Feat of strength led to vic­tory against US army

Eth­nic Vaân Kieàu peo­ple in Quaûng Trò Prov­ince played a heroic role dur­ing an epic bat­tle against the Amer­i­can army by car­ry­ing dis­as­sem­bled tanks on their backs to re­mote front lines.

Outlook - - HISTORY - By Hoaøng Trung Hieáu-höng Thô

Un­der the hot sum­mer sun­light of cen­tral Vieät Nam, a group of eth­nic Vaân Kieàu boys and girls play be­side a tank me­mo­rial in Laøng Vaây, 8km from Khe Sanh Town of Quaûng Trò Prov­ince.

The area is "Mon­u­ment Vic­tory".

Lo­cated on a 3m-high pedestal, the PT-76 tank that fought in the fa­mous bat­tle in Laøng Vaây, con­tribut­ing to the Khe Sanh Vic­tory against Amer­i­can troops, is still largely in­tact.

On Fe­bru­ary 7, 1968, the Viet­namese lib­er­a­tion army, in­clud­ing a tank force, at­tacked and com­pletely an­ni­hi­lated US forces at Laøng Vaây mil­i­tary base.

This was the first time the Viet­namese lib­er­a­tion army had en­gaged in a bat­tle with tanks.

To bring the tanks to the bat­tle­field, which was far from the North, hun­dreds of eth­nic Vaân Kieàu peo­ple from Höôùng Hoùa Dis­trict helped the lib­er­a­tion force by car­ry­ing the parts of the dis­as­sem­bled tanks on their backs and shoul­ders over moun­tains and across rivers to an area near the bat­tle­field.

Forty-five years ago, the red soil now called of Laøng the Vaây hill where the me­mo­rial is now lo­cated used to be a large Amer­i­can army base. It had un­der­ground con­crete for­ti­fi­ca­tions and was de­fended by four com­pa­nies of com­man­dos.

This base pro­tected the Taø Côn mil­i­tary base in Höôùng Hoùa, and it was also an out­post for the line of de­fence pro­tect­ing High­way 9.

To de­feat the Amer­i­can force at Laøng Vaây and to lib­er­ate Khe Sanh in 1968, the North­ern force de­cided to use tanks to cre­ate a sur­prise at­tack against the en­emy.

From Oc­to­ber 14 un­til De­cem­ber 21, 1967, Tank Bat­tal­ion 198 de­parted from Löông Sôn in the north­ern prov­ince of Hoøa Bình and se­cretly moved for­ward to Khe Sanh.

Af­ter driv­ing 50 days and nights over more than 1,000km of the rugged moun­tain paths, the tanks fi­nally ar­rived in a vil­lage near the Vieät Nam - Laos bor­der.

The lib­er­a­tion soldiers and Vaân Kieàu peo­ple liv­ing in Tröôøng Sôn moun­tain range set to work dis­as­sem­bling the 14 tanks of the bat­tal­ion, then they se­cretly trans­ported the tank parts through the jun­gle be­fore cross­ing the Seâ Poân River. peo­ple car­ried parts on their

Hun­dreds tonnes of shoul­ders.

With the tremen­dous help of the Vaân Kieàu vol­un­teer porters, 14 dis­as­sem­bled tanks were car­ried over moun­tains, hills, rivers and streams to a strate­gic area where the tanks were re­assem­bled and ready to en­gage in bat­tle.

The sud­den ap­pear­ance of the North Viet­namese tanks sent the Amer­i­can and Saøi Goøn soldiers into a panic. They had be­lieved that the high moun­tains and deep rivers guar­an­teed that they could never be at­tacked by heavy ar­moured ve­hi­cles.

of tank

Sur­prise at­tack

On Jan­uary 20, 1968, the North­ern forces and lo­cal guer­ril­las at­tacked Amer­i­can mil­i­tary bases in Khe Sanh. Af­ter 170 days of com­bat, on July 9, 1968, the lib­er­a­tion forces con­trolled the re­gion.

Fol­low­ing the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of the coun­try, one of the 14 tanks was memo­ri­al­ized as the tank mon­u­ment.

In the days lead­ing up to the 45th an­niver­sary of the Laøng Vaây vic­tory, peo­ple in Höôùng Hoùa re­lived the days dur­ing the war when the eth­nic Vaân Kieàu peo­ple car­ried the tank parts on

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