation." He declined to elaborate.
Sweeping the mines, he said, "would be very difficult. It would take great skill and expertise and proper equipment and I don't think they have it," although he added the Soviet navy does.
The admiral shot down suggestions the mines could or would be disarmed during President Nixon's current visit to Moscow. "No," he said.
ABOARD THE USS OKLAHOMA CITY (UPI) --The commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Bernard A. Clarey, warned Tuesday it would be dangerous for the Communists to try to move supplies on barges through the minefields guarding North Vietnamese harbors.
On a tour of 7th Fleet ships, Clarey said commercial freighters could anchor outside the minefields of Haiphong and unload their cargo into barges or lighters.
"They can try it but I might say this is going to be a dangerous operation," the admiral told a news conference. He said it would be dangerous because of "air actions and mines."
Asked about the mining operations, Clarey said, "I think there is no question but that the mining has been effective. We sat out here in the Tonkin Gulf and saw ships going into Haiphong for all these years and there aren't any going that way now and they aren't coming out.
"The ones that are in there are behind the minefields, the ones that are not there aren't going to get in. So we have shut off the support of third country sources by mines."
The admiral said there were "four to six" Soviet destroyers and cruisers in the South China Sea but he thought any confrontation with 7th Fleet ships was "unlikely."
"I must say, we are not alarmed although we are watchful. They have the right to be anywhere in international waters, the same as we have," the admiral said.
However, Clarey said, "We seldom see them loiter as long as these have and we are watching them very carefully with our aircraft."
Returning to the mining operation, Clarey said he had directed the 7th Fleet commander to make a daily reconnaissance of the North Vietnamese harbors.
The admiral said this has been done and the 7th Fleet reported that it has seen nothing moving in or out through the minefields or any indications of an effort to sweep or disturb the minefield.
"Admirals Agree: Mining Effective", by (UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Thursday, May 25, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Saturday, May 27, 1972
Air Strikes Stymie Red Arms
Press officer Charles W. Bray III said this suggests there has been a substantial backup of railroad cars in China, but he declined to confirm estimates there may be as many as 1,000 freight cars delayed.
At the same time Bray left open the possibility of disagreement between the Soviet Union and Communist China on the use of Chinese ports to divert shipborne cargoes which, until the mining of Tonkin Gulf ports, carried 90 per cent of the war supplies for North Vietnam.
Bray said that there was "nothing I would characterize as definitive" in the reports of cleavage between Moscow and Peking over ship diversions.
But the spokesman said "We have no evidence that ships destined for North Vietnamese ports have diverted to Chinese ports for the trans-shipment of cargoes into North Vietnam.
"It stands to reason that the only possible way to ship additional quantities of military supplies is by land and the bulk goes by rail from China."
In response to questions Bray said, "We have no evidence there has been any agreement between those two countries" for the trans-shipment of cargoes by rail to Vietnam.
He noted that much of the heavy equipment bound for the Hanoi war machine has been shipped by rail. He said the size of the cranes in Haiphong harbor, for example, is limited and they are not able to handle the big Soviet-built T54 tanks now being used in the southern offensive.
Heavy antiaircraft armaments have also gone by rail in the past, but photo reconnaissance has shown the deck cargoes of ships which had been entering Haiphong to include trucks, jeeps and personnel carriers.
There have been no ships in or out of Haiphong or other North Vietnamese ports since the mining operation began this month, Bray said, nor has there been any incidents involving the explosion of any of the U.S. mines.
"Air Strikes Stymie Red Arms", by (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Sunday, May 27, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Tuesday, May 23, 1972
Allies Pour It On Enemy Near Hue
Meantime, the South Vietnamese drive to break the 45-day siege of An Loc appeared to have slowed again, although advance elements of the relief force were reported within a mile of their goal.
The An Loc push was being impeded by Communist harassing attacks on government troops on Highway 13 to the rear of the spearhead, field reports said.
The U.S. command reported, meanwhile, that air strikes in Quang Tri Province in the last two days had damaged or destroyed a variety of Communist equipment, including four big 130mm artillery guns, a surface-to-air missile and a missile transporter.
The command said the air strikes destroyed one and damaged three of the guns, the biggest in Hanoi's arsenal with a range of 17 miles. They have been used with devastating effect against South Vietnamese forces in the current offensive.
The bombing report for the 24-hour period ending early Sunday also included two other artillery guns, four tanks, 29 trucks and several antiaircraft guns destroyed or damaged.
Military sources said a company-sized North Vietnamese force using tanks launched the pre-dawn attack on the populated coastal strip called "Street Without Joy," crossing the My Chanh River in one of the most serious breaches yet of the key defense line 22 miles north of Hue.
The attackers routed a provincial militia unit from its position and had partially encircled a South Vietnamese Marine outpost before the air strikes and artillery were brought to bear on them about daybreak.
Field reports said at least 70 Communists were killed by the strikes. There was no report of South Vietnamese casualties.
The air and artillery were believed to have broken the back of the attack, and most of the surviving North Vietnamese had been driven back, the reports said.
By midafternoon, reinforcements still had not reached the Marine position but the situation was "easing up," military officers were quoted as saying.
"Allies Pour It On Enemy Near Hue", by (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes, Tuesday, May 23, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense Publication Copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Wednesday, May 30, 1972
Bloody Fighting In S. Viet
U.S. bombers ranged to the west and north of Hanoi to hit major targets. The Son Tay Barracks are 20 miles west of Hanoi. A second military compound was attacked 25 miles northeast of Hanoi.
U.S. Air Force pilots who attacked the Son Tay Barracks and an adjoining supply depot Saturday said they left the area in flames and "large fires, heavy smoke, and major damage to the facility."
The raids were among 240 strikes carried out across North Vietnam Saturday, but not disclosed by the U.S. command until Sunday.
It was at Son Tay that U.S. commandos, lifted in by helicopter, made a daring raid on Nov. 22, 1970, in an effort to free American prisoners of war. They found that the American captives, shot down during missions over the north, had been moved to another camp.
In another major air strike over the north, Navy pilots flying off the carrier Coral Sea attacked the Phu Lang Military Compound 25 miles northeast of Hanoi. Pilots reported they destroyed or damaged 35 to 50 railroad box and gondola cars, triggered six big secondary explosions and one large fuel fire and cut two sets of rails.
Coral Sea pilots also said they dropped the northern span and damaged the southern end of the Thi Long Railroad Bridge, 18 miles south of Thanh Hoa, or about 100 miles south of Hanoi.
The U.S. command said a Navy A4 Skyhawk was downed from unknown causes during Saturday's raids, about 10 miles south of Vinh. The pilot was listed as missing.
Inside Kontum, heavy fighting was continuing for the fourth successive day in the southeastern sector of the city between a battalion-sized North Vietnamese force of up to 300 troops and South Vietnamese defenders.
At the same time, the North Vietnamese clung to three strategically-placed positions on the northern rim of the city. Reports said that the outer northern defenses of the city had been pulled back up to a mile in a consolidation of government forces.
But American and South Vietnamese military sources claimed, however, that the North Vietnamese had failed in an apparent attempt to split Kontum in half by having the northern column link with the force that is entrenched south of the city's airstrip.
Before dawn Sunday, North Vietnamese forces advanced through the compound of a South Vietnamese armored cavalry unit on the northern edge of the city and drove south to within 500 yards of the airstrip, which lies in the center of the town on the eastern side. The other two strategic positions held by the North Vietnamese on the northern rim of the city are on Highway 14 and in the old 22nd Div. headquarters.
South Vietnamese A37 attack planes bombed a flat, open strip of land north of the western end of the runway. This indicated that Communist forces were still in the area, despite claims by South Vietnamese and American sources that they had been cleared out.
South Vietnamese bombers and rocket-firing U.S. helicopters raked Communist positions in the residential area south of the airstrip, around Highway 14 and on the eastern edges of the town.
North Vietnamese gunners continued to rain shells into the city. Some fell two or three blocks from the center of town.
The city was being resupplied with ammunition and other materials by air drops made by four-engine U.S. C130 transports and CH47 Chinook helicopters. The airfield remained closed.
Meanwhile, delayed field reports disclosed that South Vietnamese forces suffered a major defeat last Friday on the southern front at An Loc, 60 miles north of Saigon.
North Vietnamese troops firing from ambush and using mines destroyed 23 of 47 South Vietnamese armored personnel carriers trying to evacuate wounded soldiers from bloody fighting along Highway 13 south of An Loc. The field reports said 42 South Vietnamese soldiers were killed and 159 wounded in the ambush.
The Saigon command said Sunday that a relief column trying to break through to the besieged provincial capital of An Loc and Clear Highway 13 had made no significant progress.
Viet Cong troops, meanwhile, maintained heavy pressure in the resort province of Phuoc Tuy, 45 miles southeast of Saigon. Two district capitals were heavily assaulted, and one of them was hit with 500 mortar shells.
"Bloody Fighting In S. Viet", by (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Tuesday, May 30, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Tuesday, May 23, 1972
Cruisers: Deadly Accurate Mobile Artillery
by Mort Rosenblum
Five U.S. cruisers off Vietnam fire hundreds of explosive rounds daily above Hue. They are the Americans' only offensive surface artillery left in the war.
Three swept past Haiphong two weeks ago, with batteries booming, in the first multicruiser raid since World War II, following with darkness strikes just like in the movies they show on board.
But a lot has changed on the massive gunships since their heyday of the early 1940s. Seamen with peace bands around shaggy hair smoke marijuana below decks. Gunners in the turret tell visitors they are ashamed of killing. Young officers express frustration at the war.
But even the great B52s can't match the power and deadly accuracy of the cruisers. The three batteries of triple eight-inch guns on the Newport News can deliver rapid-fire death for hours on end.
Old timers admit the gung-ho has been replaced by a more reflective approach among the crew.
Still, the jobs get done.
"These ships are damned effective," said Capt. Walter Zartman of the Newport News, a naval officer since World War II. The Haiphong strike, for instance, "went like clockwork... Everyone performed magnificently."
In Vietnam, the cruisers mainly use their six and eight-inch batteries for close support of South Vietnamese ground forces, blasting at enemy positions and supply lines.
They work with forward spotters in light planes, and ground directors, sometimes coordinating with bombers and tactical aircraft. Occasionally, their roles mingle, in bizarre combinations.
The Providence, for example, chased a tank down a road with its six-inch guns until, after about 40 rounds, the tank crew fled to a hut. The building immediately took a direct hit and disintegrated.
Then spotters called an air strike on the abandoned tank which was blasted away by a rocket.
Why, navy men were asked, wasn't the tank just rocketed in the first place? "We each have jobs to do..." was the reply.
Newport News is the biggest gunship in the world, but even the smaller cruisers, all with secondary batteries and some with missiles, can devastate a village in minutes.
"And I don't like it," said Signalman Steve Schlemmer, 21, of Placentia, Calif., aboard the Providence, typical of a new breed of sailor who follows orders but asks himself why. "I don't think we have the right to change the landscape of these people, like blasting Olympicsized swimming pools in their backyards."
The "Newpy News" is a 7l7 foot-long city, with its own television station, newspaper, helicopter pad, 28-bed hospital and dental clinic. Normal population is 1,200. Steam turbines deliver 120,000 horsepower to the four propellers, generating enough electricity for a city of 40,000 and distilling 60,000 gallons of water. The ship displaces 21,000 tons.
These vessels make a large target for counterbatteries on shore, and sometimes they take as many hostile rounds as they deliver.
"If you get shot at, you get shot at," said Lt. Ronald Wools of Terre Haute, Ind., on the Providence, who spent time dodging fire at closer range on Vietnamese rivers. "It doesn't make a damned bit of difference."
Strangers on the Newport News, dizzy from the thundering boom of the eight-inchers, forget their vulnerability until counterfire just off the stern splashes water on the fantail.
All the ship can do is steam away at 33 knots, maneuvering artfully, straining to get out of range while the men on decks huddle in flak jackets and helmets, nervously eyeing the air.
Enemy aircraft are even more dangerous, but apart from a MIG which recently tore up the turret on the destroyer Higbee, U.S. ships have been relatively lucky. And they are well defended.
"Actually, I think the morale of the boys has been better since they have gone into combat, doing what they were trained to do," observed on senior cruiser officer.
Many of the crew agree, but others say they were far happier when the Newport News was lying at Norfolk, or the Providence at San Diego, going out for occasional good will or holiday training cruises.
Cruisers have been used for shelling the Vietnam coast off and on during the past five years, playing subordinate role to ground troops and air power. Now they have taken over a leading position.
"What we have is just a piece of mobile artillery," said Rear Adm. W. Haley Rogers, commander of the 11th Cruiser-Destroyer Group, and, he said, they are good at their classic strike role.
As one crewman said, with a resigned look: "Whatever we're doing, we're here. I thought we were going to get out of this war. But here we are."
"Cruisers: Deadly Accurate Mobile Artillery", by Mort Rosenblum published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Tuesday, May 23, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Friday, May 19, 1972
Decisive Square-Off Seen Near For Hue
By Edward K. Delong
Officials in Washington believe a decisive South Vietnamese victory could break the back of the entire three-prong invasion launched Easter weekend by North Vietnam. A Communist victory, they say, would be a serious military and psychological blow to the South.
"As to how it will come out, no none knows," one highly placed official said. "I'm optimistic (the South Vietnamese can win), but it could be very bloody, very brutal. I think it will last for days, perhaps weeks, but there will be lulls in there.
"It could be the decisive battle of this campaign -for either side."
Officials also said the ferocity of the North Vietnamese push and the willingness of the Communists to take "terrible" losses came as surprises. They said "we must never underestimate the resolve our enemy shows -he really has determination."
Hue lies 55 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Vietnams. The troops and tanks that now threaten it punched across the DMZ, shattered South Vietnam's northern defense line and then -on May 3 -captured the provincial capital of Quang Tri about mid-way between Hue and the DMZ.
The other two prongs of the offensive are aimed at a pair of other provincial capitals -Kontum City in the central highlands and An Loc about 60 miles north of Saigon.
Since the fall of Quang Tri, major action on all three fronts has died into an uneasy lull punctuated by shellings and short attacks by both sides while the opposing armies regroup into position for the next round, which U.S. officials believe will start at Hue.
"From the last that we could put together, they were several days away from being in a position to start the attack," one official said. "But that information could have been several days old when we got it.
"My guess is we are in the period now when they could launch their attack any day," he added.
"Some people are using the "by-guess-and-by-God" method and saying the 19th (Friday) is Ho Chi Minh's birthday and that's when they will attack. But there's no intelligence to support that."
There is no way for the Communists to replace now much of what they lost in the first round of the invasion fighting, particularly tanks and organized army units, U.S. officials say. Hanoi stripped North Vietnam of all but one division of regular army troops, about 15,000 men, to mount the attack.
South Vietnamese troops and U.S. planes and naval artillery destroyed at least 250 tanks and other heavy tracked vehicles, intelligence officials say. This was half the number on hand to launch the invasion, and one-third of North Vietnam's total inventory.
The Communists also suffered an estimated more than 25,000 killed -the equivalent of almost two divisions. Many of these were regimental headquarters troops and officers, captured prisoners have reported.
The northernmost Communist divisions, reinforced by some fresh troops sent down over the DMZ, are poised to the north and the southwest of Hue. Defending the city are the remainder of the South Vietnamese 3rd Division, the crack 1st Division, and elements of South Vietnamese marine and airborne troops.
The official said that if the North Vietnamese overrun the defenders of Hue, mauling them badly, "then they will have delivered a very serious blow to South Vietnamese combat capability -and a serious psychological blow, too, because of the symbolic importance of Hue."
"On the other hand, should they launch this attack and be thrown back with heavy casualties, it could be the last major attack on Hue for some time -for months at least," he added.
"Decisive Square-Off Seen Near for Hue", by Edward K. Delong, published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Friday, May 19, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Monday, April 3, 1972
Higbee Docks For Repairs
The spokesman said the Higbee docked at Subic, 90 miles northwest of Manila, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
There was no immediate word on how long the repairs would take and how soon the ship would be back on station at the Tonkin Gulf.
The Higbee suffered considerable damage on topside and four of its crewmen were injured by attacking MIGs off Vietnam last April 19.
"Higbee Docks For Repairs", by (UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Sunday, April 30, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Wednesday, May 30, 1972
Jets Rain Death On Attackers
by Spec. 4 Ken Schultz
The jets streaked in only 15 minutes after the Communist attack started, and broke the back of the assault with their deadly accurate bombing.
Two battalions from the North Vietnamese Army's 66th and 88th Regiments, driving from the west, pushed within the Marines' primary defenses as jets placed a protective shield of ordnance between the ARVN and Red troops.
One jet dropped a 750-pound bomb so close to South Vietnamese troop positions that it was feared several Marines had been killed. Field reconnaissance later in the day confirmed that only NVA soldiers had been hit, and that their casualties were heavy.
The ARVN division command estimated that at least 40 NVA soldiers were killed in the close-in fighting Saturday and that many more dead as a result of air strikes. Marine casualties were listed as light.
There was some mortar and artillery fire leveled against the Marines before the attack began, but it was not a real threat, according to the American adviser to the Marines here.
"They just tip us off that an attack is coming by the artillery. The heavy stuff goes on while the troops are getting into position," said the American Marine captain.
As the tide of the battle turned against the Communists, spotter planes detected troops carrying antiaircraft guns and heavy equipment northward about a mile from the battle on Highway 1, the adviser said.
The ARVN command reported that four tanks were knocked out in a skirmish in the area of My Chanh. Four South Vietnamese troops were killed and 12 wounded in the action.
But the fighting that has been raging near this village 20 miles northwest of Hue for the past week, although not giving much ground to the South Vietnamese, has been chopping up Communist forces.
"Jets Rain Death on Attackers", by Spec. 4 Ken Schultz", published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Tuesday, May 30, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Saturday, May 27, 1972
Lt. Bags MIG19 On 1st Mission, Cures Nervousness
by Donald Bremner
"I have no qualms about going back now," Arwood said. "I've seen that you don't instantly die when somebody starts shooting at you. You just use your training."
A few seconds after his Sidewinder heat-seeking missile exploded in the tailpipe of the North Vietnamese MIG, another MIG19 was downed by his wingman, Lt. Bart Bartholomay, 27, of Winnetka, Ill.
The two pilots described the "classic two-on-two dogfight" near Haiphong in an interview aboard the Midway, one of the American carriers on the line launching air strikes against North Vietnam from the Gulf of Tonkin.
"I'm on my first cruise, and it was my first time across the beach (into North Vietnam)," said Arwood, 26 of Lynchburg, VA. "It was in support of a pretty big operation. I was nervous before I took off."
In their F4 Phantoms Arwood and Bartholomay were flying cover against enemy MIGs for a large attack by planes from the Midway on strikes in the Haiphong area.
-->They spotted two MIG19s northwest of Haiphong and engaged them in a five-minute dogfight ...countered, and everything they did, we countered," Bartholomay said. "It was a question of who would make the first mistake.
"We turned behind them, and finally Pat got a pretty good shot at one, but his missile missed. For the next few minutes, we were in the 6 o"clock position (straight behind the MIGs)."
Bartholomay was chasing one MIG, while Arwood, above and behind his wingman, was chasing the other.
In a sort of one-fish-about-to-swallow-the-other sequence, the rearmost MIG was drawing within range of Bartholomay's Phantom getting ready to launch a heat-seeking missile. But when he leveled out to fire, he was a good target for Arwood's Sidewinder.
The tail of the MIG exploded, and the pilot bailed out.
"I thought, "that's really neat,"" Arwood said. "It was more a matter-of-fact thing, because that's the way you expect it to turn out. I had a sense of relief when my missile hit because he was after Bart."
A few seconds later, Bartholomay got a good shot, fired a Sidewinder, and saw it blow up the tail of the second MIG.
"I broke off to rejoin Pat and I didn't see any chute," Bartholomay said.
The two pilots refused to discuss aerial tactics in detail. They said the MIG pilots were good.
"We happened to come up against two good pilots who knew their planes fairly well," Bartholomay said. "They were afraid of us, but they fought well. I respect them highly.
"They made some mistakes, some pretty gross ones, but recovered from those in time. But then they both made mistakes at the same time.
"Once we got engaged, our training paid off. We knew just what to do and how to do it. It was a classic two-on-two dogfight, and it turned out just as advertised.""
-->With him in the two-seat ... Oran Brown 29, of Flagstaff, Ariz. Arwood"s radarman was Lt. Michael Bell, 25 of Sacramento, Calif.
The two MIGs were the first shop down by Midway planes during the current stepped-up air attacks. But the score is not one-sided. One of the Midway's A7 bombers was shot down the next day over North Vietnam. A parachute was seen, but the pilot was out of range of would-be rescuers. Other planes on the hangar deck showed damage from antiaircraft fire.
"Lt. Bags MIG19 On 1st Mission, Cures Nervousness", by Donald Bremner, published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Saturday, May 27, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Sunday, May 7, 1972
Midway, On The Job, Early, Aids Defenders Of An Loc
One of five carriers supplying tactical air and bombing sorties for ARVN forces, the Midway steamed from Alameda, Calif., April 10.
It was originally earmarked for departure to the South China Sea on May 26. Even as the carrier was making its way across the Pacific, pilots were practicing for combat missions.
Despite the abrupt departure, Cmdr. Carroll E. Myers, 42, commander of the air wing and head of all fighter-bomber squadrons aboard the ship, feels his men are performing as if they had been on station for a few weeks.
Myers, a resident of Lemoore, Calif., admitted, however, the first night recovery in more than five months will probably make the adrenalin surge as pilots place their plane on a pitching deck with only the help of an electrical spotting device and a few words from the landing safety officer.
Yet, once the squadrons are accustomed to both daylight and night missions, there can be no letup, according to the commander. "A good leader can anticipate a slump and do something about it. You have to stay with it. A carrier pilot can't relax."
To date, strikes from the Midway have been aimed at Military Region III, including targets around the embattled city of An Loc. With its arsenal of F4 Phantoms, A6 Intruders and A7 Corsairs, the Midway has been helping to pound North Vietnamese troop concentrations and supply lines.
Some pilots on the carrier have encountered communist tanks and attacked them with bombs.
"Yes, there are differences between the missions we were flying our last cruise and the ones we're flying this time," says Lt. Charles Hokanson, 26, a Corsair pilot of two years. "But we're professionals and we know the odds. We take pride in knowing what to do and when to do it."
"In a lot of ways," says the pilot, "the earlier departure was easier for us. When you're in port your wife is always looking at the calendar and thinking of the date you're set to leave. Goodbyes this time were easier."
At full strength, there will be six carriers off the coast of Vietnam, as opposed to two which were on station before the NVA offensive last month.
"When the Saratoga arrives, it will be the most amount of naval power put together since World War II," says Rear Adm. John L. Butts, commander of Carrier Div. 1.
Other carriers in the fleet are the Coral Sea, Constellation, Kitty Hawk and Hancock.
"Midway, on the Job Early, Aids Defenders of An Loc", by SPEC. 4 Allen Schaefer, published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Sunday, May 7, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Saturday, May 13, 1972
Mines Activate; 31 Ships Trapped
Pentagon spokesman Jerry W. Friedheim told a briefing that the five were believed to have unloaded their cargo before departing.
That leaves 31 foreign merchant ships still in Haiphong, 12 of them flying Soviet flags, five Communist Chinese, three Hong Kong-based British craft, three Polish vessels, two Cubans, one East German and five under the flag of Somalia.
Friedheim refused to say whether the remaining ships now bottled up behind the mine barrier will be bombed. However he indicated they might not be attacked.
"Our main concern is with ships that may deliver supplies in the future," Friedheim said.
The Pentagon spokesman said there has been "no change in the status of 25 or so ships en route."
He declined to pinpoint their locations.
However, Friedheim said officials believe that one of the Russian ships in this group "is destined for another port outside North Vietnam." This was the ship which earlier was reported to have turned away from the approaches to Haiphong.
Asked whether Russian naval ships are en route to the Tonkin Gulf area, Friedheim said, "I have nothing to report this morning on either Chinese or Soviet fleet movements."
This left open whether or not the Russians have directed any of their minesweepers or other naval craft in the Russian Pacific fleet to the scene.
Friedheim spoke with newsmen about four hours after the mines, sown earlier this week across the entrances of Haiphong and six other North Vietnamese ports by 7th Fleet airplanes on President Nixon's order, automatically became lethal. Nixon gave foreign ships in the ports three days to leave before the mines were activated at 7 a.m. EDT.
So far, Friedheim reported, there "are no minesweeping operations going on" in the entrances to the seven North Vietnamese ports.
The Pentagon spokesman said there are three or four small coastal freighters, mostly under North Vietnamese flags in some of the ports other than Haiphong.
According to Friedheim, although the North Vietnamese Navy is listed as having four minesweepers, the North Vietnamese have little capability to remove mines from the harbor entrances.
Some North Vietnamese patrol boats might be "jerry rigged" to try and sweep mines, Friedheim said, but this would not be very effective.
Defense Secretary Melvin Laird said at a Florida news conference Thursday "a number" of Soviet Bloc ships had remained within Haiphong Harbor when the U.S. mines activated this morning.
Laird said the ships remaining "made a conscious decision to remain ... and unload their cargoes.
"The mines are not going to go out and seek the ships -but if the ships seek out the mines there will be an explosion," Laird said.
The secretary said the mines had been laid only within territorial waters of North Vietnam and, therefore, minimized the possibility of a direct confrontation between U.S. and Soviet Bloc ships on the high seas.
"Mines Activate; 31 Ships Trapped", by (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Saturday, May 13, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Thursday, May 25, 1972
Nab 2 Soviet Missiles
"Nab 2 Soviet Missiles", by (UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Thursday, May 25, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Saturday, April 29, 1972
Navy Gunners Sink 3 N. Viet Attackers
The U.S. Command said three North Vietnamese patrol boats were sunk and a fourth heavily damaged Wednesday after they attacked the cruiser Oklahoma City and the destroyers Richard B. Anderson and Gurke. The U.S. ships were not damaged, the command said.
North Vietnamese tanks, artillery and infantry opened the fifth week of Hanoi's big offensive with attacks on four sides of Quang Tri City, South Vietnam's northernmost provincial capital, 19 miles below the DMZ.
A tank and infantry battle erupted five to six miles northwest of the threatened city. The South Vietnamese command claimed eight North Vietnamese tanks were destroyed and 70 enemy soldiers killed. It reported seven South Vietnamese soldiers killed and 12 wounded but no South Vietnamese tanks were lost.
In the central highlands, the battlefront remained generally quiet for the third day. But on the central coast enemy troops increased pressure on the district town of Bong Son with mortar and rocket attacks and threatened to take over the entire northern sector of Binh Dinh Province, the least pacified in South Vietnam.
Other North Vietnamese forces kept up the 22-day old siege of An Loc, 60 miles north of Saigon, with a 1,500-round artillery attack that killed 10 South Vietnamese and wounded 65. New assaults were launched against the district town of Dau Tieng, 30miles southwest of An Loc.
U.S. military sources said American fighter bombers attacked supply depots, roads and bridges inside North Vietnam, but the raids were below the 20th parallel. The parallel is about 225 miles north of the DMZ and 55 miles south of Haiphong.
The North Vietnamese Foreign Ministry charged that American planes attacked the seven coastal provinces to within 50 miles of Haiphong.
The U.S. Command announced that American fighter-bombers flew 461 strikes against enemy positions in South Vietnam Wednesday and Thursday.
The northern front below the DMZ exploded after several weeks of comparative quiet during which the South Vietnamese forces had been holding a defensive line along the Cua Viet-Dong Ha River 10 miles below the DMZ.
"Navy Gunners Sink 3 N. Viet Attackers", by (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Saturday, April 29, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Wednesday, May 30, 1972
Navy Takes Viet War Ball And Runs With It
by Patrick J. Killen
We were a few miles off the coast of North Vietnam aboard the cruiser Oklahoma City, flagship of the 7th Fleet.
"You know," a correspondent said, "it is sort of like the Army-Navy football game. It was the Army's game for a long time. But now the Navy has the ball. You can feel it."
The mood was indeed different. Professionals were on the job. Rotation schedules were junked. Ships recalled. Minor repairs forgotten.
The "new Navy began to get its sea legs shortly after the March 30 attack by Communist troops across the demilitarized zone (DMZ), dividing the two Vietnams.
By April 6, Navy fighter bombers were hitting targets in North Vietnam and destroyers were bombarding installations which had been "off limits" for more than three years.
On May 9, President Nixon announced his plan to mine the entrances to the harbors and waters of the Communist north. It was an all Navy show and top brass in Washington and on "Yankee Station" insist it has been effective.
Vice Adm. William P. Mack, outgoing commander of the 7th Fleet, told newsmen May 22 daily reconnaissance flights and photograph of Haiphong Harbor had convinced him "no ship is going in or out to our knowledge, and certainly the ones claimed by the North Vietnamese to have gone in or out, have not."
May 10 was a day of spectaculars for the new Navy.
Three cruisers, led by the Newport News with her eight-inch guns, and two destroyers pulled close to North Vietnamese coast and hit targets only four miles from Haiphong in what the Navy called "the first multi-cruiser gunfire action since World War II."
Navy publicists began calling the Newport News "the fastest gun in the West" and the Oklahoma City "the gray ghost of the Vietnam Coast."
On the same day, Navy Lt. Randy Cunningham (of San Diego) and his radar intercept officer, Lt. (J.G.) William Driscoll (of Framingham, Mass.) flying an F4 Phantom from the carrier Constellation, shot down three Communist MIGs to become the first "aces" of the war with a total of five Communist planes.
On May 13 and May 24, Navy Amphibious units landed South Vietnamese Marines in two commando raids on Communist-held Quang Tri Province while cruisers and destroyers softened up the defenses.
Capt. J.D. Ward, skipper of the carrier Constellation which was recalled to the Tonkin Gulf while en route home to San Diego, summed up the thinking of the fleet's senior officers this way:
"We are fighting to win now."
Ward stepped out of his captain's chair on the bridge, took off his blue baseball cap and said, "I can't overemphasize how pleased I am personally, as I think the ship and the air wing are, about the turn of the war up here. The president's recent action impresses me as an attempt to win the war."
According to a 7th Fleet handbook, "in August, 1964, two fleet destroyers (C. Turner Joy and Maddox) were attacked by gunboats in the Tonkin Gulfâ€¦that act triggered involvement in the Vietnam War."
During the next four years, the fleet grew to 200 ships, including five carriers which regularly sent pilots over North and South Vietnam.
But the fighting was on the ground, in the Ia Drang Valley, at Khe Sanh and Hamburger Hill. With more than 500,000 American militarymen inside South Vietnam, the Navy played a supporting role.
The Nixon doctrine and Vietnamization and the withdrawal of American combat soldiers has now thrust the Air Force and the Navy into key roles.
Vice Admiral James L. "Jim" Holloway III is the son of the admiral who developed the "Holloway Plan," an educational program which provided college education for hundreds of Naval officers.
A young destroyer officer during World War II and a Navy flier during the Korean War, Holloway assumed command of the 7th Fleet on May 23. Only 50, he stands a good chance of eventually making it to the top as chief of naval operations.
He told newsmen his men felt they now had "the authority to do the real job instead of just plugging holes in the dike."
Holloway said, "I just think that what is indicative is that we've never been able to mine before and now we are mining. There is a determination to be more aggressive in a total package.
"If you mine and don't destroy the stocks, you've only got half a loaf. But if you mine and interdict and destroy supply dumps, than you have got a total approach to the problem. That, to me, is really the sense. The mining is the real indicator."
Since March 30, the 7th Fleet has grown to 130 ships with half of them on station off Vietnam. The fleet has six attack carriers (Constellation, Coral Sea, Midway, Hancock, Saratoga and Kitty Hawk) and a seventh, the Ticonderoga, is en route to the Western Pacific. There are about 700 aircraft, five cruisers (Oklahoma City, Newport News, Providence, Chicago and Long Beach and 45 destroyers.
On a day-to-day basis, the Navy keeps some 65 ships on "Yankee Station" off Vietnam. That usually includes three to five cruisers, four to five carriers and 35 destroyers. The total manpower involved in approximately 41,000 including 5,000 Marines. For the entire fleet there are 83,000 men of whom 27,000 are Marines.
Adm. Bernard A. Clarey, the commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet termed the 7th Fleet "the most powerful of its kind since the end of World War II and surely the most versatile in the history of naval warfare."
Speaking to the officers and men, Clarey said, "There has got to be a feeling of pride and outstanding achievement touching anyone who has anything to do with this incomparable 7th Fleet. In fact it is hard to recall a time where or when the meaning of total sea power, its responsiveness, versatility, flexibility and most of all, its purely unique dependability, has been demonstrated so clearly and so courageously as here in the Tonkin Gulf these past few weeks.
"Navy Takes Viet War Ball and Runs With It", by Patrick J. Killen, published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Tuesday, May 30, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Saturday, May 27, 1972
Noose Tightens On Hanoi
by Evans And Novak
To the contrary, the relatively mild Chinese reaction to the President's blockade-by-mines of North Vietnamese ports strongly hints that Peking is not at all eager to repeat rail-repair assistance it gave North Vietnam during the height of U.S. bombing in the late 1960s.
During that last extended period of major U.S. bombing of the two major rail lines connecting North Vietnam and China, 40,000 to 50,000 Chinese work troops were assigned one job: quick repair of American bombing damage. That mission not only helped keep open rail supply lines but also gave Peking political leverage in Hanoi to match Moscow's rising influence.
Relations between Hanoi and Peking have steadily deteriorated since those troops went home in late 1968, reaching bottom with President Nixon's spectacular trip to Peking, which the Hanoi politburo regarded as an act of betrayal.
Hard prediction of China's long-range reaction to the American blockade of its Communists ally's ports would be folly this soon. Nevertheless, there is reason to believe Peking's present leadership does not wish to become any more involved with the Vietnam war than the minimum necessary to prevent an open break with Hanoi.
Because of this, Hanoi may have severe difficulty making up by overland transport from China the calamitous loss of war shipping into North Vietnamese ports. Hanoi's war machine, fueled about 15 per cent from China, is likely to find it difficult to keep even that relatively low level of supplies flowing by rail and truck route from China.
Thus, the noose around Hanoi is now perceptibly and inexorably tightening. Experts here estimate that, with Haiphong's port facilities able to unload a maximum of between 30,00 to 40,000 tons of war supplies per day, the first two weeks or so of the blockade will cost Hanoi close to half a million tons.
Quite apart from the deadly psychological blow that the supply cutoff must be causing Hanoi, its military significance is even more important. Commanders in the field at the hottest points of contact with the South Vietnamese army -Hue, Kontum and An Loc -now must begin to think about husbanding what heretofore had been a fairly constant stream of incoming supplies. No matter how much stockpile is available near these three main battlefronts, closing the logistics tap means an eventual end to assured resupply.
"Noose Tightens on Hanoi", by Evans and Novak, published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Saturday, May 27, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright. 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Wednesday, May 31, 1972
Radarman Helps Slay MIGs
Only six days after the Biddle joined 7th Fleet operations in the gulf Kronvall, a native of Pasadena, Tex., directed Navy aircraft to score their third and fourth successful intercepts of Communist jets.
On May 17 the Biddle's first full day on Yankee Station, the radarman guided two Navy fighters from the carrier USS Midway into an intercept position that resulted in the destruction of two MIG 19s approximately 30 miles northeast of Hanoi, when they threatened a bombing mission over the north.
Last Wednesday, air patrol planes from the Midway, assisted by Kronvall, shot down two MIG17s after an aerial duel and pursuit by U.S. jets.
When the American aircraft had gained visual contact with the enemy they reported four to six MIGs in the dogfight.
Two of the Russian-made jets were downed, strengthening Kronvall's bid to become an "ace" intercept controller.
"Radarman Helps Slay MIGs", by S&S Vietnam Bureau, published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Wednesday, May 31, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Saturday, June 3, 1972
Raids Stall N. Viet Supplies
So far it isn't getting them.
North Vietnam is thought to have a truck fleet of about 11,000 vehicles, 3,000 of them engaged in shuttling cargo down the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos.
But reconnaissance photos have given no indication that the North Vietnamese have begun to redeploy either the Ho Chi Minh trail vehicles or the 8,000 trucks used to carry cargo from Hanoi southward to the three mountain passes serving the trail, sources said.
"We know their trains are stopped by the Chinese border. The bridges are out.
"Perhaps the reason they haven't tried to redeploy the truck fleet is the fact that many of the railroad bridges were built for economy reasons as dual purpose bridges and when the rail line was knocked out it also knocked out the highway," an Air Force source said.
The source said the reconnaissance flights have failed to turn up any indication that the North Vietnamese have begun a crash program of road construction into China to make up for the crippled rail lines.
The North Vietnamese proved themselves master road builders in constructing the Ho Chi Minh Trail network in Laos. However, the Air Force source said, "there's a terrain difference. Laos is mostly triple canopy jungle. The country is more open in North Vietnam. It would be harder to hide the trucks."
The Air Force began in a limited way using its laser guided bombs on the Ho Chi Minh Trail about a year ago. But the first heavy employment came this year in North Vietnam.
Airmen like the laser bombs because fewer planes are used and fewer bombs dropped to hit a target.
And there is less likelihood of a bomb going astray and hitting a non-military target.
"Raids Stall N. Viet Supplies", by (UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Saturday, June 3, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Sunday, June 4, 1972
Red Power Plant Smashed
Navy pilots also destroyed two 450-foot supply ships about one mile off the coast as American pilots struck the north with 220 raids Thursday, many of them night strikes, the U.S. command said.
Heavy monsoon weather blanketed three-quarters of South Vietnam and cut U.S. air strikes to the lowest level in seven weeks, and intelligence sources said Communist troops were being resupplied for a possible major drive in the far northern quarter.
A U.S. Army UH1 helicopter was shot down Friday south of Kontum, killing one American and wounding four others aboard, spokesmen said. The spokesmen also reported that an Air Force F4 Phantom which crashed Thursday in Thailand had been hit by a surface-to-air (SAM) missile over North Vietnam. The two-man crew parachuted and were rescued uninjured.
Striking in darkness with 2,000-pound "smart" bombs, Air Force Phantom crews heavily damaged the thermal power plant at Bac Giang, 25 miles northeast of the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. The U.S. command described the plant as "a major source of electrical power to war-related industries in the area."
Other Thailand-based Phantoms dropped the two center spans of the five-span Cap Nung railroad bridge 52 miles northeast of Hanoi and 30 miles from the China border, spokesmen said. The bridge is a major link in Hanoi's rail system.
Carrier-based Navy pilots spotted the two big supply boats near Hon Nhi Son Island about 180 miles north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Military sources said the ships were carrying stockpiled supplies from the island to the port of Thanh Hoa, 28 miles to the north.
The Hon Nhi Son sector has not been mined by the United States but U.S. 7th Fleet vessels keep it under constant surveillance.
Over South Vietnam, heavy rains and low-hanging clouds cut the number of jet air strikes to nearly half their normal level Thursday, spokesmen said.
Only 219 bombing raids were made by the conventional jet fighters, the lowest number since April 13. During the past month, U.S. airpower has managed a daily average of 410 strikes in South Vietnam.
The U.S. command for the second day in a row ordered heavy B52 bombing raids along the northern front. UPI Correspondent Donald A. Davis reported from Hue that the city's major airport was closed and between three and four inches of rain were expected to fall Friday night.
Fifteen waves of the B52s pounded suspected Communist positions north and west of Hue.
Eleven ships of the 7th Fleet -including the light cruiser Oklahoma City and 10 destroyers -lashed North Vietnamese positions along the South China Sea to help make up for the lack of warplanes, spokesmen said.
The U.S. command said the ships and 79 jets that did manage to jam bombs under the low clouds Thursday destroyed or damaged 15 trucks and 17 small boats in the Hue area, a clear indication the Communists were moving supplies forward.
A 1,500-man operation begun Thursday by government paratroopers to clear a Communist battalion from hills 20 miles northeast of Hue saw little fighting. A skirmish cost the South Vietnamese two dead and four wounded.
Heavy house-to-house fighting continued in Kontum for the eighth day, with the Communists holding their three pockets inside the central highlands province capital, 260 miles north of Saigon.
Spokesmen said fighting in the city throughout Thursday saw 124 Communist slain, while the government forces suffered 12 killed and 58 wounded.
UPI Reporter Matt Franjola said from the highlands Friday that a small North Vietnamese probe hit Kontum's outer defenses early Friday in the first such attack in more than a week. Franjola reported the attack and later fighting killed 79 Communists and three South Vietnamese soldiers and wounded six other government troops.
To the east, fresh fighting erupted in coastal Binh Dinh Province, already half-controlled by Communist forces. A l00-round mortar and recoilless rifle barrage hit a regimental headquarters near Phu My district (county) capital, spokesmen said.
As South Vietnamese troops moved out to engage the North Vietnamese, refugees fled. But the Communists halted the refugee flow and turned it back, then killed three government soldiers and wounded two.
South Vietnamese Marines cleared the last of an estimated 100 Communists from Dat Do district town, 40 miles southeast of Saigon. The Communists took over the town without firing a shot 10 days ago.
Heavy fighting continued in An Loc Province capital, 60 miles north of Saigon, and along embattled Highway 13 to the south.
A saboteur blew up the Binh Dinh Province command post and U.S. advisers evacuated a district headquarters Friday amid fears new fighting was imminent in the rich central coast region.
A man identified by witnesses as dressed in South Vietnamese airman's uniform smuggled a 40-pound satchel charge into the bunkered command post at Qui Nhon, and was killed instantly, apparently because the device exploded prematurely.
Field reports said the blast killed two others and wounded 15 South Vietnamese, three U.S. advisers and two South Koreans. It also wrecked valuable electronics gear at the provincial headquarters compound.
Two American advisers were flown out of Phy My, 32 miles North of Qui Nhon, as North Vietnamese troops ringing the district headquarters closed in.
"Red Power Plant Smashed", by (AP & UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Sunday, June 4, l972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Saturday, May 27, 1972
Report 8 GIs Killed, 7 Missing In Combat
The total of 24 dead or missing was 12 less than the week before, when 13 men were reported killed in action, 18 died of nonhostile causes, five were missing and 26 were wounded.
Casualties among both North and South Vietnamese continued to increase due to the North Vietnamese offensive.
The Saigon command reported 757 South Vietnamese troops killed last week, 2,351 wounded and 214 missing in action. This was an increase of seven killed and 32 wounded compared to the previous week, but the number of missing was 130 less.
The government claimed 4,028 enemy killed and 106 captured last week, compared to 3,613 killed and 56 captured the week before.
Total casualties for the war, according to the allied commands are:
--American, 45,755 killed in action, 303,031 wounded, 1,590 missing or captured, 10,179 dead from nonhostile causes, and 140 missing not as a result of hostile action, most of these being troops killed in air accidents in which the bodies have not been recovered or have not been identified.
--South Vietnamese, 143,484 killed in action; 365,718 wounded.
--North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, 835,691 killed.
"Report 8 GIs Killed, 7 Missing in Combat", by (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Saturday, May 27, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Thursday, May 25, 1972
S. Viets Get New Antitank Missile
The "TOW" missiles were handed to government marines and infantrymen on the former imperial capital's outer defenses after a high-level U.S. study of South Vietnamese requirements to turn back the 55-day-old North Vietnamese offensive, the sources said.
The missiles are identical to those already issued to U.S. troops in the Central Highlands and Phu Bai -near Hue -where they are mounted in helicopters and on jeeps.
The South Vietnamese, trained by a special six-man U.S. Army team on temporary duty in Vietnam, have mounted the missiles on jeeps, armored cars and at static defense positions, the sources said.
The TOW -for tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided -has a range of two miles and costs $3,400 per round, the sources said. With a light-gathering starlite telescope, it can be used both day and night.
In theory, they are simple to fire and almost foolproof. The operator sights a tank through the launcher and fires. The missile, through a tiny computer, a light beam and thin wires, locks onto and hits whatever the operator sees through the sight.
U.S. helicopter crewmen have reported knocking out three tanks in the highlands since the missile-equipped choppers were rushed to South Vietnam from Germany three weeks ago.
"S. Viets Get New Antitank Missile", by (UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Thursday, May 25, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Thursday, May 18, 1972
Say More Mines Dropped In N. Viet
In South Vietnam Communist troops shelled Kontum Airfield Tuesday night, blowing up two government transport planes, and field reports said they also invaded a big ammunition dump at Cam Ranh Bay on the central coast and destroyed several hundred tons of shells.
(AP reported enemy troops blew up the main ammunition dump in Pleiku early Wednesday, rocking the entire central highlands capital with a series of artillery explosions that were still going off five hours after the attack.
(A correspondent reported from Pleiku that the explosions and heat were so intense that South Vietnamese officials were unable to get near the dump to assess the damage.
(There was no immediate report on casualties.
(The ammunition dump is located two miles east of downtown Pleiku.)
The Communists also renewed their pressure on the My Chanh defense line north of the old imperial capital of Hue with 130mm artillery barrages, and skirmished with the government troops who reoccupied Firebase Bastogne west of that city Monday.
They also dumped another 2,600 high-explosive shells on besieged An Loc, 60 miles north of Saigon, and skirmished with troops trying to reopen Highway 13 to the city.
The renewed mining of Haiphong and "several other harbors" in North Vietnam was first reported by Radio Hanoi as it broadcast a Foreign Office protest of the flights on Monday.
The U. S. command said it had "no information" on any fresh mining of North Vietnamese waters and issued its standard "no comment" on Hanoi broadcasts.
But a correspondent returning from a visit to the U.S. aircraft carrier Constellation in the Tonkin Gulf said enlisted men on the ship told newsmen Tuesday they had loaded mines aboard some of the warplanes that flew off the carrier Monday.
He was with the first group of newsmen allowed aboard the fleet since President Nixon announced his "blockade" of North Vietnamese ports a week ago. He said officers there refused to discuss any aspect of the mining and seaborne interdiction operations.
The fresh mining attacks seemed the best indication yet that North Vietnam was having some success in clearing the underwater explosives from its ports, despite Pentagon claims to the contrary.
But it was thought possible here that the new attacks might be called part of a step-up in the blockade program by Washington officials.
The Pentagon denied repeatedly last week that any minesweeping operations were underway, despite dispatches from a French correspondent in North Vietnam who said they commenced almost immediately after the first U.S. planes swept in last Tuesday morning.
The U.S. command reported meantime that American planes had stepped up the level of their strikes into North Vietnam last week from an average of 200 per day the week before, and only 75 per day two weeks ago. The level of strikes is now approaching that of President Johnson's "Rolling Thunder" air war in 1967-68.
U.S. planes struck, among other targets, the headquarters for North Vietnam's air defense system at Bach Mai Airfield, south of Hanoi, two other air bases, half a dozen major bridges and the main fuel line supporting its offensive in northern South Vietnam, the command said.
At Bach Mai, "several buildings" were reported destroyed, but there was no word on overall damage to the headquarters complex, which is believed to be well-bunkered and probably impervious to ordinary bombing, as are many other installations.
Most of the bridges listed Tuesday had previously been reported hit by U.S. Air Force sources, but several strikes on railroad depots, warehouse facilities and fuel storage areas around Nam Dinh, Thanh How, Vinh, and Dong Hoi, had not been listed before. Those cities stretch down the North Vietnam coast from 60 miles below Hanoi to 38 miles above the DMZ.
In addition, the command said Air Force planes knocked out all the pumping stations along a four-inch pipeline the North Vietnamese built into South Vietnam that was capable of delivering 435,000 gallons of fuel per day.
Inside South Vietnam, the shelling of Kontum Airfield followed two days of tank-led assaults on the city's inner defense line, one to three miles northwest. There was no count on the number of rockets that hit the field, but two transport planes there blew up.
"Say More Mines Dropped in N. Viet", by (UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Thursday, May 18, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Thursday, May 25, 1972
Six Red Bridges, Power Plant Hit
Bulletin Compiled From AP And UPI
SAIGON (UPI) --American warplanes attacked North Vietnam's Red River Valley, destroying six bridges on the northwest rail line linking Hanoi with China, and blowing up Hanoi's transformer station providing power for military installations in the Communist capital, the U.S. command announced Tuesday.
The command also announced that a total of more than 1,000 strikes were carried out by American bombers all across North Vietnam during the past three days, and that other positions were heavily shelled by 7th Fleet cruisers and destroyers.
The guided missile cruiser Providence was hit by Communist shore batteries Monday in the Gulf of Tonkin and sustained light shrapnel damage to a night observation post, the command reported. It said the officer manning the post was slightly injured.
The intensified raids, raised from an average of 250 a day to between 300 and 350 a day during the past week, are part of a campaign ordered by President Nixon to destroy rear bases and installations supporting North Vietnam's 55-day offensive in South Vietnam and to cut supply lines to the South.
The bridges, in an area generally 110 miles northwest of Hanoi and about 50 miles south of the Chinese border, were knocked out Monday by a relatively small force of Air Force F4 Phantoms using laser guns to direct their bombs to within five feet of accuracy, military sources said.
Guns mounted on the supersonic jets fire a laser beam across the target and the bomb homes in on the beam.
The Phantoms also struck the Hanoi transformer station eight miles northwest of the North Vietnamese capital last Saturday. F4 pilots said they left the site in flames and their bombs set off five large secondary explosions.
"It should have a significant effect on the over-all power produced for the entire Hanoi area," said one officer.
While the railroad bridges and the power plant were the most spectacular targets listed by the command, a communiqué assessing bomb damage for the past three days said substantial damage was caused to military targets across North Vietnam.
It reported more than 40 Communist supply trucks, 13 field guns, one surface-to-air missile site, two fuel storage areas, 36 pieces of railroad rolling stock, 10 warehouses and nine military barracks destroyed or damaged.
More than a half-dozen other highway and railroad bridges were reported knocked out in wide areas ranging from near Thanh Hoa, 80 miles south of Hanoi, to the southern panhandle of North Vietnam.
The command said Communist antiaircraft fire continued to be heavy but that surface-to-air missile firings remained relatively light. One American plane was shot down during the reporting period. The command had announced the loss earlier.
Command spokesmen said the number of SAMs fired at U.S. planes raiding the North were averaging about 165 a week up until the week ending May 13, then suddenly dropped to about 66 last week.
Spokesmen said they were not sure of the reason, but they believed it was a combination of North Vietnam trying to conserve SAMs and considerable damage caused to SAM sites by U.S. bombers. They said North Vietnam had used up more than 1,100 SAMs fired at U.S. aircraft since March 30.
Meanwhile, major fighting erupted on three fronts in South Vietnam.
A third consecutive day of fighting south of the My Chanh River defense line above Hue ended with pockets of Communist resistance still clinging to toeholds on the southern shore, field reports said.
In the central highlands, the North Vietnamese staged several attacks around Fire Base 41, 12 miles north of the headquarters city of Pleiku. They knocked out two government tanks, an armored personnel carrier, shot down an A1 Skyraider fighter-bomber, and left at least 13 government troops dead and 40 wounded.
At besieged An Loc province capital 60 miles north of Saigon, waves of Communist infantry backed by tanks and a 1,700-round artillery barrage, struck at paratroopers a mile south of the city and managed to stall a relief element two miles south for the sixth consecutive day.
The fighting north of Hue marked the third day in a row the Communists have renewed their attacks after the government had claimed to have hurled them back across the My Chanh defense line, established after the fall of Quang Tri.
Spokesmen in Saigon, while claiming to have inflicted "major" casualties on the Communist in fighting that erupted about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday in an area five miles from the coast, acknowledged that they were uncertain whether all North Vietnamese troops and tanks had been driven back north of the river.
South of Hue, U.S. infantrymen of the 196th Brigade assigned to protect the 2,000-man radio relay detachment at Phu Bai, came under mortar attack Tuesday for the second time in a week, but suffered no casualties, field reports said. Attacks on U.S. units have been relatively light in the current offensive.
In the highlands, Vietnamese spokesmen reported several skirmishes around the embattled provincial capital of Kontum, with 77 Communists killed and no reported government casualties, but said the major action came around Fire Base 41.
Although the base itself did not come under attack, guerrillas hit elements of an armored column trying to reopen Highway 14 to Kontum, 13 miles further north, at several points nearby.
They blew up a tank and personnel carrier a mile to the north; destroyed another tank with a recoilless rifle round three miles northeast; shot down a Skyraider in the same area; and hit an engineer group trying to repair a bridge a half-mile to the south.
"Six Red Bridges, Power Plant Hit", by (AP and UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Thursday, May 25, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Thursday, May 18, 1972
Soviet Warships Off N. Vietnam
by Fred S. Hoffman
Military sources, reporting this Tuesday, indicated no great concern over the possibility that the Russian Navy might be planning to counter the U.S. mining of North Vietnamese ports.
But it was noted that a 6,000-ton Kresta class cruiser and three destroyers had paused southeast of Red China's Hainan Island after steaming from the Sea of Japan.
Some sources said the Russians might be trying to exert pressure on the United States in this way.
The Soviet flotilla was reported about 200 miles from Da Nang, a major U.S. base in South Vietnam, and some 300 miles from the North Vietnamese coast.
It's position is right about where the Russians for some time have maintained a sea anchorage for their Pacific fleet naval units.
There were no minesweepers with the Soviet naval force, the sources said. The Russian Navy does have minesweepers with its Pacific fleet.
Pentagon officials reported Tuesday that about half the 25 Communist tankers and freighters enroute to North Vietnamese ports when U.S. mines were laid last week have changed course and are heading elsewhere.
The remainder of the 25 cargo ships still are spaced out along thousands of miles of sea lanes reaching back to Soviet and East European ports, officials said.
None of the ships bound for North Vietnam has approached any closer than a couple of hundred miles from Haiphong, North Vietnam's principal port, according to the latest reports reaching here.
Officials said also no incoming vessels have been hailed by U.S. and South Vietnamese "notification" destroyers posted in the Gulf of Tonkin last week to warn merchantmen of the mine fields blocking approaches to seven North Vietnamese ports.
Although U.S. patrol aircraft are keeping watch, officials indicated they do not yet know where the dozen or so diverted tankers and freighters are headed now. But there is no sign yet that any are bound for South Chinese ports.
Communist diplomats in Europe last week hinted strongly that freighters and tankers bearing food, petroleum products, trucks, weapons and ammunition to support North Vietnamese forces might make end runs around the mine barrier and land their cargoes in two South Chinese ports, Pakhoi and Tamhsien.
Such supplies would have to be transshipped via Chinese trains to be carried down into North Vietnam.
Defense officials are not able yet to decide why the Russians and other Communist countries have chosen not to challenge the mine barrier.
There is some belief that Moscow, whose initial response to the mining was unexpectedly mild, still may be pondering direct action in the future. But Pentagon officials say they do not expect any such test prior to President Nixon's visit to Moscow next week.
Meanwhile Pentagon officials report the North Vietnamese have made no effort on their own to sweep the mines.
Talking with newsmen before leaving for a NATO meeting in Europe, Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird said that the new stepped-up air and sea interdiction effort, code-named Linebacker, is exerting pressure on North Vietnam's supply flow which "will have a long-term influence on the strategy and tactics which can be used" by Hanoi's forces.
"Soviet Warships Off N. Vietnam", by Fred S. Hoffman, published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes, Thursday, May 18, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Saturday, May 27, 1972
Stilwell Predicts Hue, An Loc Will Not Fall
Stilwell, addressing a civic club luncheon during Armed Forces Day, said he doubted "if even Kontum will ever be taken."
"There will be battles won and lost during the long hot summer ahead, but we have already witnessed, in my estimate, the high tide of Communist advance in South Vietnam," said Stilwell.
Stilwell, the senior Army member of the military staff committee of the United Nations, pointed to the "staggering battle losses of the North Vietnamese army, the destruction of his war-fighting infrastructure, his isolation from external supplies and the uncertainties in Hanoi..."
He said this led him to the conclusion that the offensive, once its course has been run, "will not reoccur and that Vietnamization will have passed its final test."
Stilwell was chief of staff in Vietnam in 1964 under Gen. William C. Westmoreland, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, and was in Vietnam in 1968 as deputy commanding general of the 12th Marine amphibious force.
"Stilwell Predicts Hue, An Loc Will Not Fall," by (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Saturday, May 27, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Friday, June 2, 1972
Strikes, Mines Will Halt Red Offensive - Greer
Greer, commander of Carrier Division 3, part of the 7th Fleet's huge task force off North Vietnam, said, "It probably won't be felt for a number of weeks. It depends on how much they have in the (supply) pipeline and how much destruction we can inflict on that pipeline.
"But if we continue to close that port and the railroads that come in from China, then there isn't any way for North Vietnam to continue for an extended period the type of offensive they have going -that is, and offensive with large numbers of personnel spending huge quantities of ordnance and operating rather sophisticated equipment such as tanks and missile systems."
In an interview, Greer shrugged off claims by the North Vietnamese that the United States is re-mining their harbors, supposedly because the original mines laid early last month have been swept up. Radio Hanoi said Wednesday U.S. Navy planes dropped more mines Monday off Vinh, 164 miles south of Hanoi.
"We have no indication they are conducting any minesweeping," Greer said, "and we've got pretty good surveillance." He declined to go into detail beyond saying, "We don't monitor the minefields as if we had a telephone system hooked up to them.
"We feel confident we will be able to determine any extensive efforts to sweep."
Greer was operations officer of the 7th Fleet when the earlier 1964-68 air war over North Vietnam began. He said the air war today is more effective, for one thing because targets are less restricted and commanders have more flexibility.
"I can remember months we spent with the only authorized target being positively identified military truck traffic," Greer said.
He declined to go into what restrictions, if any, exist on how close U.S. bombers can approach the Chinese border. He did say the main restriction is "to minimize, or completely avoid, civilian casualties.
"We are trying to avoid schools, hospitals, religious areas and population centers. We are not wiping out the cities."
Greer also mentioned so-called "smart" bombs (which follow a laser beam or a television image to the target), bigger U.S. bombloads, the mining and the fact that the North Vietnamese are today conducting a war much more dependent on supply lines, as factors in making the current effort a more decisive one than in the past.
"Strikes, Mines Will Halt Red Offensive - Greer", by (UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Friday, June 2, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Thursday, May 25, 1972
Times: Mining Seems Effective
In a dispatch to The Times last week, Lewis quoted a Haiphong official as saying the mines were being cleared and ship traffic was unimpeded.
He said some observers believe the North Vietnamese are sweeping the mines in Haiphong's inner harbor at night. But he said North Vietnamese officials say more mines are being sowed.
"Times: Mining Seems Effective", by (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Thursday, May 25, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Thursday, May 25, 1972
To Bomb N. Viet Industrial Plants
Until now, the revived U.S. bombing of North Vietnam, ordered by President Nixon after North Vietnam opened its spring offensive against South Vietnam, has concentrated on petroleum storage depots and transportation facilities, including bridges, railroads and truck parks.
Pentagon spokesman Jerry W. Friedheim said these kind of attacks will continue on a major scale and that U.S. bombers "will be hitting some of the other targets such as power plants and some of the industrial facilities which support the military effort of the North."
Friedheim's words indicated that this was the beginning of a new phase in the bombing which will aim at some of North Vietnam's basic economic resources, as well as more directly military type targets.
During the 1965-1968 phase of the air war, U.S. bombers virtually knocked out about a dozen thermal power plants. Most have been rebuilt and some have been protected with blast walls to minimize damage from bombing.
Friedheim declined to go into any kind of detail on what kinds of plants will now be subject to U.S. bombing, but it appeared probable that the old target list from 1965-1968 bombing days will again be in use.
At another point, Friedheim said he "would not rule out any sort of industrial target" that supports the enemy's war effort.
Under questioning, Friedheim acknowledged that U.S. commanders now exercise more authority in carrying out bombing of North Vietnam without the sort of day-to-day control and supervision which prevailed during the Johnson administration.
"By the nature of the rather substantial effort going on at this time," Friedheim said, "military commanders probably have more flexibility in their targeting than was exercised in the 1967-1968 period."
Under the present setup, Nixon and Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird give approval for striking certain types of targets and then leave it to Gen. Creighton Abrams and other senior commanders in the war theater to determine what specific sites to hit and how to hit them.
Nixon has ruled out any strikes on dikes which control water for North Vietnamese rice growing and the administration claims all targets approved play a part in supporting the North Vietnamese attacks on South Vietnam.
Friedheim justified attacks on power plants on grounds they are important to the operations of North Vietnam's air defense network and to switching of railroad trains.
The importance of such industrial facilities as steel mills and machine tool plants would seem to be much less direct and longer range in affecting the outcome of the fighting in South Vietnam.
On another phase of the new U.S. effort against North Vietnam, Friedheim said the United States intends to maintain active minefields off seven North Vietnamese ports and said that the mines are still lethal.
There has been some speculation that the mines dropped two weeks ago would be allowed to become inactive during Nixon's current visit to Moscow.
Friedheim said all of the 25 or so ships which were bound for North Vietnamese ports when Nixon ordered those ports sealed by U.S. mines have now changed course and gone elsewhere. He would not say where those ships, about half of them Russian, had gone.
No additional ships are known to be heading for North Vietnam, Friedheim said.
"To Bomb N. Viet Industrial Plants", by (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Thursday, May 25, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Sunday, June 4, 1972
U.S. Fliers Score 8-1 Over Reds
Pentagon charts list 34 North Vietnamese MIG jet fighters downed in air duels since Jan. 1. Four U.S. planes have been shot down by MIGs.
Most of these kills have come since the United States resumed heavy bombing of North Vietnam in April.
This record is a turnabout from the late stages of the 1965-68 air war against the North when the fighter score was nearly even and, for a time, North Vietnamese MIGs out-killed American jets.
Many of the U.S. planes that attacked North Vietnam in the late 1960s were Air Force F105 Thunderchiefs, so awkward to maneuver when bomb-loaded that they were derided with the nickname "Thud."
Veterans of the air war said the F105s often flew northward without escort in those days, and MIGs caught some of them in a virtually helpless position before the F105s could pull out of their bomb runs.
Now, however, the F105 is out of the air war except for a small number of Thunderchiefs specially equipped with electronic-warfare gear for use against North Vietnamese surface-to-air missile sites and radar.
In the current air campaign against the North, much of the work is being done by agile F4 Phantom jets.
"U.S. Fliers Score 8-1 Over Reds", by (AP), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Sunday, June 4, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Monday, May 29, 1972
U.S. Jets Wreck Vital Rail Bridge
"This highly effective strike puts a dent in the capability of the enemy to move supplies south in support of the Communist invasion forces," declared an Air Force spokesman.
He said the raid, only 20 miles from the Chinese border, was carried out Thursday.
The Air Force said the 2,000 pound laser-guided bombs caved in six of the 11 spans of the Lang Giai railroad bridge.
The 1,500-foot-long 18-foot-wide trestle was supported by reinforced concrete piers and abutments. The spans were dropped from 100-foot high piers, the Air Force said. It distributed reconnaissance photographs of the destroyed bridge.
Lt. Col. Richard Hilton, commander of the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron who led the raid, said "We really wanted that bridge."
"The pilots hit the target with exceptional accuracy," he added. "If Lang Giai had been a bullfight, I would award our air crews both ears and the tail."
The F4 Phantoms encountered three MIGs, but the enemy interceptors did not attack the American planes, the pilots said.
The North Vietnamese claimed they shot down a U.S. plane Friday over Yen Bai Province, 75 miles northwest of Hanoi. The U.S. command, following its regular procedure, had no comment on the Communist claim.
The command also announced that Navy pilots Friday struck at two bridges within 15 miles of the port city of Haiphong. The bombers missed one bridge but knocked holes in the road on its approaches. Damage to the other span was unknown.
In a delayed report, spokesmen said a North Vietnamese pilot bailed out of his plane near Haiphong last Tuesday when he spotted U.S. Navy planes, although the Americans never fired at shot at the subsonic MIG17 fighter.
Spokesmen said two F8 "Crusader" fighters from the aircraft carrier Hancock spotted the MIG 22 miles southwest of Haiphong.
The Americans closed in on the Soviet-built plane, but the MIG pilot bailed out and his plane crashed before the U.S. pilots could fire at him, spokesmen said.
In ground action, North Vietnamese troops and tanks wove through South Vietnamese defense and invaded the northern section of the city of Kontum, 260 miles north of Saigon, military spokesmen said Saturday.
U.S. helicopters, gunplanes and ground troops knocked out eight more Communist tanks for a two-day total of 18 tank "kills," spokesmen said. But heavy fighting raged inside the city and at least one major government military camp.
The Communists, believed to number about 5,000 men, isolated three South Vietnamese regiments defending the town. UPI reporter Matt Franjola reported from Kontum that the situation "looks pretty grim."
Franjola said 19 waves of B52 bombers, scores of tactical air strikes and heavy groundfire was costing the Communists heavy casualties. Communist soldiers also were taking a heavy toll of Kontum's defenders with small arms, rockets, mortars, and artillery, he said.
The North Vietnamese took over half a major military compound at Kontum's northern edge just after dawn Saturday under cover of a 500-round mortar barrage that blew up the ammunition dump.
Near South Vietnam's former imperial capital city of Hue, Communist troops launched four attacks against the northern defense lines, but were beaten back by government marines, spokesmen said.
The Saigon high command said 153 North Vietnamese were killed, and put marine losses at four dead and 12 wounded.
"U.S. Jets Wreck Vital Rail Bridge", by (AP & UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Monday, May 29, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Thursday, May 25, 1972
Viets Preparing For Crucial Hue Battle
Whether by design or necessity, the North Vietnamese have given the new commander, Lt. Gen. Ngo Quang Truong, breathing space to reestablish government positions to the south and west of Hue.
Truong, highly regarded by the American advisers for his military ability and his non-involvement in politics, was appointed May 3 as commander of Military Region I which contains South Vietnam's five northern provinces.
President Nguyen Van Thieu fired Truong's predecessor, Lt. Gen. Hoang Xuan Lam, after the Communists completed their conquest of the northernmost province of Quang Tri.
Since then Truong has sent a successful raiding party into Quang Tri, stabilized northern defensive positions along the My Chanh River 20 miles north of Hue and reoccupied at least temporarily artillery bases Bastogne, 12 miles southwest of Hue and Rakkasan, 15 miles due west of Hue.
The last two government pushes were to set up what officials call a "ring of steel" designed to keep Communist guns outside of artillery range of the old imperial capital.
Truong also has visited many of the troops in and outside of Hue, quietly building confidence or instilling fear -whichever he deems necessary for government forces to hold the line.
Hue is a prize to both Saigon and Hanoi.
In Saigon, a senior diplomat said, "whoever wins the battle for Hue can sit down at the Paris peace talks with a vital trump card.
"Hue is now the key to the war."
Today, perhaps two-thirds of the city"s pre-invasion population of 150,000 has fled to Da Nang, 50 miles to the south, and beyond.
Immediately after the collapse of Quang Tri, near panic swept Hue. The narrow highway heading into the city was choked with refugees from the north.
Frightened South Vietnamese soldiers fired their rifles in front of trucks to make the vehicles stop so they could get rides.
The river of refugees could not be curbed. But what had to be stopped quickly was the soldiers, hundreds of them, who had left their units to flee south. One of the first orders given by Truong was for all soldiers to return to their units or face death by firing squad. A wall of sandbags was built on the north side of the river for executions.
The soldiers stopped running.
Military sources believe the Communists have four divisions, some 40,000 men, designated for the assault on Hue.
The South Vietnamese have some of their best troops manning the Hue defenses. They include two Marine regiments, major parts of an airborne division and the 1st Inf. Div. Some American advisers admit if these units fall to the Communists, then Vietnamization has failed.
The North Vietnamese forces are deployed north of the My Chanh 20 miles north of Hue and 12 to 15 miles to the west and southwest of the city.
The eastern sector is relatively secure, with only a short distance between the city and the South China Sea. Only 10 miles southeast of Hue is Phu Bai base, where the largest contingent of American troops north of Da Nang is stationed. But the Americans are there to protect other Americans and not to defend Hue. The south is open but subject to Communist pressure and interdiction of Highway 1.
The citadel fortress was strong in ancient times. But now the big 130mm guns of the North Vietnamese could render it useless if they move within range.
The North Vietnamese this time may not bring a lot of fire-power to bear on Hue for fear the strongly nationalist citizens of South Vietnam would turn against them because of a wanton destruction of the historic monuments of this city.
American sources have all but pledged not to bomb the near-sacred areas for similar reasons.
The Communist plan now seems to be to fight a small action along the 11-mile My Chanh front to hold the South Vietnamese marines there, while sending main units around the west flank and also severing the road to the south.
This would put Hue and the South Vietnamese in major trouble in what could be one the most important battles in the two decades of the war.
"Viets Preparing for Crucial Hue Battle", by (UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes Thursday, May 25, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Saturday, May 13, 1972
Zumwalt: Mines Alive, Will Slash Arms To Hanoi
"This is clearly an act of self defense on the part of the United States and South Vietnam," Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt said less than an hour after U.S.-laid mines were activated in entrances of seven North Vietnamese ports.
Zumwalt said the psychological effect of the U.S. mining on North Vietnam will be immediate.
He said on NBC's televised Today show that the North Vietnamese know that "the input of supplies ... will be a trickle from now on."
The admiral said the actions North Vietnam takes on the battlefield will determine how long the supplies the enemy already has will last.
According to Zumwalt, some of the 36 ships that were inside Haiphong Harbor left before the mines became lethal after a three-day period of grace granted by President Nixon.
Zumwalt confirmed that one of the 16 Russian ships that were in Haiphong had departed.
The number of other vessels going to North Vietnam ports is uncertain, Zumwalt said. Other defense forces have spoken of some 25 ships reported at sea and heading for North Vietnam at the time Nixon ordered the mining Monday. About half are believed to be Russian.
The Navy chief said ships approaching the mine fields will be warned by "every available means."
"If necessary, our ships will go alongside and warn them with megaphones," Zumwalt said.
A number of U.S. destroyers and a South Vietnamese escort vessel have been stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin in position to alert approaching ships of the mine field dangers, the Pentagon official said.
He refused to discuss "rules of engagement," the orders given to U.S. fleet and warship commanders on what to do if Soviet or other freighters attempt to sail through the mine fields into the harbor.
Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird indicated strongly at a Wednesday news conference that the United States might stop ships trying to enter North Vietnamese ports.
Zumwalt denied that the mining amounts to a blockade, describing the mines as "passive" barriers and saying the decision is up to other nations as to whether their ships will risk the mines.
"Zumwalt: Mines Alive, Will Slash Arms to Hanoi", by (AP) published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Saturday, May 13, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.