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Operation Hump

Operation Hump
Part of Vietnam War
A soldier laying prone on the ground with his back to camera. Through the broken foliage and smoke other soldiers can be seen.
US paratroopers under heavy fire during Operation Hump.
Date 5–8 November 1965
Location South Vietnam, Bien Hoa
Result United States/Australian victory, Viet Cong retreats.
Belligerents
United States
Australia
Viet Cong
Units involved
173rd Airborne Brigade
1 RAR
Q762 Main Force Regiment and D800 Main Force Battalion
Strength
Total Force around 400 around 1200
Casualties and losses
48 US killed
many more wounded
2 Australian MIA (located and repatriated to Australia 5 June 2007[1])
Unknown (US est: 403 killed)

Operation Hump was a search and destroy operation initiated on 8 November 1965[1] by the 173rd Airborne Brigade, in an area about 17.5 miles (28.2 km) north of Bien Hoa. The 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment[2] deployed south of the Dong Nai River while the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, conducted a helicopter assault on an LZ northwest of the Dong Nai and Song Be Rivers. The objective was to drive out Viet Cong fighters who had taken position in several key hills. Little contact was made through 7 November, when B and C Companies settled into a night defensive position southeast of Hill 65, a triple-canopy jungled hill.

Contents

  • Battle 1
  • Aftermath 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Battle

At about 0600 on the morning of 8 November C Company began a move northwest toward Hill 65, while B Company moved northeast toward Hill 78. Shortly before 0800, C Company was engaged by a sizeable enemy force well dug in to the southern face of Hill 65, armed with machine guns and shotguns. At 0845, B Company was directed to wheel in place and proceed toward Hill 65 with the intention of relieving C Company, often relying on their bayonets to repel daring close range attacks by small bands of masked Viet Cong fighters.

B Company reached the foot of Hill 65 at about 0930 and moved up the hill. It became obvious that there was a large enemy force in place on the hill, C Company was getting hammered, and by chance, B Company was forcing the enemy's right flank.

Under pressure from B Company's flanking attack the enemy force—most of a People's Liberation Armed Forces (Viet Cong) regiment—moved to the northwest, whereupon the B Company commander called in air and incendiary artillery fire on the retreating rebels. The shells scorched the foliage and caught many rebel fighters ablaze, exploding their ammunition and grenades they carried. B Company halted in place in an effort to locate and consolidate with C Company's platoons, managing to establish a coherent defensive line running around the hilltop from southeast to northwest, but with little cover on the southern side.

Meanwhile, the Viet Cong commander realised that his best chance was to close with the US forces so that the 173rd's air and artillery fire could not be effectively employed. Viet Cong troops attempted to out-flank the US position atop the hill from both the east and the southwest, moving his troops closer to the Americans. The result was shoulder-to-shoulder attacks up the hillside, hand-to-hand fighting, and isolation of parts of B and C Companies; the Americans held against two such attacks. Although the fighting continued after the second massed attack, it reduced in intensity as the PLAF troops again attempted to disengage and withdraw, scattering into the jungle to throw off the trail of pursuing US snipers. By late afternoon it seemed that contact had been broken off, allowing the two companies to prepare a night defensive position while collecting their dead and wounded in the center of the position. Although a few of the most seriously wounded were extracted by USAF helicopters using Stokes litters, the triple-canopy jungle prevented the majority from being evacuated until the morning of 9 November.

Aftermath

The result of the battle was heavy losses on both sides—48 Paratroopers dead, many wounded, and 403 dead Viet Cong troops.

Operation Hump is memorialised in a song by Big and Rich named 8th of November. The introduction, as read by Kris Kristofferson, is:

The final sentence is a reference to John 15:13 in the Christian Bible.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Four remain missing from Vietnam war – Breaking News – National – Breaking News
  2. ^ Bodies of two Vietnam MIAs may come home – Breaking News – National – Breaking News

External links

  • 173d Airborne Brigade National Memorial Fund
  • The Virtual Wall
  • Dedicated to Sky Soldiers Past & Present
  • Lawrence Joel – Arlington National Cemetery
  • The short film STAFF FILM REPORT 66-1 (1966) is available for free download at the Internet Archive
  • The short film STAFF FILM REPORT 66-13A (1966) is available for free download at the Internet Archive
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