Facts About The Battle of Fire Base Ripcord

A-Shau Valley, Vietnam

101st Airborne Division

March 12, 1970 – July 23, 1970

The Military discouraged the Media from covering the Battle (because they did not want another Hamburger Hill controversy)

So no one ever knew that:

  • The battle lasted 4 1/2 months
  • 139 American Soldiers were killed in The Battle for Ripcord
  • 3 American Soldiers are Missing in Action
  • 3 American Soldiers were awarded The Medal of Honor
  • 5 American Soldiers were awarded The Distinguished Service Cross
  • The Siege of Fire Base Ripcord and heaviest of the battle was from July 1st to July 23rd, 1970 in which 75 Americans were killed.
  • There were approx  25,000 NVA Soldiers in the area of the A-Shau Valley
  • Alpha Company of 76 American Soldiers was attacked by approx 400 NVA (6 to 1) on July 22nd in which there were 14 Americans killed and 56 wounded.
  • The loss of this Battle gave the NVA open territory to move down South in mass forces
  • Hamburger Hill (one year earlier, same area) was the political reason additional troops were kept from being sent in to Ripcord for fear of  bad press to America. This left the Americans there on and around Ripcord in danger.
  • Chuck Norris the actor had a brother Weiland Norris in Alpha Co. killed in this battle.
  • Bob Kalsu from the Buffalo Bills was killed in this Battle.
  • Oliver North did a story about Ripcord on “War Stories with Oliver North”.* The book written “Siege of Fire Base Ripcord” by Keith Nolan details the battle and the men that fought it.
  • National Geographic TV Show "Inside The Vietnam War" features (in the 3rd hour of the show) the story of "Fire Base Ripcord".
  • The book “Hell on a Hilltop” by Gen Ben Harrison tells of the battle by the American General and the NVA General who fought the American Soldiers.
  • Chris Brady wrote the book "Remembering Firebase Ripcord" which has over 100 interviews by Ripcord veterans.

20 Deadliest U.S. Battles of the Vietnam War, 1965 – 1973

Battle                                  Battle Deaths            Dates

Ia  Drang Valley*

300

Oct 23 – Nov 26, ‘65

Khe Sanh

205

Jan 20 – Apr 14,  ‘68

Dak To**

192

Nov 1 – Dec 1, ‘67

Cu Nghi

121

Jan 28 – 31,  ‘66

Hue

119

Feb 2 – Mar 2,  ‘68

Kim Son Valley

107

Feb 16 – 28,  ‘66

Con Thien (ambush near)

84

Jul 2,  ‘67

“Nine Days in May”

79

May 18- 28,  ‘67

Dak To

76

Jun 22,  ‘67

Firebase Ripcord***

75

Jul 1 – 23,  ‘70

Battle                                   Battle Deaths           Dates

Vin Huy

73

May 30 – Jun 2, ‘67

Ong Thang

70+

Oct  17,  ‘67

Hamburger Hill (Ap Bia)

70

May 10 – 20,  ‘69

Dong Ha

68

Apr 29 – May 4, ‘68

Tam Quan

58

Dec 6 – 20,  ‘67

LZ Bird

58

Dec 27, 66

Dong Son

54

Sep 4,  ‘67

Con Thien

51

Jul 2-3  ‘67

Thom Tham Khe

48

Dec 27 – 28, ‘67

Tan Son Nhut Air base (near)

48

Mar 2,  ‘68

* LZ Albany alone claimed 155 KIA on Nov 17, making it the single deadliest U.S. action of the war. LZ X-Ray resulted in another 79 KIA over two  days, Nov 14 – 16.

** 158 of the KIA were sustained at Dak To over six days, Nov 17 – 23.

Note: Lengthy operations are excluded. Only actions that could be categorized as single or directly related engagements are tabulated. 

Source: From VFW magazine, November 2001; reprinted from Sigler, david B. Vietnam Battle Chronology; U.S. Army and marine Corps Combat Operations, 1965 – 1973. 

Editor’s Note: Battle deaths in Sigler’s book for FSB Ripcord are listed as 61. Based on keith Nolan’s research a better figure is 75 KIA, including one ARVN interpreter attached to A Co., 2/506th Infantry. This makes the battle of Fire Base Ripcord the 10th deadliest battle of the Vietnam War. – Chuck Hawkins, editor 

Special thanks go to Rick Blythe (HHC, 2/506) for supplying this information to Ripcord report.

Units involved during Ripcord

Units Assigned to 3rd Brigade, 101 st Airborne Division, with their rear base at Camp Evans, and normally under the Operational Control of the 3rd Brigade: 

3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry "Rakkasans"

1st Battalion, 506th Infantry "Currahees"

2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry "Currahees"

3rd Brigade Reconnaissance and Security Platoon 

3rd Brigade Aviation Section 

Units sometimes placed temporarily under the Operational Control of the 3rd Brigade On Order of the Division Commander: 

1 st Battalion, 501 st Infantry "Geronimo"

2nd Battalion, 501 st infantry "Drive On"

2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry "Strike Force"

2nd Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry

A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry "Assault" 

B Troop, 2nd Squadron, l]lh Air Cavalry "Banshee" 

C Troop, 2nd Squadron, 1]lh Air Cavalry "Condor" 

Units in support of the 3rd Brigade: 

158th Assault Helicopter Battalion (all companies based at Camp Evans.) 

C Company, 158th Assault Helicopter Battalion "Phoenix" in Direct Support

A Company, 158th Assault Helicopter Battalion "Ghostriders" 

B Company, 158th Assault Helicopter Battalion "Lancers"

D Company, 158th Assault Helicopter Battalion "Redskins" 

101 st Assault Helicopter Battalion

A Company, 101st Assault Helicopter Battalion "Comancheros" 

B Company, 101st Assault Helicopter Battalion "Kingsmen"

C Company, 101 st Assault Helicopter Battalion "Black Widows" 

D Company, 101 st Assault Helicopter Battalion "Hawks"

159th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion "Liftmasters"

A Company, 159th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion "Pachyderms" 

B Company, 159th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion "Varsity"

C Company, 159th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion "Playtex"

2nd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery 105mm in Direct Support

C Company, 4th Battalion, 77th Aerial Rocket Artillery "Griffins" in General Support Reinforcing 2/319th Arty (Based at Camp Evans.)

A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Artillery in General Support Reinforcing 2/319th Arty

A Battery, 1st Battalion, 39th Artillery in General Support Reinforcing Division Arty

A Battery, 2nd battalion 94th Artillery in General Support XXIVth Corps 

3rd Forward Supply and Support Element, 101 st Division Support Command in Direct Support

Support Team, 501 st Signal Battalion in Direct Support 

Support Team, 10pt Military Intelligence Detachment 

3rd Detachment, 265th Radio Research Unit

58th Infantry Platoon (Scout Dog)

United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party, 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron   

IMPORTANT:  Please e-mail me at mail@ripcordassociation.com if you have any changes or additions you would like added.  I am trying to get as much accurate information as possible.