Things the VC Don't Want People To Know at Pleime Battle

The North Vietnamese Communists do not want anybody to know three things at Pleime battle: one, there was no infiltration of North Vietnamese troops into South Vietnam; two, there were no Chinese Communist advisors; and three, there were no North Vietnamese troops chained to machine guns.

People's Army Troops/National Front Liberation Troops

To deceive international opinion that North Vietnamese Communists had no intention of invading South Vietnam by military force, North Vietnamese Communist troops were disguised as National Front Liberation troops when they were sent to the South. The South Vietnamese and the Americans called them Viet Cong without discrimination.

General Nguyen Nam Khanh, in his memoir, recounts that when 304th Division received the order to go the Central Highlands, South Vietnam, to join forces with 32nd and 33rd Regiments to attack Pleime-Pleiku, he, as Lieutenant Colonel Deputy Political Commissar, was summoned to the Joint General Staff along with Colonel Hoang Kien, 304th Division Commander, to get the order on August 15, 1965. Lieutenant General Deputy Chief of General Staff sent them off with a word of caution as following:

"An official decision had been signed to dispatch 304th division (minus) to reinforce the Western Highlands Front, but due to the necessity to maintain secrecy and correctness and for administration integrity, it could not be handed to you but instead had to be kept as a record in the archive. But in fact, from this moment on, you now belong to the National Liberation Front Army. I wish you much success and hope to receive the good news of your military exploits that you will send back to us from the South.

"- Such is the delicate sensibility of politics, there is no other way. He concluded.

"- Yes, we understand quite well. Comrade Hoang Kien responded.

Chinese Communists Advisors At Pleime

The North Vietnamese Communists did not also want the international opinion to know that they were assisted by Red China in the first big battle at the regimental level at Pleime, especially that the Chinese Communist advisors were present at Pleime battlefield.

According to General Moore, in his book We Were Soldiers Once … and Young, page 63, the radio relay intercept team belonging to II Corps overheard a coded message which appeared to be a report on the military situation in Mandarin, emitting from the foothill of Chu Pong Massif. This indicated the presence of Chinese Communist advisors at B3 Forward Command Post.

It was likely that Chinese Communist advisors working with the B3 Forward Command Post at Chu Pong sent a military situation of the battlefield to Chinese Communist advisors present in Pnom Penh. II Corps Command through its book Why Pleime reveals:

Without Cambodian rice, without the presence of Red Chinese advisors in Pnom Penh, without the communications between Hanoi and the Khmer capital, the infiltration of VC units from North Vietnam could never take place and develop.

Besides, in the report of activities of G-5, the psywar section, Major Horace E. Jordan addressed to II Corps Senior Advisor and G-5 Advisor, made mention of the presence of Chinese Communist Advisor in Pleime area:

On 22 October, leaflets were requested by S-5, Det C-2, based on intelligence reports from Plei me stating that there were Chinese Advisors on the battlefield and that a dead VC was observed chained to his machine gun.

In a news conference on November 16, 1965, in Saigon, three Viet Cong prisoners revealed that each regiment that infiltrated South Vietnam was accompanied by a Chinese advisor.

Viet Cong Chained to Machine Guns

The fact of a Viet Cong combatant chained to his machine gun mentioned in the report of the psywar section and depicted in the leaflet originated from the report made by defenders storming of the camp to the command of 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne):

After the VNSF Airborne Ranger companies arrived in camp on the 22nd, the defenses were immediately re-aligned and now responsibilities designated. That afternoon at 1400 hours, a three-company size force composed of Rangers and CIDG departed the camp to clear the high ground outside. One USASF Captain was killed and one wounded on this operation. There were eleven Ranger/CIDG and one LLDB Lt killed, and 26 Ranger/CIDG wounded. The operation closed back into the camp at 1840 hours. During the operation, they had met fanatical resistance, and one PAVN soldier was observed chained to a .50 caliber machine gun.

Furthermore, Why Pleime states:

The sweep lasted until noon 27 October. Down south the Camp, in the vicinity of the famous hill of Chu-Ho, more enemy corpses and weapons were discovered. Some dead VC gunners were found chained to their anti-aircraft heavy machine guns.

The information about the presence of Chinese Communist advisors and acertain numbers of dead Viet Cong were found chained to machine guns, and anti-aircraft batteries at Pleime battlefield are credible, because if not, the leaflets would lose their persuasive effect in coaxing the Viet Cong to defect if they contained falsified facts. If the Viet Cong combatants knew there were no Chinese Communist advisors and none of their comrades was chained to machine guns as depicted in the leaflets, they would not believe in the promise of a good life. Approximately 179 VC ralliers quitted their units to surrender as a result of the psychological leaflet operations.

The psywar report indicates that

- on 24 October: from 1900-2200 hrs, 70.000 leaflets were dropped at Plei Khote, Chugo mountain, North of Pleime camp.

- On 25 October: from 1500-1730 hrs, 50.000 leaflets were dropped at Plei Bu Can, Thang Ban, North of Pleime camp.

- On 25 October: from 1930-21000 hrs, 30.000 leaflets were dropped around camp Pleime and North of Plei Bu Can, Thang Ban.

- On 27 October: from 1900-2100 hrs, 20.000 leaflets were dropped at the Plei Rede area and West of camp Pleime.

Nguyen Van Tin
31 March 2007


- Primary

- Books, Articles

* Pleiku, the Dawn of Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam, J.D. Coleman, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1988.

* We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, Random House, New York, 1992.

* "First Strike at River Drang", Military History, Oct 1984, pp 44-52, Per. Interview with H.W.O Kinnard, 1st Cavalry Division Commanding General, Cochran, Alexander S.

* The Siege of Pleime, Project CHECO Report, 24 February 1966, HQ PACAF, Tactical Evaluation Center.

* Silver Bayonet, Project CHECO Report, 26 February 1966, HQ PACAF, Tactical Evaluation Center.

- Viet Cong