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Khe Sanh

For 77 days, some 5,000 Americans and South Vietnamese at Khe Sanh were besieged by more than 15,000 Communists. The conflict embraced sophisticated electronics, a massive air-lift of material, tactical air support on a scale that made the Khe Sanh area the most-bombed target in military history--and savage hand-to-hand combat with knives.

As a part ot the Tet Offensive effort, elements of two North Vietnamese Army divisions attempted to reduce the US Marine Corps outposts on the hills dominating Khe Sanh and take the base itself. Khe Sanh was a combat base for units operating in the DMZ and against Communist supply routes.

After a siege of 66 days, sustained by the defenders largely because of tactical and logistical air support, Khe Sanh was relieved by "Operation Pegasus/Lam Son 207"; the attackers withdrew.

The garrison at Khe Sanh consisted of the 9th Marine Regiment {1 bn}, the 26th Marine Regiment {3 bns} and the ARVN 37th Ranger Battalion.

US artillery fired 158,981 rounds during the siege. Communist artillery fired 150 rounds per day during the siege. The Communist peak artillary effort during the siege was 1,307 rounds on February 23rd.

Smoke rises from a fuel dump at Khe Sanh combat base, northern Quang Tri province, after a Communist mortar barrage in March 1968.

The long threatened North Vietnamese offensive against Khe Sanh combat base began with an unsuccessful assault on a US Marine outpost on 21 January 1968; this Marine was wounded in the first attack.

"Operation Pegasus"--the relief of Khe Sanh by some 30,000 US and ARVN troops began on 1 April 1968; here, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter is unloaded by men of the US 1st Cavalry Division {Airmobile} at Khe Sanh on 6 April, when the first elements of "Pegasus" were airlifted into the base.

US Marines await attack in sand bag bunkers on the Khe Sanh perimeter during the siege.

Khe Sanh's defenses included three batteries of 106mm howitzers like those seen in action here, in April 1968

Pallets sometimes overshot the Khe Sanh drop zone; here, US Marines recover ammunition pallets from a rice paddy.

One of the 496 para-drops made by C-130s at Khe Sanh.

"Coming over Khe Sanh, I looked down and It was one big round mountain with a jagged line around the top of it. That line was the trench line. The choppers could only go there when there was no incoming, but they had incoming five times a day. For the first time the reality of where I was and where I was going slapped me back worse than a bad nightmare. Now, I'm in a war. Oh, God, I could really die out here. Up until that point I never took it seriously. It was happening but it wasn,t real. It was TV-hey, heroes and shit. No, I could really die in this place. I wasn't ready for that. It grabbed me and shook me every way but loose." ----U.S. Marine Home