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After the Battle of Xuan Loc, 1975

Updated on June 28, 2011

The NVA had been force to divert the 325th Division and even began moving their 10th and 320th Divisions into position near Xuan Loc. Eventually, the 40,000 men of the NVA 4th Corps’ overran Xuan Loc. The ARVN 18th had 5,000 soldiers at Xuan Loc and had received 20,000 rounds of artillery and rocket fire. Yet, these men managed to virtually destroy three NVA Divisions. The ARVN losses were 2,036 killed or wounded and another 2,731 were captured. The NVA 4th Corps alone suffered 5000 killed in action, and another 1,428 were wounded including over 37 tanks lost. General Le Minh Dao, the heroic ARVN commander of the 18th Division was also captured. He was released from prison on May 4, 1992 and arrived in the United States in April 1993. The heroic defiant stand of the ARVN against the NVA 4th Corps had also altered the NVA plans to take Saigon. Instead, it gave the NVA 3rd and 2nd Corps instructions to seize the city, as 4th Corps was no shape for it. It was then relegated to a “reserve” corps. Years after the battle, key North Vietnamese leaders or commanders at the Xuan Loc battle expressed that Xuan Loc had not even been necessary for them to win and were mystified as why it was allowed to continue simply because a decision had been made to fight, especially how events unfolded then. Obviously, the NVA headquarters were not keeping each other informed about the progress. Thus, 4th Corps was like a “horse with blinders on” and its sole focus was on Xuan Loc. Its commander, General Tra, later stated, “our spearheads were making good progress but on April 10th, the situation changed. The enemy launched insane attacks even after suffering heavy casualties, enemy aircraft conducted savage bombing attacks. Our artillery complained about a shortage of ammunition. Our drive had stopped and faced severe and savage fighting and we were worried that our units were taking heavy losses, which was not to our advantage”.

Other leaders and commanders at the time of the battle even questioned the decision to seize the town amongst themselves, but did not dare to express their concerns to their superiors. General Tra was among them. Worse, even a Politburo member raised the question to General Dung about insisting on taking Xuan Loc. Dung’s response was, “I agree with you, but our people have already made a decision”.

The Battle of Xuan Loc remains one of South Vietnam's greatest battles and history's "last stands" similar to Little Big horn and countless others in military history.


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