Battle of Khe Sanh

 

In 1967 North Vietnamese forces began building up around the Khe Sanh air base. NVA soldiers would continue to be spotted in the area but no attack would come. Commanders were faced with the decision to either reinforce the base or abandon it. They elected to reinforce it, setting up one of the longest battles of the war.

In January, US forces learned that an attack would soon come and on January 21st of 1968 it would begin. One of the surrounding hill outposts was attacked and the base at Khe Sanh received heavy shelling. The initial attack was thwarted but the NVA did manage to breach the Marine defenses at one point.

Fighting at Khe Sanh would continue for over two months with NVA troops assaulting nearby outposts and constantly shelling the base.

During the siege of Khe Sanh resupplying the air base would prove difficult. Land resupplies would prove impossible so the only option was air drops. Because of the heavy anti aircraft fire in the area, this was not going to be an easy task. Cargo plains would have to brave heavy fire during resupplies and develop special tactics to make it in and out safely.

Airpower would prove to be the lifeline for the base. They depended on it for supplies and the firepower was much needed to pound the surrounding area and suppress the enemy. Without the superiority of US airpower, the base would have surely been overrun.

The siege of Khe Sanh would continue through March, 77 days in all. In March, NVA troops began exiting the area, although shelling of the base would continue. US troops were eventually able to break through the remaining attacking forces and put an end to the battle.

From a numbers standpoint, the offensive was a huge loss for the NVA. Americans suffered casualties of 703 killed and 2642 wounded. NVA losses, are estimated to be greater than 10,000 dead.

Psychologically, the siege had an effect though. It proved what the enemy was willing to, they were willing to incur massive losses. This fact alone would raise questions about how long this war would really take to win.

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Battle Of Midway

If you know anything about WWII, you know about the Battle of Midway. It was a turning point in the Pacific theater and a must win battle for the Americans.

Without a victory at Midway, the war against Japan would have been much more prolonged and the outcome would not have been certain.

The Target

The Battle of Midway occurred at a small US airbase located on the Midway atoll. Japanese forces planned to attack the atoll and quickly overwhelm the defenses. They could then build an air base and await the US aircraft carrier forces whom would surely arrive.

Their goal, to take the atoll and then destroy the US carrier fleet. What would happen would be much different however.

The Battle

American intelligence was able to intercept communications that revealed the plan. This would give them time to not only prepare for the defense of the island, but plan an ambush of the Japanese fleet. They positioned their own carrier force in a position to intercept Japanese forces.

On June 4 of 1942, the ambush was sprung and the US forces were able to knock out 3 Japanese aircraft carriers while losing 1 themselves. The atoll’s air base, although slightly damaged would survive the attack as well.

The Effect

The Battle of Midway was a turning point in the war. Before the battle, Japan dominated the Pacific theater. They had a superior fleet and with their carriers, superior air power. After the battle, US and Japanese forces would be equals and the power would soon shift the other way.

Following Midway, US forces would be able to push Japanese forces back with invasions of Guadalcanal, the Phillippines, etc. In addition, if Japan had won the battle, they would have been allowed to push on to Australia. This would have resulted int the US losing important submarine bases and could have resulted in a recall of Australian troops from Africa.

As you can see, although this explanation is very brief, Midway was one of the most important battles of the war. Without it, the conflict could have lasted years longer and ultimately, the outcome could have been much different.

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