September 15

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Sep 15, 1972:

South Vietnamese forces retake Quang Tri City

ARVN forces recapture Quang Tri City after four days of heavy fighting, with the claim that over 8,135 NVA had been killed in the battle.

The North Vietnamese forces had launched a massive offensive, called the Nguyen Hue or "Easter Offensive," on March 31, with three main attacks aimed at Quang Tri south of the Demilitarized Zone, Kontum in the Central Highlands, and An Loc just 60 miles north of Saigon. This invasion included 14 divisions and 26 separate regiments, a total force numbering over 120,000 troops, and was designed to knock South Vietnam out of the war and inflict a defeat on the remaining U.S. forces (which numbered less than 70,000 by this date due to President Nixon's Vietnamization policy and the American troop withdrawal schedule). The North Vietnamese attack was characterized by conventional combined arms attacks by tank and infantry forces supported by massive artillery barrages, resulting in some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

The South Vietnamese forces and their American advisors supported by U.S. tactical airpower and B-52 bombers were able to hold at An Loc and Kontum despite being vastly outnumbered, but the South Vietnamese forces at Quang Tri faltered under the communist assault and were quickly overwhelmed. It was only after President Thieu fired the I Corps commander and replaced him with Major General Ngo Quang Truong, arguably one of the best officers in the South Vietnamese army, that the ARVN were able to stop the North Vietnamese. Truong took measures to stabilize the situation and the South Vietnamese began to fight back. After a tremendously bloody four-and-a-half-month battle in which 977 South Vietnamese soldiers perished, Truong and his troops retook Quang Tri from the North Vietnamese, winning a major victory. President Nixon used this as proof positive that his Vietnamization policy had worked and that the South Vietnamese were prepared to take over responsibility for the war.

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