Operation Nevada Eagle


Mi Sergeant
MI.Net Member
Mar 20, 2004
Taken from the 101st Airborne Divisions magazine " Rendezvous With Destiny" spring 1969 issue.

288 days of Nevada Eagle

by Spec. 5 Alan Magary

A long steady period of fighting and tracking the enemy reached its end February 28 1969. Screaming Eagles hurt the enemy bad, kept him from a repetition of the 1968 Tet Offensive, kept him away from the populated coastal plains and also invaded the enemy’s own areas. Posting invisible signs everywhere in Thua Thien Province:

This is Eagle Country

The country down below is spread out like a giant map. There is the pure blue of the South China Sea, then a ribbon of white sand beaches interrupted in places by the jet black rock that jumps the beaches and plunges directly into the boiling water. As you continue to fly with the sun westward, there are grand expanses of green checkerboard – here and there lines of brown, here a dike, there a trail. Small houses, gardens and palm trees. Tiny figures moving. Quiet and peaceful, a village. Nearby, another. Then – the first outcrop on the plain, a hill with a row of houses nestled beneath it. Then – streaking north and south, a black line: Highway 1. Off to the right, a large walled city, a child’s building blocks scattered around according to some plan: Hue, the Imperial City.

But now, below, the rice paddies blend into scrub land and small hills. Now there are clouds, low clouds hung from the sky, overlapping the hills. A mountain jumps out of the earth, its summit hidden in silent, mysterious mist. Another and another and still more mountains. There is no sign of life now. Then – the jungle, the triple canopy jungle, dark and green, forbidden. On the ground, you would be living in a continual ghostly half-light, – the sunlight filtering down with an occasional clearing. Now – rows and rows of giant peaks – cloud covered. The Valley – the A Shau. A darkened plain covered with elephant grass , tangled vegetation and mountains. You don’t want to go down there. Finally, somewhere below, an invisible line: Laos, a sanctuary.

This is the I Corps Tactical Zone, Thua Thien Province: Hue and environs, the coastal plains, the jungles, the mountains.

This is Eagle Country but it was not always so. I Corps has been the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the Vietnam War. Once you were not safe in many places on that giant map – you were not even that safe in the sky. For hidden in the jungles and mountains, hidden in the villages and towns that dot the coastal plain was – the enemy. The enemy was everywhere. Hue was held for 22 days in February 1968 by the enemy, and was recaptured only after bloody house to house fighting by American Army and Marine units and Vietnamese troops.

Now the situation has changed. Thua Thien Province does not belong to the enemy any longer – it belongs to the people, and the ground troops are steadily taking a tighter hold on the property deed.

to be continued..........
Ohhhhh Bill ! , keep it coming please :)
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288 days of Nevada Eagle

by Spec. 5 Alan Magary…… continued

During Operation Nevada Eagle, Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division together with the 1st Division ARVN and other South Vietnamese forces have dealt the enemy fatal blows.

Here are the statistics, barren as they are…………….

Troopers of the 101st killed 1,915 Viet Cong and 1,384 North Vietnam Army regulars, for a total of 3,299.

798 VC were detained, along with 55 NVA

714 communists rallied to the government of South Vietnam under the Chieu Hoi program

Screaming Eagles broke into the enemy’s arms room and seized 3,702 weapons, including more then 300 crew served weapons

The 101st raided the enemy’s pantry and carried off 667.9 tons of rice.

Enormous, almost uncounted quantities of munitions and equipment were captured.

The figures need to be translated…Screaming Eagles killed the equivalent of eight 400 man enemy battalions. Two battalions more were captured and the men of two more battalions surrendered. At the same time, troopers of the 101st captured enough weapons to arm approximately nine enemy battalions. And the enemy also went hungry. Enough rice was captured to feed the men of 10 NVA battalions for about a year.

In compiling these statistics since May 17, 1968, Screaming Eagles stunned the enemy in contacts on the populated coastal plain and sent him reeling into the jungle mountains in the western part of the A.O. and even into Laos to lick his wounds. He could not come back to the lowlands without further penalty.

But the troopers of the 101st used their new wings – helicopters – and pursued the enemy into his hiding places deep in the mountains. The enemy was kept running, kept from organizing and moving to any attack.

And so, in Hue and the other cities in the lowlands people stood up and began to rebuild.

The operation was conducted by the 1st and 2nd Brigades of the 101st and the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division until early October 1968, when the Screaming Eagle 3rd Brigade in III Corps (my unit) and the All Americans of the 82nd changed places. Nevada Eagle was under the command of Maj. Gen. O.M. Barsanti until mid-July, and thereafter commanded by Maj. Gen. Melvin Zais, “Lucky Eagle.”

To be continued……………
288 days of Nevada Eagle

by Spec. 5 Alan Magary…… continued

Nevada Eagle started the day after Operations Carentan II and Delaware concluded. In the latter operation, Screaming Eagles of the 1st Brigade and 1/502 Abn Inf blocked off enemy supply routes leading out of the A Shau Valley. ( And shortly after Nevada Eagle ended, division troopers whet back into the A Shau to initiate Operation Massachusetts Striker).

In August, as part of Nevada Eagle, 2/502 and 2 /327 air assaulted back into the A Shau for Operation Somerset Plain. The 17 day raid netted 170 NVA killed, four POW’s and 58 individual and crew served weapons captured.

In another highlight of Nevada Eagle, the 2nd Brigade’s 1/501st and ARVN elements combat assaulted onto Vinh Loc Island, a self-acclaimed haven for the enemy, and established a cordon. 154 NVA and VC were killed, 370 POW’s and 178 weapons captured. The operation was so successful that it became a model for cordon operations everywhere in Vietnam and was even added to the curriculum of the Infantry School at Fort Benning Ga.

Cordon operations were very frequent after the first week in June, when there were was decreasing contact with platoon size or larger enemy forces. Cordon operations were conducted in Phu Vang District at the end of September, late October and in December and January. Phu Loc and Truoi were cordoned successfully and further cordons were established on Vinn Loc Island.

The enemy was impressed by the skill shown by combined forces and the thoroughness of the tactics. Maj. Hoang Ban Trung, a Viet Cong assigned as a troop proselytizer, wrote in despair to his superiors:

“The enemy is using the sweep and occupy tactics……So doing, they cause a lot of headaches to us…….Most of the military action cadre were killed……After a cordon is established they push forward the communist denunciation movement, keep pressure and watch closely our infrastructure , some of them have already defected, or detected by ralliers. This caused much trouble among the people; the people now lose confidence in the final victory of the people’s revolution.

Even our secret agents surrendered to the enemy. It is very difficult to build up new agents or infrastructure now. We could not go into hamlets to get in touch with our men because the enemy has a very effective control and checking system. No one is left now to carry out the military action program, and even if there are some left, it would do no good now.

As to me, I have no problem with my health but I am very thin and tense every moment now”

Three weeks after writing this, Trung was killed by troopers of D/1/502 and his letter captured.

Trungs comrades in the mountains must have been in despair too. Every where they went, there was the Eagle waiting for them. If they stayed too long in one place, the Eagle came down from the sky to find them. If they moved to a safer place, the Eagle found them, and called in artillery, gunships and air strikes.

Shortly after Nevada Eagle ended, Maj. Gen. Zais paid simple tribute to his solders:

“They are truly men to match the mountains and jungles.”

The Eagle flies with the sun, westward. He passes over the churning sea, the ribbon of beach, the pattern of rice paddies and villages – the hills that become mountains, the continuous clouds over the mountains to the Valley.

His country, Eagle Country. The parts which are not his……….soon will be.

Robert Bruce Randall

Am looking for information about my fraternity brother, Robert Bruce Randall, who was killed
8/29/1968 in Thua Thien Province .


I ran into a young SSG with a 101st combat patch on his uniform at Walmart yesterday. I'm happy to report that the Eagles are still kicking butt and taking names. Great story Bill.


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