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Ben Het Special Forces Camp - 1969
Here is a photo of the Ben Het camp and airfield looking southward. (photo courtesy John Stymerski 483rd CAMS). It was located at YB 870-251.
On the night of March 3, 1969, tanks from the 1st platoon of Bravo Company, 1st Bn 69th Armor engaged 5 Soviet PT-76 tanks and a half dozen BMP-40 APCs in the only tank-vs-tank battle of the Vietnam War prior to the U.S. withdrawal in 1972. The Bravo Company Tankers, led by Captain John Stoval, managed to destroy two NVA tanks (first one and second one) and one APC before the NVA wisely broke off the attack on the camp. (photos Copyright Frank Cole)
The camp was one of seven SF/CIDG camps designed to monitor and interdict NVA infiltration from Cambodia and Laos. The seven SF/CIDG surveillance camps from north to south were Ben het, Plei Djereng, Duc Co, Tieu Atar, Ban Don, Duc Lap, and Bu Prang. When NVA activity threatened Dak To the camp was expanded into a brigade-sized installtion.
Ben Het was normally manned by 12 Green Berets of a Special Forces A-Team, and approximately 200 Montagnard tribesman forming a Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG). Occasionally two M-107 Self-propelled 175mm guns of the 7th Bn 15th Field Artillery would make a "raid" to Ben Het. A raid involved two guns and their supply and FDC elements moving at high speed to a location where they would fire Harassing and Interdicting (H&I) fire on NVA troops in neighboring Laos and Cambodia. One of the key reasons for Ben Het's existence is the fact that only 13 kilometers (13,000 meters, or 8 miles)) west of this location, Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam share a common border. This area was sometimes referred to as the "Triangle", although some confused that name with the "Iron Triangle" in the III Corps Tactical Zone.
Twelve kilometers (7 miles) southwest of Ben Het is Hill 875, which was the scene of a violent battle between the 173rd Airborne Brigade, supported by 4th Infantry Division infantrymen, and the NVA in November of 1967. The NVA troops the U.S. forces attacked were enroute to staging areas for the January 1968 Tet offensive. The action by the U.S. forces seriously degraded the NVA regiment's ability to participate in the Tet Offensive and saved American lives in 1968.