Attack on Ngok Tavak information

For date 680510

AATTV was a Australian Army unit
Primary service involved, Australian Army
Quang Tin Province, I Corps, South Vietnam
Location, Ngok Tavak
Description: The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) or 'The Team' were a specialized group who were posted as advisers to commanders of South Vietnamese combat units while others occupied postings as commanders of Special Forces units - semi-guerillas - operating independently far into the hinterland. The Team remains the most highly decorated unit in the Australian Army numbering only 990 over ten years (operational tour 1 year only) there were 4 Victoria Crosses, 109 other Australian Gallantry decorations, 245 United States Awards and 376 Republic of Vietnam Awards received. Concerning the action at Ngak Tavak: In February 1968 Captain John White (AATTV) took command of 11th Mike Force Company in Da Nang WO2 Don Cameron and WO2 Frank Lucus (AATTV) commanded two of the platoons while Sgt. Swicewood (USSF) commanded the third. Capt. White was given orders to trace the movements of 2nd NVA Division which was moving from Laos into South Vietnam along the French built Route 14. The company was air lifted to the Special Forces camp of Kham Duc where it would move south to meet the enemy. White was using an old fort from the French Foreign Legion as a re-supply depot as the company patrolled the surrounding area for signs of the enemy. In late April the signs of the oncoming approach of the enemy were detected, White wished to move the company away from the fort and into the jungle where he could adopt a mobile guerilla role but the addition of a platoon of USMC artillery meant that the company would have to stay at the fort. In early May contact with the enemy was becoming more frequent and intelligence reports came in of NVA troops setting up an ambush of Ngok Tavak. At 3 a.m. on 10 May the enemy attacked the fort (estimated size between a reinforced battalion and a regiment). What followed until sunrise has been described as an epic of close quarter, hand to hand fighting. The enemy attacked the fort and the defenders retreated inside until dawn. With the help of air support the defenders counter attacked and pushed the enemy outside the wire. Under the cover of airstrikes the wounded were taken out in helicopters with large red crosses painted on them, these helicopters were not fired upon by the enemy. The Chinook (actually USMC CH-46s) helicopters carrying reinforcements were fired upon and two were disabled on the landing zone blocking further arrivals. At 9 a.m. White informed his headquarters at Da Nang that their situation was untenable and could not stand a second attack. All remaining weapons that could not be carried spent their remaining ammunition and were disabled by thermite grenades. Under the cover of airstrikes the remaining force broke free from the fort, moved seven kilometers through the jungle and were evacuated by helicopters. The Casualties were: USSF 1 killed and 2 wounded; USMC Platoon, 14 killed and 14 wounded; Vietnamese Special Forces, 2 wounded and 1 MIA; The Nung Force 16 killed, 33 wounded, and 12 MIA of the total 37 reinforcements 13 were missing. For more information on the AATTV, see The Team; Australian Army Advisers in Vietnam 1962-72, Australian War Memorial, Canberra by Ian McNeill. Provided to the VHPA by Gary Rogers who received it from Chris Snewin, Project Officer, Returned & Services League of Australia.

The source for this information was email from Chris Snewin & Gary Rogers

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