304th Division (Vietnam)

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304th Infantry Division
Active 1950-present
Allegiance  Vietnam
Branch Vietnam People's Army
Type Infantry
Role Mechanized infantry
Size Division
Part of 2nd Corps
Garrison/HQ Bắc Giang, Vietnam
Nickname "Vinh Quang" (Glorious)
Engagements First Indochina War
Battle of Hòa Bình
Operation Bretagne
Battle of Dien Bien Phu
Vietnam War
Battle of Khe Sanh
Battle of Lang Vei
First Battle of Quảng Trị
1975 Spring Offensive
Hue–Da Nang Campaign
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Hoang Minh Thao
Hoàng Samm

The 304 Division is an infantry division of the People's Army of Vietnam. It was established in January 1950 at Thanh Hoa.[1][2]:149

First Indochina War[edit]

In late December 1953 seven battalions from Regiment 66 of the 304th and Regiment 101 of the 325th Infantry Division moving from Vinh attacked isolated French outposts in the Annamite Range in Annam and Central Laos.[3]

On 5 January 1954 General Võ Nguyên Giáp ordered the 57th Regiment of the 304th to move from Phú Thọ to Điện Biên Phủ and after a 10 day, 200 miles (320 km) march, by 23–24 January they were in position in the south of the valley.[4] Regiment 57's main role during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu was to isolate the French garrison at Strongpoint Isabelle to the south of the main position in the valley.[5] In late April following the heavy losses in the previous month's fighting, General Giáp ordered Regiment 9 of the 304th to Điện Biên Phủ as reinforcements.[6] Total estimated losses among the 304th Division at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu are 490 killed.[7]

Vietnam War[edit]

One of its regiments took part in the November 14–18, 1965 Battle of Ia Drang.

In December 1967, US Intelligence reported that the 304th Division had crossed over from Laos and had taken up positions southwest of Khe Sanh Combat Base.[8]:101 On 21 January 1968 a battalion of the 304th attacked Khe Sanh which was defended by local militia and a Marine Combined Action unit, the 304th suffered at least 123 killed before the defending forces withdrew to the Combat Base.[9]

On the night of 6/7 February, the 22nd Infantry Regiment (attached to the 304th) and the 101st Infantry Regiment of the 325th Division supported by 12 PT-76 lights tanks of the 203d Armored Regiment overran the US special forces camp at Lang Vei killing 316 of the camp's defenders including 7 Americans for the loss of 90 NVA killed and 7 tanks destroyed.[10]

On the night of 29 February, units of the 304th launched 3 attacks on the eastern perimeter of the Combat Base, but were beaten back each time by US firepower.[11] By March the 304th was reported to have withdrawn into North Vietnam to re-equip.[12]

On 4 April, the 1st Battalion 9th Marines attacked the 66th Regiment on Hill 471 south of the Combat Base, killing 16 NVA for the loss of 10 Marines killed. The following morning the 66th Regiment counter-attacked losing 140 killed and 5 prisoners while the Marines lost only 1 killed.[13]:285

On 14 May 1968, units of the 304th attacked a supply convoy on Route 9, the 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines pursued the 304th as they withdrew from the ambush site, killing 74 for the loss of 7 Marines.[12][14] On 17 May, a patrol from the 2nd Battalion 1st Marines was ambushed by units of the 304th west of Khe Sanh, the Marines called in artillery and air strikes and then overran the ambush positions suffering 6 dead, while the 304th lost 52 killed.[12][15] On the same days units of the 304th engaged the 3rd Battalion 4th Marines west of Khe Sanh on Hills 552 and 689, the 304th lost 50 dead and 4 prisoners.[12] On the night of 18–19 May 2d Battalion 1st Marines engaged a Battalion from the 304th on Route 9 east of Khe Sanh, the 304th lost 113 killed and 8 Marines were killed.[15][16]

In 1971, the 304th, together with the 308th and 320th Divisions formed part of the VPA B-70 Corps based in southern Laos.[17]:248

On 30 March 1972, the 304th took part in the First Battle of Quảng Trị, the opening battle of the Easter Offensive.[18]

For the 1975 Spring Offensive, the 304th formed part of the VPA 2nd Corps with the 324B and 325C Divisions.[19]:13 As part of the Hue-Da Nang Campaign the 304th was moved to the southwest of Danang and by 26 March the 9th Regiment of the 304th was located northwest of Danang, while the rest of the 304th and 711 Divisions encircled Danang from the south and the 324B and 325C Divisions which had earlier captured Huế advanced from the north and west. By the afternoon of 29 March the 2nd Corps had penetrated the ARVN defences and entered the city.[20]:75 By April 26, the 304th and 325C were attacking Route 15, the last overland link between Saigon and Vung Tau.[21]

Present Day[edit]

Today it is part of the 2nd Corps.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Conboy, Bowra, and McCouaig, 'The NVA and Vietcong', Osprey Publishing, 1991, 5.
  2. ^ Windrow, Martin (2004). The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 0-297-84671-X. 
  3. ^ Windrow, p. 274.
  4. ^ Windrow, p. 261.
  5. ^ Windrow, p. 474.
  6. ^ Windrow, p. 492.
  7. ^ Fall, Bernard (1985). Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu. Da Capo Group. p. 487. ISBN 0-306-80231-7. 
  8. ^ Woodruff, Mark (2000). Unheralded Victory. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-00-472540-9. 
  9. ^ Woodruff, p. 106.
  10. ^ Woodruff, p. 109-10.
  11. ^ Woodruff, p. 115.
  12. ^ a b c d Woodruff, p. 135.
  13. ^ Shulimson, Jack; Blaisol, Leonard; Smith, Charles R.; Dawson, David (1997). The U.S. Marines in Vietnam: 1968, the Defining Year. Washington DC: History and Museums Division, United States Marine Corps. ISBN 0-16-049125-8. 
  14. ^ Shulimson, p. 317.
  15. ^ a b Shulimson, p. 318.
  16. ^ Woodruff, p. 136.
  17. ^ Sorley, Lewis (2000). A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam. Harvest Books. ISBN 0-15-601309-6. 
  18. ^ Sorley, p. 321.
  19. ^ Trinh Vuong Hong; Pham Huu Thang (2006). History of the Tri-Thien Campaign and Da Nang Campaign during Spring 1975. People's Army Publishing House. 
  20. ^ Dougan, Clark; Fulgham, David (1985). The Vietnam Experience: The Fall of the South. Boston Publishing Company. ISBN 0-939526-16-6. 
  21. ^ Dougan, p. 154.