Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Viet Nam

Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Viet Nam

Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Viet Nam

Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Viet Nam


In 1972 a North Vietnamese offensive of more than 30,000 men and one hundred tanks smashed into South Vietnam and raced to capture Saigon. All that stood in their way was a small band of 6,800 South Vietnamese (ARVN) soldiers and militiamen, and a handful of American advisors with U.S. air support, guarding An Loc, a town sixty miles north of Saigon and on the main highway to it.

This depleted army, outnumbered and outgunned, stood its ground and fought to the end and succeeded. Against all expectations, the ARVN beat back furious assaults from three North Vietnamese divisions, supported by artillery and armored regiments, during three months of savage fighting.


The American tragedy that was the Vietnam War is the subject of seemingly endless fascination in both U.S. academic and popular circles. Efforts to interpret the war range from big screen portrayals, including Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump and Mel Gibson in We Were Soldiers, to well-documented tomes on the military prosecution of the war, such as John Nagl’s Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, that heavily influence present-day tactics in the ongoing Global War on Terror. Any attempts to explain this national fixation on or the ongoing influence of the Vietnam War leads back to the same uncomfortably dark riddle. How did the United States, history’s greatest superpower and a nation that presumably stands for good, on one hand lose a war to a third-rate power like North Vietnam and on the other lose its soul amidst a cacophony of protests, war crimes trials, and assassinations?

The arbiters of America’s past, whether they be film directors, novelists, historians, or reporters, have provided a dizzying array of potential answers, some controversial and others taken as dogma, to explain American failure in the Vietnam War. President Lyndon Johnson was too distracted by his Great Society. the American media subverted the mission of the military. American society was too fractured, and the nation’s will was too weak. General William Westmoreland never understood the war that was his to command. the U.S. military relied on overly traditional tactics. the U.S. military did not rely enough on traditional tactics. the power of the U.S. Air Force was never truly unleashed. Airpower was used too indiscriminately. the ignominious roll call is, indeed, quite long, leaving no shortage of villainous characters contending for the leading part in the American morality play that is the history of the Vietnam War.

Much of the historical and cultural debate that swirls around the failure of the American war in Vietnam is complicated by the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.