The Battle of Dak To was a battle fought between a combined force, composed of American and South Vietnamese elements, and the North Vietnamese Army, from November 2 to November 22, 1967, in Kontum Province, in the Central Highlands, South Vietnam. The Battle for Dak To was one of a series of offensives conducted by the North Vietnamese Army which started during the second half of the year.
Lying on a flat valley floor, Dak To was surrounded by ridges that rose into peaks which stretched westward and southwestward towards the tri-border region where South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia met. Since 1965, Dak To had been used as a Forward Operations Base by the highly classified US Studies and Observations Group (SOG), which launched reconnaissance teams from there in order to gather intelligence on the Ho Chi Minh Trail across the border in Laos. During the summer of 1967, heavy contact with North Vietnamese forces (PAVN: People´s Army of Vietnam) in the area prompted the launching of Operation Greeley, which was a combined search and destroy effort by elements of the US 4th Infantry Division, the US 173rd Airborne Brigade, and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) 42nd Infantry Regiment and Airborne units. The fighting was intense and lasted into the fall, when the North Vietnamese fell back to their former positions. Perhaps, the most violent part of the Battle of Dak To was the fighting for Hill 875 which involved two battalions of the 173d Airborne Brigade and the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, which was airlifted into the battle area from Darlac Province.
Nevertheless, by late October, US intelligence proved that local Viet Cong elements had been reinforced and combined into the 1st PAVN Division (North Vietnamese Army’s division), which was had the mission to capture Dak To and destroy a brigade-size US unit. Information provided by intelligence gave the allies a good indication of the locations and intentions of North Vietnamese forces. This intelligence prompted the launching of Operation MacArthur, and brought the units back to the area along with more reinforcements from the ARVN Airborne Division. The battles that erupted on the hill masses south and southeast of Dak To became some of the most hard-fought and bloody battles of the Vietnam War and a major American victory.
The Battle of Dak To during in November 1967 was a disaster for the 1st North Vietnamese Army Division. Although the enemy had expected to gain an important psychological victory by swiftly striking western Kontum Province from border sanctuaries, his four fresh regiments were decisively defeated in what a ranking Communist officer termed a "useless and bloody battle." In a classic example of allied superiority in firepower and maneuver, fifteen U.S. and Vietnamese battalions beat the enemy to the punch and sent the survivors limping back to their sanctuaries.
Battle of Dak To (Video)