This Day In History: The US And North Vietnamese Battle Near Loc Ninh (1967)

On this day in history, in 1967 the Americans backed by South Vietnamese battled the North Vietnamese army in Loc Ninh. This was a strategic area that was approximately 70 miles from the South Vietnamese capital. Loc Ninh was a town of 10,000 people but it was located on a major highway, near the Cambodian border and this made it important for both sides in the Vietnam war. It was also close to the Ho Chi Minh trail and this was the route through Cambodia which Hanoi used to reinforce their army and the Viet Cong in South Vietnam.  There was also an important airstrip located in the general area. The US army and their South Vietnamese allies were in possession of the town and the airstrip but there were North Vietnamese regular army soldiers (NVA) in the general area.  The US commander General Westmoreland was determined to keep control of the strategically important town of Loc Ninh.  The American high command decided to engage the NVA in the countryside around the town before they could attack it.  Units from the First Infantry Division were transported by helicopters into the area where the NVA were gathering. There had been an extensive aerial bombardment of the area before the Americans had landed. Some units also made their way to the battlefield by road but they were regularly ambushed. The fighting outside Loc Ninh was some of the heaviest fighting in weeks. The units of the First Infantry Division engaged with the NVA in several locations. The Battle of Loch Ninh was in reality, a series of violent firefights that last a full day and it only ended with the fall of darkness. The Americans appeared to have won the today and the NVA were forced, back and they left their dead behind. The US army reported that they had killed up to 100 NVA troops and that they had only suffered 10 casualties and that they had driven the North Vietnamese back to the Cambodian border.

American troops with a Viet Cong suspect

However, the NVA and the Viet Cong re-grouped in the area and once more threatened Loc Ninh. There were to be several more bloody battles for control of the key town and its surrounding countryside.  The Americans had been able to retain control of the town. However, in 1972 when the Americans had begun to withdraw from South Vietnam the area became more vulnerable to an NVA or a Viet Cong attack. In Easter 1972 the North Vietnamese overran Loc Ninh as part of their offensive that was aimed at capturing the An Loc the province’s capital.