Vietnam Interactive Map
Click on the symbols to learn more about what happened there.
Scroll to move the map up and down.
Hamburger Hill, May 1969
   The Battle of Hamburger Hill was a battle of the Vietnam War that was fought by U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces against People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces from the 10th to 20th of May 1969 during Operation Apache Snow. Although the heavily fortified Hill 937 was of little strategic value, U.S. command ordered its capture by a frontal assault, only to abandon it soon thereafter. The total casualty count was 72 US soldiers killed, 372 US soldiers wounded, and around 630 PAVN losses left at the site of the battle. More were likely killed by artillery, or collapsing bunkers, and the wounded who escaped the battle are of an unknown quantity.
  The first assault force landed 1 km northwest of the Dong Ap Bia, Hill 937. They immediately encountered dug-in enemies, in circles of defense. The defenders used RPGs as well as heavy machine guns to suppress and ward off the US assault. In response, artillery and air support bombarded the enemy's position for a week. On May 19th, another battalion was flown in to help in the final push. The next day,the battalions pushed through the defenses and captured what was left of the hill.
   After the completion of the battle, the US command concluded the battle to be a great success, and half the enemy force had been killed, the other half routed. They believed both defending battalions to no longer be combat effective, and that the capture of the hill had destroyed a "major threat" to the surrounding area. However, the hill was not of much strategic value for the US forces, and it was abandoned just two weeks later, on June 5th. Over 600 PAVN troops and 72 US troops died on there from May 10th-20th, and for no real result. This battle became a big symbol for the anti-war protestors, as it showed the loss of life and the futility of the Vietnam War.
Hamburger Hill Now
   Hamburger Hill, or Dong Ap Bia, is still a hill. Today, however, there is a set of steps set up on the hill to ease the ascent of tourists. At the summit is a memorial in Vietnamese and English set inside a small pagoda-like structure. It claims the battle as victory for the North Vietnamese against the US Forces. The rest of the hill is now overgrown and has returned to its natural state, sans a few trails. Today the Montagnard tribesmen, the indigenous people of Vietnam’s Central Highlands, populate the hill, living peacefully.
Battle of Ap Bac, Jan 1963
   The Battle of Ap Bac was named after the village near which it took place. The battle was between ARVN (S. Vietnam) and NLF (N. Vietnam) forces, with US assets supporting the South Vietnamese troops. ARVN troops outnumber the single battalion of NLF troops by nearly 4 times, yet the battle was considered a victory for the North due to the extent of casualties on the ARVN side. The PAVN battalion was able to escape, after downing 5 US helicopters and killing almost a hundred South Vietnamese soldiers, with only about a dozen casualties of their own.
  On January 2nd of 1963, an ARVN division assaulted a known headquarters of the Viet Cong in Ap Tan Thoi. However, their plans were leaked and the force was ambushed in the hamlet of Ap Bac. They attempted to fight back, but could not out the entrenched enemy. Reinforcements were flown in on 15 US helicopters, but 5 were lost due to heavy gunfire. The APCs were brought in, but even they could not rout the VC forces and suffered losses as well. That night, the North Vietnamese forces retreated in the darkness.
   The battle of Ap Bac is considered the first major victory of the North Vietnamese forces, giving them a morale boost and showing the weaknesses of the ARVN forces. Viet Cong soldiers learned that they could hold off superior enemy forces, and the battle proved the effectiveness of their tactics. Conversely, the US and SV forces learned very little from the battle, as the leading military advisors looked at the battle through conventional lens, where the objective of a fight is simply to gain territory.
   Unfortunately, Ap Bac wasn't very important outside of the fighting itself. The location is now simply a rural district south west of Ho Chi Minh City, known for absolutely nothing. The battle was in the earlier stages of the war, between the two Vietnamese sides, so it's understandable that the battle isn't visited or commemorated as widely as some of the more famous battles like Hamburger Hill. Today, you'd probably find a newer and more modern village to replace the one destroyed at Ap Bac.
Siege of Khe Sanh, Jan-Mar 1968
   The Siege of Khe Sanh was one of the biggest battles of the Vietnam war. It lasted for over 75 days, around 1,000 US personnel were either killed or injured, and it is estimated that between 10-15 thousand North Vietnamese were killed, although only about 2,000 bodies were found. By the numbers, the US claimed a large victory, but they were also forced to abandon their base due to enemy pressure, a first in the war.
Battle Procession
  The siege began with the North Vietnamese attacking hilltop outposts around the military base, as well as long-range artillery and mortar attacks on the base itself, pinning down the defenders. The North Vietnamese also attacked the base with rockets from neighboring hills. Attempts to relieve the base with flown-in troops suffered losses due to the heavy gun fire from the attacking forces, and plans to relieve the base with airborne troops were abandoned. To drive back the N. Vietnamese while an over-land attack could be organised, the US began a huge bombing/artillery campaign, dropping over 100,000 tons of bombs on enemy positions, and firing nearly 160,000 artillery shells.
US Counterattack
   Then, in Operation Pegasus, a force of US and South Vietnamese managed to fight through the North Vietnamese troops surrounding the base and relieve the Marines in the base. This led the NVA to lift the siege and continue guerilla operations instead. Sporadic shelling of the base continued, and the US command decided to scrap the base rather than keep fending off attacks. US forces dismantled the base, but amid heavy artillery from the North Vietnamese, had to destroy things they couldn’t get out in time.
   The Siege of Khe Sanh Combat Base was and is one of the most controversial battles in the Vietnam war. US commanders declared it a victory due to the nearly 1:50 casualty ratio, 200 US troops killed to an estimated 10,000 North Vietnamese. However, those 200 deaths were for very little, it turned out, as the US forces abandoned the base within the month due to continued enemy pressure. That convinced the North Vietnamese that the battle had been a strategic victory, if not one in numbers. It is also thought that this battle was a distraction, one that let North Vietnam build up for the infamous Tet Offensive.
Khe Sanh Now
   Khe Sanh is now much like any other rural area of Vietnam, save for the unexploded ordinance littering the fields and forest from the thousands upon thousands of bombs and explosives dropped on the North Vietnamese. There's a war museum at the site of the old military base, which apparently claims that over 80 ships were destroyed in the battle, despite not being anywhere near the sea. The site includes some restored aircraft, helicopters, and armor, and tours are conducted daily.
Battle of Xuan Loc, 1975
   The Battle of Xuan Loc was the last major battle of the Vietnam War. The twelve day battle is also known as the “the last stand at Xuan Loc” because it was a final effort by the ARVN’s final military units to stop the VPA divisions from overrunning the town. The town of Xuan Loc, in the province Dong Nai, is 35 miles northeast of Saigon which makes it an important strategic gateway to an attack on Saigon. Both sides fought bravely and harshly, and the 18th Infantry Division of ARVN held off against the three VPA divisions that were supported by tanks and artillery, but ultimately lost the town. The loss opened a gateway to Vietnam and allowed the PAVN to attack Saigon.
Battle Procession
  The 1975 spring offensive by North Vietnam was the final offensive that ended the war. By mid-april of 1975, the NVA was already closing in on Saigon from the northeast, south, and east. The 341st NVA Division led an attack on Xuan Loc because of its strategic position in the five-pronged attack against Saigon. Xuan Loc was 35 miles northeast of Saigon, and on the road to the Bien Hoa air base. The town was defended by the 18th ARVN division, who were some of the final military units of the ARVN. They held off the attackers initially, but after two weeks the three Vietnam People Army (VPA) Divisions broke through. The VPA headed for the Bien Hoa air base, and went south from there to Saigon by the end of the month.
   Though the 18th Division fought well, the battle was a major loss for ARVN and South Vietnam leadership. President Thieu of South Vietnam resigned on April 21, and the North Vietnamese People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) controlled two thirds of South Vietnam’s land. PAVN now had access to Saigon and General Dung of North Vietnam could attack Saigon with the PAVN.
Xuan Loc Now
   Similar to Ap Bac, this battle took place over an entire town and is hard to pinpoint exact areas where the fighting occured. However, this is a large statue and monument celebrating the North Vietnamese victory in the Dong Nai Province. Today, Xuan Loc s still a city in Vietnam, and features the largest mosque in the country, built in 2006. Other than that, it's a normal town with normal things going on.
Battle of Ia Drang, 1965
   The Battle of Ia Drang was the first large-scale fight between the North Vietnamese and the US forces. It was also the first big helicopter-based assault and the first engagement in which B-52 bombers were used in a support role. The US had identified the locations of three NVA regiments near the town of Pleiku, and were ready to take the initiative in the area. The plan was for two battalions to land via helicopter and clear out the area, supported by artillery and air assets.
Battle Procession
  The battle began on the 14th of November, with the landing troops already under heavy fire. The small size of the chosen LZ (Landing Zone) meant that multiple landings must be made to deploy all the forces, and thus the US soldiers were vulnerable there while they waited for the rest of the force. It took five hours for all the troops to land, and during that time one platoon had been cut off due to the intense firefight. Eventually reinforcements from the second battalion arrived and managed to push back the NV, but the enemy just fled across the border to Cambodia, leaving the US with a hollow victory.
   The Battle of Ia Drang was, like many major battles of the war, claimed as a victory by both sides. The US, looking at casualty reports, determined that the around 2,000 NVA killed (later estimates put it around 1,500) versus the 200 Americans killed meant that the battle was a success. This claim was supported by the more strategic view that the North Vietnamese were forced out of the area and had to abandon their plans of taking the province and eventually cutting South Vietnam in two. However, Ho Chi Minh also claimed this as a victory, as the fighting gave the NV forces a great blueprint for how to fight the American forces, as well as factoring in the US casualties during the landing, and later the ambush of the 2nd battalion as it attempted to clear the area.
Ia Drang Now
   Ia Drang is now just another clearing in the Vietnamese landscape. There are still pits and craters scarring the area, showing the battle that once occured there, but now nature has reclaimed the land. It's a sensitive area and people are not allowed to enter, due to the danger of unexploded ordinance, so there's precious little information on it. I found one video of the landscape, and it just looks like a normal clearing with some ditches in the ground.
Attack at Pleiku, Feb 1965
   The Pleiku attack was the first military engagement that lead the US into major conflict with the North Vietnamese. It occurred at Camp Holloway in South Vietnam, near the town of Pleiku, as well as the location of the later battle of Ia Drang. The attack consisted of mortar fire from the nearby North Vietnamese, following a sneak attack the VC, taking out specific targets in the camp. The attack resulted in 8 US deaths, and about 100 wounded. 10 aircraft were destroyed, and fifteen were damaged.
   This attack was a very influential one. In response to the attack, LBJ ordered Operation Flaming Dart, a set of tactical bombings against VC targets. This bolstered to morale of South Vietnamese troops, as their ally had just become more invested in the war. The bombings, however, did not deter the Viet Cong, and they continued strikes against American installations. Flaming Dart did capture the attention of the new Russian leadership, and within the week, the Russians had declared their support of North Vietnam. This attack and the following bombings are credited with the real start of US and USSR involvement in the war.
Camp Holloway Today
Battle of Van Tuong, Aug 1965
   The Battle of Van Tuong was one of the first offensive battles carried out by US troops. The battle consisted of around 5,000 Marines, some landing near Van Tuong by helicopter and others inserting by beach landing a few miles to the east. The Marines then were to flush out the Viet Cong defenders into open ground, where US air and ground assets could clean up. However, this battle was a very instructional one, as far as VC tactics and US weaknesses/strengths go.
Battle and Significance
   The operation went as planned, with US forces advancing to their respective positions without much trouble. However, when the assault on the base began, the troops encountered a dug-in enemy with lots of bunkers, tunnels and trenches. These proved very effective against the US Marines. For one, these defences forced up close and personal engagements, which the standard issue US M14 rifle was not suited for. The M14 had been designed for longer range combat, specifically combat in Europe against the USSR, which never occurred. It was very well designed for that job, but cumbersome and slow in tight quarters. The battle also provided insights into how important air support would become in the war.
Saigon, South Vietnam
Saigon was the capital of the State of Vietnam before the outbreak of the Vietnam War. It housed the French-supported government (also supported by the US) from 1949 to 1975, although Vietnam gained its independence in 1954, when Vietnam split in two. The city fell in April of 1975, ending the civil war in a win for the North. Following the victory, the city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the Communist leader. However, locals still call the city Saigon, especially the inner urban areas.
Fall of Saigon
  After Xuan Loc was taken by the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN), North Vietnam’s next target was Saigon. The last U.S. combat troops were taken out of Vietnam on March 29th, 1973, due to Nixon’s policy of Vietnamization. The PAVN pushed in with a three-pronged attack from the north, east, and southeast during the end of the Spring Offensive of 1975. With PAVN within 75 miles of Saigon, President Thieu had resigned and fled to Taiwan, leaving the Vice President Huong to appoint General Duong Van Minh to find a peaceful solution to the war. The North Vietnamese had no reason to make peace, so close to the capture of the enemy capital. People in the city tried to evacuate as PAVN closed in. On April 30th, Saigon had fallen.
  The U.S. had multiple operations to evacuate important members of the city. On April 3rd, Operation Babylift was launched to evacuate 2000 orphans and Operation New life was launched and was planned to evacuate 110,000 refugees. Operation Frequent Wind was part of the last few days of Saigon and it was the final evacuation of Americans and ‘At-risk’ Vietnamese.

       By May 3rd, the PAVN controlled all of South Vietnam and the war had ended.
Hanoi, North Vietnam
Hanoi is over one thousand years old. It has been a center of power in South East Asia for centuries. From its founding in 1010 to 1802, Hanoi was the most important city in Vietnam, politically. It housed generations of dynasties, before the Nguyen dynasty in the 1800s, which shifted power to the city of Hue. However, during the French occupation of Vietnam, from 1873 to 1945, Hanoi again became the administrative power of the region. The French, in turn, were driven out but the Japanese in 1940. The Japanese held the city for 4 years, and then the Viet Minh made their first appearance, claiming an independent Vietnam. (Before the Vietnam War)
Battle of Hanoi, 1964
  It was at this point that the Battle of Hanoi took place, in December 1946. Viet Minh agents infiltrated the (French occupied) city and used explosives to destroy the city’s power plant. In the chaos, French military positions and residences were attacked. However, intel gathered by French spies as well as the numerical advantage of French troops caused the Viet Minh to slowly withdraw from the city. The French began a sweep of the city to root out suspected Viet Minh headquarters, but due to remaining VM troops, the city took two months to clear, and gave the VM command plenty of time to escape the area. This was an important precursor to the Vietnam War, and the US/SV should have learned from this engagement, and known what kind of fighting tactics they were up against going into the war.
Gulf of Tonkin, Aug 1964
   The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, passed in August 7th, was a joint resolution of Congress to increase U.S. Involvement in the vietnam war. The reasoning for this increase was defended by President Lyndon B. Johnson. His reasoning was that U.S. ships had been attacked by the North Vietnamese two days earlier at the Gulf of Tonkin (hence the name). In the end a large majority of Congressmen found themselves united under the resolution to “promote the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia”. This resolution would be put to great use by President Johnson and latter Nixon in the efforts of the war.
Ho Chi Minh Trail
   Established in the 1960’s and named after the president of North Vietnam, the Ho Chi Minh Trail was a military supply line that connected North Vietnam and South Vietnam. It provided manpower and weapons to communist sympathisers in South Vietnam, like the Viet Cong. This trail is not only important due to its military effect, but it was also one of the large factors that lead to increased protests as the people of America learned of the relentless and controversial U.S. raids on the areas around the line.
Tet Offensive, 1968
   The North Vietnamese offensive during the Tet (Lunar new year) holiday attacked major cities such as Huế and Saigon which caused psychological damages as it showed the North was not weak. Both sides claimed victory, and it was a turning point in the war that began de-escalation and US removal from the war. By 1967, the US was in a stalemate against the communists after 3 years of direct warfare. US officials and Generals assured the public that the war would soon be won, to keep public support high. North Vietnamese forces had been using guerilla tactics very successfully, but now had a plan for a massive offensive.
  The Tet offensive began with a diversion, the attack of Khe Sanh. The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) launched attacks on central Vietnam garrisons and the stronghold Khe Sanh in the fall of 1967. The North Vietnamese Forces and Viet Cong had also called for a ceasefire during the Tet holiday. These tactics allowed North Vietnam to move 100,000 soldiers in to South Vietnam and launch surprise attacks. However, most of the communist forces were driven out within a few days by militias and a quick reaction by US and South Vietnam. The siege of Hue began on January 20 and was one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Tet Offensive and the war. After a month of counter-attacking and clearing the southern banks, South Vietnamese forces retook the Imperial Palace. During the month of the NVA’s holding of Hue, the Hue massacre was committed. The NVA killed thousands of civilians that had cooperated with US forces. The Tet offensive ended in September 1968.
   Both sides claimed victory after the battles because there was no clear winner. The Tet offensive was a strategic defeat for the North Viet Cong and Vietnamese because they lost as many as 40,000 while the US and South Vietnamese lost only 3,400. North Vietnamese forces never regained their strength, and the rest of the war was a battle mainly between North Vietnamese regulars and the ARVN. The Tet offensive was however a tactical victory for North Vietnam because it proved that they would not be easily defeated. Support for the war in the US dropped from 50% to 26% and anti-war protests increased dramatically. The US shifted from winning the war, to finding a good way out of it. President Johnson stopped the bombings in order to start the Paris peace talks. Lyndon B. Johnson was defeated in the primary election, and it was up to the new President Nixon to find the way out. The Tet offensive was a political and psychological victory for North Vietnam that allowed them to force the US to back off.