A man who is good enough to shed his blood for the country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.
Every once in a while I like to pay tribute to certain troops who have sacrificed their all fighting for the American Military. This tribute goes back to the Vietnam war, to Operation Hump. A search and destroy mission that was fought from November 5 – 8th, of 1965, and involved the 173rd Airborne brigade, and some troops from Australia. The total force for the American forces that day were about 400. The enemy who ambushed the 173rd, numbered around 1200. Here is their story, along with the video of the song 8th of November by Big and Rich, with an introduction by Kris Kristofferson.
Operation Hump was a search and destroy operation initiated on 5 November 1965 by the 173rd Airborne Brigade, in an area about 17.5 miles north of Bien Hoa. The 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, deployed south of the Dong Nai River while the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, conducted a helicopter assault on an LZ northwest of the Dong Nai and Song Be Rivers. Little contact was made through 7 November, when B and C Companies settled into a night defensive position southeast of Hill 65, a triple-canopy jungled hill.
At about 0600 on the morning of 8 November C Company began a move northwest toward Hill 65, while B Company moved northeast toward Hill 78. Shortly before 0800, C Company was engaged by a sizable enemy force well dug in to the southern face of Hill 65. At 0845, B Company was directed to wheel in place and proceed toward Hill 65 with the intention of relieving C Company.
B Company reached the foot of Hill 65 at about 0930 and moved up the hill. It became obvious that there was a large enemy force in place on the hill, C Company was getting hammered, and by chance, B Company was forcing the enemy’s right flank.
Under pressure from B Company’s flanking attack the enemy force—most of a People’s Liberation Armed Forces (Viet Cong) regiment—moved to the northwest, whereupon the B Company commander called in air and artillery fire on the retreating troops. B Company halted in place in an effort to locate and consolidate with C Company’s platoons, managing to establish a coherent defensive line running around the hilltop from southeast to northwest, but with little cover on the southern side.
Meanwhile, the PLAF commander realized that his best chance was to close with the US forces so that the 173rd’s air and artillery fire could not be effectively employed. PLAF troops attempted to out-flank the US position atop the hill from both the east and the southwest, moving his troops closer to the Americans. The result was shoulder-to-shoulder attacks up the hillside, hand-to-hand fighting, and isolation of parts of B and C Companies but the Americans held against two such attacks. Although the fighting continued after the second massed attack, it reduced in intensity as the PLAF troops again attempted to disengage and withdraw. By late afternoon it seemed that contact had been broken off, allowing the two companies to prepare a night defensive position while collecting their dead and wounded in the center of the position. Although a few of the most seriously wounded were extracted by USAF helicopters using Stokes litters, the triple-canopy jungle prevented the majority from being evacuated until the morning of 9 November.
Operation results and aftermath
The result of the battle was heavy losses on both sides—48 Paratroopers dead, many more wounded, and 403 dead PLAF troops.
Operation Hump is memorialized in a song by Big and Rich named 8 November (Introduction, by Kris Kristofferson):
“On November 8th 1965, the 173rd Airborne Brigade on “Operation Hump”, war zone “D” in Vietnam, were ambushed by over 1200 VC. 48 American soldiers lost their lives that day. Severely wounded and risking his own life, Lawrence Joel, a medic, was the first living black man since the Spanish-American War to receive the United States Medal of Honor for saving so many lives in the midst of battle that day. Our friend, Niles Harris, retired 25 years United States Army, the guy who gave Big Kenny his top hat, was one of the wounded who lived. This song is his story. Caught in the action of kill or be killed, greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for a friend.
To me, it is amazing that any of the American forces survived this battle, as the enemy outnumbered the Americans 3 to 1. But the casualties tell the story. On the American side there were 48 killed, many wounded. 2 Australian MIA’s *located and repatriated to Australia on the 5th of June, 2007. The Commanders for the American side was the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The Commanders for the People’s Liberation Armed Forces (Viet Cong) are unknown. Their strength was around 1,200 and they lost 403 that day. The result was a standoff. To me, that means the American forces that day did America proud. And I am very proud of what the American soldiers did on that bloody day on the 8th of November, 1965.
Here is the video.
This my friends is what we should be proud of. The ability of Americans to do the impossible. And to come out of it not losing. The song 8th of November is about one of those brave men that fought that day against overwhelming odds…..and lived to tell about it. God bless these men who fought and died that day for the American might, against oppressive odds.
As an addition to this, I got a comment from a Dutch Holland, who was there on the 8th of November, of 1965, and fought in that battle. He was wounded there. He gave some additional information that I felt needed to be added here.
I was wounded on Hill 65 during Operation Hump (B1/503d) and would like to add more history to our legacy. After the battle of Hill 65 the 1st Infantry Division found hospital records from the 272nd VC Regiment when they took over one of their unit locations. In those records the 272nd recorded over 800 deaths on or near Hill 65 on the 8th of November. The 272nd was attached to the elite VC 9th Division who the 173d Airborne Brigade went against throughout their tour in the War Zone “D” area. I would also like to mention and thank the USAF ParaMedics (PJ’s) who delivered us critical ammo and med supplies during our battle.
So that being added, I have to add, God bless all you who fought this battle, and Thank You all for your service.
God Bless America, her troops and her people
God Bless my readers, my listeners on BTR and my viewers on You Tube…