Screaming Eagles Through Time

Firebase RIPCORD

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12 March 1970 - 23 July 1970

The battle around Firebase Ripcord would be the final major confrontation of the Vietnam War between the US Army and the NVA (North Vietnamese Army). The 101st Airborne launched its offensive to open the position on March 12, 1970, and the battle lasted until the final evacuation of American forces on July 23, 1970.
 
During the four month long battle at Firebase Ripcord over 100 Ameican soldiers were killed and nearly 1000 wounded. Two soldiers received the Distinguished Service Cross, and LTC Andre Lucas, commanding officer of 2/506th Infantry, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Firebase Ripcord was the first step of a planned offensive for the 101st to destroy NVA supply bases in the mountains overlooking the A Shau Valley. The NVA, however, took the fight to Ripcord before the offensive could take place, and inflicted heavy casualties to trhe 101st units operating out of Ripcord, as well as the disruption and harrassment of the artillery units and the medevac and rewsupply helicopters.

Still stinging from the losses at Hamburger Hill the year before, heavy political pressure was put on the 101st high command to avoid taking large numbers of casualties during this "Vietnamization" period of the war. Unable and unwilling to bring in the number of troops that it would have taken to subdue the NVA units in the area, eventually the 101st had no choice but to abandon Ripcord.

Handcuffed by politics and facing the first-rate soldiers of the NVA in overwhelming numbers, Ripcord was a disappointing defeat. But this does not lessen the quality of the leadership shown in the field by squad leaders, platoon leaders and company commanders, nor does it reflect on the bravery shown by the grunts who gave their very best despite the restrictions placed upon them by higher command.

This is merely the beginning of this section on Firebase Ripcord, and much more will be added in the near future. If you are a Ripcord veteran, and would like to add to this on-line history and tribute, please email me at dave101tlhs@yahoo.com. Thank you.