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Hamburger Hill, Battle of

Hamburger Hill, Battle of (1969).For ten days in May 1969 during the Vietnam War, units of the 101st U.S. Airborne Division and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARV) attacked North Vietnamese Army units dug in on a mountain called Dong Ap Bia, in A Shau Valley, Thua Thien Province—part of I Corps Tactical Zone in northernmost South Vietnam. Heavy losses among all combatants gave the mountain a new name: Hamburger Hill.

Long the scene of fierce battles between U.S. and their South Vietnamese allies and North Vietnamese forces, the A Shau closely parallels the Vietnam‐Laos border. This made it easy for North Vietnamese units to cross from their Laotian sanctuary, lure allied units into battle, inflict heavy casualties, then vanish into sanctuary. On Hamburger Hill, the North Vietnamese strategy was again effective: 56 Americans died, and 420 were wounded; South Vietnamese losses were also high. An estimated 600 North Vietnamese soldiers died and many more were wounded. Over 270 close air support sorties and 22,000 rounds of artillery were delivered to support a poorly coordinated piecemeal ground assault by about ten battalions—four of them U.S. Both sides abandoned the fight—and the hill.

The newly installed Nixon administration was severely criticized for announcing the beginning of “Vietnamization”—a policy of turning the war over to the South Vietnamese, then wasting U.S. lives attacking an entrenched enemy on what appeared useless terrain. The controversy seemed to stiffen President Richard M. Nixon's determination to remove U.S. forces from Vietnam quickly.
[See also Vietnam War: Military and Diplomatic Course.]


Guenter Lewy , America in Vietnam, 1978.
Phillip B. Davidson , Vietnam at War, 1988.

Donn A. Starry

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