Episode 2435 – The Road to Tchepone – Operation Lam Son 719

The Road to Tchepone

The Road to Tchepone

Episode 2435 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about the challenges of Operation Lam Son 719 that took place back in 1971. The featured story comes from the Warfare History Network. It is titled: The Nightmare Mission into Laos: Operation Lam Son 719 and was submitted by William E. Welsh in May of 2015.

The story subtitle reads: During Operation Lam Son 719, the South Vietnamese raid into the Laotian panhandle, commanders learned first-hand how tenacious the North Vietnamese could be.

Your podcaster has vivid memories of the Operation. He participated in the action from start to finish.  It played out over six weeks starting in the first part of February, 1971. The higher ups, including South Vietnamese President Thieu. U.S. President Nixon, Henry Kissinger, General Creighton Abrams came with a plan to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail with a strike up north.

This followed the invasion of Cambodia back in April of 1970. Due to the fact that invasion caused so much distress by the anti-war crowd, it was decided to have only South Vietnamese troops participate in the invasion on the ground. The U.S. would provide air support with U.S. Air Force assets and U.S. Army helicopters.

It was a good plan in theory. It called for South Vietnamese mechanized troops to advance 40 kilometers on Route 9 from Khe Sanh to the village of Tchepone where they would conduct a sweep of the two base areas. South Vietnamese rangers would be helicoptered to fire bases north and south of the dirt road to provide flank security. The United States would furnish fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to conduct air strikes and resupply the ground forces.

Unfortunately for the 16,000 South Vietnamese participating in the strike, they were met by 36,000 thousand North Vietnamese troops who moved into the area to engage the South Vietnamese. The North Vietnamese infantry was backed by armor, as well as 122mm and 130mm guns that pounded the firebases. The South Vietnamese column on Route 9 never made it to Tchepone.

Listen to episode 2435 and discover more about the challenges faced by the South Vietnamese Army in Operation Lam Son 719 back in 1971.

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