The 1/92nd Field Artillery
Association - Vietnam


After Action Report

After Action Report

Phu Nhon Relief Operation-1971

1st BATTALION, 92nd ARTILLERY APO San Francisco 96318

AVGG-FAA-OP                  29 April 1971

SUBJECT: After Action Report-Phu Nhon Relief Operation

TO: Commanding General 4th Infantry Division ATTN: AVDDH-CG APO US Forces 96262

1. (C) General Summary: This report covers U.S. Artillery Operations in support of the defense of Phu Nhon during the period 152355 March 1971 to 212400 March 1971. The following is the disposition of artillery during this period:

FSB Weigt Davis (AR 897117)
2 x 155mm, 1st Plt, Btry C/1-92 FA
1 x 8 inch and 1 x 175mm, Btry B/7-15 FA
2 x 40mm, Btry B/4-60 Arty

FSB T. C. Miller (AQ 870998)
2 x 155mm, 2nd Plt, Btry C/1-92 FA
2 x 40mm, Btry B/4-60 Arty
2 x 105mm (ARVN), 214th Sector Platoon

LZ LONELY (AQ 852871)
2 x 155mm, 3rd Plt, Brty C/1-92 FA
2 x 40mm, Btry B/4-60 Arty

FSB St. George (AR 847148)
2 x 105mm (ARVN), 223rd Arty
4 x 155mm (ARVN), 223rd Arty

AQ 862905
6 x 105mm (ARVN), Btry C/232nd Arty

2. Intelligence:

a. During the past six months GVN pacification areas have been a principal target of VC/NVA attacks. Since early February the Phu Nhon District area has been identified as the focal point for the attacks in Pleiku Province. Based upon normal enemy areas of operation, captured documents and agent reports, the K394th Composite Battalion and the K1 Battalion of the 95B Regiment, both regular NVA units, were identified as units active in this area as early as 1 February 1971. Activity during the period of 1 February through 15 March consisted primarily of company-size ground attacks, harassment, stand off attacks and interdiction of QL-14 by minings and ambushes. Although agent reports concerning the Phu Nhon area were not numerous there were several of possible significance which were received prior to the attack of 15-16 March. These reports identified the location of a battalion-size unit approximately 15 kilometers South of Phu Nhon on 13 March and the arrival of an artillery company approximately 10 kilometers Southeast of Phu Nhon on 14 March. These reports were forwarded to the Pleiku Province S-2. It should be noted that intelligence reports of battalion-sized elements are not unusual in the Phu Nhon area and it is not surprising that the reports received prior to 15 March failed to warn sufficiently of the impending attack of a regimental-sized element.

b. The well coordinated attack of 15-16 March was made by a regimental-sized unit under the command of the HQ 95B Regiment. In addition to the K394th and the K1 Bn/95B, the K20 Sapper Battalion and elements of the 408th Sapper Battalion are also believed to have participated. A detainee picked up on 4 April at AQ 821839, approximately 15 kilometers North of Phu Nhon, was reported as being a member of C-4 Co/K32 Ba/40th Artilley Regiment as a participating unit in the battle. With the exception of the document captured on 18 March locating the command post of the 95B Regiment at AQ 821955, approximately 4 kilometers West of Phu Nhon, no further information was cur- rently available concerning specific enemy dis- position prior to the battle. The enemy was determined and well prepared. Intelligence analysts estimate that at least one month's pre- paration went into the planning of this attack. The enemy's heavy volume of fire and his ability to hold his positions for as long as he did indicate that he was very well supplied and had effective medical support.

3. Situation:

a. On the evening of 15 March at 2355 hours, a North Vietnamese force of estimated regimental size initiated a sustained attack against Phu Nhon District HQ (AR 868992), attached Regional Forces, colocated U.S. artillery forces of 2nd platoon, Battery C, 1st Battalion, 92nd Artillery, and supporting Duster sections from Battery B, 4th Battalion, 60th Artillery. During the course of the initial evening attack the North Vietnamese forces, elements of 95B Regt, attempted to overrun the friendly forces utilising sapper attacks, assaults by fire with 82mm mortars, 120mm mortars, B-40 rockets and ground assaults. The initial attack came from the South against the U.S. artillery sector of the perimeter held by the Dusters from 4-60 Arty and the men from 1-92 FA. The enemy was unable to penetrate this area due to the heavy volume of fire and the aggressiveness of the U.S. soldiers in defense of the artillery sector. The attack then moved to the eastern perimeter in the vicinity of the ARVN artillery and ARVN guard bunkers. The enemy penetrated the wire inflicting damage to facilities and causing casualties among the South Vietnamese defenders. (See Inclosure 1, diagram of the compound). The U.S. liaison officer from 1-92 FA directed all gunships and other aircraft during the first night and morning of the attack. At times very little artillery was fired because of the danger of hitting aircraft in the area. The training and ability of the U.S. artillery and Duster personnel was shown by the fact that they had killed 21 sappers within 10 meters of the wire surrounding their compound. These sappers were heavily armed with satchel charges, B-40 rockets, Bangalore torpedoes, and M-16 rifles but not one enemy gained access to their compound, and thereby were unable to inflict any major damage or wound any artillery personnel. One Duster crewman was seriously wounded by a .51 Cal round after 16 hours of fighting. Confidence in their leadership and training and a great deal of individual initiative were displayed by the artillerymen throughout the 5 day campaign. Despite lack of sleep the platoon was able to perform their mis- sions of firing and securing their own position in an outstanding manner.

b. The ground attack which was directed against the eastern and northeastern sides of the peri- meter ran into very little resistance from the ARVNs. The men on the perimeter were never rein- forced as those on guard duty remained inside their bunkers with their families. No reaction force was formed until daylight. When the MACV compound was overrun, the ARVN soldiers brought their families to the American bunkers. The ARVN artillery fired no more than 40 rounds and did not fire direct fire. Sappers were running freely through their compound with little or no resistance enabling them to occupy several key bunkers and one building while holding dependents as hos- tages. Finally at 161400 March CS gas grenades were employed to clear the enemy from the bunkers.

c. The enemy was able to cut off road routes North and South of Phu Nhon surrounding the defending forces and isolating them from other friendly forces and cutting off all normal land resupply during the period 16-20 March. There were pockets of enemy resistance on QL-14 South from My Thach Village (AR 835178) to Phu Nhon District HQ (AR 868992). Villages held by the enemy were located at the following areas: AR 865 027, Plei Tao-AR 863045, Phu Quang-AR 870050, and Phu Nhon-AR 862997. The 2nd Battalion 47th Regiment was tasked to move South and clear QL-14 . At 161345 March 3rd Company/2-47 Regiment encountered a small enemy force at AR 855125 and exchanged small arms fire. The enemy force was estimated to be a platoon-sized element, but it managed to pin down 3rd Company effectively. Gun- ships were requested and contact was broken. The unit continued South and on 18 March the 1st and 3rd Companies of 2-47th ran into heavy resistance from the village North of Phu Nhon. A U.S. convoy escort, attempting to resupply our units, arrived on the scene and the commander offered the assis- tance of his four (4) Dusters and one (1) APC in dislodging the enemy. The Dusters and the APC moved on the road and provided fire support while the two ARVN companies launched another attack. The assault to the objective was made on line, but the tracked vehicles moved forward faster than the ground troops. When the objective was reached the Dusters were 100 meters in front of the ground forces. The Dusters came under heavy fire and one was immobilized. The remaining forces moved through the village to the South and after consolidating their position moved back around the village to the East and returned north to their former location. The Dusters had leveled the village where the enemy resistance was heavy. Later the immobilized Duster was recovered. Vehicle resupply was found to be impossible due to heavy enemy resistance along QL-14, so aerial resupply was utilized. Throughout this period the besieged allies were subjected to daily attack by enemy 82mm mortars, 120mm mortars B-40 rockets and small arms while U.S. helicopters and aircraft attempting to provide aerial resupply and aviation support, were formed to undergo devastating ground to air fire from enemy machine gun positions encircling Phu Nhon.

d. The 1st Battalion 45th Regiment moved to Baon Blech on 16 March and was to proceed north towards LZ Lonely and link up with the 3rd Cavalry Troop at AQ 855839. The 3rd Cavalry leading the advance was ambushed north of Lonely, but continued to advance north toward Phu Nhon after breaking contact. The 1-45 Regiment, with the 3/3 Cavalry (-) attached, proceeded north to the vicinity of AQ 870965. The task force came under intense fire from a well fortified enemy force. When they attempted to by-pass the enemy on the eastern flank, the task force began taking heavy casualties. After regrouping the element made no more assaults on 17 March while awaiting reinforcements. On 18 March the 1-45 Regt and the 3/3 Cavalry assaulted the position again from the east side of the road while the newly arrived 4-45 advanced on the west side of the road. 3/3 Cavalry received heavy casualties and heavy damage to many of its APCs in these assaults and was rendered ineffective and mored to the rear. The 1-92 FA forward observer with this task force SP/4 Richard Parrish, did an outstanding job during these assaults. On the morning of 20 March an extensive artillery preparation was fired on the enemy position and after it was completed, the 1-45th, 4-45th and 2/3/3 Cavalry conducted an assault on the objective and overcame enemy resistance. The southern force moved north and the northern force continued south until they met at Phu Nhon District HQ where the enemy encircle- ment had been broken.

e. Throughout the siege the U.S. Artillerymen distinguished themselves by repeated acts of individual heroism. During the campaign the sur- rounded elements of C 2nd Plt/1-92 FA and B/4-60 Arty, together with C(1st plt)/1-92 FA and B/7-15 FA at Weigt Davis and C(3 plt)/1-92 FA at LZ Lonely, expended over 1400 artillery rounds, thousands of 40mm Duster rounds and a large amount of small arms and automatic weapons ammunition inflicting hundreds of casaulties among the attacking enemy forces while suffering minimum U.S. casaulties. The enemy defense was characterized by heavy ground to air fire, B-40 rockets and small arms fire. Activity recorded during the week included 13 assaults by fire, 6 significant contacts, 5 road ambushes, and 6 incidents of ground to air fire. For their actions the artillerymen of 1st Battalion 92nd Artillery received the following awards: 1 Silver Star, 1 Distinguished Flying Cross. 9 Bronze Stars with "V". 27 Army Commendation Medals with "V". 1 Air Medal with "V" and 1 Combat Medic Badge. C Battery is being submitted for an ARVN Unit Award for the period 16 to 20 March 1971 and for the U.S. Valorous Unit Citation.

4. Communications:

a. At the time of the attact, radios were distributed as follows:
2 ea GRC-46 - LNO 1-92 FA
1 ea GRC-46 - MACV Team
3 ea VRC-77 - MACV Team
1 ea GRC-46 - 2nd plt, Btry C, 1-92 FA
1 ea PRC-25 - Btry B, 4-60 Arty

b. The following equipment became inoperative during the campaign:
2 ea GRC-46 - LNO 1-92 FA
1 ea 30 KW Generator (destroyed) - MACV Team
2 ea 10 KW Generator (destroyed) - MACV Team
1 ea 1.5 DC Generator - LNO 1-92 FA

c. The U.S. personnel at FSB Miller were never without sufficient communications. Replacement equipment was sent out within 24 hours of the attack.

5. Logistics:

a. 94.3 tons of supplies were airlifted or trucked into C Battery's three locations at Weigt Davis, FSB Miller and LZ Lonely.

b. Convoys were used to take supplies to Weigt Davis and were unable to go further South.

c. All resupply to Phu Nhon was accomplished with UH1D helicopters, which made sorties from Weigt Davis.

d. CH-47 hook sorties were used to resupply Weigt Davis and LZ Lonely. Due to intense ground to air fire, Phu Nhon could not be resupplied by hooks.

6. Liaison/Forward-Observer-Teams:

a. Liaison Teams:

(1) Initially one four-man LNO team (1-CPT, 3-EM) operated at Phu Nhon. It had been in position since 31 December 1970.

(2) As the mission requirements increased, one three-man LNO team was sent to the 47th ARVN Regiment and one three-man LNO team was sent to the 45th Regiment.

b. Forward Observer Teams:

(1) Initially one FO team was deployed with the 45th Regiment, SP4 Richard Parrish. SP4 Parrish distinguished himself while serving with the 45th and with the 3rd Cavalry in the southern task force by controlling artillery fire, air strikes, gunships, medivacs and maintaining contact with the battalion all during the numerous assaults South of Phu Nhon. SP4 Parrish was with the lead elements during the conflict and did an outstandind job in keeping elements informed of the changing situation and his location while directing accurate and timely fire against the enemy. He was seriously wounded and had to be returned to the rear. For his valorous actions SP4 Richard Parrish received the Silver Star Medal.

(2) Air observers were on station during daylight hours throughout the conflict.

7. Ammunition:

a. During the campaign from 16 March to 21 March expenditures were reported by II Corps as follows:

                    U.S.           ARVN            SECTOR            TOTAL
105mm            -            6,617*          780*             7,397
155mm         1,280         1,052             -                 2,332
175mm             99            -                -                     99
8 inch              22            -                -                     22
Totals          1,401         7,669           780               9,850

*These figures could not be verified by U.S. artillery personnel.

b. Ammunition resupply was accomplished by air using CH-47 and UH1D helicopters. The road South was cut off and convoys were unable to reach Phu Nhon. Service Battery convoyed to Weigt Davis and UH1D helicopters took resupply from there to Phu Nhon.

8. Losses:

a. The cumulative results for the period 16 March when the attack on Phu Nhon District commenced until 21 March when the relief operation was terminated are listed below.

b. Enemy Losses:
387 KIA (178 of these KBA)
48 Small arms CIA
23 Crew-served weapons CIA
2 Radios (Chinese Communist Manufactured)
40 B-40 (RPG-2) Rounds CIA
12 82mm Mortar Rounds CIA

c. Friendly Losses:

           1-92 FA         U.S.         ARVN         RF/PF
KIA        0               1            45             25
WIA       5              16          101             36
MIA        0               0             0             10

d. 1-92 FA losses included 1 ea 45 Cal pistol and 1 ea M-16 rifle which were lost in action by the LNO team.





S - 105mm ARVN
L - 155mm US
D - Duster
M - 60mm Mortar
m - M-60 MG (VN M-60s and 50 Cal not included in diagram)
A - Initial Attack
B - Second Attack

NOTE: This is the After Action Report and more information is available at:
Siege of Phu Nhon & Davids Story


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