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RIPCORD: SCREAMING EAGLES UNDER SIEGE, VIETNAM 1970. One of few major battles the USA lost against the communist NVA. The NVA dominated the battle with such ferocity that the 101st AIRBORNE had to retreat under fire!

Click to EnlargeRIPCORD: Screaming Eagles Under Siege, Vietnam 1970. FSB RIPCORD, in the jungle-covered mountains northeast of the A Shau Valley, was to have served as a stepping stone for a bold offensive the 101st had planned to destroy NVA supply bases in the mountains overlooking the A Shau Valley. By taking the fight to Ripcord before the 101st could launch its offensive, the NVA were able not only to disrupt the planned offensive, but to inflict heavy casualties on the rifle companies operating around Ripcord. The life & death of the 101st Airborne Division's Fire Base Ripcord was overshadowed by the invasion of Cambodia. The drama of Ripcord surpasses even that of Hamburger Hill.

In Vietnam, fire bases (technically fire support bases or FSB) became the linchpins of American strategy. Deceptively efficient, they provided timely and accurate artillery support and logistics for nearby infantry operations, and when on hill tops, they also served as ideal observation posts. They could also become wonderful targets for the concentration of enemy forces.

On April 10, 1970, Hill 927 (927 meters, slightly more than three thousand feet, high) was occupied by elements of the 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles. By July 1, the activities of the artillery and infantry of Ripcord had caught the attention of the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and a twenty-three day siege ensued. When faced with the prospect of a Khe Sanh-like siege by what was discovered to be a full enemy division, not the single NVA regiment they had expected, the high command ordered a withdrawal from Ripcord, which was ultimately completed with heavy losses.

The life and death of Fire Base Ripcord has long been overshadowed by the invasion of Cambodia, which concluded at the end of June. The drama of Ripcord surpasses even that of Hamburger Hill, the notorious battle of the previous year that occurred just a few miles away. The capable hands of author Nolan bring the battle to life, so its lessons can be passed on to future generations.

Adjacent to Arlington Cemetery stands a monument to the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division. Inscribed at its base are the names of the legendary battlefields of the Screaming Eagles?s three wars: St. Maire-du-Mont...Bastogne...Hue...Ripcord.

Keith W. Nolan is acknowledged as the foremost chronicler of the American combat experience in Vietnam, having written nine other Vietnam battle histories, almost all of which remain in print. He lives near St. Louis.

"I've never read a better account of a battle." ?Stephen E. Ambrose, author of D Day and Band of Brothers. "The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have their Boswell in Keith Nolan . . . Ripcord is his best yet." _John Del Vecchio, author of The 13th Valley 2 maps, 32 photographs, 480 pages

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