Convoy Ambush

A book with factual accounts of events preceding this battle and battle actions, along with After Actions Reports, Military Aerial Photographs, and Personal Interviews were used to produce this print. The United States Military archives preserves a factual account of this action on 21 November 1966

1st Lieutenant Neil Keltner / Troop C, First Squadron - 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment / 87th Transportation Company-6th Transportation Battalion / 86th Transportation Company-6th Transportation Battalion / Military Intelligence.

The men of the U.S Cavalry have waited many times, in many places to "mount up" and "move out". 21of November, 1966...the time...the place...Long Binh, Vietnam.

A mixed convoy of over 80 U.S. Army vehicles stood ready to "move out" toward Xuan Loc at 0700 hours. The modern day cavalrymen riding Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicles (ACAV's), awaited the assignment of a Commander. At 0850 hours a commander was assigned, he quickly and efficiently positioned his ACAV's, to best protect the convoy. He gave the command to move out at 0920 hours. The odd assortment of vehicles made the convoy difficult to protect, gaps in the column were a concern for the commander. The vehicles were transporting supplies and documents to a recently established base about 12 Kilometers south of Xuan Loc.

Traveling on Highway 1, soon after leaving Long Binh, the convoy commander received a warning of enemy activity in his area. Minutes after the warn ing was decoded, the commander realized his ACAV was beyond the "kill zone". He then received, from one of the men under his command, a report of enemy small arm's and automatic weapon's fire. They requested permission to return fire. Frantic efforts were then set in motion to protect the convoy; it was now 1025 hours.

The commander ordered his men to keep the convoy moving, hoping to get the convoy through the "kill zone" before the enemy forces began using heavier weapon fire. While the convoy was coming to terms with their situation, the men at headquarters were rallying all available support.

A truck hit by a mortar shell was burning and blocked the road, forcing the vehicles including the two trucks carrying the sealed steel conex containers to be trapped in the "kill zone". While exchanging small arm's fire, the drivers and crewman dismounted their vehicles to find cover in the ditch and tend to the wounded.

Realizing the danger to the unprotected men in the ditch, the ACAV's advanced to protect them. Knowing they were placing their own lives in danger the men (some severely wounded) on ACAV's remained at their guns continuing to to fire, keeping their ACAV's between the men in the ditch and the enemy forces.

Within minutes of ambushing the convoy, the battle-hardened Dong Nai Regiment of North Vietnam's Army started to retreat, leaving behind 30 of their dead. They were not outnumbered. Estimates place over 1,000 in the attacking force. The speed with which the air support answered the convoys calls and the aggressive bravery of the men on their ACAV's was without a doubt the deciding factor.

Army helicopter pilots monitored and coordinated the air defence to keep the enemy from overrunning the men in the ditch. In total disregard for their personal safety the pilots engaged heavy enemy ground fire, completing their firing runs dangerously low.

Air Force F100's and F5's heard the radio calls, (receiving orders) changed their destinations to give the convoy air support. They flew into the "kill zone" to fire their weapons and drop their bombs. It was said they flew so low and precise that the men in the ditch could feel the heat from the after burn.

Medical assistance was needed for the wounded men. Purple smoke canisters were thrown to signal the medical helicopters where to land. Medical assistance was given and evacuation of the wounded began.

Though the battle was said to have lasted minutes. Those soldiers who were there...for those minutes...lived a life time. They still feel a bond, and cannot forget the others, who saved their lives or shared a time when they saw and felt the closeness of death!

In true cavalry tradition, the men of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and others showed once more, AMERICA WILL BE THERE WHEN FREEDOM IS THREATENED.