Operation Apache Snow

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Operation Apache Snow
Part of the Vietnam War
Date May 10 – June 7, 1969
Location A Shau Valley, Republic of Vietnam


  • U.S.-South Vietnamese forces capture Hill 937 but abandon it weeks later
Flag of the United States.svg United States
Flag of South Vietnam.svg Republic of Vietnam
North Vietnam North Vietnam
FNL Flag.svg Viet Cong
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the United States.svg Melvin Zais Unknown
Flag of South Vietnam.svg Two ARVN battalions
Flag of the United States.svg 101st Airborne Division
Ten artillery batteries
Vietnam 29th North Vietnamese Army Regiment
Casualties and losses
Flag of the United States.svg102 killed, wounded unknown
Flag of South Vietnam.svg unknown
977 killed and wounded
3 captured

Operation Apache Snow was a joint U.S. and South Vietnamese military operation during the Vietnam War designed to keep pressure on the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) units in the A Shau Valley and prevent them from mounting any attacks on the neighboring coastal provinces.


The A Shau Valley was an important corridor for the NVA and Viet Cong (VC), who frequently used it to transport supplies from Laos into South Vietnam as well as employed it as staging area for attacks. Previous sweeps of the valley in Operation Delaware and Operation Dewey Canyon in the previous year had resulted in over 2,000 enemy casualties, but were unsuccessful at removing the NVA from the valley.[1]

Apache Snow was planned as an operation involving ten battalions. The initial assault force consisted of troops from the 187th, 501st, and 506th Infantry Regiments of the 101st Airborne Division, the 9th Marine Regiment, and the 1st ARVN Division.[2] The plan was to block escape routes into Laos and assault enemy formations and strongholds.


The operation began on May 10, 1969. The main objective became Hill 937, the resulting battle became known to the soldiers as "Hamburger Hill", an up-to-date reference to the Korean War Battle of Pork Chop Hill. After ten days of fighting, which involved 11 infantry assaults up Hill 937 primarily by the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry (resulting in heavy U.S. losses), U.S. forces managed to capture the hill. A few weeks later the hill was quietly abandoned by U.S. forces. Operation Apache Snow continued until June 7, with U.S. troops making limited contact with the enemy.


The operation failed to deny access to the valley to North Vietnamese forces. The valley continued to be used as staging area for attacks in northern South Vietnam. The month‑long operation accounted for 675 enemy killed, three prisoners, 241 individual and 40 crew‑served weapons captured, and more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition discovered. Operation Apache Snow resulted in a strategic victory for U.S. and South Vietnamese troops, but the abandonment of Hill 937 was a moral defeat that caused widespread outrage from U.S. forces and the American public.[3]


  1. ^ James S. Olson, In Country: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, p. 419-420.
  2. ^ John S. Bowman, The Vietnam War: An Almanac, p. 184.
  3. ^ Harry G. Summers Jr., The Vietnam War Almanac, p. 184-185.

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