The Special Forces Jumped in Do Xa

Due to its top secret status, the participation of the Special Forces in the Do Xa Campaign in April 1964 had not been mentioned in any official documents.

Colonel Le Tat Bien, Rangers, who had participated in this campaign, provided the following additional information pertaining to the role of the Special Forces in the Do Xa Campaign.

In 1964, Brigadier General Lam Son was the Special Forces Commander. The Commander of Special Forces units in II Corps was Major Nguyen Thanh Chuan. Brigadier General Lam Son was present at the Special Forces Command Post established at Quang Ngai airport, next to the Forward Command Headquarters of the campaign. At that time Colonel Nguyen Viet Dam was the Commander of the 25th Infantry Division.

The Special Forces units that took part in the Do Xa Campaign was equivalent to a battalion (without a battalion commander) and comprised four companies under four lieutenant company leaders: 1st Company, Vu Manh Cuong; 2nd Company, Cam Ngoc Huan (of Thai ethnicity); 3rd Company, Le Tat Bien ; and 4th Company, Phan Van Khanh. All four would eventually become lieutenant colonel, except Cam Ngoc Huan, who, for transferring to the infantry, advanced on a faster track than the others to reach the rank of colonel.

1st and 2nd Companies were inserted in Do Xa stronghold at Mang Xin, north; 3rd Company at Khe Nuoc Lah, south. 4th Company remained at the Special Forces Command Post as reserve force.

The Special Forcesí main mission was to render the Do Xa stronghold unsafe to the enemy after the departure of the ARVN troops. For that reason, Special Forces combatants carried mainly mine devices when they jumped in the area. They were inserted 15 days after the regular forces. When these forces withdrew after they discovered and destroyed enemy camps, the Special Forces units lingered behind to wire mines all over the places in order to harm the enemy in case they slipped back to their abandoned camps. The initial plan was that these Special Forces would remain in Do Xa to conduct a six- month anti-guerrilla operation. However, General Do Cao Tri cut short their stay and ordered them out 15 days after the withdrawal of the bulk of the troops. The mines placed by the Special Forces had prevented the enemy from harassing the ARVN troops during their withdrawal phase. During the whole month of operation, only two Special Forces combatants were lightly wounded.

After the completion of Do Xa Campaign, General Do Cao Tri and General Lam Son together with Special Forces combatants celebrated the victory with a parachute jumping exhibition on the sand bank of Tra Khuc River right in the middle Quang Ngai city to the delight of the local population.

Afterwards, General Nguyen Khanh showed off the military exploits of Do Xa Campaign in a military parade in Saigon. 3rd Company of Lieutenant Le Tat Bien represented the Special Forces in this parade. General Lam Son had to order in haste the confection of four-pocket uniforms done in time by the Special Forces combatants.

Note: Colonel Le Tat Bien graduated Class 10 of Da Lat Military Academy and attended the first training Class A of Special Forces. When the Special Forces were disbanded, he was transferred to the Rangers and held the position of Lieutenant Colonel III Corps Rangers Chief of Staff . Later on, he was charged of forming the 33rd Rangers Group and held the position of 33rd Rangers Group Commander. He had participated in most of the hot battles occurring in III Corps, such as An Loc battle, Duc Hue battle, Svay Rieng operation. In November 1974, he was sent up to II Corps as II Corps Rangers Chief of Staff. In March 1975, he replaced Colonel Hoan Tho Nhu, who became Pleiku Chief of Province, as 23rd Rangers Group Commander. This unit was the bridgehead in the troops withdrawal along Highway 7B; and became the rear end blocking unit in the carpet enrolling tactics. His combatants courageously fought to the last bullet, and he was captured by the enemy on March 17, 1975. On April 1, 1975, President Thieu signed a decree promoting meritorious combatants in that withdrawal battle, among whom, Bien was made colonel. Since he was in captivity during that time, he only learned about the news upon his release of prison; consequently, he never has the pleasure of wearing the colonel insignia, and some addressed him as colonel, but the majority continues to call him lieutenant colonel.

Nguyen Van Tin
12 December 2005

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