A battalion of South Vietnamese Rangers, caught in an ambush by North Vietnamese forces only two miles (3.2 km) from Lai Kho Base Camp - headquarters of the South Vietnamese Fifth Division near Saigon - was saved from almost certain annihilation on Tuesday (15 Aug) when government pilots made a daring counter attack.
GV Rangers walking along highway & through fields (4 shots)
SV Ranger walking near scrub
SV Ranger running towards camera
SV Troops in scrub
SV & CU Rangers firing machine guns & rifles (4 shots)
G TO AIR Skyraider flies overhead dropping napalm (2 shots)
SV & CU Wounded man carried through scrub (2 shots)
SV Troops in jungle
SV Wounded soldier carried past camera
GV Troops in clearing
Initials SGM/2140 SGM/2200
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Background: A battalion of South Vietnamese Rangers, caught in an ambush by North Vietnamese forces only two miles (3.2 km) from Lai Kho Base Camp - headquarters of the South Vietnamese Fifth Division near Saigon - was saved from almost certain annihilation on Tuesday (15 Aug) when government pilots made a daring counter attack.
The Rangers were on patrol, looking for North Vietnam regulars who have been moving south over the Khmer frontier via the Mekong Delta, when they walked right into the trap.
The ambush was most unexpected, as Fifth Division soldiers had supposedly swept the area shortly beforehand. It was effective also, and the Rangers found themselves unable to retreat, being pinned in from all sides by intensive North Vietnamese gunfire.
Only one way of escape was possible, and that was an airstrike to disperse and destroy the opposition. And this proved a tough assignment for the South Vietnamese Skyraider pilots, who had to drop their bombs with unfailing accuracy to avoid hitting their own troops.
The strikes were successful, and gave the Rangers time to retreat in fairly orderly fashion. According to government reports, the casualties amongst the Rangers were mercifully light - only one dead and eight wounded.
That Tuesday night the war got even closer to Saigon as giant B-52 Bombers pounded suspected North Vietnamese troops concentrations northwest and southwest of the capital, sending massive shockwaves through the city.
SYNOPSIS: South Vietnamese Rangers patrol a highway and surrounding paddy fields only two miles from their Lai Kho headquarters....a major government army base near Saigon. They're on the look-out for North Vietnam regulars, who have been moving over the Khmer frontier to this area and the Mekong Delta.
The Rangers think they're on fairly safe ground, as South Vietnamese troops had been carrying out extensive sweeps near the base not long before. Then they're suddenly in the middle of a surprise ambush and under heavy fire from rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. There's no retreat, as North Vietnamese soldiers surround them on all sides.
In desperation, the battalion commander calls in air support....but the government Skyraider pilots have a tricky task. Their bombs must be dead on target, otherwise their own men might get hit.
The Rangers are saved....the airstrikes pin down the opposition long enough for them to make a hurried retreat. Casualties are mercifully low... one dead and eight injured. This particular patrol of the sixth Ranger Group is lucky there are any survivors.