April 16

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Apr 16, 1972:

United States resumes bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong

In an effort to help blunt the ongoing North Vietnamese Nguyen Hue Offensive, the United States resumes bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong after a four-year lull.

In the first use of B-52s against both Hanoi and Haiphong, and the first attacks against both cities since November 1968, 18 B-52s and about 100 U.S. Navy and Air Force fighter-bombers struck supply dumps near Haiphong's harbor. Sixty fighter-bombers hit petroleum storage facilities near Hanoi, with another wave of planes striking later in the afternoon. White House spokesmen announced that the United States would bomb military targets anywhere in Vietnam in order to help the South Vietnamese defend against the communist onslaught.

These actions were part of the U.S. response to the North Vietnamese offensive, which had begun on March 30. The North Vietnamese had launched a massive invasion designed to strike the knockout blow that would win the war for the communists. The attack was called the Nguyen Hue Offensive by the North Vietnamese, but was also more commonly known to Americans as the "Easter Offensive." The attacking force of North Vietnamese included 14 infantry divisions and 26 separate regiments, with more than 120,000 troops and approximately 1,200 tanks and other armored vehicles. The main North Vietnamese objectives, in addition to Quang Tri in the north, were Kontum in the Central Highlands, and An Loc farther to the south. The fighting, which continued into the fall, was some of the most desperate of the war as the South Vietnamese fought for their very survival. They prevailed against the invaders with the help of U.S. advisors and massive American airpower.

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