A Brief History
On May 20, 1969, the Battle of Hamburger Hill came to an end. A regiment of the US Army 101st Airmobile Division alongside South Vietnamese allies fought the North Vietnamese Army over Hill 937 for a week of bitter combat, until finally the US and South Vietnamese kicked the defenders off the hill. Only two weeks later, the Americans decided to abandon the hill so dearly bought in blood!
The American commanders apparently thought the fact that North Vietnamese forces were on a hill that provided a good view of the surrounding terrain was an unacceptable situation, and a major campaign was waged to dislodge the firmly embedded defenders. About 1800 American and South Vietnamese soldiers fought 800 North Vietnamese defenders, eventually taking the hill at a cost of 72 Americans and 31 South Vietnamese dead. The Northern forces lost 630 dead and 3 captured.
The expenditure of time, lives and resources to gain ground only to give the same ground back soon afterwards served as a snapshot of the futility and seeming lack of direction in the American conduct of the Vietnam War. The Battle of Hamburger Hill was memorialized in a well-received motion picture in 1987.
Question for students (and subscribers): Was the US correct in fighting the Vietnam War? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Charles Rivers Editors. The Battle of Hamburger Hill: The History and Legacy of One of the Vietnam War’s Most Controversial Battles. Independently published, 2019.
Zafiri, Samuel. Hamburger Hill. Presidio Press, 1988.
The featured image in this article, troopers inspecting the damage in the surrounding area of Dong Ap Bia during Operation Apache Snow, May 1969, is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the United States Army Center of Military History.
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.