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26 June, elements of the 1st ARVN Regiment made heavy contact with
the 4th Battalion, 812th NVA Regiment, and claimed killing
128 enemy troops. The following day, in a two-day battle, elements of
the Air Cavalry's 5th Armored trapped the 814th NVA Battalion
in the coastal village of Binh An, 14 kilometers northeast of Quang
Tri, and reported more than 230 enemy soldiers dead and 44 prisoners
taken.

At the conclusion of the spring rice harvest, the 1st Cavalry Division
shifted tactical emphasis to an even more intensified campaign against
the two enemy base areas. Elements of all three brigades air assaulted
deep into the base areas, established new landing zones and constructed
fire support bases capable of interdicting the enemy's communication
routes through the A Shau Valley. Although numerous NVA complexes, arms
caches, and training areas were discovered and destroyed, the enemy
increasingly employed antiaircraft fire against troop-laden helicopters
to limit the mobility and flexibility of the division's ground forces
operating in the jungle-covered base areas. By the end of July, the
1st Air Cavalry Division had driven several combat and support elements
of the enemy's 7th Front further west, possibly into the northern
A Shau Valley, the site of a major logistical storage area.*

In central Thua Thien Province to the south, the 101st Airborne Division,
under the command of Major General Olinto M. Barsanti, continued to
conduct the follow-on, division-level operation, Nevada Eagle, which
began in mid-May with the termination of Operation Delaware.** During
June and July, the division coordinated rice denial operations in Thua
Thien Province and conducted offensive operations to defeat North Vietnamese
and Viet Cong forces and destroy the enemy's base areas and lines of
communication. The divisions 1st Brigade conducted reconnaissance in
force operations along Route 547, which parallels the Song Bo, west
of Hue; the 2d Brigade continued reconnaissance in force operations
in the coastal plains north and east of Hue and provided security and
support for the rice collection effort; and the 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne
Division, to a limited extent, secured major fire support bases astride
Route 547 and conducted search and clear operations along major enemy
entry and exit routes to the coastal plains.***

The division's combat operations during the summer months were characterized
by infrequent enemy contact, increased boobytrap incidents, and the
capture of rice caches. With the defeat of multi-battalion NVA attempts
to seize and hold areas of the coastal plains in May and their retreat
into mountain base camps, a tactical void was created that eventually
was filled by local guerrillas and the Viet Cong infrastructure. Despite
extensive reconnaissance in force operations and numerous saturation
patrols and ambushes, the enemy, which had broken down into squad-sized
or smaller units, chose not to engage the division's maneuver elements.
When he was engaged, the contacts were of short duration and involved
few casualties on both sides.


As guerrilla activity increased, so did division casualties from surprise firing devices. Of the 40 airborne troopers killed and 375 wounded during June and July, Viet Cong-emplaced boobytraps, generally hand grenades or 105mm artillery rounds with trip wire devices attached, accounted for 18 killed and 173 wounded. Despite increased friendly and few enemy casualties, the division's vigorous program of patrols and ambushes did result in the discovery and capture of numerous rice caches. Working closely with South Vietnamese Regional, Popular, and National Police Field Forces, the division's rice denial campaign resulted in the capture of more than 345 tons of rice and in impeding enemy movement through the area of operations.


During the last week of July, the division began preparations for a return to the A Shau Valley, with a logistical build-up and the construction of fire support bases. The plan called for one brigade of the division and elements of the 1st ARVN Regiment to conduct a combined helicopter and ground assault into the valley,


* On 27 June, the Department of the Army directed that the 1st Cavalry
Division be redesignated the 1st Air Cavalry Division and the 101st
Airborne Division redesignated the 101st Air Cavalry Division. However,
the terminology was withdrawn on 26 August and the new designations
established were 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and 101st Airborne
Division (Airmobile), to preserve the "heritage and traditions and to
enhance further long established esprit associated with these famous
divisions." MACV ComdHist, 1968, p. 245.


** Major General Melvin Zais assumed command of the division from Major General Barsanti on 19 July 1968.

*** The 3d Brigade, undergoing a reorganization from its deployment
task force organization to that of a light infantry brigade, was experiencing
extreme personnel turbulence. The upheaval was caused not only by the
reorganization, but also by a decision by the Department of the Army
to give each individual who had deployed with the brigade in February
the option of returning to Fort Bragg or remaining in Vietnam with the
unit. Of the 3,650 personnel who deployed from Fort Bragg, 2,513 chose
to return. The training of more than 2,900 replacements therefore limited
combat operations. By the end of July, the brigade was declared combat
ready and began full-time operations in its assigned area.




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