Battle of An Ninh information
for 1 BDE 101 ABN
2/502 ABN
2/320 ARTY

For date 650918

1 BDE 101 ABN was a US Army unit
1 CAV was a US Army unit
2/502 ABN was a US Army unit
2/320 ARTY was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Binh Dinh Province, II Corps, South Vietnam
Location, An Ninh
Description: At 0700H, 26 Army UH-1D, UH-1B, and Marine UH-34Ds landed all of C/2/502d and part of B/2/502d Airborne near the village of An Ninh, 14Ks north of Route 19. These 224 paratroopers were landed almost on top of a VC main force unit. Two helicopters were shot down in the first wave. Only part of the second wave got in. Only 36 men from the third wave were landed 400 yards to the south which had three helicopters shot down. The 2/320th Artillery could not move its 105mm guns into supporting position because of muddy roads. It wasn't until the evening that 1st Cav CH-47s moved some of their guns. Until that time nine UH-1Bs and tactical air were the only support available for the ground troops. By early the next morning, the supporting arms were in place and more infantry was inserted.

I am currently writing a new forward chapter to a book written back in the 1970s by a former 101st AirBorne para who was on the FIRST WAVE of choppers to land at the dry - not wet - rice paddies next to the village of An Ninh, Sept. 18, 1965. According 101st para Larry Grathwohl and the 101st Air Borne combat photographer who came in on the SECOND WAVE of slicks that morning, NO Huey slicks were SHOT DOWN DURING THE LANDING OF THE FIRST WAVE. This is one of the key facts that made the battle for An Ninh so deadly, is not only did the NVA KNOW the 101s was coming and WHERE they were likely to land but that the 101st didin't have nearly enough choppers to properly carry out the operation, forcing the 101st COs to carry out the assault IN WAVES. The VC/ North Vietnamese plan was to allow the first wave of para's to land, then carry out a slaughter by shooting down the second and following waves of Hueys filled with 101st Air Born troopers. The ultimate VC/NVA goal was to carry out a final coup by over running the heavily out numbered and trapped first Wave of 101st Air Borne, either shortly after knocking out the desperate attempts to rescue the paras in the rice paddies or after sun went down that night. According to my two former 101st Air Borne sources who were there, what made this battle so deadly was the fact THERE WAS NO ENEMY FIRE during the insertion of the first landing of the 101st Air Born. So your outline of the battle has two choppers being downed in the first wave is wrong. (see the after action reports, Hackworth's ABOUT FACE, p.486-7 and the less accurate account in THE RISIE AND FALL of an AMERICAN ARMY by Stanton, pp. 49-50) and finally, go online and google Johnnie William Faircloth/battle of An Ninh who died not long after he and a handful of paras made a desperate attempt to land and link up with the first wave of 101st Troopers trapped in the rice paddies. (I think SSG Faircloth was on the third wave of choppers to land) and was awarded the Silver Star phosthumously.) I tried to check your source for the inaccurate information, MAD MINUTES by Michael Clodfelter but as yet I haven't been able to get a copy of his book. It is my understanding Clodfelter was sent to Vietnam May 1965 with the 101st so no doubt he was among those who were supposed to be part of what the101st Command had dubbed Operation Gibralter later that September. The battle was such a major screw up by the 101st commanding officers that Westmoreland and others tried to cover it up by calling it "a major victory for US troops," (according to Hackworth's account - p. 474), and in one very important way it most assuredly was. What we have only recently come to know is that the North Vietnamese had successfully put a spy in the very heart of US/SVN intelligence. (See, The Perfect Spy by Boreman, 2007) So not only did the the NVA know our plans on a virtual day-to-day basis from as early as 1960-61 but they trained their commanders to know details like how to instantly spot and have snipers waiting to kill American Commanding Officers, (the COs). During this first great battle of the war, the VC/NV snipers killed virtually all the 101st COs within the first few minutes when the VC/NVA began firing during the SECOND WAVE. knocked out virtually all the COs radio communications and so badly pinned down the LONE SURVIVING 101st CO that for virtually the first four or five hours of battle the 101st troopers fought for their lives led only by the NCOs. From: Wesley Davis

The source for this information was MAD MINUTES by Clodfelter P:45

Additional information is available on CD-ROM.

Please send additions or corrections to: Gary Roush Email address:

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Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023