21 June 1969: PAVN Soldiers Storm the US Tây Ninh Combat Base

After shelling for two days, approximately 600 People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) soldiers stormed the US base near Tây Ninh on 21 June 1969. The Tây Ninh Combat Base, 50 miles northwest of Saigon, had been in operation since April 1966, when it served as the base for the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, a US Army Reserve unit directed at military training.

PAVN forces launched six attacks on Tây Ninh city and the surrounding villages, displacing roughly 1,000 civilians as allied and communist troops fought in the city streets. Eventually, PAVN forces were repulsed, suffering 194 dead compared to only 10 US soldiers.

The US victory was an important one. In April 1970 Tây Ninh Combat Base was used as a staging area for US units participating in the Cambodian Campaign for attacks west into the Parrot’s Beak and north into the Fish Hook, areas on South Vietnam’s border with Cambodia.

The base was handed over to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) in September 1970 and was used by the ARVN 25th Division.[

52 Replies to “21 June 1969: PAVN Soldiers Storm the US Tây Ninh Combat Base”

  1. I was flying a Huey in a 3/17th Air Cav firefly team (2 UH-1s with .50s and a cobra) the night FSB Washington was hit (June, 1969). Pretty exciting night for us dodging a lot of .51 cal anti-aircraft fire.

  2. I was stationed at Tay Ninh West from Sept 68 until Oct 69. I was the 175th Radio Research det. A , part of the 509th Radio Research.
    We were part of the Army Security Agency. My buddy and I decided to extend our tours for 6 month, so we got a free 30 day leave to go home, or anywhere in the world we wanted to go. We chose home. I guess we were lucky because we flew out of Tay Ninh airstrip on June 16, 69. I didn’t recall the base was hit until I read your article. Lucky us. Our building was between the ammo dump and graves registration. We were right next door to the combat engineers.

  3. I was X0 of Bravo…2nd of the 32nd from June 69 til 21 july 69. Got transferred south when promoted. We took one of our 8 inchers out to Nui Ba Den. Shot direct fire on every cave or sort of looking cave in support of infantry sweep. Ever seen what 8 inch HE will do direct fire? Awesome. Pissed the NVA home boys off and they started shooting at us poor harmless redlegs. Could see the NVA walking around in that monestary and their ammo, dump….but NO…NO…NO. You will not harm those monks….all dressed in kahki.

  4. I was with the 588th Engineers, mostly road construction. Rock quarry at foot of Nui Ba Den mountain. VC would blow the culverts as soon as we put them in.
    I remember this night (June ’69). Everybody on the berm line. Fortunately no casualties in our sector.

  5. My buddy was a helicopter crew chief on Hueys and Cobras with the 1st Cav based at Tay Ninh. Name is Robert (Bobby) Geiger

  6. I was stationed to HHC 1 st Brigade 1st Air Cav from first day we redeployed from Quang Tri Province to Tay Ninh West. Spent a lot of time in TOC. Served under Maj Canada till he had personal leave. After which I was deployed to FSB Betty? for rest of my deployment. Assigned TOC there. Time deployed Oct 1968 to Aug 1969. Got early out- drafted 1 year 9 months 15 days. Blessed I came back whole.

  7. Served in nam 7/69-7/70 – 277th service and supply
    548 light maintenance unit (cook @ sanders mess hall).
    I found a soldier that had committed suicide. He was a very short timer, I think about him often. Many rockets/ mortars many killed. Will never forget

  8. Hello …..
    I originally was assigned to the 23rd Field Artillery at Tay Ninh. Within Nixon’s shameful debacle of returning troops home we were transferred to the II Field Forces. So, Americans were waylaid into believing troops were being returned home when in reality they were simply transferred to other units.

    I served from January of 1969 to January of 1970 at Tay Ninh.

    1. Patrick, small world indeed. I was with 6/15 Artillery Bn (part of 23rd Artillery Group) at Tay Ninh June 69 to June 70. Long year. Lots of convoy trips to base of Nui Ba Bin. Seems like yesterday instead of 50+ years when I saw your post.

  9. Did anyone know my brother?
    Private First Class Dwight Fabian Babel, Served with Company C, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, United States Army Vietnam.
    KIA Sept. 5, 1969. Tay Ninh

    1. My brother John Lupu was killed on September 25th 1969 at Tay Ninh. Serving with the Army First Cavalry. I have been anticipating on traveling there with my son just to visit the area where my brother was killed. If you have any ideas how I can do this you can contact me by email . My name is Ray Lupu.
      Thank you

    2. Hello, just saw your post. I was stationed at Tay Ninh at that time.
      If you are searching for details surrounding his death, just let me know.
      Would love to research that for you.
      Ken Koprowski
      352-476-7976

      [ Editor note: Please note we filter comments to remove the public posting of an individual’s email address to avoid unwelcome spammers harvesting personal details, though will pass on contact details provided with mutual agreement. Thank you. ]

  10. I was with the 2/32 Artillery, an 8-inch/175mm outfit at Tay Ninh Base Camp, from July ’68-August ’69. The night of 6-20-69, I was flying mortar watch over the Base Camp in a Bird Dog piloted by an Air Force FAC. We got diverted to a hamlet south of the City because VC elements had launched a significant attack. Houses on either side of the road for about 1,500 were burning and there was a lot of activity, but there was not much we could do because we did not have radio contact with anyone on the ground. I was duty officer in our battalion TOC when FSB Crook was attacked earlier in the month and also when FSB Washington was attacked. The night of June 27, an Army pilot and I saw a sizable unit about 100 meters over the border in Cambodia while flying mortar watch. There were over a dozen lights. When we got within about a half klick, the lights all went off. When we flew away, the lights all went back on. It was obviously an NVA unit. We observed people on the other side of the border frequently on VR missions but could not touch them. The idea of giving the Communists sanctuary in Cambodia got lots of our people killed.

  11. I was at Fire Base Rawlings with the 4/23rd, 25th Division in 1969. They called some of us with personnel carriers in to help defend the perimeter at Tay Ninh Base Camp. I remember we could hear drums and bugles, which we took to be communication signals for maneuvering NVA. A rocket landed a few feet away from me and sent me flying,. But it landed dead center of a 4’ deep drainage ditch so I get to be here and write this response. There was no attack that night so I’m guessing it was before the June attacks some of you remember. In retrospect, I am sad for the loss of so many on both sides and wish people would stop warring and start investing in peace. Just my opinion and perspective.

    1. I was at Rawlings a lot in that time period
      A company I believe, definately not c
      Third platoon
      Got hurt in a track accident heading to a night laugher around nui ba den
      Apc threw a track and went into the banana trees sweeping most of us on top off
      At 40 mph. Dove behind hatch but foot got hits by a tree as we went by
      Was in Tay ninh laid up when the rockets started coming in the next night
      Crazy. Remember one night one of the tracks at Rawlings had a mini gun top
      What a sound at a free fire on the bunker line
      Track commander for awhile then
      Ended up in the CRIP Platoon

  12. I was in the artillery stationed at Fire Support Base Washington approximately 5 miles north of Tay Ninh. The NVA tried to overrun our fire base on the night of 18-19 June 1969. There were well over 100 rockets, mortars and RPG’s hits within our perimeter that night. It was extremely loud chaos. I’m sure it was part of the same thrust.

    1. Hello Steve, thank you for sharing your experience with us. We are grateful to all veterans who take the time to provide unique details of that time in Tây Ninh and in Vietnam overall.

  13. I am glad to be contacted by anyone I treated or worked with during my life as a X-Ray Technologist and healthcare worker.

    1. Hello Mark, we hope that you can make contact with our growing community of veterans here at Vietnam: The Art of War. Could you share your location and period as a X-Ray Technologist and healthcare worker? Thank you.

  14. Being a Medic, “Doc” was the best job I had in my life time. Retired X-Ray Tech and Health Care Worker.
    Mark Drake

  15. I would do it all over again. Being a Medic with Medevac 1st Cav was the high light of my service in Tay Ninh , Viet Nam.

    1. Doc Duck my brother John Lupu was with the First Calvary at Tay Ninh in Vietnam and was Killed September 25th 1969. I was thinking about doing a trip with my son sometime in the future and I was wondering how to go about doing that and actually going out to the location of where it was killed. Is this possible? Since you were a medevac at that time did you know my brother? Thank you.

    1. Did any of you serve with Joseph Marasco, from Somers, NY? His place of death was listed as Tay Ninh, on July 22, 1969. I am still, all of these years later, missing him terribly and would like to connect with someone who knew him. Thank you.

      1. Lenore, My name is Ken Koprowski, I was stationed at Tay Ninh Base Camp 10/68-10/69
        In researching your request, I see Joseph is buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown NY
        His parents names were Frank and Patricia
        Joseph was born on 1947, he had an older brother, Frank, Jr, born in 1945
        And a younger brother, Richard born 1949
        What specifically would you like to know?
        Would be happy to research that for you.
        Ken Koprowski

      2. Lenore, Joseph is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown, NY
        His parents names were Frank & Patricia
        He has an older brother Frank, Jr born in 1945
        And a younger brother Richard born in 1949
        What specifically would younlikevto know.
        I would be happy to research that for you
        Ken Koprowski
        Kjkoprowski@aol.com

      3. Lenore, this is Ken again.
        I developed somemore info. Joseph was in the 1st Calvery Division, 21st Artillery, 1st Batallion, Battery B
        Ken Koprowski
        I could look up After Action Reports to see what his unit was involved in at the time of his death.
        Please touch base.

        1. Many thanks for your comments Ken and for the additional information you shared. The team at ‘Vietnam: The Art of War’ and our readers greatly appreciate all contributions.

          Although we filter comments to remove the public posting of an individual’s email address (to avoid unwelcome spammers harvesting personal details), we have forwarded your full comments as posted, including email address, to Lenore Adams.

          Adrian Jones
          Founder & Executive Director, Witness Collection

    2. Mark Drake
      My brother Army PVT Dwight F Babel died Sept. 5, 1969 at Tay Ninh.
      If you have any information about him, please contact me.

      [Admin note: we remove email addresses from comments to avoid them being harvested for spam but will gladly pass on this email address to any contributor who has additional information]

  16. My Grandfather Lt. Col. Lyndsey Stone served at Tay Ninh and Cu-Chi.

    He named both his cats after each location.

    I believe at that time he was with the 24th Evac.

    If anybody knows him from his time there, I would love to speak to them.

      1. Hello George, thank you for sharing your experience at Long Bình. We appreciate all contributions from veterans as they inform us with details that are unique. Thank you again.

      2. I was a Medic and X-Ray Tech with Medevac 1st Cav at Tay Ninh just down the road from the 45th Surgery 69/70. The Surg was an Air Inflated hospital. I was there when a Rocket hit the 45th Surgery. The rocket hit their sterilizer that was loaded with instruments being sterilized, which increased the damage of the rocket.
        Doc Duck 15th Med. 1st Calvary Division 69-70

        1. Hello Mark, thank you for sharing your experience as a Medic and X-Ray Tech with Medevac 1st Cav at Tây Ninh. We appreciate all veterans who have taken the time to share their personal experiences of this time in Vietnam.

        2. I was in one in 8-68 during rocket attack. We had 10-15 wounded and several KIA’s. Unloaded several dust off’s. Bad rain. Terrible night.

    1. Hello Andres, thank you for bringing your grandfather’s involvement at Tây Ninh and Củ Chi to our attention. We very much appreciate all unique stories from Vietnam veterans and family members as they vastly increase our ability to contextualize Vietnamese war art. I can see that George Alan Reischling has provided some information about the 24th in Long Bình – thank you, George. I hope you can find more information about your grandfather from other Vietnam: The Art of War contributors.

      1. Thanks to all our soldiers at Tay Ninh that kept us safe from ground attacks which helped us do our jobs treating and saving the lives of wounded G I’s at Medevac 1st
        Calvary Division. “DOC DUCK” Mark Drake

        1. I would like to find out if you took care of my brother.
          Private First Class Dwight Fabian Babel, Served with Company C, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, United States Army Vietnam.
          KIA Sept. 5, 1969. Tay Ninh

          1. Hello Mark and Velauni. If you would like to continue your conversation privately, then please give us consent to connect you via email address. Thank you.

  17. I served at Tay Ninh with Apache Troop, 1/9 Cav from January ‘69 to January’ 70, and was in a bunker next to Apache Pad (our helipad) the night the NVA blasted our whole area with rockets and mortars. They were close enough that we could hear the mortar shells leaving the tubes and counted the seconds before they exploded and showered our sandbagged bunker with debris. Everybody on the perimeter was wildly firing back across the wire expecting a ground attack, or sappers sneaking through with satchel charges to blow up the birds on Apache Pad, and I still clearly remember the amazing sound of the mounted quad .50 caliber machine guns blasting away on the berm on the other side of the pad. When the mortars and rockets finally let up we grabbed our weapons and ran to the perimeter to join in the chaos. I was scared to death.

    When dawn finally came we put a dog team out in front the wire and they found one wounded NVA soldier and some dead ones scattered around. By some miracle we didn’t lose any troopers, but nobody slept for 48 hours, and five of our birds were too riddled with shrapnel to fly, and there was a lot of other damage. Some of the smaller landing zones and fire bases near us were really hit hard. It wasn’t my worst day in the ‘nam, but it was damned scary enough for me.

    Like my fellow vet James Springer, I don’t talk much about this stuff with my family or anyone else. I’f you haven’t experienced what war is really like it’s impossible to explain, so I don’t even try. And, as Mr. Springer says, God bless our vets, both the ones who came home and the ones who didn’t.

    John Stetter

    1. Hello John. Thank you for sharing your experience at Tay Ninh. Just for full disclosure, I (James Springer) moderate the content for the Vietnam: The Art of War website, and did not serve during the Vietnam War. Perhaps you meant to reference the previous comment left by Christopher Jones? Either way, we thank you again for sharing your story here.

  18. 1969, Rocket city.
    A hooch next to the 1St. Cav ( **** Hunters) , lots of rockets and mortars, the Bunkers were filled. We counted 117 rocket hits in one night, the mortors getting walked in would creep me out more. I don`t know about you guys but I don`t talk about it much to family or freinds, I just can`t seem to open up or even explain to them what it realy felt like. There are no words. The hardest part for me was coming home, I felt like a different person,that is to say not the one my family exexpected. Maby you get it, trying to fit into the person you were before, just doesn`t do it.
    God bless all you vets.

      1. Hello R. Wixom. We did not know anyone by that name, unfortunately. However, the growing community of US veterans of the Vietnam War active on our website may have done. We hope you can find more information on Mike Themmen through them. Many thanks.

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