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The Siege of Khe Sanh

July 1962
The "First Special Forces - A Detachment" arrives in Khe Sanh Village and establish a security perimeter.
September 1962
Vietnamese Engineers build the first airstrip on the
Plateau, a little on the crude side, but useful.
U.S. helicopters and O-1B (Piper Cubs) arrive on station.

March 1964
An O-1B "Bird Dog" is shot down while on a recon photo intelligence mission around Khe Sanh "Captain Richard Whitesides" pilot, becomes the first American killed at Khe Sanh. The observer, Captain Floyd Thompson was taken prisoner by the NVA and brought to Hanoi where he became the longest held POW of the Vietnam Conflict.

April 1965
Intelligence reports NVA build-up North of Khe Sanh Village and around the area of the Plateau. The build up causes concern about security in I Corp, so Special Forces are air lifted onto the Plateau to re-enforce the defense of the encampment. From time to time, sparatic fire fights are started by the NVA to test the perimeter security ....... US and Allied forces dig in. The Khe Sanh Plateau officially becomes known as:

The Kha Sanh Combat Base
Over the next year, things remain pretty quiet in the area. Routine patrols encounter very little activity of the NVA in the area. Khe Sanh Village and the Plateau remain at ease for the most part.
April 1966
Intelligence from long range recon patrols reveal that large numbers of well armed NVA troops, some Division size, are crossing the DMZ and heading into the South. Khe Sanh becomes a stratigic base because of it's location, and it is determined that it must be held if attacked. Re-enforcements are airlifted in to supplement the Plateau's defense, while perimeter trenches are expanded, and bunkers re-enforced.
It is also determined that the airstrip on the Plateau must be re-built, expanded, and re-enforced to handle C-130 cargo planes, more helicopters to be kept on station, and a couple jet fighters. The face lift had to occur to insure a direct re-supply link to Khe Sanh.

June 1966
Marine Engineers from FMF, and Navy Sea Bee Construction Battalion 10 arrive in Khe Sanh and start re-building, re-enforcing, and expanding the airstrip.
Even though Intelligence continues to report that more and more well armed
NVA troops continue to come across the DMZ, direct contact with any sizeable force is extremely minimal, leaving the next 8 months or so pretty quiet.

March 1967
Concerns for the defense of Khe Sanh becomes more and more evident as
Intelligence reports the NVA are moving towards the Khe Sanh area in large,
well-armed numbers. Security is tightened, and additional patrols are sent out in all directions, some long range, some short range, to gather information on NVA movements. It is determined that the NVA are grouping for an assault on the Plateau, Khe Sanh Village, and the outposts.

24 April 1967
Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines encountered, and engaged, a large well armed NVA force, estimated to be Battalion strength headed for Khe Sanh. Heavy fighting continues through the afternoon, and even though the Marines are out numbered, they made it almost a one-sided fight. Intelligence determined that 1/9 had caught the NVA by surprise, causing an un-organized, pre-mature counter attack against 1/9 just North of Hill 861 by the NVA. The area around Khe Sanh becomes infested with NVA.

25 April 1967 0600
Operation Hill Fights Commences

Over the next 3 days, the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines and 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, along with support personnel are airlifted into Khe Sanh to re-enforce the perimeter for the NVA drive toward the Plateau.

28 April 1967
After extremely intense prep fire from artillery and air support, 2/3 assaults the slopes of Hill 861 under intense ground fire from well armed and entrenched NVA, but manage to seize the first objective, Hill 861. With the hill secured, 2/3 is airlifted back to the encampment for re-supply, and then is airlifted to the area around Hill 881N.

28 April to 2 May 1967
To coincide with 2/3's attack on Hill 861, 3/3 assaults Hill 881S, but the intense prep fire on this hill has little to no effect on the entrenched NVA who are well dug in, well armed, and a much larger force than that on Hill 861. After 4 days of alternating prep fire from artillery and air, napalm drops, bombing runs, and numerous assaults on the hill, 3/3 finally seizes control of the second objective, Hill 881S.

3 to 5 May 1967
Having minimal to no rest, 2/3 encounters, and engages, on the morning of the 3rd, a heavily armed NVA Company size force and dug in. Over the next couple of days, 2/3 turns back multiple, extremely strong counter attacks by the NVA a little South of Hill 881N. Re-grouping, 2/3 on the 5th, assaulted and seized control of the third objective, Hill 881N.

6 to 10 May 1967
Intelligence reports a major decline in NVA activity around the Khe Sanh area, with only minimal contact. Intelligence believes the NVA retreated North to re-supply and regroup, but also believes that they intend on returning, this time in larger, more well armed numbers. Khe Sanh remains on full alert.

11 May 1967 0800
Operation Hill Fights Terminated. All objectives achieved.
Final Stats Hill Fights
155 Marines Killed in Action
940 NVA confirmed Killed in Action
(un-official estimates place NVA KIA at 1200 - 1500).

13 May 1967 0800
Operation Crockett Commences.
Operation Crockett was an extensive mop-up to drive the remaining NVA from the Khe Sanh area.

16 July 1967 0800
Operation Crockett Terminated. All objectives achieved. Constant contact and engagements with the NVA over the 60 day period.

Final Stats Crockett
52 Marines Killed in Action
204 NVA confirmed Killed in Action
(un-official estimates place NVA KIA at 350).

17 July 1967 0800
Operation Andmore Commences.
Intelligence reports that Divisions of NVA are crossing the DMZ and are heading south. A more expanded intensive sweep of the Khe Sanh area in all directions is ordered to look for NVA stored ammunition and food supplies. Large size patrols are sent out on search and destroy missions.

31 October 1967 0800
Operation Andmore Terminated. All objectives achieved Minimal contact made in the area around Khe Sanh over the 90 day period
Final stats Andmore
10 Marines Killed in Action
113 NVA confirmed Killed in Action
(un-official estimates place NVA KIA at 225).

1 November 1967 0800
Operation Scotland 1 Commences (this was a scheduled 2 part operation)

This operation was designed to expand, and continue sweeping the area around Khe Sanh Village and the Plateau to include search and destroy tactics.
December 1967
From air recon and Special Forces long-range patrols, Intelligence is informed of massive movements of NVA troops crossing the DMZ and heading south. It is learned that the elite 304th NVA Division is spear heading the drive that could involve as many as 12 full strength, fully armed and fully supplied NVA Divisions.

All I-Corp bases and outposts are put on full alert, especially those in the Northern most part, mainly, Khe Sanh. Air recon is now operating around the clock, and heavy use of
B-52's now come into play, dropping 500 and 1000 lb. Bombs along the DMZ day and night on the advancing forces. Intelligence receives information from long range patrols that for the first time, mechanized units are crossing the DMZ, and heading into the South.

Concern about the defense of Khe Sanh grows as more and more vital information about NVA activity around Khe Sanh is gathered by air and long range patrols.

General Westmoreland sends the orders to stock pile large amounts of ammunition of all types, medical supplies, and food, in and around the Khe Sanh area immediately as a priority. Recon patrols discover major trails, ("highways") that appear to be heavily used from the North into the South, causing Intelligence to believe that large NVA units are being moved into, and around the Plateau area, probably Company size at a time, possibly only platoon size.

A closer look at some of the trails ("highways") shows only foot traffic, but heavily traveled. More frequent patrols are sent out in all directions on search and
destroy missions. In mid December, patrols from Bravo Company, 3rd Recon Battalion,
discover, and with the support of major air strikes, destroy several NVA 122mm rocket sites just West of Hill 881 in the Khe Sanh area. The Plateau and the village are put on full alert, because Intelligence now firmly believes that attacks on Khe Sanh village and the Plateau, become more of a probability than a possibility.

Security is tightened, and the nighttime perimeter watches are doubled. For the first time, night scopes are used more extensively, adding to the range of night vision. Trenches, bunkers, and ammo storage areas are heavily reinforced. Night probes by the NVA, testing the defense of the perimeter occur almost every night.

Some Marines are wounded by NVA "switch tactics" ........ NVA probers would turn the claymore mines around toward the trenches, back off and start a firefight with the encampment, causing the Marines to detonate the claymore mines on themselves.
That became a short lived tactic as the Marines devised a plan to halt the "switch tactics".
The claymore mines, just after darkness, would be re-set, this time with a live grenade, pin pulled, placed under the claymore mine. That proved effective, but also was short lived, because the NVA, after a dozen or so were set off on them, killing and wounding some of the probers, the NVA figured out our tactic.

During the last two weeks of December, the weather turned out to be nasty, limiting any type of close air support if it were needed. Daytime patrols, and night ambush patrols are beefed up in size and frequency. Contact with the NVA becomes more and more frequent both day and night.

The weather becomes a major hindrance to us, and a plus to the NVA moving into the area from the North, because they know close air support for us would be minimal against them. Close air support becomes almost un-available because of the weather,
but high altitude B52 bombing still proves to be extremely effective, as does the night air strikes from "Puff".

Intelligence now believes , very strongly, that there are too many NVA units crossing the DMZ into the South, to be used in "hit and run" operations like the NVA so often used, leaving only one logical conclusion .........something big was going to happen somewhere.
What was happening around the Khe Sanh area had I-Corp HQ, somewhat confused, because there was definite confirmation of very large and well armed numbers of NVA coming across the DMZ into the South, with little to no NVA movement headed North.
Intense air and ground recon from the DMZ, to the area surrounding Khe Sanh provide next to nothing on the whereabouts of the NVA that were crossing the DMZ into the South.

Needing some sort of intelligence on the NVA movements, a detachment of ROK
(Korean Marines) who specialize in jungle warfare, are sent into Khe Sanh.
Their mission was to capture as many NVA regulars as possible for interrogation.
The ROK proved very effective, operating only at night, they would always come back with NVA prisoners, some of them NVA Officers. But the NVA regulars were hardened, and would reveal very little to the interrogation teams. Strategy had to be changed from capturing hardened regulars and Officers if possible, to capturing the young NVA regulars. Intelligence believes the young NVA regulars would provide more information
under pressure from interrogation teams. This tactic proves more productive, and Intelligence was able to get a hint as to why all the massive NVA troop movement across the DMZ into the South....


Military analyst over the years have felt that Intelligence took these early warnings a little lightly, probably believing that a major assault on the South, by the North, was impossible.

It has also been speculated, that in actuality, it was probably some young NVA
regular, who under intense interrogation, scared to death, spilled out information on what was to come, only to be almost shrugged off by Intelligence who felt it was nothing more than propaganda talk.

Military Analyst over the years, have strongly felt that if those warning signs were
taken seriously 100% by Intelligence, a lot of questions about the NVA movements
would have been answered then, and a warning could have been sent out to all
military installations to step up their air and ground recon in their respective areas.

The reason air and ground recon couldn?t find the NVA units, was because they were
slipping through, probably in small groups to staging areas all over the South in
preparation for the Nationwide "Tet Offensive" which was kicked off Jan. 30, 1968
Bad weather was perfect cover for the NVA to slip through almost un-noticed.

Once all the participating NVA units to be used in the "Tet Offensive" had
infiltrated into the deep South, it is believed that the last NVA Divisions to cross the
DMZ into the South, were in reality, the attack force whose objective was to
over-run Khe Sanh village and the Plateau, creating a major highway into the South
from the North.
One Quote: "It makes you wonder how intelligent were the minds in Intelligence"

21 January 1968 0500
Siege of Khe Sanh Begins: Heavy mortar, 122mm rocket, and artillery fire pound Khe Sanh, along with intense, heavy small arms fire from the tree lines, and NVA human wave attacks which are turned back. Mortar, 122mm rockets, artillery fire, and heavy small arms fire continue almost non stop during the day.

One of the first NVA rounds to hit Khe Sanh, made a direct hit on the main ammunition
dump at the East end of the base, starting fires, which in turn, caused the detonation of
tons of ammunition, C-4 plastic explosives, CS (tear gas) ammunition, and grenades.
Unknown to the NVA, they had taken out a major portion of our ammunition supply in the very beginning of their attack on the base.

Charlie Med
The sick bay area known as "Charlie Med" becomes overcrowded with KIA's and
wounded, but doctors continue to treat the wounded around the clock in less than appropriate conditions.

The artillery, mortar and rocket attacks come frequently, and the defenders of Khe Sanh
learned to always know the location of the nearest trench or bunker. Within a week, Khe Sanh looks like a giant ant farm from the air, because trenches, up to 6 feet deep, were dug connecting most all bunkers on the perimeter, becoming known as the "trench way" highway.

Patrols that went outside the perimeter, a very minimal number of them, were limited
to a range of only a few hundred yards, or straight line of site, whichever was less.

For some of Khe Sanh's defenders, the siege had taken it's toll, some having to be
evacuated when their eye's locked into what they called "the thousand yard stare"

Moral had dropped on the Plateau, because for the most part, you stayed in your bunkers or trenches, not being able to move around freely like you did prior to the start of the siege, never knowing when or where the next in-coming round would hit, or who would be the next to be picked off by a sniper.

It was that constant fear within that dragged some good men down, but the defenders
knew that they had to deal with that fear in order to survive.

For the next 77 days and nights, NVA Divisions repeatedly attack Khe Sanh Village,
the Plateau, and surrounding outposts with artillery, 122mm rocket fire, mortars, and
human wave attacks, and with something we had not seen in the South ...... Soviet made PT-76 tanks.

30 January 1968 0500
The Communist launch a Nationwide drive known as the "Tet Offensive"

Catching all of South Vietnam by surprise, the NVA had managed to co-ordinate
a well executed offensive, hitting everywhere in the South at once, sending
Allied Commanders into a confused frenzy.

Reports of attacks were coming in from all over the South, from the Mekong Delta
way down South, to the major assault on Khe Sanh, one of the Northern most bases, and everywhere in between.

Back in Khe Sanh, the defenders had learned that the initial assault on the Plateau, was spearheaded by one of North Vietnam's most elite Divisions, the 304th. In turning back the major assault, the defenders of Khe Sanh had nearly destroyed the 7th Battalion, 66th Regiment of the 304th NVA Division.

Blocking the 304th's retreat around Khe Sanh village, the South Vietnams 37th ARVN Ranger Battalion virtually destroyed the NVA 7th Battalion when the NVA realized that they were trapped, and made an un-organized desperate counter attack to break out, which failed.
7 February 1968
A major assault by the NVA, estimated to be a full strength, well armed NVA Battalion
over-runs a Special Forces Camp located outside the Village of Lang Vei. Immediate close air support is sent to halt the NVA's advancement into the village area where the Special Forces had settled in to defend the village.

Elements of the 1st Air Calvary are sent to support, and help, in the defense of Lang Vei
village, and proves to be effective. Intense close air support is a major factor, as the NVA retreat into the hills.

Massive air recon around Lang Vei reports that there are approx. 2 NVA Divisions just North of the village, and Intelligence believes that the Battalion size assault was just a probe of defenses, a prelude to a major Division size attack on Lang Vei. I-Corp HQ determines that Lang Vei could not be defended and held if a major Division size assault by the NVA occurred.

Immediate evacuation is ordered to include the villagers. Under heavy close air and artillery support, the evacuation by helicopter and trucks begins, everyone being sent to Khe Sanh. Lang Vei was totally evacuated within 24 hours, having moved almost 3,000 people and supplies to Khe Sanh.

9 February 1968

General Westmoreland establishes a forward echelon of MACV Headquarters
at Camp Hocmuth in Phu Bai.
General Creighton Abrams acts as an agent for ComUSMCV in an advisory, co-ordinator role.
23 February 1968
All hell breaks loose on the Plateau at Khe Sanh ......

Already under heavy attacks over the past month, death and destruction fall upon the
defenders of Khe Sanh. IN JUST UNDER 24 HOURS Over 1300 in-coming rounds of mortar, 122mm rocket, and artillery pound the Plateau, followed by repeated large scale human wave attacks by the NVA. Close to being over-run, the defenders let loose with everything they have, and along with massive close air support non-stop, the Plateau is held.

10 March 1968

MACV Forward becomes known as the "Provisional Corps - Vietnam" General Cushman, CG, III MEF assumes the operational control of PVC Lt. General William Rosson, US Army, becomes Commander of PVC

30 March 1968 0800
Operation Scotland 1 Terminated
Task Force Kilo, made up of the 2nd Battalion, 1st ARVN Regiment pushes North from Kong Ha on a search and destroy sweep through the Gio Lenh Coastal Plain between the Cua Viet River and the DMZ. Task Force Kilo confirms 150 NVA KIA's the first day.

1 April 1968 0700
Operation Pegasus Commences. Pegasus had to work in order to defend and hold onto Khe Sanh
Pegasus Detailed: An in-depth look at "Operation Pegasus" from the planning stage to it's termination. Shortly after Khe Sanh was attacked, General Tolson was directed by HQ I-Corp to prepare a contingency plan involving a massive joint Allied drive in the Khe Sanh Plateau area to give some much needed relief to the defenders of Khe Sanh, who have
been under a constant barrage of attacks

At III MEF Headquarters, the staff begins planning the operation, code name:
Pegasus was chosen as the code name for the operation, referring to the mythological
flying horse "Pegasus", because elements of the 1st Air Calvary Division would be a
vital part of the relief effort, and would be needed to insure a successful operation.
Tactical Delay of Pagasus. Because of the un-expected major country wide, well planned and executed. "NVA Tet Offensive" support priority shifted almost daily.

The Old Imperial Capital known as Hue City, was under heavy attack, but the defenders
were holding their ground for the most part.

Extensive air and ground recon delivered the bad news ..... as many as 4 NVA Divisions were poised around, or heading in the direction of Hue City, for what Intelligence believes is a build up to attack and over-run Hue City. Being vital as a strategic area, the decision is made that Hue City must be defendedand held ....... now comes:
?Battle of Hue City?
The defenders of Khe Sanh receive the bad news ......

The 1st Air Calvary Division, the heart of "Operation Pegasus", had now been committed
to the defense of Hue City, operating almost non-stop around the clock

Khe Sanh was taking a beating, but defenders were holding onto the Plateau, because massive around the clock air support, up to, and including, B52 strikes, holding the NVA pretty much at bay less than 1/4 mile from the perimeter.

At night, massive drops of illumination kept the area lit up, enabling air recon to keep a watch over the Plateau area, watching for any major advance on the perimeter.


After 34 days of intense fighting, the Allied forces once again gained full control of the City.

The 1st Air Calvary Division proved very effective, operating almost non-stop around the clock thru February into the first week of March.

Once again, bad news for the defenders of Khe Sanh ....

Logistical Delay of Pegasus
At III MEF Headquarters, it is determined that the supply stock piles which were built up
during December 1967 under direct orders to do so from General Westmoreland, were
now in-sufficient to support an operation the size and complexity of Operation Pegasus,
due to much of those supplies being used up in the defense of Hue City, and the continued heavy fighting going on at Khe Sanh. It seems that as fast as supplies are coming in from DaNang, they are used up.

Just when hope to get Operation Pegasus operational was on the horizon, another major set back.
Weather Delay of Pegasus
Due to poor weather setting in, and weather experts reporting the situation would be
around for awhile, Pegusus once again had to be put on hold due to very minimal air
support that could cover this massive operation.

Logistically, the much needed large scale helicopter assaults and support from the
1st Air Calvary Division, could not be carried out due to very poor weather, leaving
them just about totally grounded.

High altitude bombing by the B52's almost around the clock, is still very effective
in holding the NVA at bay, even though for awhile, it is basically the only major
air support for Khe Sanh. Day and night, 500 and 1000lb. bombs are dropped around the perimeter.

28 February 1968
General Cushman, Commanding General of III MEF, directs General Tolson to reinstate all plans for "Operation Pegasus".

5 March 1968

General Cushman, General Abrams, and General Tolson meet to finalize plans to set Pegusus into motion ..... "D-Day" is tentively set for 0700 on 1 April 1968

CRUCIAL TO THE SUCCESS OF PEGASUS the following had to be achieved ....
Phase One
Khe Sanh, still under heavy attacks needed desperately to be re-supplied on a large scale with ammunition, medical supplies, food, and reinforcements to give it's defenders a little relief.

Phase Two
Locate and engage any NVA elements in and around "Pegasus's" area of operation.

Phase Three
Route 9 from Ca Lu to Khe Sanh must be re-opened and secured, so construction materials, supplies, fuel and ammunition could be moved on a large scale and
stockpiled for "Operation Pegasus" before Phase 4 could take place.

Phase Four
A temporary airstrip had to be created which could accommodate C-7 Caribu transport
aircraft, along with C-130 and C-123 cargo planes. When Phase 3 was completed, a joint effort by the following built the airstrip which became known as "LZ Stud"

11th Engineer Battalion USMC - FMF
8th Engineer Battalion USA - 1st Air Calvary
Mobile Construction Battalion 5 USN - SeaBees's

The Engineers worked pretty much around the clock, and had the defensive perimeter completed, and the airstrip almost 90% complete within 3 weeks, allowing "Operation Pegasus" to commence on time
25 March 1968
Extensive air and long-range patrol reconnaissance commences in the area that Pegasus will take place.

Elements of the 1st Squadron, 9th Air Calvary proved to be very effective in the
location and destruction of NVA elements in the area with anti-aircraft positions,
a major plus for Pegasus.

Large concentrations of NVA forces were located in the zone, but with the support
of B52's and over 600 tactical air strikes and artillery fire, the influx of NVA into the Khe Sanh area could not create a stageing area.

29 March 1968
In a carefully calculated bold move to divert attention away from the construction, and massive build up of troops and supplies taking place at Ca Lu and LZ Stud almost around the clock, elements of the 3rd Marine Division and ARVN forces initiated a carefully orchestrated diversionary attack in the Eastern Sector of Quang Tri Province

Not only did it divert the NVA's attention to that area, it seemed to confuse them as to why we'd attack something that had no strategic value.

Because the NVA diverted their attention to the diversionary attack, actual Pegusus strike force troops slipped into Ca Lu and LZ Stud almost totally un-noticed.

1 April 1968 0700
?D Day?
Operation Pegasus Commences: Elements of the 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, and 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines spearhead "Operation Pegasus"
4 April 1968 0600

Under the command of Lt. Col. Cahill, 3 Companies of the 1st Battalion 9th Marines
leave the Plateau and head out for Hill 471 which is located 2500 meters South of the airstrip. After heavy prep fire, close air support, and napalm drops, 1/9 assaults the hill, and after heavy fighting, secures it at 1730 that afternoon. Approx. 35 NVA KIA's are found on the crest of the hill. During the night, the NVA pour in almost 200 mortar and artillery rounds but fail to dislodge the Marines from the crest.

5 April 1968 0515

In what has been termed a major highlight of "Pegasus", elements of the1st Battalion 9th Marines, turns back a major fierce assault on hill 471 by the NVA trying to dislodge the Marines from the crest of the hill.

Intelligence later learns that once again, North Vietnam had re-assembled and sent into the South, one of it's elite Battalions to assault Hill 471.

It was a little surprise to find out it was the 7th BN, 66th Regiment, 304th Div. who had returned to Hanoi after their near total destruction on January 30th while assaulting the Khe Sanh Plateau, and then trying to break out of Khe Sanh village where the 37th ARVN Ranger Battalion all but totally destroyed the NVA unit who had tried a desperate, un-organized break out counter attack

It is believed by Military Analyst, that the near total destruction of the elite 7th Battalion 66th Regiment 304th NVA Division on January 30th, caused humiliation in Hanoi, and lowered moral in other units, knowing one of the elite units had been all but destroyed

The unit had a lot of pride and an excellent combat record, which it is believed why Hanoi decided to rebuild the unit from other units, heavily arm them, give them some rest, and send them back into the South for revenge

It Was Not To Be
Even though the NVA gave it's all against the Marines on Hill 471, bottom line was that the Marines had the upper hand the whole time, being termed a "major one-sided victory" for the Marines. As was on January 30th, the NVA unit was totally destroyed, and
was never heard from again

Intelligence later learns that in Hanoi, the 7th Battalion 66th Regiment 304th NVA Division became known as the "Hard Luck Battalion" and the loss of it was a major blow to Hanoi.

6 April 1968

Elements of the 3rd ARVN Airborne Task Force set down on the nearly destroyed airstrip on the Plateau, and almost immediately link up with the 37th ARVN Ranger Battalion

1/9 is relieved on Hill 471, and they begin a sweep toward Hill 689, approx. 4500 meters to the Northwest. On the other side of the Plateau, the 5th Battalion 7th Air Calvary
conducts a major landing 500 meters North of the Blue Sector wire. 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 26th Marines sweep north and to the Northwest of their respective outposts. 2/6 surprises, and engages, a Company size NVA force in a short fire fight that leaves 48 confirmed NVA KIA's.

Finally, Marine elements are able to conduct wide spread patrol operations over the next 9 days outside the perimeter

Patrols frequently come across the horrifying sites of war ......

As one Marine Officer put it: "the stench of death and destruction is everywhere"

American and ARVN patrols report in:

* hundreds of shallow NVA graves are found
* hundreds of NVA KIA's lay scattered where they fell
* over 550 individual weapons are found
* over 200 crew-served weapons are found
* anti-aircraft weapons are found
* over 20 vehicles, ranging from P-76 tanks to motor scooters are found tons of ammunition, food and communication equipment are found, plus personal gear is found.


Intelligence firmly believes that Operation Pegasus had caught the NVA totally by surprise, leaving them so badly beaten, that they couldn?t properly bury their dead, having to leave a lot of their wounded behind. It is also believed that what was left of the 304th and 325th NVA Divisions, were in no shape to take their supplies and equipment in their retreat.

"Victory Was Ours" But viewing the bodies of hundreds of NVA killed in action,
the devastation and destruction they suffered, and most of all the badly wounded NVA left behind crying out, caused a feeling of sickness deep within, and left us in a very quiet somber mood, knowing that like us, they also had family's back home

The reality of war had settled in, and it was not a time to celebrate our victory

8 April 1968 0800

The 3rd Brigade airlifts it's CP to the Plateau, and becomes the new command center.

15 April 1968 0800
Operation Pegasus Terminated
Route 9, a logistical vital supply route was secured and re-opened, and the NVA units were forced to retreat from the area, heading back North toward the DMZ to re-supply

Final Stats Pegasus Operation Pegasus
1,304 NVA confirmed killed
(un-official estimates place NVA KIA's at 3500 - 5000)
21 NVA regulars captured, and provide interrogation teams with
vital detailed information on NVA activity in the area of Khe Sanh & I-Corp
U.S. & Allied Casualties
51 US Marines Killed in Action
42 US Army Killed in Action
33 ARVN troops Killed in Action
approx. 370 were wounded in "Operation Pegasus"

Tactical Air Support
5 B52 Arc Light Strikes conducted
1,625 tactical air strikes were flown as follows:
650 by Marine pilots
463 by Air Force pilots
436 by Carrier-Based Task Force 77 US Navy pilots
58 by US Army pilots
18 by South Vietnamese Air Force pilots

Logistical Support

Due to almost around the clock heavy intense NVA ground fire from 31 March thru 8 April, Air Force C-130 and C-123 cargo planes delivered over 840 tons of supplies, ammunition, and food to the Khe Sanh Plateau by means of difficult para drops and low altitude extraction skid drops only feet above the ground

One C-130 took a direct 122mm rocket hit while attempting an extraction drop only about 6 feet above the ground, causing it to crash at the end of the airstrip
The airstrip on the Plateau was very difficult for pilots, especially the cargo planes, because of limited space on the Plateau, the length of the airstrip left virtually no room for mis-calculation or error in landing or take off of any aircraft.

15 April 1968 0800
Operation Scotland 2 Commences
Heavily armed large size patrols are sent out to seek and engage NVA units still in and around the Khe Sanh area. Minimal contact is made with the NVA.

18 April 1968 0800
Operation Scotland 2 Terminated
The 26th Marines are transferred to Quang Tri. Intelligence reports most all NVA units of any size have retreated back across the DMZ to re-supply.

Siege of Khe Sanh Is Over
Khe Sanh was held after 77 days and nights of receiving the best that the NVA Divisions could throw at them. Khe Sanh village and the out-posts were also held

Final Stats Khe Sanh
U.S. & Allied Casualties
730 Americans Killed in Action
2,642 Americans Wounded in Action
7 Americans Missing in Action
229 South Vietnamese ARVN Killed in Action
436 South Vietnamese ARVN Wounded in Action

NVA Casualties
No actual confirmed NVA kills were recorded, but with Intelligence information
gathered concerning a combination of the massive air strikes and high altitude
bombings, information from captured NVA, air and ground recon, and intercepted
NVA communications, un-official estimates place NVA kills at between 10 and 15,000
and some experts feel that estimate is conservative.

Tactical Air Support
Expert Military Analysts with information gathered over the years, now say that during the 77 day "Seige of Khe Sanh", there was more tonage of bombs dropped in support of defending Khe Sanh, then there was in all of WW II by American and Allied aircraft.

23 May 1968
At a White House Ceremony, President Johnson presents the Commandant of the Marine Corp with a "Presidential Unit Citation" to the 26th Marine Regiment, for defending, and holding onto, the strategically located "KHE SANH COMBAT BASE"

June 1968
Intelligence learns from long range air and ground recon patrols, that full-strength, well armed Divisions of NVA are once again steadily crossing the DMZ in large numbers, this time with full mechanized units complete with Soviet PT-76 tanks.

Concern about Khe Sanh becomes a major priority once again ...... A two fold decision is made concerning Khe Sanh Plateau & Khe Sanh Village It is determined that Khe Sanh could not withstand another major assault, because Intelligence and Analysts feel the NVA are coming back to seize Khe Sanh, this time in much larger numbers, better armed, and more determination than ever to over-run the Plateau. The order comes into Khe Sanh to dismantle the base, destroy what can't be taken, and abandon the encampment.

23 July 1968 Khe Sanh Abandoned

The Khe Sanh Combat Base had been a very effective and vital base in the Northern portion of South Vietnam, "The Pride of I-Corp" some say .... Nearly 100% of all objectives, including operations out of Khe Sanh were achieved ......

This report submitted by:
Al Varelas
USMC 1st Battalion 26th Marine Regiment. Khe Sanh

Al Varelas USMC

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