February 23

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Feb 23, 1971:

South Vietnamese advance stalls

In Operation Lam Son 719, the South Vietnamese advance into Laos grinds to a halt.

The operation began on February 8. It included a limited incursion by South Vietnamese forces into Laos to disrupt the communist supply and infiltration network in Laos along Route 9 adjacent to the two northern provinces of South Vietnam. The operation was supported by U.S. airpower (aviation and airlift) and artillery (firing across the border from firebases inside South Vietnam).

Observers described the drive on Hanoi's supply routes and depots as some of the "bloodiest fighting" of the war. Enemy resistance was initially light as a 12,000-man spearhead of the South Vietnamese army thrust its way across the border into the communists' deepest jungle stronghold, with the town of Tchepone, a major enemy supply center on Route 9 in Laos, as the major objective. However, resistance stiffened in the second week as the North Vietnamese rushed reinforcements to the area. On this day, the big push bogged down around 16 miles from the border, after bloody fighting in which the communist troops overran two South Vietnamese battalions.

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