|Part of the Vietnam War|
| United States
Republic of Vietnam
|Casualties and losses|
|U.S.: 142 killed, 47 missing, 731 wounded||869|
Operation Delaware was a military operation during the Vietnam War. It began on Friday, April 19, 1968, with United States troops moving into the A Shau Valley. The A Shau Valley was an important corridor for moving vast amounts of supplies from Communist North Vietnam into South Vietnam through Laos and was used as a staging area for numerous attacks. American and South Vietnamese forces had not been present in the region since the Battle of A Shau in 1966 when a U.S. Special Forces camp located there was overrun.
The battle began with B-52 bombings of enemy antiaircraft and troop positions. Troops of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), the 101st Airborne Division, the 3rd Regiment of the ARVN 1st Division, and the 3rd ARVN Airborne Task Force were inserted into the north and southeast of the valley by helicopter. Poor weather and anti-aircraft fire made flying very dangerous.
The principal attack was launched by the 1st Cavalry Division. As its 2nd Brigade continued to push west to the Laotian border, the 1st and 3rd Brigades (about 11,000 men and 300 helicopters) swung southwest and air assaulted into the north end of A Shau Valley, commencing Operation Delaware. The North Vietnamese Army was a very well-trained, equipped, and led force. They had also occupied the A Shau valley for some time, turning it into the most formidable enemy sanctuary in South Vietnam--complete with PT76 tanks; powerful crew-served 37mm antiaircraft cannons, some radar controlled; twin-barreled 23mm cannons; and scores of 12.7mm heavy machine guns.
The 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) established fire support bases in the north and then rapidly continued air assaults south through the valley. The abandoned A Luoi airstrip, midway in the valley, was captured. The first cargo aircraft, a C-7 Caribou, landed on 2 May. After further improvements to the airstrip, the first C-130 Hercules landed on 4 May. As the 1st Cavalry Division kept sweeping south through the valley it linked with the other allied units that served as blocking forces and uncovered large caches of weapons, vehicles, ammunition, and rice. US and ARVN troop extraction started on 10 May, with the operation terminating on 17 May.
Despite hundreds of B-52 and jet air strikes, the enemy shot down a C-130, a CH-54, two Chinooks, and nearly two dozen Hueys. Many more were lost in accidents or damaged by ground fire. The 1st Cavalry Division also suffered more than 100 dead and 530 wounded. Operation Delaware was hailed as a success. Nevertheless, the withdrawal of US and ARVN troops made it possible for North Vietnamese forces to quickly regain control of the valley. In 1969 American forces returned to A Shau Valley during Operation Dewey Canyon and Operation Apache Snow.
- Robert C. Ankony (2009) Lurps: A Ranger's Diary of Tet, Khe Sanh, A Shau, and Quang Tri, revised ed., Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Lanham, MD, (2009): Chapter 18.
- Lt. Gen. John Tolson, Vietnam Studies: Airmobility 1961–1971. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office (1973).
- Robert C. Ankony "No Peace in the Valley," Vietnam magazine, Oct, 2008, 26-31.
- Lurps: A Ranger's Diary of Tet, Khe Sanh, A Shau, and Quang Tri, revised ed. Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Landham, MD (2009).
- Pearson, Willard (1975). "The War in the Northern Provinces". Department of the Army. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- "1st Air Cavalry Division assault into the A Shau Valley". Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- Lurps: A Ranger's Diary of Tet, Khe Sanh, A Shau, and Quang Tri, revised ed. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2009).
- "No Peace in the Valley," Oct, 2008, 26-31.
- Photographic history of 1st Air Cavalry Division Lurp / Rangers in A Shau Valley 1968.
- Battle of A Shau
- Battle of Signal Hill Vietnam
- Company E, 52nd Infantry (LRP)
- Dong Re Lao Mountain
- General John J. Tolson