After the Ma Lam battle, battalion 200c was ordered to move back to Song Ba forest, while the enemy thought that it had been eliminated. Several months later, 200c appeared again and launched two attacks on the same enemy military base over only 20 days.
Combat resolution says: Fight
Two third of commanders and excellent soldiers of 200c lost their lives during the Ma Lam battle. The battalion had to increase its force with an enforcement of new soldiers from the North. While waiting for the reinforcement, 200c often sent small groups of 5-7 soldiers with B40 and explosives to launch quick secret raids on the enemy’s camps and bases.
In summer of 1969, battalion 200c was reinforced with new northern soldiers. Right after the reinforcement, the battalion received the order to open an operational-level offensive on the enemy in the Lam Dong Highlands, Tuyen Duc, near Dat Lat City. Its target was enemy battalion 3 of regiment 53, division 23, which was garrisoned in a base on Pat To Hill, Di Linh District. Pat To was a high hill observing an important transportation route. The base was surrounded by swamp. As well as the swamp, there were rubber plantations, where the enemy positioned 2 artillery fields and blockhouses as well as multi-layer barbwire fences and minefields. Enemy battalion 3 felt so secure with the protection that they often sent troops to mop up our revolutionary bases.
Our High Command of Military Region 6 decided to wipe out the Pat To hill base and the tough mission was entrusted to battalion 200c. Both the High Command of Military Region 6 and the command of 200c saw many difficulties facing the battalion: 200c garrisoned in Binh Thuan would have to move hundreds of kilometers to reach the target; many of soldiers were new without combat experience, the time to prepare for the attack was only 2 months and so on. But at the end of the meeting with the command of battalion 200c to discuss combat plan, Commander of Military Region 6, General Nguyen Trong Xuyen concluded: “Fight”.
In June 1969, battalion 200c started to move from Binh Thuan through forests to Di Linh, Lam Dong. They sheltered in Hon Bo, dozens of kilometers from Pat To hill. They spent 2 months to collect information and reconnaissance about the enemy base. Every night, a group of scouts secretly infiltrated into the enemy base to learn their routines, defence, assets and efforts and force deployment. The date to attack was determined as September 4th, 2 days after the National Day, September 2nd.
Right before the day, a great national mourning happened; our Uncle Ho passed away. All soldiers of battalion 200c, the whole southern battlefield and the whole nation bust to tears when they heard the sad news. The High Command ordered to postpone the operation to be in mourning for Uncle Ho. During the week, the atmosphere was so sorrowful and soldiers’ health became worse. Leaders of the battalion had to go to every single soldier to encourage them.
After the week, the command of battalion 200c held a plenary meeting and asked their men if they should continue the mission. Holding the pain inside, the whole battalion replied in unison: “Fight”. With a high resolve, battalion 200c was determined to achieve the feat.
Victory to offer Uncle Ho
At 16 hours on September 10th, 1969, battalion held a ceremony before going into battle. After the ceremony, they moved toward Pat To hill. At 20 hours, they got into designated positions 500 meters away from the target. Our attack directions were ready to approach the base. Suddenly, there were flashlights and several figures of enemy troops moving toward our formation. Were our forces disclosed? Our soldiers were ready to annihilate the enemy, but it turned out that some enemy troops were catching frogs.
At 21 hours all attack directions got close to the fences and at 23.50 hours all obstacles were removed. At 24 hours, there was a thunderous explosion, a signal to attack, and our soldiers at the same time moved forward. Next, the whole enemy base began to violently quake, lightening from blasting charges and fire power lit up the base, mighty explosions, shots of various kinds of weapons, frightened screams of enemies. Our soldiers quickly moved from place to place to annihilate enemies, while a coordinative local female artillery platoon bombarded the section of US advisors.
Within only 38 minutes, our forces completely controlled the battlefield, annihilated some 430 enemy troops, one US advisor, destroyed 2 81mm mortars, many vehicles, blew up stores, captured a large number of weapons and 2 enemy trucks, but 2 soldiers of our side laid down their lives.
The Pat To victory eased the compassion for our Uncle Ho and regained the revolutionary impetus and spirit of local people in the Center of Vietnam. The fame of 200c once again was echoed across the battlefield.
After the battle, the enemy Pat To base became devastated. But, as it was located in a key position, the enemy had to reinforce and rebuild the base. They became so cautious and alert that they were often reminded of Major Bong (in fact, 200c Commander Nguyen Van Bong was Senior Lieutenant at that time). Moreover, they scattered leaflets saying that they would give a bonus of 500.000 dong (a large amount of money at that time) to anybody who caught or killed Major Bong.
Battalion 200c decided to teach them another lesson. The command asked the High Command of Military Region 6 to permit them to launch another attack on the base. Perhaps, few armies in the world had such a daring combat plan, but with VC forces, everything would happen. 200c drew up a detailed combat plan and was determined to fight to relieve the pain of losing Uncle Ho. The senior Command agreed and 200c started to prepare for the second attack.
After 10 nights of collecting reconnaissance, battalion sent only 32 soldiers to assault this time.
At midnight, October 1st, 1969, two attack directions secretly broke into the base. The battle lasted only 28 minutes. 140 enemy troops were annihilated, one was seized as prisoner. For our side, one soldier was killed and another was injured.
The second victory made enemy regiment 53 of division 23 terrified and they were haunted by 200c for a long time. It also inspired local people and soldiers in the struggle against the enemy. Meanwhile, battalion 200c set a record of attacking the same target in the shortest time.
Reported by Nguyen Van Minh
Translated by Thu Nguyen
1. The battalion going into battle
2. Smashing up the “Second Sai Gon” (second story)
3. 200c: Who are you? (third story)
4. Ma Lam – a heart-breaking but unforgettable memory (fourth story)