The World: The Wan Edge of an Abyss

NO, no, South Viet Nam's President Nguyen Van Thieu emphatically insisted. The Laotian invasion, Lam Son 719, had not ended in "defeat, disorder, disaster." Sitting on some ammunition boxes among the pine trees of the cemetery at Dong Ha, an ARVN base seven miles south of the Demilitarized Zone, Thieu told newsmen and South Vietnamese troops that Laos was, in fact, "the biggest victory ever."

Even as Thieu spoke, 45 American helicopters were flapping into Laos for what he called a "new-type operation": a quick raid by ARVN Hac Bao (Black Panther) commandos about...

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