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.[

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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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