In the spring of 1972, North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam in what became known as the Easter Offensive. Almost all of the American forces had already withdrawn from Vietnam except for a small group of American advisers to the South Vietnamese armed forces. The 23rd ARVN Infantry Division and its American advisers were sent to defend the provincial capital of Kontum in the Central Highlands. They were surrounded and attacked by three enemy divisions with heavy artillery and tanks but, with the help of air power, managed to successfully defend Kontum and prevent South Vietnam from being cut in half and defeated.
Although much has been written about the Vietnam War, little of it addresses either the Easter Offensive or the Battle of Kontum. In Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam, Thomas P. McKenna fills this gap, offering the only in-depth account available of this violent engagement. McKenna, a U.S. infantry lieutenant colonel assigned as a military adviser to the 23rd Division, participated in the battle of Kontum and combines his personal experiences with years of interviews and research from primary sources to describe the events leading up to the invasion and the battle itself.
Kontum sheds new light on the actions of U.S. advisers in combat during the Vietnam War. McKenna's book is not only an essential historical resource for America's most controversial war but a personal story of valor and survival.
About the Author
Thomas P. McKenna, Lt. Col., USA (Ret.), served as a military adviser to the Army of South Vietnam and has published articles on military history in Vietnam, Military Officer, and Military Heritage magazines.
Table of Contents
List of Maps ix
Prologue. Kontum: Now and Then 1
1 Autumn in the Highlands, 1971 5
2 Fighting in Phu Nhon 23
3 A Hundred Tons of Bombs 32
4 The Looming Threat 40
5 The Year of the Rat 44
6 The North Vietnamese Invasion 57
7 Attacking in An Khe Pass 74
8 Our Firebases Fall 82
9 The Collapse at Tan Canh 95
10 A Debacle at Dak To 114
11 A New Team for the Defense 125
12 Closing in on Kontum 144
13 Cut Off and Surrounded 153
14 Tanks Attacking! 166
15 Struggling to Hold It Together 186
16 "Brother, This Is Going to Be It!" 208
17 "You Are Going to Be Overrun" 217
18 The Dirty Job of Killing 231
19 All Over but the Shooting? 238
20 Finishing the Job 245
Epilogue: The End of the Fight 256
Glossary: Abbreviations and Military Jargon 271
Selected Bibliography 315
Illustrations follow page 152
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Having spend a few months in the Kontum area, I was especially interesting in this novel. Mr. McKenna wrote outstanding descriptions of the area, the problems encountered by the US advisors, and the teamwork necessary for the operational success. A good example of why the US needs to have one armed force, not four separate services. The 1972 - 1973 attempt was the second or third time the NVA use this avenue of approach to divide and conquer. Their last attempt in 1975 was successful because we were not there. US forces left a well equipped RVN military, but we could not leave our willingness to fight.
An inspiring account of the valor and professionalism of the often forgotten US Army Advisors and their Army of the Republic of Vietnam counterparts. Together they defeated an invading North Vietnamese force that greatly outnumbered them and was equipped with Russian and Chinese armaments. A tribute to the valor of the American and South Vietnamese soldier. LTC Barry B Bannister, USA Ret