March 30

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Mar 30, 1972:

North Vietnamese launch Nguyen Hue Offensive

A major coordinated communist offensive opens with the heaviest military action since the sieges of Allied bases at Con Thien and Khe Sanh in 1968. Committing almost their entire army to the offensive, the North Vietnamese launched a massive three-pronged attack into South Vietnam. Four North Vietnamese divisions attacked directly across the Demilitarized Zone in Quang Tri province. Thirty-five South Vietnamese soldiers died in the initial attack and hundreds of civilians and soldiers were wounded.

Following the initial assault in Quang Tri province, the North Vietnamese launched two more major attacks: at An Loc in Binh Long Province, 60 miles north of Saigon; and at Kontum in the Central Highlands. With the three attacks, the North Vietnamese committed 500 tanks and 150,000 men, as well as thousands of Viet Cong, supported by heavy rocket and artillery fire.

After initial successes, especially against the newly formed South Vietnamese 3rd Division in Quang Tri, the North Vietnamese attack was stopped cold by the combination of defending South Vietnamese divisions (along with their U.S. advisers) and massive American airpower. Estimates placed the North Vietnamese losses at more than 100,000 and at least one-half of their tanks and large caliber artillery.

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