This photograph and article was published in the April 20, 1972 edition of
the Grand Forks Herald, Grand Forks, North Dakota. The caption reads:
Hard battle erupts anew
SAIGON (AP) - Heavy fighting erupted anew today on two sides of An Loc, 60 miles North of Saigon, after a 1,600-round enemy artillery bombardment of the war-torn provincial capital, Six North Vietnamese tanks were reported destroyed.
U.S. spokesmen disclosed meanwhile that ships of the U.S. 7th Fleet battled North Vietnamese MIG planes, torpedo boats and shore batteries this week in some of the heaviest sea action of the Indochina war.
The destroyer Higbee and the 7th Fleet flagship, the cruiser Oklahoma City, were damaged. Four Americans were wounded. A MIG jet that bombed the Higbee was shot down by a missile, the Navy said, and it was believed that three North Vietnamese torpedo boats were sunk and a fourth was damaged.
The allied commands also reported that the North Vietnamese offensive, now in it's 22nd day, pushed Vietnamese casualties on both sides last week to their highest levels since the 1968 Tet offensive. The South Vietnamese command reported 1,002 of its troops and 7,117 enemy killed; the U.S. Command reported 12 American battlefield deaths for the second week in a row, the biggest total in six months.
The South Vietnamese command said that its paratroopers and rangers were locked in heavy fighting at midway half a mile North and a mile East of An Loc. Twenty U.S. B52's dropped 500 tons of explosives on three sides of the city, trying to break up the enemy concentrations besieging the city. Field reports said North Vietnamese troops spearheaded by tanks renewed the attack from the North and from the Southeast. One battle 2 ½ miles Southeast of the city around a paratrooper position known as Hill 169 was described as "close combat," and casualties were believed to be heavy on both sides.
The ground attacks were preceded by a 1,600 round artillery barrage from dawn until dusk Wednesday, and enemy bombardment was renewed today. The Saigon command claimed about 150 enemy killed in and around An Loc Wednesday and today, many of them by air strikes. It said government casualties were light.
On the Northern front, South Vietnamese forces claimed 142 North Vietnamese killed and two tanks knocked out in fighting near Dong Ha, 10 miles South of the demilitarized zone, and near Fire Base Bastogne, 12 miles Southwest of Hue. Four South Vietnamese were reported killed and 35 wounded.
The U.S. Command reported that one American was killed and two wounded when two rockets hit a Navy salvage yard near the coastal city of Qui Nhon. Two other Americans were reported missing after their small observation helicopter was shot down in the central highlands.
The sudden emergence of the small North Vietnamese navy and the use of MIGs to attack 7th Fleet Ships for the first time in the war posed a new challenge to the U.S. sea forces supporting the South Vietnamese.
The 7th Fleet disclosed in a delayed report that the destroyer Hammer, while bobbarding the North Vietnamese coastline last Monday, attacked what were believed to be two fast torpedo boats. One was believed sunk and the other damaged, the Navy said. There was no damage to the Hammer, the Navy said.
The day before on Sunday, the Hammer sailed into the mouth of Haiphong harbor with guns blazing to rescue a Navy pilot shot down during the heavy American air attack. President Nixon cited the Hammer's skipper CDR Edward A. Hamilton of Honolulu, and the crew for gallantry.