this context, and given the intentions of the participants at the beginning,
Khe Sanh was an overall failure for both sides.
One final point must be made regarding the intentions of the Communist
forces at Khe Sanh. Today, at the site of the former marine combat base,
there is a masonry monument erected by the Vietnamese. The text on the
monument explicitly refers to the fighting at Khe Sanh as another Dien
Bien Phu. Thus, the Communists appear to regard the battle of Khe Sanh
as the victory that enabled them to win the war in Indochina, or at least
prefer to have it remembered that way.65
In 1994, the journalist Malcom W. Browne of the New York Times
visited the former Khe Sanh combat base. Browne noted that there are
seventy-two graveyards for Communist troops in Quang Tri Province
alone. An official of the local People's Committee near Khe Sanh village
looked across a vast field of grave markers and remarked, "We paid dearly
for this land."66 Of that there can be no doubt.
The fighting in Vietnam continued from the beginning of Vietnam's war for
independence from France in 1946 until after 1975, when Vietnam was unified by
the Vietnamese Communists. The fighting between the Vietnamese and the French
is referred to as the First Indochina War. The Vietnamese war with the Americans
is termed the Second Indochina War, and the fighting between Vietnam and its
neighbors after 1975 is known as the Third Indochina War.
For the early history of the U.S. involvement at Khe Sanh, see John Prados
Ray W. Stubbe, Valley of Decision ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991), pp. 13- 24 [hereafter Valley].
General William C. Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports ( Garden City, N.Y.: 1976), p. 336 [hereafter A Soldier].
Giap made these remarks in a series of articles published in September 1967,
in North Vietnam's armed forces newspaper, Quang Doi Nhan Dan, quoted in Edwin H. Simmons, "Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam, 1967", in The Marines
in Vietnam, 1954-1973 ( Washington, D.C.: History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1985), p. 97.
General Willard Pearson, The War in the Northern Provinces 1966-1968
( Washington, D.C.: Department of the Army, 1975), p. 6.
Captain Moyers S. Shore II, The Battle for Khe Sanh ( Washington, D.C.: History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1969), p. 6
Stubbe, Valley, pp. 270-271.
Peter Macdonald, Giap: The Victor in Vietnam ( New York: W. W. Norton, 1993), p. 279 [hereafter Giap].
Robert Pisor, The End of the Line: The Siege of Khe Sanh ( New York: Ballantine Books, 1982), p. 112 [hereafter End of the Line].