HOURS OF OPERATION
HOURS OF OPERATION
America’s last, bloody, forgotten battle in Vietnam
Here’s why you should definitely come out and see the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum’s new diorama of Fire Support Base Ripcord:
Already, some men who actually survived the battle have seen it, have stood by it and pointed out the exact spots where they stood and fought at the peak of the fight.
No one who was there will ever forget.
Specialist Frank Marshall and his comrades in the 2nd of the 506th, 101st Airborne Division, were there, just a few miles from “Hamburger Hill,” where their division had sustained heavy casualties the year before.
This time, 139 Americans died, and hundreds of others were wounded.
And unlike “Hamburger Hill,” which eventually inspired a major Hollywood movie, no one back home even knew about it.
“When we first got home, nobody would believe us, nobody wanted to hear,” he remembers now. “We were in one of the worst battles of the war, and nobody even knows about it.”
Fierce fighting against the North Vietnamese Army occurred in and around Ripcord between March 12 and July 23, 1970. Three Medals of Honor and six Distinguished Service Crosses were awarded to participants for actions during the final 23 days in July, when the combat was continuous.
And they got little support. The U.S. government was cutting back on the American ground combat role – President Nixon had started withdrawing troops the previous year – and there just wasn’t enough help available.
“We fought ’em all day” on July 22, Frank says. “At the end of the day, the only thing that saved our lives was we called in a danger-close airstrike.” His company had 14 dead, and 56 wounded. Frank himself had been hit three times. The third time happened while a medic was treating his second wound. Then, the F-4 Phantom dropped its 250-pound bomb on the U.S. position. That, finally, drove off the enemy long enough for the Americans to evacuate.
Come see where it happened.