THE BATTLE OF BINH AN - Black Knights
June 27-28th 1968
The Battle of Ban An -a small vilage north of Wunder Beach.
As C Troop was on there way back to Wunder Beach, the lead tank C-17 recived the first round fired an RPG that missed its mark.June 27-28 1968 –“THE BATTLE OF BINH AN”. – Tri Thieu Province, I Corps – OPCON 1st Cavalry Division. -
Contact was established between Wunder Beach and the Qua Viet River, Quang Tri Province - A, B, C & HHT Troops received Valorous Unit Awards – The 3rd/5th Cavalry annihilated the 814th NVA Battalion. 233 NVA KIA and 44 POW against 3 US KIA and 35 US wounded.
See Battle of La Hue for additional information.
The following narration has been taken from the website of C 2/5th Cavalry; the Tall Comanche.
Comanche was part of a major battle at Binh An, a seacoast village in the northern part of Quang Tri, the northernmost province in the Republic of Vietnam. It is approximately 13 kilometers north of the provincial capital of Quang Tri City, and approximately 20 kilometers south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
The 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry (a mechanized, battalion sized unit with tanks and armored personnel carriers) was attached to the 1st Cavalry Division. (Webmaster Note: During much of October and November, 1968, C 2/5 Cav was under the operational control of the 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry, working out of LZ Hard Core in northern Quang Tri Province.) Early on June 27th, elements of the 3/5 Cav came in contact with the K14 Battalion of the 812th Regiment of the People's Army of Vietnam, known to Americans as the North Vietnamese Army, or NVA. They quickly moved their vehicles around three sides of the village with one side open to the sea.
The 3/5 Cav commander put in a request for infantry to fill in the gaps between the tanks. Within 2 hours, Company C, 1/5 Cav and Tall Comanche were airlifted to the battle area via helicopter. This was a classic example of the mobility and quick response capability of the 1st Cavalry division. The 1/5 Cav was placed on the north side and we were placed on the south side. Through out the afternoon one, either C 1/5 Cav or C 2/5 Cav would move forward in a line in a sweep towards the village across the open beach. Bullets kicked up sand everywhere. An occasional RPG (rocket propelled grenade) would also fly by .
With everyone firing their M-16s, and the tank's cannon and .50 caliber machine guns roaring, the noise was tremendous. One had to yell right in someone's ear to be heard. It reminded me of the WWII movies I had seen of the Marines storming the beach in the South Pacific. When the C 1/5 Cav was moving forward, we had to stay in our foxholes to avoid the massive firepower that was coming our way.
In the late afternoon, the Navy sent the guided missile cruiser USS Boston off shore to provide naval bombardment of the trapped NVA battalion. Using 5 inch guns, the bombardment was both accurate and abundant. The shelling continued all night, and we huddled in our foxholes as many shells were close enough to throw sand and dirt on us. The shelling from the Boston was very accurate and there were no friendly casualties. All the troops on the ground that night will always be grateful to the gunners on the Boston for their fine shooting, which essentially won the battle. Almost all NVA casualties were credited to the naval gunfire.
The next day, in between air strikes and more naval shelling, helicopters with someone speaking Vietnamese over a loudspeaker encouraged any North Vietnamese remaining to give themselves up. Several NVA soldiers did give up over the course of the day. The one I remember was near the water. He stood up with his hands in the air while the tanks on the west side were firing their .50 caliber machine guns in a general sweep. They continued to fire, probably not seeing him. Part of the 3rd platoon was down on that end of the line. The NVA soldier was in a state of shock from all the shelling over the last 24 hours and didn't realize that he was being fired at. We called to him from behind a tank and he began to walk slowly and methodically towards us, all the while bullets landing around him and tracers flying past him. We screamed at him to run or get down, but of course we were speaking English and he was oblivious to his surroundings anyway. He finally made it in with a cut on his thumb as his only injury. It was interesting that we had such genuine concern for our "enemy" now that he was beaten and surrendering. There were approximately 44 prisoners taken on that day out of a battalion of over 300, with the rest being killed. All of the prisoners were in bad shape, even if they were not wounded. They had gone through lot over the two days.
The 3/5 Cav had three members of their unit killed in the early stages of the fighting but the only casualty for Tall Comanche was Steve Davenport who was hit in the stomach by a fragment of an AK47 tracer round. Not so serious that he couldn't walk to the chopper, but serious enough to spend a few weeks resting in the rear.
Several members of Comanche received medals for valor over these two days, but the only one I am certain of is David Carpenter getting a Bronze Star. (Webmaster note: If the reader knows of additional awards, please send that information.)
During my tour with C 2/5 this was one of the most intense battles that we were in but it had about the best outcome that could be expected with the complete destruction of a NVA battalion and only one minor casualty for us. (Source and writer, Richard "Doc" Bovie, medic assigned to 3rd Platoon. Doc wrote this from memory, but some of the details came from the book "Armored Combat in Vietnam" by General Donn Starry. Interestingly, Donn Starry was the commander of a squadron of the 11th Armored Cavalry and worked closely with 2/5 Cav during the Cambodian incursion of 1970.)
Thanks to those crew members of the USS Boston who kindly helped Doc Bovie in his research. Here are some of the entries to the "Deck Log" from the USS Boston web site:
"I checked my Boston Beamrider from 1968 and I think I found the date Richard Bovie is looking for. I think its June 27, 1968. According to my Beamrider "Boston blasted an abandoned village 10 miles south of the DMZ Thursday after U. S. Marines cornered an estimated 500 NVA regulars. Shore based spotters from the Third Marines were prevented by darkness from determining the enemy casualties, but the Boston's shells set off secondary explosions and fires among the dozen buildings . . . . the ship spread more than 300 rounds over the half mile area . . . the discovery of the NVA 13 miles south of the border indicated the enemy had swung around the heavily-fortified DMZ to the west, avoiding the dozen or so marine groups stationed along the northern frontier. It was believed to be one of the largest single groups of NVA soldiers fired up by seventh fleet ships. I hope this is the info you were looking for. Peter Alderucci
(Webmaster Note: It is understandable crew members of the Boston would think they were supporting Marines. The Army and Navy used different types of radios on different bands. Because the 1st Cavalry Division was operating in an area usually controlled by the Marines, it is highly likely the 3/5 Cav had Marine artillery forward observers attached, and it was those FOs who controlled the naval gunfire.)
I remember the night very well when we fired those rounds at the NVA on the beach. I will leave it up to one of the 5" gunners to confirm this, but didn't we have some starboard side 5" gun barrels get pretty hot that night? Garry Slankard
I remember that bombardment too . . the next day all the paint had been burned off the gun barrels and there were strips and tatters of burnt paint hanging down like spanish moss or something . . I used to have some 8mm movies of the night firing, and the gun flashes looked like something from Hollywood . . that episode was just before pulling into Hong Kong. Doug Marsh