Ripcord: Screaming Eagles Under Siege, Vietnam 1970
On April 10, 1970, Hill 927 was occupied by troopers of the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division. By July, the activities of the artillery and infantry of Ripcord had caught the attention of the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and a long and deadly siege ensued. Ripcord was the Screaming Eagles’ last chance to do significant damage to the NVA in the A Shau Valley before the division was withdrawn from Vietnam and returned to the United States.
At Ripcord, the enemy counterattacked with ferocity, using mortar and antiaircraft fire to inflict heavy causalities on the units operating there. The battle lasted four and a half months and exemplified the ultimate frustration of the Vietnam War: the inability of the American military to bring to bear its enormous resources to win on the battlefield. In the end, the 101st evacuated Ripcord, leaving the NVA in control of the battlefield. Contrary to the mantra “We won every battle but lost the war,” the United States was defeated at Ripcord. Now, at last, the full story of this terrible battle can be told.
Heroism Was Commonplace
By Charles F. Hawkins - July 15, 2000
I've read most of Keith William Nolan's books, provided source information on two of them, and was a key participant in the Battle of Fire Support Base Ripcord. This obvious bias aside, "Ripcord" is Nolan's best and most comprehensive Vietnam battle history.Nolan is a master at telling the soldier's part in the 23-day siege of this remote rain forest mountain redoubt near the A Shau Valley. But it's not just a story about the hardship and heroism of combat soldiers. He unravels and clearly presents the challenges (and frustrations) of command from the division level down to leadership at the squad and platoon level.The Battle of FSB Ripcord was a complex and deadly affair. One of two book-end battles of the Vietnam War--the other was the airmobile action by the 1st Cavalry Division at Ia Drang Valley in 1965--Ripcord pitted airmobile troopers of the 3d Brigade, 101st Airborne Division against North Vietnamese regulars that had surrounded the fire base in... read more
From the Brigade Commander's Perspective
By Ben L. Harrison - July 31, 2000
"I've never read a better account of a battle," said Stephen Ambrose about Keith W. Nolan's just published book, Ripcord. There are many perceptions of the Vietnam War and probably even more misperceptions. Nolan gives it to you straight. After writing nine books about the Vietnam War, Nolan said, "I have never encountered a Vietnam battle as dramatic, tragic, convoluted, and bewildering as Ripcord." Over a three year period of intense research, Nolan conducted hundreds of interviews via mail, email, telephone and in person. Thousands of doucments were checked in the National Archives.As the brigade commander during the seige of Ripcord, Keith and I had dozens of interchanges. It is common knowledge that retired general officers can recall with precise clarity the details of events that never happened. Nolan's rule that "facts" must be verified by at least three sources probably explains why some of my input to an early draft did not... read more
Lost history discovered
By Jeff Lester - December 26, 2000
As a print journalist, I've used my position at times to tell the stories of veterans who might not otherwise be heard.I'll never forget my reaction when I walked into the newsroom one day in May and our managing editor said someone had left a new book about Vietnam on my desk.It was "Ripcord." A local man who survived the battle wanted to publicize the book and the Fire Support Base Ripcord Association's upcoming 30th anniversary reunion.As an avid amateur Vietnam historian, I immediately realized I was looking at the answer to a prayer.One of the first books I ever read about the war was also one of the best - John Del Vecchio's novel "The 13th Valley," a fictional account of the 101st Airborne's lonely struggle in I Corps near the end of America's ground combat role in Vietnam.For the next decade and a half, I searched in vain for more substantial information about what happened in western I Corps while the world's attention was focused on the... read more
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