Thankyou for deciding to continue to read. Here I am not trying to be a complete guide to the
Vietnam War, but what I think about this hugely misunderstood war. If you want to know about the
Vietnam war, I highly recomment the book “Nam, The Vietnam Experience 1965-75″It’s an excellent
resource, and after a ling time I am still reading it myself, learning new things and understanding more.
How it Started
A lot is misunderstood by many people about the Vietnam War. There are a lot of politocs behind
the war, but on the military side, the following is quite an accurate account of the immediate effects
which started the war.
It started on the 8 August 1965 when American Troops stormed ashore at Da Nang, South of
Vietnam, ready to fight the bloodiest war known to man. of Vietnam, ready to fight the bloodiest war
known to man. The reason was simple: there was a communist threat and their [The US] job was to
In 1960, President John F Kennedy saw that South East Asia was under imminent threat, so decided
to increase aid to South Vietnam. This was received by Lyndon Johnson in November 1963. He
declared that he would not let Vietnam fall the same way as China.
The above lead to more corruption, instead of military success; so consequently the US became
more and moe involved in politics in the South. In January 1964, plans were drawn up for operations
against North Vietnam. These included sabotage and spying for the North, and bombing raids and
Naval attacks for North Vietnam’s coast.
There were attacks on US Naval vessels by the North Vietnamese (NV). Torpedoes were launched
but missed, and no American casualties were suffered. After this, Johnson decided to act. He sent
out vessels. As the two destroyers approached the coast, a terrible storm broke out: They were
convinced that and attack was imminent. Crusaders flew over from. They could see the vessels
zig-zagging about: They were under attack. Sonars detected 22 incoming torpedoa and they air craft
pilots claimed to have hit three enemy craft. As soon as these reports got to Johnson, he ordered air
strikes against coastal targets in the North, and appeared in television commercials announcing his
After that, it was all quiet fr the soldiers at Da Nang. They would go out all day, getting hot, sweaty
and bored. Every now and then a monkey would set off the alarms, but no real action was
happening, it was very frustrating. For a full five months after they had swept the beach, nothing had
still happened, until now…
About about 0130 hours (1:30am), a Marine sentry a strange noise outside camp. He threw an
illumation grenade into the direction of the sound, and as it exploded – so did half the airbase. A
furious VC (Viet Cong) mortar barrage swept accross the field. A team of VC sappers charged
through a hole they’d clipped in the fence and lobbed in explosions on the parked aircraft. As quickly
they had come, they had gone…
The damaged caused was not too extensive, and one American was killed. This hardened the
Marines, so they decided to “kill them, before they kill us”. They did not have to wait long, as in July
there was a build up of VC near the Marines. There was another VC build up about 60 miles away
at Chu Lai. The Marines went there. On the the 15th August, a VC desertor (who turned up out of
the blue) revealed that the 1st Viet Cong Regiment (a force of about 1500 men) had set up base only
12 miles from the Marines’ base at Da Nang. Up until now the Marines had not fully used the power
of their weapons, so they took up the offer immediately.
A Marine batallion was organised to be highly self sufficient – it could move at high speed and could
have close air support withing minuetes if they ran into anything big. Their air support would be an
HH-34 helicopter, loaded with heavy artillary. This was how the marines decided to take the VC on
the Van Tuong peninsula.
For the operation to succeed, they had to move fast. Staff officers assembled and the Plan of Action
(POA) was drawn up:
The Marines were to surround the enemy before they could make a getaway. So they decided
to launch the attack from three separare directions. One Marine company would move over
land and dig in along side of the Tra Bong river to block any VC attempts to break out north,
while a whole batallion of men would be put ashore on the southern side of the peninsula at An
Cuong. The final part would be lifted in helicopeter. With their backs to the sea, the VC would
Operation Starlite was set to go ahead on 18th August.
A Wall Of Fire
With the plan ready, they set out as planned. The giant 40 tonne vehicle clawed their way up the An
Cuong beach. The Marines poured out their transport towards the huts of the nearby hamlet.
Suddenly, the Marines up front walked into a wall of Viet Cong machine gun shooting and mortar
sheels exploding fire.
The War Had Begun.