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Battle of Hamburger Hill

The lengthy and costly Vietnam War is not often remembered by specific battles, as are many other conflicts. However, the Battle of Hamburger Hill, which took place in May 1969, is one of the more notorious battles in the war, and can be seen as representative of America’s involvement in Vietnam, spending countless lives over an insignificant piece of terrain that was soon abandoned. Battle of Hamburger Hill

From the beginning, the U.S. military conceded that Hill 937 was of little strategic importance, despite being heavily fortified by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). The orders to take the hill came during Operation Apache Snow, part of a campaign to destroy the NVA in the A Shau Valley near the border with Laos. On May 10, 1969, five battalions of the 101st Airborne Division were helicoptered into the Valley. The NVA routinely avoided prolonged combat against the Americans, so that on May 13, the U.S. Army moved to take Hill 937, but all units were not in place until May 19, despite repeated attempts to assault the hill.

By May 16, American reporters were uncovering information about the ongoing battle, and began to question why infantry assaults, rather than artillery, were the main avenue of attack. During the ten-day siege, 72 Americans were killed and 372 were wounded. Despite capturing Hill 937, U.S. forces quietly withdrew on June 5, with criticism over Hamburger Hill reaching all the way to Congress.

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