Saturday, February 14, 2015

Operation Lam Son 719 - 44th Anniversary

Rangers Landing in Laos, 1971.

                Forty-four years ago this month, the military of the Republic of Vietnam was involved in Operation Lam Son 719 (Chiến dịch Lam Sơn 719) in Laos, February 8th - March 25th, 1971. 
Communist forces had long established supply and transportation networks running through the territory of Laos in what is commonly referred to as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The objective of the republic`s military campaign in Laos was to disrupt this network, and in turn diminish the Communists` abilities to launch offensive operations into the republic`s territory. It was the largest single deployment of the republic`s troops outside its borders, and was the largest helicopter operation of the Vietnam War.

Soldiers with captured Communist weaponry, Laos, 1971.
Republic of Vietnam 1st Armored Brigade
moving towards LZ Alpha, Laos, 1971.
Troops receiving supplies delivered by helicopter,
Fire Support Base Delta 1, Laos, 1971.
(note the 3rd Infantry Regiment patch on the soldier at right)

            Following this campaign, and other operations in Cambodia, the Republic of Vietnam instituted a new decoration. The Medal for Campaigns Outside the Frontier was created in 1973. It was the last new military medal to be established by the republic. It was awarded to soldiers who had served in Laos and Cambodia, with country devices signifying to which area the individual served. The "Ha-Lao" (Laos) device was only given to veterans of Lam Son 719, as it was the only officially recognized operation in Laos undertaken by the republic.

Medal for Campaigns Outside the Frontier with "Ha-Lao" device,
 RVNHS Collection.

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