South Viet Nam: The Quickening Pace

More than 13,000 rounds of artillery had pocked the ridge north of Kontum, and more than 100 fighter-bomber strikes had added their bite. But the three battalions of North Viet Nam's 24th Regiment still clung to the high ground as Operation Hawthorne—and the first major battle of 1966 for the critical Central Highlands—entered its second week.

To avoid the heavy casualties of an uphill infantry assault, U.S. commanders devised a wily plan. While the men of the 101st Airborne and 1st Cavalry (Airmobile) stood back, poised to pounce, 900 tear gas grenades blossomed on the ridge to flush the Reds...

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