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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Firsthand experiences and archival research recount the saga of Khe Sanh, the controversial symbol of American involvement in Vietnam.

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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