A United States armoured column, rushing to the aid of a South Vietnamese town reported to be about to be attacked by the Viet Cong guerrillas, were themselves caught in a Viet Cong ambush while on their way.
Aftermath of ambush, damaged tanks and trucks, troops on roadside, interview tank sergeant. (SOF).
SGT. JOHNSON: "Well, the first round hit the front of the tank, here, blinding the driver and then the tank commander turned the turret round, pulled the driver out and put the gunner down here in the driver's seat. The second round killed the driver. Then the 57 recoiless hit the side of the tank, went inside, killed the loader, and set the tank afire. When it went inside, it threw the tank commander out. The tank started to burn, so the gunner came out and ran on the ground, got back in the tank, and sat on the dead man in the driver's compartment and drove the tank off."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: A United States armoured column, rushing to the aid of a South Vietnamese town reported to be about to be attacked by the Viet Cong guerrillas, were themselves caught in a Viet Cong ambush while on their way. Using-armoured piercing shells, rockets and heavy guns, the Viet Cong killed eighteen and wounded 31 of the American troops.
The armoured convoy was moving to a town nearly 50 miles north of the capital, Saigon, after reports that a Viet Cong unit was about to attack the town. A battalion of South Vietnamese troops were supposed to guard the route against ambush. They did not -- and were caught in the ambush themselves.
First tank in the American column was halted by mine. Then, as the convoy came to a halt in a line two miles long, the Viet Cong opened fire along almost the whole length from the protection of dense jungle only 50 yards from the road. Viet Cong strength was placed at between 1,000 and 1,500.
United States aircraft were called up to help the convoy. They bombed and straffed the roadside.
Afterwards, it was stated that 24 Viet Cong bodies were found, although American commanders claimed that 250 were killed.
Sergeant John Johnson, of Tennessee, described what happened in his tank when it was struck by Viet Cong fire.