The Tet Offensive (Tết Mậu Thân)

The Battle of Khe Sanh
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Lang Vei Special Forces Camp Falls

Four miles west of the Khe Sanh base lay the Lang Vei Special Forces Camp which was defended by 500 men from the Green Berets’ Detachment A-101 and four companies of Bru CIDGs. NVA artillery shells began raining down on Lang Vei around mid-morning 6 February and continued off and on for the next few hours. Shortly after midnight on 7 February, twelve Soviet-built PT-76 tanks and two battalions from the NVA 304th Division attacked the camp. At the same time, the NVA commenced a heavy mortar barrage on Khe Sanh to try to prevent the Marines’ artillery from assisting the camp. The camp’s defenders managed to destroy five of the tanks, but the NVA overran the camp nonetheless.

Listen: Khe Sanh and Lang Vei [08 March 1968] (1:05:11 min/sec)

Col. David E. Lownds, commander of the 26th Marines, ordered the Khe Sanh Marines to not come to the defense of Lang Vei because he feared the NVA was using it as bait for an ambush. Lt. Col. Jonathan Ladd, commander of the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group, proposed that a reconnaissance team from MACV-SOG be sent to rescue the Lang Vei survivors, but that they would need helicopter assistance from the Marines. Westmoreland then ordered the Marines to use their helicopters to assist in the extraction of the surviving defenders. The rescue mission succeeded in saving 300 of the 500 defenders. The rest had either been killed or were missing.