The Virtual Wall, memorializing Vietnam casualties since 1997
The Virtual Wall, memorializing Vietnam casualties since 1997

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Xom Bo II
17June 1967

Xom Bo lies about 40 miles north-northeast of Saigon and perhaps 10 miles north of Phuoc Vinh. In June 1967 various intelligence reports placed the 271st VC Regiment in the area and the US 1st Infantry Division was tasked with rooting them out. There was reason to believe the VC were anticipating an air assault into a suitable clearing in the area (termed "Landing Zone X-Ray") and had prepared an ambush including both mining the landing zone and extensive anti-air defenses. The 1st Infantry Division staff decided that a ground assault would be preferable to an air assault - that troops on the ground would have a better chance of surprising the enemy and would incur fewer casualties than a helicopter assault into a hot landing zone. They were right - but Xom Bo still would be a bitter fight.

At about 0800 on 17 June 1967 four infantry companies - A and B Companies, 1/16 Infantry, and A and B Companies, 2/28th Infantry - were put on the march from Landing Zone Rufe, 2 miles to the south, to Landing Zone X-Ray. The lead elements were the two 1/16 companies and B/2/28, with A/2/28 bringing up the rear. LZ X-ray was an oval clearing of about 15 acres in size, with its long axis running roughly west to east. The surrounding area was heavily forested hills.

On arrival at the eastern point of LZ X-Ray at about 1030, A/1/16 took the lead, moving around the northern perimeter of the oval to the western point. B/1/16 followed, establishing the perimeter from the eastern entry point to midway up the oval where a juncture with A/1/16 was made. B/2/28 moved around the southern edge, forming a thin perimeter from the eastern entry to a juncture with A/1/16 at the western point. The plan was that when A/2/28 arrived they would take the southwestern edge of the oval while B/2/28's men displaced toward the southeastern edge.

It didn't quite work that way. As A/2/28 entered from the east at about 1215, A/1/16 and B/2/28 began taking heavy fire from the west - the Battle of Xom Bo II had begun.

Four companies of the 271st VC Regiment were assaulting LZ X-Ray from the west, and other VC elements were making a diversionary assault on the southern edge of the oval clearing. Air and artillery support were called in to form a barrier around the western section of LZ X-Ray, but large numbers of the VC already were too close to the US forces to be taken under fire by the supporting elements ... the infantrymen would have to protect themselves.

At 1306 hours three groups of enemy simultaneously assaulted the point where A/1/16's left flank joined B/2/28's right flank. Sixty to seventy Viet Cong were able to penetrate a portion of the position manned by the 3rd platoon, A/1/16, but were forced to withdraw by a combination of artillery, automatic weapons fire, and helicopter gunship support. The assault on B/2/28's right flank was equally unsuccessful; although the VC gained a foothold in the defensive positions they could not hold or exploit it.

Xom Bo II At about 1325 a five minute 60mm mortar barrage was directed against the western elements of A/1/16 and B/2/28, followed by a second assault against the US positions. This assault also was repelled. The Viet Cong did not make a third effort, but instead maintained harassing mortar fire to cover their withdrawal into the jungle.

The US troops dug in, and as night fell they anticipated a third attack - but it did not materialize. At dawn on 18 June the battlefield was policed; 222 dead VC were collected for burial. Thirty-five US soldiers had died in the fighting - and another died on 26 August of wounds received at Xom Boi:

U. S. Army photo: LZ X-Ray 17 June 1967. Medic from 1/16th Infantry searches the sky for a MEDEVAC helicopter to evacuate a wounded buddy. Photographer: PFC John Olson.

The men who died as a result of the battle at Xom Bo were

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Last updated on 23 July 2005