Expendable Warriors: The Battle of Khe Sanh and the Vietnam War

Expendable Warriors: The Battle of Khe Sanh and the Vietnam War

by Bruce B.G. Clarke

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780811735377
Publisher: Stackpole Books
Publication date: 04/09/2009
Series: Stackpole Military History Series
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Bruce B. G. Clarke (Col., U.S. Army, ret.) was Director of National Security Studies at the U.S. Army War College, and is the author of Conflict Termination: A Rational Model (Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College).

Table of Contents

Foreword by John W. Vessey ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

Abbreviations xvii

Chapter 1 1

Chapter 2 6

Vietnam 6

Khe Sanh before the Battle 8

Chapter 3 15

District Headquarters 15

The Village Participants 20

Chapter 4 29

Day-to-Day Operations of the Advisory Team 29

Chapter 5 39

Giap's Strategy 39

The NVA Tactical Plan 43

The American Plan 43

Chapter 6 47

The Situation Changes-The Prelude to the Battle in Khe Sanh 47

Chapter 7 52

The Battle Is Joined 52

The Western Approach to the Village-CAC-OSCAR 2's Fight 58

Air Strikes Take Their Toll 60

Chapter 8 65

Black Cats to the Rescue 65

The Black Cats 66

The Combat Assault 68

The NVA Await 73

Enroute to Khe Sanh 73

Arriving at the Landing Zone at the Old French Fort 74

Chapter 9 83

The Battle Continues 83

What Could Have Been Done Differently 89

The Evacuation of the District Headquarters 93

Chapter 10 95

The Advisory Team on the Move 95

Lang Vei Falls 97

Life at FOB-3 99

A Corpsman's Perspective 100

The Northern Half of FOB-3 101

The Bru 104

The Extended Siege 105

The End of the Siege 106

Chapter 11 109

Observations on a Lost War 109

The Need for Unity of Command 109

The Tension Between Secrecy and Operational Requirements 111

The Relationship of Battlefield Events and Political Decisions 112

The Roots of Historical Revisionism/Why History Is Difficult to Chronicle Accurately 114

Conclusion 115

Epilogue 116

The Participants Today 116

MIA-Still Missing, But Not Forgotten 118

The Bru Leave Khe Sanh 121

Appendices 131

Appendix 1 JCS After-Action Report 132

Appendix 2 Wichita Eagle, April 4, 1968, Article 137

Appendix 3 TheParticipants 140

Appendix 4 NVA Plan 146

Appendix 5 Recently Unclassified Intelligence 151

Appendix 6 Invasion of Laos 153

Appendix 7 Wichita Eagle Article-After-Action Report 155

Appendix 8 Award Citations 157

Appendix 9 Terrain Map of Area Around Khe Sanh Village 160

Index 163

What People are Saying About This

CPt Nhi

"I'm honored that Bruce Clarke has portrayed the bravery of not only the Americans but all of us who fought and won the largest ground battle of the siege of Khe Sanh. We believed in our cause and dedicated our lives to it and this book clearly illustrates what many efforts about the Vietnam War do not—the bravery and efforts of the warriors who fought beside the Americans in the Vietnam War."

John K. Swensson

"Warrior, professor, deep thinker, and highly engaging and articulate writer, Bruce Clarke has written with compassion and wisdom borne of his personal experience in the village of Khe Sanh, 38 years ago. Good war stories take a long time to write, and this one is worth the wait. I am fascinated by the tale and the wonderful new insights that this major historian and military analyst brings to the reader. His sharing of the battle before the battle, the defeat of an NVA Regiment before the main Khe Sanh battle ever began, is masterfully told. A real page turner. And the lessons learned that he shares are well worth noting at a time when we are again, as a nation, engaged in war."

Gordon L. Rottman

"Most books studying the 1968 siege of Khe Sanh focus on the Marine Corps' defense of the base and the hilltops to the north. Other books examine the fall of the nearby Lang Vei Special Forces Camp overrun by North Vietnamese tanks. To most Khe Sanh was a Marine battle. While heavily shelled and the hilltop outposts fought off attacks, the main base experienced only minor ground attacks. There was another battle though, unheralded in most books, the vicious fight for Khe Sanh Village south of the main base. This fight saw 25 Army and Marine advisors and 175 Vietnamese irregular troops fighting off a North Vietnamese regular battalion. Bruce Clark aptly describes the valor and spirit of the defenders as they beat back repeated assaults with little support from the main base. This is a first person account of a virtually unheard of battle characterized by heroism and dedication to duty."

Joseph L. Galloway

"Expendable Warriors reveals a little-known chapter in the story of the siege of Khe Sanh—how the battle really began and who was targeted in the first and biggest North Vietnamese assault in the opening round of an epic clash."

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Expendable Warriors: The Battle of Khe Sanh and the Vietnam War 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First the disclaimer. I am mentioned very briefly, actually 2-3 times, in the book. I was one of the three American officers in the compound during the NVA attack. You'll have to decide whether this review is completely objective in light of my direct involvement. I was there. That's the way it happened. It is a very little known part of the Vietnam War. Everyone's eyes have been focused on the Marine Corps Combat Base at Khe Sanh and the months that it was under constant artillery and mortar bombardment. Without taking away from the bravery of those who had to withstand it, there is only brief mention at most in the history of Khe Sanh that the District headquarters compound, consisting of a mix of 175, mostly Vietnamese paramilitary and Montagnard tribemen troops under the direction of US Army and Marine Corps Advisors, and the Vietnamese military District Chief, repulsed an attack by a North Vietnamese regiment-sized force of about 2,000 fresh troops with brand new equipment that had just crossed from North Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The attack lasted for a period of about 36 hours before the defenders were ordered to abandon the District Headquarters. We were able to survive because the author of this book, a West Point graduate, called artillery 'air-burst' rounds directly over our position at the height of the attack. The book describes the bravery of the Army medic, the Air Force spotter who directed jets to bomb the enemy positions, the failed attempt to bring in reinforcements who were ambushed by NVA lying in wait, and the 'Puff the Magic Dragon' plane circling during the night firing its Gattling guns to protect the defenders. The defenders were eventually evacuated by helicopter on the second day or had to traverse enemy territory by foot to make it to the Marine Corps Base. Having been ordered to abandon the District HQ, the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) took control of the area between the Marine Corps Combat Base and the Lang Vei Special Forces Camp, which the NVA later attacked and overran with amphibious tanks, thereby totally isolating the Marine Corps Base Camp. If you want to know the full picture of the Battle of Vietnam, especially the complete story of the Battle at Khe Sanh, you need to know how the NVA planned and executed an objective that was intended to be the American version of the defeat of the French at Diem Bien Phu. The NVA, ultimately, lost the Battle of Khe Sanh militarily but 'won the war' through its continued insurgency and the resultant media attention and reporting back home. Are there lessons to be learned for our present military operations? I'll leave that for the reader to decide.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
* rolls in on his skateboard*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He climbs a tree.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
'Expendable Warriors' is an autobiographical account of the battle of Khe Sanh by one of the genuine American heroes of the 1968 Tet Offensive. That alone makes the work both a primary historical source and interesting reading material. (I picked up the book because Bruce B.G. Clarke was my unforgettable commanding officer when I was a paratrooper stationed in Germany in 1966-67, and because I too served in Vietnam in 1967-68.) Col. Clarke maintained a sense of objectivity by writing in the third person, referring to himself at the time as 'Captain Clarke'. Further objectivity is gained by reproducing segments of numerous letters by the various participants, and by including both U.S. and North Vietnamese documents, as well as relevant photos and maps in the Appendices. However, beyond history and autobiography, Col. Clarke offers two significant criticisms of the way the Vietnam War was fought: the lack of unity of command, and the misguided attempt to measure victory by body count. Professional and amateur historians will appreciate this text, and so will teachers of political and military science, as well as teachers of international relations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being born only months before CPT Bruce Clarke was to become a district advisor in Khe Sanh, it would be understandable for this ultranationalist and patriot not to understand the meaning of the book Expendable Warriors: The Battle of Khe Sanh and the Vietnam War. But, the way the story was told allowed this reader to become part of that time in history. Having served with Colonel Bruce Clarke later in his career, I witnessed his leadership skills first hand. Yet, as depicted in the book, even in 1968 he already possessed these skills, no doubt refined even further by the time I met him. This book is part memoir, part tactical assessment and part history clarifier. You need not be a career army or marine officer to appreciate and understand this book. I highly recommend it. Richard Charles Dewees Douglassville, Pennsylvania President, The Dewees Group, Inc. Former member of the ¿Fighting First¿, Dagger Brigade, 1st ID - Big Red One