18th Division (South Vietnam)

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18th Division
ARVN 18 Division SSI.svg
Shoulder sleeve insignia
Active16 May 1965 – 30 April 1975
Country South Vietnam
BranchFlag of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.jpg Army of the Republic of Vietnam
Nickname(s)"The Supermen"
Motto(s)God Arrow – Defending the Fatherland
EngagementsVietnam War
Lê Minh Đảo
Division flag18th Infantry Division's flag.png

The 18th Division was an infantry division in the III Corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam considered the 18th as undisciplined and was well known throughout the ARVN for its "cowboy" reputation. In 1975 the 18th was made famous for its tenacious defense of Xuân Lộc, the last major battle before the Fall of Saigon.


On 27/8 June 1967 units of the Division engaged forces from the Viet Cong (VC) 5th Division near Tuc Trung and had to be assisted by the US 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment which was conducting Operation Akron. ARVN losses were 51 killed, but they killed 167 VC while US forces claimed a further 49.[1]:380-4

From 3 November 1967 to 5 January 1968 the Division participated in Operation Santa Fe, a security operation with the US 1st Brigade, 9th Infantry Division and the 1st Australian Task Force against the VC 5th Division's base in the May Tao Secret Zone.[2]:108-10

From 8 April to 31 May 1968 the Division participated in Operation Toan Thang I to continue pressure on PAVN/VC forces in III Corps after the successful Operation Quyet Thang. The operation involved nearly every combat unit in III Corps. The operation was a success with allied forces claiming 7645 VC/PAVN killed, however the operation did not prevent the PAVN/VC from launching their May Offensive attacks against Saigon.[2]:464-6

On 15 January 1969 the Headquarters and 3rd Battalion 52nd Regiment and the 5th Marine Battalion joined Operation Goodwood with the 1st Australian Task Force replacing the 1st Marine Battalion.[3]:39

During the last major battle of the war, the vastly outnumbered 18th Division stood and fought at Xuân Lộc, 38 miles (61 km) northeast of Saigon. This battle is considered the last stand of ARVN forces, where the 18th earned the name "The Supermen". It was commanded by General Lê Minh Đảo.

The 18th fought against communist forces in Xuân Lộc, a city strategically important for intersecting five main routes. The fierce fighting raged for two weeks. The 18th Division, outnumbered 7:1 by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces, destroyed all but three PAVN divisions before finally being overwhelmed by superior numbers. The division was forced to evacuate from the city on April 21, 1975, nine days before the fall of Saigon. Upon learning the 18th had lost Xuân Lộc that afternoon at 3:00pm President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu made a tearful televised speech that was broadcast around the world in which he blamed the United States for abandoning South Vietnam; he closed the speech by resigning the presidency.

The 18th was finally destroyed while defending Bien Hoa Air Base. South Vietnam surrendered on the afternoon of 30 April 1975.


Component units:

  • 43rd, 48th and 52nd Infantry Regiments
  • 180th, 181st, 182nd and 183rd Artillery Battalions
  • 5th Armoured Cavalry Squadron
  • US Advisory Team 87


  1. ^ MacGarrigle, George (1998). Combat Operations: Taking the Offensive, October 1966 to October 1967. United States Army Center of Military History. ISBN 9780160495403. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b Villard, Erik (2017). United States Army in Vietnam Combat Operations Staying the Course October 1967 to September 1968. Center of Military History United States Army. ISBN 9780160942808. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ "AWM 95-1-4-136 Headquarters 1st Australian Task Force Commander's Diary Annexes E-N 1–31 Jan 1969" (pdf). Headquarters 1st Australian Task Force. Retrieved 25 October 2009.

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