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The Battle at Ngok Tavak: Allied Valor and Defeat in Vietnam

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In May 1968, in the western jungle of Vietnam near Laos, a Special Forces Company under the command of an Australian army captain, supported by a U.S. Marine artillery detachment, occupied an old French fort on a hill known as Ngok Tavak. Though the ensuing battle and subsequent retreat appeared relatively insignificant, they proved to have much wider implications. Nearly In May 1968, in the western jungle of Vietnam near Laos, a Special Forces Company under the command of an Australian army captain, supported by a U.S. Marine artillery detachment, occupied an old French fort on a hill known as Ngok Tavak. Though the ensuing battle and subsequent retreat appeared relatively insignificant, they proved to have much wider implications. Nearly every major force in South Vietnam was involved, and the battle’s bloody ending came to stand as a microcosm of what went wrong in the war. In its wake Ngok Tavak left issues that cried out for resolution for decades afterwards. After interviewing battle survivors and American soldiers’ families, and searching through accounts from official reports that included Vietnamese documents, eyewitness statements, and war diaries, Bruce Davies pieces together the evidence that puts Ngok Tavak in context and addresses questions that still haunt those involved.


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In May 1968, in the western jungle of Vietnam near Laos, a Special Forces Company under the command of an Australian army captain, supported by a U.S. Marine artillery detachment, occupied an old French fort on a hill known as Ngok Tavak. Though the ensuing battle and subsequent retreat appeared relatively insignificant, they proved to have much wider implications. Nearly In May 1968, in the western jungle of Vietnam near Laos, a Special Forces Company under the command of an Australian army captain, supported by a U.S. Marine artillery detachment, occupied an old French fort on a hill known as Ngok Tavak. Though the ensuing battle and subsequent retreat appeared relatively insignificant, they proved to have much wider implications. Nearly every major force in South Vietnam was involved, and the battle’s bloody ending came to stand as a microcosm of what went wrong in the war. In its wake Ngok Tavak left issues that cried out for resolution for decades afterwards. After interviewing battle survivors and American soldiers’ families, and searching through accounts from official reports that included Vietnamese documents, eyewitness statements, and war diaries, Bruce Davies pieces together the evidence that puts Ngok Tavak in context and addresses questions that still haunt those involved.

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