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          Building models of VNAF aircraft, ARVN armored vehicles, or VNN ships without the knowledge of their histories can be considered like buying a model kit that has some missing parts. Or you can say a finished model but without the decals! For that reason, since then we have been posting on this website all small and great related- military stories whenever we collected enough documentary materials.

Battle Of Xuan Loc is one great story not because many military tacticians, historians, or journalists have praised it for the successful outcome of one ARVN battered Division against four fully equipped VPA Divisions backed with Regiments of tanks and artillery. But all the pundits have missed the point. It was great because the spirit of men who made a stand and fight: In a circumstance when all ARVN senior and junior officers who participated in the battle knew so damn well that they had been betrayed by the US ally; when all the ARVN soldiers under their command had already witnessed the military debacle of their fellow comrades' units from the 1st and 2nd Regional Corps. Imagine when your football team had learned in advance that their game had been set up to lose: A SELLOUT, but they still played at their best performance. So all the ARVN soldiers who fought the Battle OF Xuan Loc didn't do it for the reasons of Freedom, Liberty, or Democracy. Those embellished terms are just the convenient, demagogic pretexts for the "dirty" foreign politicians or policy makers who used to appeal to the crowds or to promote their party agendas. On those darkest, grieving days of April 1975, the ARVN soldiers stood up and fought at Xuan Loc for just a few simple reasons: The pride of their Units' Colors, Camaraderie, and Duty.

Are you willing to fight like that in the same circumstance? If not, you can join the battle now, on this webpage!

(Added 4 photos) PHOTOS OF BATTLE OF XUAN LOC
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BATTLE OF XUAN LOC

General Le Minh Dao
Brigadier General LE MINH DAO
ARVN Commandant of Xuan Loc



PHOTOS OF BATTLE OF XUAN LOC by Dirck Halstead

Xuan Loc Battle



Xuan Loc Battle



Xuan Loc Battle



Xuan Loc Battle


Xuan Loc Battle


Xuan Loc Battle


18th Division Logo

SETUP

       During the closing days of the 1975 North Vietnamese Offensive, four VPA divisions were pitted against a small ARVN force, dug-in astride the rugged hills near Xuan Loc - a town of 30,000 people located along one of the key roads into the capital, Saigon. Advancing in strength down the coastal highway were the VPA 5th, 6th, 7th and 341st Divisions, massed with artillery and T-54 tanks. Defiantly blocking their way were the ARVN 18th Divisions, Long Khanh provincial forces, and 82nd Ranger Battalion. On 12 April 1975, the 1st Airborne Brigade, made up of four Airborne Battalions and one Airborne artillery battalion, was moved into the area of operations by helicopter.

Xuan Loc Map
BRIEF SUMMARY

       The battle which followed was unique in many respects for the Vietnam War, involving units of divisional size, devastatingly effective VNAF airpower and sophisticated US-made BLU-82 Daisy Cutter Bomb Live Unit-82s. For nearly 2 weeks, the ARVN held Xuan Loc and counterattacked against impossible odds. In contrast to the general impression of total collapse on the part of the ARVN, it was described as 'heroic and gallant' by the South Vietnamese defenders. It was one of the few places where the ARVN, though outnumbered, stood and fought with a tenacity which stunned their opponents. The stand of the ARVN so impressed the rest of the entire South Vietnamese Army, that previously routed, they grew confident again. News reporters were flown in from around the world to witness the battlefield strewn with VPA casualties, repelled in assault after assault with heavy losses. After 12 days and nights of ferocious combat against the North Vietnamese Communist forces, the steel defensive line at Xuan Loc (Long Khanh) still held firm. The forces of the North Vietnamese 4th Corps engaged in the battle had suffered heavy losses. For this reason the Headquarters of the Ho Chi Minh Campaign hastily changed their plan for the attack on Saigon. The forces of the North Vietnamese 3rd Corps in Tay Ninh and 2nd at the Nuoc Trong base would be used to make the "major effort" to attack and capture Saigon. The VPA 4th Corps would abandon its efforts against Xuan Loc and would become a "reserve force". For this reason, Xuan Loc was no longer a "hot point," and the Headquarters of ARVN 3rd Corps/Military Region 3 ordered the 18th Infantry Division and all units participating in the Xuan Loc (Long Khanh) battle to retreat to Bien Hoa on 20 April 1975 to establish a new line defending the outer approaches to Saigon. The retreat back to Bien Hoa to assume the new mission was carried out during the night of 20 April 1975.

(Source:Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


BATTLE OF XUAN LOC

By Phillip B. Davision, source: Davison, Phillip B

       The ARVN forces defending Saigon were disposed to cover the five main roads leading into Saigon. North of Saigon, the 5th ARVN Division defended against an enemy attack down Highway 13. Northeast of the capital, the 18th ARVN Division held Xuan Loc covering Highway 1 and the city and air base of Bien Hoa. Southeast of Saigon, two airborne brigades and a ranger group (all at about 50 percent strength) defended against an enemy thrust up Highway 15. Southwest of Saigon, the reactivated and refitted 22nd ARVN Division sat astride Highway 4, the main route from the Mekong Delta to Saigon. Finally, in the northwest, the 25th ARVN Division held Route 1 between Tay Ninh and Saigon.



COMMUNIST FORCES'S ATTACK ON XUAN LOC, April 1975
Xuan Loc Map
AERIAL PHOTOS OF XUAN LOC BEFORE THE BATTLE

       The NVA plan to seize Saigon mirrored the ARVN plan to defend it. Dung adopted with minor alterations Tran Van Tra's plan of a five pronged concentric drive on the south Vietnamese capital. Dung remembered that there had been considerable devastation in Saigon during the Tet offensive. He wanted to prevent that destruction, and more importantly, he did not want to compress the ARVN forces into a "cornered rat" defense inside Saigon. Accordingly, he devised a plan which he hoped would overcome the problems presented by ARVN's dispositions. First, he gave each of his five corps a principal axis of advance. Second, he ordered the corps to attempt to surround or annihilate the ARVN defenders in their outer defensive positions, thus averting a last ditch defense in Saigon itself. Third, he gave his troops five critical targets in Saigon. These were: Independence Palace (the South Vietnamese White House), the headquarters of the JGS (near Tan Son Nhut air base), Tan Son Nhat air base itself, the National Police Headquarters, and the headquarters of the Capitol Zone, whose commander controlled troops in and around Saigon. Dung reasoned that if these installations were captured quickly before serious fighting in Saigon began, the battle for Saigon would be over.

And being North Vietnamese Communists, they had to have a plan for a Great Uprising in Saigon to accompany the Great Offensive. In spite of the fact that a plan for an uprising was totally unecessary, and that none of the uprisings planned for Tet 1968 or 1972 had remotely succeeded, the Communists drew up an elaborate plan for political "dau tranh" involving a "dich van" program among the South Vietnamese people and a "binh van" program (troop proselyting) aimed at the RVNAF.

Before the Communist drive on Saigon could begin, the NVA had to undertake two preliminary operations - the seizure of Xuan Loc and the cutting of Highway 4. The Communists wanted to cut Highway 4 to prevent the movements of ARVN reinforcements from the Delta to Saigon and to secure a staging area for a later attack on the capital itself. Xuan Loc was a more significant NVA objective. It anchored the eastern end of the outer defenses of Saigon. In addition, the town controlled the roads from the east to Saigon, Bien Hoa, and Vung Tau, and covered the two big air bases at Bien Hoa and Tan Son Nhut. Both sides considered Xuan Loc to be the key to the defense of Saigon.

Neither of these preliminary operations went well. The NVA effort to cut Highway 4 sputtered and faltered, cutting Highway 4 and then being driven off by effective ARVN counterattacks. The battle for Xuan Loc produced one of the epic battles of any of the Indochina wars, certanily the most heroic ARVN stand in Indochina War III. On 9 April, Dung attacked the 18th ARVN Division (reinforced) with the entire IV NVA Corps consisting of three infantry divisions (eventually reinforced to four) plus tanks and artillery. The fighting featured mass NVA infantry attacks supported by extremely heavy artillery fire (the ARVN troops at Xuan Loc took over 20,000 rounds of artillery and rockets). ARVN held out until 22 April and then had to withdraw. The 18th ARVN Division lost about 30 percent of its strength (almost all its riflemen) while destroying 37 NVA tanks and killing over 5,000 Communist attackers. In this final epic stand ARVN demonstrated for the last time that, when properly led, it had the "right stuff."

FIGHTING IS AN ART

• By George J. Veith and Merle L. Pribbenow, II, "Fighting is an Art": The Army of the Republic of Vietnam's Defense of Xuan Loc, 8-20 April 1975, The Journal of Military History 68 (January 2004): pp 163-214.

           From early to mid-April 1975, the South Vietnamese 18th Division, defending the strategic road junction of Xuan Loc, northeast of Saigon, held off massive attacks by an entire North Vietnamese Army corps engaged in a surprise assault to overrun Saigon and quickly end the war. Enduring extremely heavy fighting, they stopped the communist offensive before being ordered to a retreat and help defend Saigon. While communist forces were guilty of over-confidence, the 18th Division's superb performance was largely the result of the combat skills, prior planning, and inspirational leadership of their commander, Brigadier General Le Minh Dao, who demonstrated that even in South Vietnam's darkest hour; the much-maligned soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam would fight when led by able officers.

The first artillery shell landed directly on the General's home. It was a small two-story house, inconspicuous really, despite its pinkish hues. It sat across the road from the province chief's residence, near the Catholic church in the middle of the town of Xuan Loc, the capital of Long Khanh province. The General lived, as did many of his South Vietnamese soldiers, in the quiet, somewhat shabby rural town. The round crashed through the roof and exploded in the bedroom, a testimony to the incredible accuracy of the North Vietnamese artillerymen. It was immediately followed by a 2000 round bombardment that lasted for precisely one hour. Fortunately, the General was not home.

Awakened by the steady hammering from the enemy batteries, the soldiers of the 18th Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and the remaining Long Khanh provincial forces huddled in their prepared positions on the periphery of the town. The communist gunners were firing into the city center, unaware that the ARVN had moved to the outskirts to escape the expected artillery barrage.

As dawn arrived, the clank of steel treads heralded to appearance of North Vietnamese tanks, followed by waves of infantry, confident of their certain victory. It was 6:40 am on Wednesday morning, the 9th of April 1975.

The decisive battle for Saigon bad begun.

Despite the crucial role the struggle for Xuan Loc played during the demise of the Republic of Vietnam. Western historians know few precise details about this epic engagement, in which the South Vietnamese 18th ARVN Division and Long Khanh provincial forces held of a series of massive combined-arms attacks by the infantry, armor, and artillery of an entire North Vietnamese Army (NVA) corps. While historians and memoirs frequently mention this major clash of the Vietnam War, what has been published is often inaccurate or erroneous. What is known is this: despite the tremendous setbacks suffered by the South Vietnamese military in 1975, the 18th ARVN Division made a truly remarkable 12 stand against heavy odds during a time when many other ARVN units broke and ran. Why? What made them different from other ARVN outfits? What made its soldiers not only hold their ground but fearlessly slug it out? How did they withstand the massive artillery barrages and defend against constant tank-led infantry assaults? What effect did their resolute resistance have on the war and on the American evacuation? Most importantly, what decisions turned this quaint provincial capital into the scene of the heaviest combat since An Loc and Quang Tri in 1972?

The answers some twenty-five years later are not easy to obtain, but what made Xuan Loc the focal point for the NVA attack was its strategic location. The city, located 60 kilometers northeast of Saigon, the South Vietnamese capital, controlled the vital road junction of Route 1 and Route 20, the two main paved highways into Saigon from Central Vietnam.

With the destruction of South Vietnam's two northern Military Regions in March 1975, Xuan Loc suddenly became a critical node on the improvised defensive line the desperate South Vietnamese were trying to form around Saigon. Most observers realized that whatever slim chance the ARVN had to defend the capital from the encircling enemy army was predicated on holding Xuan Loc. If the Republic of Vietnam forces could make a stand there, a chance remained they could stabilize the situation, regroup their battered military, and save the country from defeat.

The communist leadership in North Vietnam was determined, however, to "strangle the puppets in their lair"before the South Vietnamese could recover. Given the chaos that caused the fall of Da Nang on 29 March 1975. Hanoi's leadership saw an opportunity to quickly conclude the war with a swift attack on Saigon through Xuan Loc. They were convinced that another hard blow would crumble the last vestiges of ARVN resistance, and the city's loss would clear the path for a rapid communist advance to the very gates of Saigon, ending the decades-old conflict in one massive assault. To achieve that goal, the North Vietnamese threw their entire 4th Corps, comprised of three divisions, against the 18th ARVN at Xuan Loc.

The 18th Division, however, did not crumble, and communist dreams of an easy victory withered in the fires of what the NVA commander, a battle-scarred veteran who had fought the cream of the French and American armies, called the fiercest battle of his 30-year military career. Instead, the 18th's performance, shouldered at a moment in time when ARVN morale was at rock bottom, resoundingly answered the question asked by so many at the time: Will the ARVN fight? While ultimately the Division was ordered to retreat from the ruined town, their valiant resistance briefly raised the hope that the South Vietnamese might hold off the relentless onslaught of the regulars of the People's Army of the Vietnam (PAVN), long enough either for the rainy season to bring the offensive to a halt, or for covert diplomatic efforts to achieve a ceasefire.

Moreover, the poor public reputation of the South Vietnamese military, fed by the collapse in I and II Corps, was partially redeemed by the heroic stand of the 18th.

As communist artillery fire blasted into the city and the 7th was also ordered to resume its assault, the results were the same. The dogged ARVN defenders threw back the attack columns of both divisions. Several more enemy tanks were destroyed, ARVN counter-attacks stopped NVA penetrations and reclaimed any lost ground. Again the PAVN had not taken the city and North Vietnamese casualties were extremely heavy and growing. Hoang Cam wrote, "This was the most ferocious battle I had even been involved in! My personal assessment was that, after three days of battle, even after committing our reserves, the situation had not improved and we had suffered significant casualties."In a footnote, Cam provides figures, which match those in the History of the People's Army. "During the first three days of the battle 7th Division suffered 300 casualties and the 341st Division suffered 1,200 casualties. Virtually all of our 85mm and 37 mm artillery pieces had been destroyed."

The PAVN Campaign Commander, General Van Tien Dung, wrote, "The battle of Xuan Loc was fierce and cruel from the very first days. Our divisions had to organize many assaults into town, striking and striking again to destroy each target, and had to repel many enemy counterattacks."

While COSVN's plan (Central Office for South Vietnam) to attack Saigon from the northeast was foiled, in the end, the III Corps forces could not withstand the entire North Vietnamese Army. Yet, despite the public image of corruption and incompetence, the ARVN, as shown in the battle for Xuan Loc, was not an army of bumblers and cowards as it is so often portrayed. It was an army that stood and fought with great courage not only on a few well-know occasions like the siege of Xuan Loc, but also in hundreds of little battles whose names most Americans never knew. When asked by his captors why he did not flee like many other ARVN Generals, Dao told them he could not abandon the soldiers who had fought so hard for him. I was their General, he told his jailers, and if you are holding any of my men in prison, I wish to be the last man from the 18th ARVN released. "I could not look them in face otherwise", he said. Speaking of the battle for Xuan Loc, he calmly states, "Fighting is an art; you must use not only your arms and begs, but your mind as well. Even though we knew we had lost the war, I still fought. I was filled with despair after the loss of the northern Corps, but I still fight."He gave a similar answer to a reporter who visited the town on April 13th,who ash him: "Why had the South Vietnamese troops fought at Xuan Loc and not in the north? How I can speak for them, said General Dao, the division commander. I can speak only for myself, and we have fought."

General Le Minh Dao was released from prison on May 4, 1992 and arrived in the United States in April 1993. He currently is active in the far-flung Vietnamese communities, spending much of his time traveling to see his former soldiers, most of whom are officers, since few of the line troops left Vietnam. Finally, he asked the authors, "Please do not call me a hero. My men who died at Xuan Loc and a hundred battle's before are the true hero's."

There is no need to call General Le Minh Dao a hero. Some truths are self-evident.





          Hey guys, Yankee-Caribou has just sent in the story below, more or less it related to the ARVN soldier who carried the badminton racket into the battle. You properly heard some of the stories long ago and cracked out loud by then. But for other "outsiders" who never ever heard of them before, would think these are so ridiculous, must be some sort of bad joke! But brace yourself, most of them are true anecdotes of Post-Vietnam War. That was how life would become so sarcastic, ironic, bitter, and tearful after a barbarous tribe conquered a civilized society. Should I say "enjoy"...?

Cartoon

"BELIEVE IT OR NOT" VIETNAM WAR STORIES

       By featuring the picture of the ARVN soldier who carried badminton racquet to battle of Xuan Loc, the author of this web-site has unwitingly stumbled into a classified ARVN secret.
       Thirty one years ago deep from the jungle many of the NVA troops on their way to loot South VietNam were so confounded to discover that - left behind in nearly every South VietNam home (whose owner had run away from them) were something that look like the radars used to guide SAM2 in North VietNam only much much smaller. They asked their political cadre and were explained that: The device was a miniature radar that 'MyNguy' had deployed to track enemy troops movement 'Cac dong chi khong nen dung vao - nguy hiem chet nguoi day !' ' You comrades should not touch, these things are fatally dangerous !' was the advice . To prove his point the polical cadre explained further in details that how these radars in South Vietnamese homes were very portable yet powerful - they were even equipped with propellers inside the radar attenna array to cool the high energy attenna array . The troops also discovered further strange devices which appeared to be telecommunication apparatus where the image of the RVN political leader such as president Thieu appeared at night to call on the ARVN troops to fight to the death . Other devices emitted voice , even music and 'cai luong' (southern Viet Nam folklore opera) 24 hours a day . They also found mysterious white metal trunk which keep food fresh at low temperature ... (but that is another story for another day . )
... OK what do all these 've got to do with the soldier carrying badminton on his back ?
It was the fact that large number of NVA troops until 1975 had never before seen normal everyday household appliances such as electric fans, TV, radio, refrigerator . Ironically these people claimed to be the liberators of the South Vietnamese people - people who own these creature comforts . Perhaps what they meant was they wanted to 'liberate' the South from these creature comforts by shipping them truck loads to the North after the 'liberation'.
North and South Viet Nam all are one country. The culprits who caused the bloodshed war that ruined Viet Nam and divided Vietnamese people until this day were none other than the Ho Chi Minh and his cohort the communist party.
After 1975, there were many true examples of these stories similar to the above, for example a typical that usually told was:
Upon occupying a large building in SaiGon. A group of NVA soldiers who patted themselved in the back for creatively keeping fish alive and fresh in a strange looking white ceramic shiny bowl filled with clean water , only later inadvertently and litterally flushed their lunch down the toilet !!
To exploit the people who claimed to be 'dinh cao tri tue loai nguoi' , 'the summits of human intelligence' , The leaders of ARVN 18th division had a very very cunning plan. They decided to ask some soldiers to carry badminton racquets on their back then spreaded the rumour that USA had last minite rushed to South VietNam a secret weapon just like the BLU-82 that had been dropped from a VNAF C-130 earlier.
The ARVN soldiers of 18th DIV were now appeared to be equiped with RGM-16 weapon (Radar Guide M-16 guns) with portable radar attenna backpack as seen from the photo.
The radar guide M-16 had capabilty of differentiating NVA from civilian and ARVN hence the NVA could nolonger use innocent civilian as human shield or inflitrated among them . Further more the rumour said it would save the ARVN substantial amount of ammuniation as the radar guided bullet after penetrate one NVA troop can continue to track and penetare few more (*).
Yes we all know some historical source claimed that the NVA went around Xuan Loc because Xuan Loc was no longer a strategic target not that they were defeated by the ARVN.
Now you all know true reason why the NVA had chosen to go around Xuan Loc - rather than facing the ARVN soldier of 18th DIV who carried badminton racquet (aka RGM-16) to battle.
(*) After 1975 Under communist education curriculum an elementatry students had to solve mathematical puzzles like : if there were 10 MyNguy (a VC degraded term used to call ARVN and allies troop) soldier patrolling a VC guerrila shoot one bullet that killed 5 of the MyNguy soldier standing in straight line how many guy were left alive?
Other popular stories like the VPAF ambushing USAF fighters by parking their Mig's in clouds with engine switched off to save fuel. Or hero electrician in a factory during a bomb raid held by bare hands 2 ends of broken electric conductor wire to let the current ran thru his body to ensure the uninterupt production were parts of the propaganda . Almost every one in the South know stories like:
'Is there Honda / refrigerator in North VietNam' ' Of course they are running all over the place ' answered by NVA troop or 'Is there ice cream in the North' 'Yes they are so plenty that we have to sun dry to preserve them ... '
Today the communists in VietNam should be grateful to the people of Republic of VietNam for liberating their minds !.

(More materials will be added up on this page, whenever they are available...)

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