1099 – Khe Sanh – 77 days of hell for the Marines

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Marine Corps sniper, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Marine Corps sniper team searches for targets in the Khe Sanh Valley. Original photo by David Douglas Duncan. Donated for use by his estate to the USMC – From Jack Shulimson, Leonard A Balisol, Charles R. Smith, and David A. Dawson, US Marines in Vietnam: The Defining Year, 1968. Washington DC: US Marine Corps History and Museums Division, 1997.

Episode 1099 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story from the Watertown Daily Times titled: Massena man recalls 1968 battle of Khe Sanh submitted by Bob Beckstead. The Beckstead story recounts the story of US Marine James Baker who was in the 1968 Battle of Khe Sanh. Baker can never forget the battle he refers to as 77 day of hell.

In that battle 6000 Marines of the 3rd Marine Division were up against a force of 100,000 NVA regulars. The mission of the North Vietnamese was to wipe out the defenders of Khe Sanh a la Bien Dien Phu style. Unfortunately for the attackers, this time they were fighting US Marines backed up by the US Air Force who brought a passel of B-52s to the clash. The fighting lasted 77 days. When the dust had cleared it is reported 704 Marines died and 2600 were wounded. The NVA army paid a heavier price with 15,000 dead fighters. That figure could be much higher due to the North’s practice of dragging their dead off the battlefields to minimize numbers for body counts. Also thousands of losses go uncounted when troops are vaporized in B-52 Arc Light missions.

More than likely the North Vietnamese paid a grievously higher price in men than that shown in the official records. It is a sad thing to see so many lives lost in a operation that was meant to be only a diversion for the upcoming Tet Offensive.

The one main take away from the Battle of Khe Sanh is the United States is fortunate to have the Marines who will always stand up and prevail no matter the challenge.

CLICK HERE for more information about the 1968 battle at Khe Sanh.

Listen to episode 1099 and discover more about James Baker’s account of his experiences at the Battle of Khe Sanh.


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