The Battle of Ong Thanh was a battle of the Vietnam War that occurred on October 17, 1967.
During this little known battle, the soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry (the "Black Lions"), were ambushed and subsequently decimated by a well-entrenched and prepared National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF), or Viet Cong, regiment,
In 1967 U.S. commanders in the battlefield were under pressure to engage the NLF and destroy them in decisive battles. Under such pressure, many U.S. officers were dismissed as a result of their failure to engage the NLF in large operations. The 2-28th Infantry was no different; in 1967 Lieutenant Colonel Terry de la Mesa Allen, Jr. took command of the battalion after many of the units' officers were dismissed from their post.
The lack of contact had much to do with the NLF's reluctance to fight large-scale battles, where superior American firepower would prove decisive. Instead NLF units often conducted hit-and-run operations against U.S troops. After taking over as commander of the 2-28th, Terry Allen, Jr.'s immediate objective was to find elements of the NLF 9th Division as part of Operation Shenandoah II.
On October 15, 1967, the NLF 271st Regiment, part of the 9th NLF Division and one of the most experienced NLF regiments in the country, arrived in Lai Khe within the 2nd Battalion's area of operation. The main objective of the regiment was to find food supplies instead of engaging American troops. The 271st Regiment went for days without food, and there were no supplies to be found. When local NLF units could not assist the 271st Regiment, Colonel Vo Minh Triet decided to dig in and wait.
Shortly after breakfast at 08:00 on October 17, Lt. Col. Allen personally led two companies from his unit and headed out for the jungle. While out pursuing the NLF in the jungle near Ong Thanh, about 50 miles (80 km) north of Saigon, the soldiers of the 2-28th were ambushed by the NLF 271st Regiment, one of three regiments belonging to the NLF 9th Division.
The 2-28th were ambushed by an enemy they had pursued: first appeared a small group of NLF troops and then there were waves of enemy troops surged to attack. The Alpha and Delta Companies were pinned down as NLF snipers opened fire from all directions; the two companies took cover and returned fire. As part of their tactic the NLF ran parallel to the American column to "hug the enemy," and closed up on U.S soldiers to make artillery and air strikes difficult to accomplish without massive American casualties. As a result air support could not be requested although artillery fire was called in, which killed U.S soldiers along with the NLF.
During the battle the Black Lions were virtually wiped out by the entrenched NLF units, Alpha Company was wiped out in 20 minutes while Delta Company took heavy casualties. 2nd Battalion commander Allen was killed while 1LT Clark Welch (Commanding Officer of Delta Company) was wounded during the firefight. By the time the sun went down, 59 soldiers were dead and 75 wounded—this from two half-strength companies and a headquarters section, totaling fewer than 200 men. The battalion, which was no larger than a typical rifle company, had been destroyed while the brigade Operations Officer, James Shelton, was in Brigade Headquarters during the worst of the fighting, trying to coordinate artillery, medivac wounded and even giving advice to a soldier on how to use cigarette-pack cellophane to close a sucking chest wound.
After a couple of hours, the NLF had withdrawn their forces and the American survivors were evacuated by helicopter. On October 18 the 271st Regiment withdrew from the area and moved north for refit and rearm, allowing American units to return and collect bodies that could not be retrieved the previous day.
During the war the U.S. Army's news services and some American newspapers reported the battle as an American victory. See Viet Cong and PAVN strategy and tactics for more information on NLF and PAVN fighting methods.
Vietnamese are masters of bush war and hence this skill of theirs makes it all the more important for our forces to cooperate and learn from them; especially the counter-terrorist forces of NE that are busy battling terrorists and fundamentalist forces. It could only add advantage and additional skill to our forest warfare units and special forces.
You need to see how we do in CT operation in Kashmir where Tangos are very professional compare to Maoists grunts..
today any movement in j&k, even the slightest one can be detected by us, thanks to the locals who wanted us to be their with them..
We operate over mountains, Jungle, snow covered peeks doing CT operations, CRPF is not even 25% of our efficiency..
Thats the reason we train them, If Army accomplish this Internal matter like these kind of messes, then why CRPF and paramilitary are for?
Btw, Indian gov have the largest paramilitary in the world under home ministry..
They are learning, And i hope they wont do this kind of blunders in future..