Operation Apache Snow

Early in 1969 US Commanders in Vietnam made the ill-advised decision to mount a large–scale training operation, codenamed Operation Apache Snow, to bolster sagging morale amongst the troops and counter the growing anti-war opinions being openly expressed in some 245 illicit anti-war publications, which had led to a dramatic increase in rates of desertion.

The Operation had hardly got underway however, when to their surprise, the G.I.s ran into a large force of the North Vietnamese Army, firmly entrenched on Hill 937 “Hamburger Hill”. For ten days in early May 1969 wave after wave of the elite 101st Airborne Division, assisted by a million pounds of bombs and 150,000 pounds of napalm, launched assault after assault on the enemy positions suffering heavy casualties at every attempt. Finally the hill was taken at the 11th attempt. The battle had cost the Americans 476 killed with countless others seriously injured. The “body count” of the enemy amounted to just 505.

To make matters worse, “Hamburger Hill”, won at such a high cost, was ordered to be abandoned on the very next day. Morale amongst the American troops in Vietnam sank to an all time low (one illicit GI newspaper offering a $10,000 bounty on the head of Lieutenant Colonel Honeycutt-the officer who had ordered and led the pointless attack) and added extra fuel to those at home who were calling for an early end to the ceaseless bloodshed.

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