This operation; a short, quick surprise offensive from west of the valley, involved approximately 3000 men during 10 May 1969 to 7 Jun 1969. It was one of several operations launched by the 101st whose mission was to clear the enemy stronghold and staging areas in the Ashau Valley, Western Thua Thien Province, I Corps. Slang name “Hamburger Hill” was used by military personnel fighting it. The American command planned to clear out the Ashau Valley using ten battalions of Infantry, including the 9th Marine Regiment, the 3d ARVN Regiment, the 3rd/5th Cavalry and three air assault battalions, the 1/506th, 2/501st, and 3/187th. Covered by Cobra gunships, the lead elements of two battalions were inserted in a 45-minute period, with Cos. B, C and D hitting the ground at 8:12. Within minutes the soldiers were pushing from the west–to the enemy’s complete surprise. The plan of attack was for the Marines and the 3rd/5th Cavalry to fight their way into the valley toward the Laotian border, while the ARVN units cut through the base of the valley. The 501st and the 506th were to destroy the enemy in their operating areas and block escape routes into Laos.

A 10-battalion operation, Apache Snow’s initial assault force consisted of the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division under the command of Colonel Joseph B. Conmy, Jr., with his 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry (3/187); the 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry (2/501st); the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry (1/506); and two Infantry Battalions from the 1st ARVN Division. The NVA units held the hilltop while Screaming Eagles probed and looked for weaknesses. At the same time the hill was bombarded continually with artillery, ARA and air strikes. Also part of the operation were the three battalions of the U.S. 9th Marine Regiment, the U.S. 3rd/5th Cavalry and two additional ARVN Infantry battalions. The operation was supported by some 217 air strikes as well as fire from four 105mm artillery batteries, two 155mm batteries, one 175mm battery and one 8-inch battery.

Hamburger Hill would become the main focal point of Operation Apache Snow. Unknown numbers of enemy had run off during the last moments of capturing the mountain known as Dong Ap Bia, Hill 937, or Hamburger Hill. This operation just proved again that the ultimate weapon is the infantry rifleman. Victory achieved by the heroism of the rifleman going in and digging out the enemy.

VC/NVA KIA 977    US KIA 102


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