Siege of Dak To

Siege of Dak To

May thru July of 1969

The buzz of the incoming rockets caught the men of the 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat) in their noon chow lines. One second they were standing around joking with one another, the next they were frantically scrambling for cover as panicked voices yelled “INCOMING!  INCOMING!”

Vietnam Magazine Article December 2007
by: Edward F Murphy
Copyright © 2007
Famous Author/Historian

“…it had been a brutal three months for the 299th. In that brief time the four companies defending Dak To suffered 45% casualties.”


Click here for the entire story


Many thanks to John Bobb for providing the information.  John writes:

… I thought a lot of the guys that arrived early enough for the 11/1967, Dak To action might find a website interesting.  I found it interesting because Dak To is where I was in March 1969, when I left country.  There was hardly anyone there.  My 1st. Lt. CO was the base cmdr., and I was the XO.  There is a website, basically called the defenders of Dak To.  That is enough info to find it.  Long story short, a bunch of engineers, etc. were left to defend the whole place, for an extended Battle.  Supposedly Gen. Abrams, showed up and asked the Americans where a cetain ARVN bn. was that he had ordered up there, and he found out they never showed up.  He left these Americans up there with their asses hanging out.  Anyway a mention about this website may be of interest.

26 thoughts on “Siege of Dak To

  1. There is an untold story about dak to that “no one” has said a word about. These men were called The Dirty 30. I know about these men, I was one of them. It was my honor to serve with them . I was an assistant gunner on a mortar tube.
    The story about The Dirty 30 needs to be told. It needs to be “declassified.” We were not a myth, we existed. We were a strong part in the defence of Dak To. We are the untold fighters/defenders of Dak To.
    Who is left to tell the untold story about The Dirty 30?
    We existed

    • I was there too from Jan’69 to Mar’69. A levy came down for all 11bravos to go to the field where I was assigned to the 1stAirCavalry. I have 2 pictures of the sign that reads ‘Security PLT. / Home of the Dirty 30 / 299th Engr BN (C)’. The best part of that experience was the beer drinking games we played after our duty shift waas over. I had the M-14 with a bipod.

      • I worked for the Battalion Commander of the 1/92 Arty, the US Artillery Commander for Dak To and the 24th Special Tactical Zone. Your unit, and ours, were the first battalion-sized units to lose all US infantry ground support in Vietnam after Nixon was elected. I’m writing about the Siege of Dak To/Ben Het, the road work and clearing details you guys did, our responsibilty for artillery support for a 1200 square mile area and of 200 miles of the Cambodian border. You guys were the greatest! I was in Dak To the day that the ARVN helicopter revetments got hit by 122s from Rocket Ridge. I’m writing about our experience and would appreciate any input I could have regarding how your mission got laid on you by surprise, and how little recognition your people and your unit got for your efforts. Our PUC got kicked back and downgraded because the administration didn’t want the American people to know how poorly the ARVN were doing or would do in the future. At the same time teh South Vietnamese took over the Public Information for the 24th STZ, and, as “unttached” units (thikn: utility players) we had no PI Officers, barely enoug of anything, and we got swept aside. Can tou guys help fill in some of the gaps?

  2. I Crewed a 283rd dustoff medivac and went into dakto many times during the seige..a cannon across the border fired at the helipad taking 20second to hit where we loaded was a short stop.i was awarded the cross of gallantry with bronze star by the vn govt..for going in ..we were told we were the only helicopters that landed there..once a cobra pilot circling the gun across the border told us when it fired at us.i still have the medal and award documents in 2 languages eng and vn…supplys including pigs were all air dropped..poor pigs .. spec 4 dell johnson us50293130 283rd med det pliku vn

    • We were told a 2000 man supply convoy was turned back by the NVA during the seige. the NVA forward observer called the artillery across the border every time we flew over the rise and came into sight of the NVA FO in and out 20sec. We landed on a US soldiers foot once that was helping load the wounded..he didnt even have time to yell..we evaced a lot of Vietnamese, men, women etc if I remember right.. my co.was not told how bad it was in there. And the cannons across the border were off limits to return fire…at least by the cobra gun ship over them.US50203130 sp4 us army.Dell Johnson 1948 to date 2014 fbks alaska

    • Dell, I was a combat engineer with the 299th Engineer Battalion and was wounded during the Siege of Dak To.
      It was the brave man like you who saved my life, you all are my heroes.
      Thank you so much for all you did.
      Your brother forever, Donald Farrar

      • Dell, I was the Bn CO’s “go to”guy for the 1/92 Arty, and was at Dak To during the siege, and all over the 24th STZ, too. The guns you speak of were in Cambodia, across the border, behind steel doors, on tracks, shooting at the Ben Het Special Forces camp and FB 12. The 299th did the best they could to keep the roads open, but the ARVN ground troops wouldn’t get with the program. We had 2 guns completely covered – in bunkers that were working on those three guns, and finally, with the help of SP Forces and their ‘Yards” we figured out how to make it happen, and got one gun toward the end of the siege. I’m collecting information to add to a story that’s never been told. Can you contribute?

  3. Please don’t forget the men of the 1/92nd A battery. They stood their ground and returned fire as they were being fired on. They lost 5 good men when a 122 rocket landed in their para pit and many more were wounded. While the South Vietnamese Artillery hid in heir bunkers. We were there too.

    • I took pictures of those guns about 4 hours before the rockets hit them.
      I’d be happy to share them with anyone interested.
      Shoot me an email address where to send them.
      I was with the 299th Engrs.

      • . I am interested in seeing the pictures you took. My e-mail is I was with A Battery, 1/92 during the Siege of Dak To. We had four tubes at Dak To and two at Ben Het. From May to June we had 8 KIA and 33 WIA for a casualty rate of 60%.

      • D Company 299th Engineers. I was there all the way through 69. Did the mind sweeps from Dak To to Ben Het.

      • I was with A Co. 299th. I was across the air strip when the 8 inch took that dirrect hit. We walked accross the air strip picking up body parts and putting them where we were told. I have memories that will never leave. I’d like to see the pictures. Thanks, Tom what co. where you in? I wa in A Co. 3rd platton.

      • Sounds like Vic Cusworth to me! This is Haydon from HHB. I still am involved and am trying to get us the recognition we deserve. If you were with A Btry you are a true warrior – if you were in support from HHB or SVC Btry, you were a true warrior, too. Ben Het was Hell on Earth. Dak To was driveable. That happened in June ’69. I’m collecting stories, and I know you have some. Get back to me, bro, and I’ll put it in print.! I’m trying to get our Presidential Unit Citation restored, and presented at the reunion in Canon City, CO in 2019 – the 50th anniversary of the Siege of Dak Ton and Ben Het. Can you help? I want the Engineers to get a piece of this, too.

    • Vic, I was with the 1/92 also, working for LTC Thompson. The ARVNs were unprepared and not motivated enough to do us any good. The Engineers and the artillery (dusters, quad 50s, 105s, 155s and 175/8″ pieces) were what held Dak To together. LTC Thompson assigned me to submit the Presidential Unit Citation for the 1/92 when he left the command. I could never understand why the PUC was downgraded to a Valorous Unit Award until I started reading the Nixon Tapes transcriptions and learned that we had been hung out to dry, and that it was to appear that the ARVNs did all the heavy lifting. The Engineers confirm this, as do the MACV types I’ve been in contact with. I am resubitting our PUC and am intending to include the Engineers in the citation. Let me know if you have any Engineer contacts, or any information about the ARVN’s failure to perform during that fateful time. Brave Cannons! Gunn Haydon, SP6E6, HHB 1/92, Oct 68 – Oct 69.

    • The Engineers at Dakto showed only rank and 18th Engineer Brigade patch. Most wore rank pins (not sewed patch) so they could be removed ” as a last resort”. Our Dak To Defender patches were issued just prior to leaving in mid July, by companies, from Col. Newman Howard, BN. Commander.

  4. I served with Charlie Co 299th 1-66 to 11-66. Transferred to HHc in Nov 66. spent next 2 months spraying pentaprime on the taxi way at Kontum Special Forces camp. came home Jan 1967. I’d like to thank all of those who served. I’m proud to tell everyone I served in the 299th. I’m now 100% disable agent orange connected,

      • Hi Jim, I don’t remember you but I’ve run across your name many times looking for people who served with us, I have only found 2 so far Jack Mircoff from New Jersey And James Herron in Indiana. I also live in Elkhart Ind.

  5. My Dad was 15th Engineer Co (Light Equipment). He was a heavy vehicle driver. He was there in 67. If anyone recalls Thomas H. Graskey (Tommy) feel free to email me.

    Thanks. And Welcome Home, Gentlemen.

  6. My name is Jerry Melcher, I was one of the two medics at Doc To from Feb to Sep 68. The other medic was Stacy, he was Canadian. Our job was to take care of the guys both in camp and on mine sweeps.I would like to hear from guys I served with.

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