The Country We Gave Away: Front at Phung Duc Airfield - B50 Base

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9781512118445: The Country We Gave Away: Front at Phung Duc Airfield - B50 Base
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This book is telling true stories, which were recorded by a young artillery officer of the ARVN in the wartime of Vietnam War. April 30, 1975, this day the Vietnam War ended after more than 20 years since the Geneva Accords divided Vietnam country into two parts on July 20, 1954. The war ended prematurely and unexpectedly. It was beyond the imagination of all components of the population living in Saigon Regime of South Vietnam at the time. The battles were not a major determining factor in ending the war. The Ban Me Thuot battlefield was the first battle in the offensive campaign of the North Vietnamese Communist in 1975. But at this battle the VC did not capture the B50 base throughout seven days and nights of fighting even though the ARVN force was only one Battalion. If the enemy was powerful enough, they could have swallowed us up in the early days of the battle where there were more than bitter fighting 7 days and nights but they did not. That was a fact, no controversy. In fact, I found that the end of the war seemed to be an arrangement from the most senior leaders of the Government of the South at the time; which was clearly defined by the heartless statement of Duong Van Minh on April 30, 1975. Meanwhile, I was a young officer in the ARVN, so I cannot forget that day. Around the world, I have not seen any war that after the end had five leading generals commit suicide such as the war in Vietnam. Indeed, the attacks by T-54 tanks of the enemy were repulsed immediately by our mobile anti-tank strategy; the hero to mention was Sergeant Ket. He was the 3rd board of the regiment, voluntary head of the anti-tank company. They were mobilized along the defense lines and used exclusively the anti-tank gun M-72. Every time an active T-54 appeared, they were bravely crawling to the scene and ready to ambush. Therefore, every time enemy tanks appeared they immediately hit a few with M-72s at the same time. What iron without fire when hit by M-72 rockets? While the TOC of the regimental commander was positioned in a bunker deep underground, the bunker roof was reinforced with a meter thick concrete. This was an army base the American military had constructed and left behind, so the 130mm cannon of the enemy was not enough destructive power to break through the concrete thickness protecting the hatch covers. Therefore, the enemy attack was completely useless against us, although they were trying hard. Besides that, in the days of intense fighting we had destroyed 2 long-barreled artillery cannons (85mm) from a southern hilltop outside of the base which were pulled by 2 Molotovas. So all these captured assets our army had to take possession of and drag them into the base. On these Molotovas still remained intact, many ammunitions and dry foods made by the Chinese. These were the significance of the battle at B-50 base. Looking back, the situation of the battle was so apparent and we were proactive on this battle. But our superiors did not care about preserving this military installation. In the last radio conversation between the 3rd board of II Corps Commander and Lt. Colonel Vo An on the morning of March 17, 1975 through the transmission of the observation plane L-19, I heard the following: “There are no plans for Nguyen Hue, Nguyen Hue takes care of yourself.” Nguyen Hue was the given name of Lt. Colonel Vo An. This was the last sentence in the radio conversation. I immediately saw the face of Lt. Col. Vo An was disconcerted. He turned around and said to us, “They have given up on us, so be prepared to go, then.” And then he was sad and went on inside quietly. Therefore, the war ended abruptly for me as a dream, as an illusion. I never thought that our side would lose, but that was the result. So, in my heart there is still a twinge until today about why our superiors gave up? Almost 40 years have passed then, but the twinge is still not over...

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About the Author:

LUCHIEP is the pseudonym of the author this book, it was also the given name of the Chief Transmission and Security Officer of 231st Artillery Battalion of forty years ago before the Vietnam War ended. At the time, the Luchiep’s Battalion stationed at Phung Duc Airfield, Ban Me Thuot. He had received the order directly from the Security Board of 23rd Infantry Division at noon of March 9, 1975 as “The VC would attack tonight”. Therefore, Lieutenant Nguyen Cuu H. and Luchiep were alongside with KIMCHI, he was Major Battalion Commander of 231st Artillery Battalion. Three of them had duty at the TOC (Tactical Operation Center) of 53rd Infantry Regiment stationed at B50 Base on the evening of the day. So he had witnessed from the first moment of the battle until Lieutenant Colonel VO AN, Regimental Commander ordered to break the blockade of VC and left the B50 Base at noon in March 17, 1975. Then twelve days and nights Luchiep went througt jungle, waded streams from Ban Me Thuot to Da Lat, which was over one hundred kilometers and no food at all. But his life was full of blessing that was protected by the Divine. Finally, only Luchiep and Corporal Sac, who was wounded in the right arm, they came to Da Lat at noon of March 29, 1975. From the Prenn Gorge, they slowly stepped down the red dirt road, which led to the rear station of 231st Artillery Battalion, located on top of Robin Hill. At that place, Luchiep met the Second Lt. Hoa. Hoa was commanding officer of the battalion’s rear base. He told that Major Dao just arrived to Nha Trang one day before. Major Dao was Commander of 231st Artillery Battalion. Luchiep lost Major Dao in the forest after they left the B50 base. At that time he was in a group with Lt. Col. Vo An, Regimental Commander. Then Luchiep called Major Dao and was ordered to coordinate with Second Lt. Hoa to move the rear base to Nha Trang in a plan to retake Ban Me Thuot. After a day of moving, their convoy came to Cam Ranh at midnight. Major Bach received them as the new vice Battalion Commander. He replaced Major Tran Dat Khai, who was sacrificed in battle of Phung Duc airfield a few days ago. Luchiep left Cam Ranh after a sleepless night. On the way to Duc My army artillery school for pay, because his wage in March had not been received yet; but things were not going as smoothly as he planned . . .

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