Operation Apache Snow

Operation Apache Snow was a military operation carried out by ten battalions from the US 101st Airborne Division, 501st, 506th, the 187th Infantry Divisions, in the A Shau Valley from May 10 to June 7, 1969, during the Vietnam War. The A Shau Valley was a logistic corridor used by the North Vietnamese Army to transport military supplies into South Vietnam. Until May 1969, two operations had been conducted in the area (Operation Delaware and Operation Dewey Canyon), but the US forces had not been able to stop the flow of material through the trails in the valley.

Operation Apache Snow had been planned to block escape routes into Laos, destroy moving enemy formations, and launch assaults on fixed communist strongholds. One of the main targets became Hill 937, which triggered a fierce battle which became known as the Battle of Hamburger Hill. After ten days of fighting and at the cost of heavy losses, US forces managed to capture the hill, only to abandon it two weeks later.

Operation Apache Snow raged on until June 7, 1969. Although more than 900 enemy soldiers were killed and several fortified positions destroyed, it failed to prevent North Vietnamese forces from pouring into the valley as the flow of supplies continued. The A Shau Valley remained as a springboard from which communist attacks were launched into northern South Vietnam. Probably the solution to this problem would have been to launch a total and massive attack against North Vietnam to completely destroy the enemy where they came from. Doing that would have provoked the direct involvement of communist China, and perhaps Russia, but the American government wanted to avoid a direct confrontation with super powers which also had nuclear arsenal. That was the cold war.

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