June 6

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Jun 6, 1972:

South Vietnamese forces clear Kontum of communist troops

South Vietnamese forces drive out all but a few of the communist troops remaining in Kontum. Over 200 North Vietnamese had been killed in six battles in and around the city.

The city had come under attack in April when the North Vietnamese had launched their Nguyen Hue Offensive (later called the Easter Offensive), a massive invasion by North Vietnamese forces designed to strike the blow that would win them the war. The attacking force included 14 infantry divisions and 26 separate regiments, with more than 120,000 troops and approximately 1,200 tanks and other armored vehicles. In addition to Kontum, the other main North Vietnamese objectives were Quang Tri in the north and An Loc farther to the south.

Initially, the South Vietnamese defenders were almost overwhelmed, particularly in the northernmost provinces, where they abandoned their positions in Quang Tri and fled south in the face of the enemy onslaught. At Kontum and An Loc, the South Vietnamese were more successful in defending against the attacks, but only after weeks of bitter fighting. Although the defenders suffered heavy casualties, they managed to hold their own with the aid of U.S. advisors and American airpower. Fighting continued all over South Vietnam into the summer months, but eventually the South Vietnamese forces prevailed against the invaders and retook Quang Tri in September. With the communist invasion blunted, President Nixon declared that the South Vietnamese victory proved the viability of his Vietnamization program, which he had instituted in 1969 to increase the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces so that U.S. troops could be withdrawn.

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