The remnants of South Vietnam’s 5th Division at An Loc continue to receive daily artillery battering from the communist forces surrounding the city as reinforcements fight their way from the south up Highway 13.
The South Vietnamese had been under heavy attack since the North Vietnamese had launched their Nguyen Hue Offensive on March 30. The communists had mounted a massive invasion of South Vietnam with 14 infantry divisions and 26 separate regiments, more than 120,000 troops and approximately 1,200 tanks and other armored vehicles. The main North Vietnamese objectives, in addition to An Loc in the south, were Quang Tri in the north, and Kontum in the Central Highlands.
In Binh Long Province, the North Vietnamese forces had crossed into South Vietnam from Cambodia on April 5 to strike first at Loc Ninh. After taking Loc Ninh, the North Vietnamese forces then quickly encircled An Loc, the capital of Binh Long Province, which was only 65 miles from Saigon. The North Vietnamese held An Loc under siege for almost three months while they made repeated attempts to take the city, bombarding it around the clock. The defenders suffered heavy casualties, including 2,300 dead or missing, but with the aid of U.S. advisers and American airpower, they managed to hold out against vastly superior odds until the siege was lifted on June 18. Fighting continued all over South Vietnam into the summer months, but eventually the South Vietnamese forces prevailed against the invaders and they retook Quang Tri in September. With the communist invasion blunted, President Nixon declared that the South Vietnamese victory proved the viability of his Vietnamization program, which he had instituted in 1969 to increase the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces.
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