In this episode of the Vietnam Veteran News podcast we will take a look at the year 1967 in Vietnam. That was the year of the “big battles.” An excellent editorial on the New York Times website will be featured. It sheds light on the events and motivations of that eventful year in the war. The piece was submitted by Ron Milam, a Vietnam Veteran who is now an associate professor of history at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. It is titled: 1967: The Era of Big Battles in Vietnam.
Milam begins by pointing out that in the beginning of 1967 there were half a million US military people in country along with 850,000 others including the South Vietnamese and allies from assorted countries like Korea and Australia. With this in mind the leadership of the noble crusade to save the country and the rest of Southeast Asia from Communist domination decided to start thinking big.
It was decided to employ enormous multi-divisional operations to crush once and for all the Viet Cong and NVA forces in the Iron Triangle. Those hostile forces were likened to be holding a dagger aimed at Saigon, the heart of the country. In early 1967 a very large offensive called Operation Junction City was supposed to be launched poste haste but alas, practicalities got in the way of the operation’s D-Day. The planners found such a large operation required a great deal of planning and this would cause a delay in getting the important action kicked off.
Due to a strong desire to do something it was decided to execute a relatively smaller, more focused operation, called Cedar Falls. It started on January 8th with an attack on the village of Ben Suc. The attack was led by a formation of 60 Hueys. The attack on Ben Suc was successful. The Americans quickly took over the town, arrested 28 suspected VC fighters, relocated the entire population of the village and then blew up the empty burg with a 10,000 bomb.
Unfortunately Operation Cedar Falls did not accomplish the desired goal of closing with and destroying large VC or NVA units. Not to be dismayed, the leadership immediately launched a follow-up operation named after the original massive attack, Junction City. Again the opposing forces proved to be elusive and would only fight on their own terms and when chose as would be the pattern for the remainder of the war.
Listen to the podcast and get the whole story from Ron Milam.