Screaming Eagles Through Time
Vietnam - Page 7


The 101st Airborne (Airmobile) during Vietnam.

In mid-February, American and Vietnamese trucks loaded with more than 900 Vietnamese civilians arrived in Phong Dien District, marking the beginning of the resettlement of the infamous "Street Without Joy."

In the early 1950s, this 20-mile long strip of sandy flatland north of Hue was ravaged by the fierce battles between the French and the Viet Minh. When the communists staged their Tet offensive in 1968, the "Street Without Joy" again became the victim of was as the NVA pushed their forces through the area, forcing the inhabitants to flee their homes, leaving their possessions behind to be destroyed or confiscated by the advancing enemy. For two years the people were housed in Government refugee camps.

By early 1969, the main force enemy troops had been driven from the area and the 101st began a massive effort to resettle the refugees in their former homes. The "Rakkasans" of the 3rd of the 187th were ordered to the area in October of 1969 to root out the remaining VC Infrastructure and begin the arduous task of clearing the hundreds of enemy mines and booby traps scattered over the district. Shortly thereafter, engineers from the 326th Eng. Bn., started repairing and constructing roads which would connect the interior of the "Street Without Joy" with QL1 and its centers for commercial outlet.

Although Screaming Eagles had played a major role in planning and initiating resettlement by providing security, training defense cadre, building roads and carrying supplies into the area, actual resettlement of Phong Dien District was directed solely by the Vietnamese. The actual resettlement worked more smoothly than anticipated. By late April, more than 8000 people had returned to their homes.

On April 30, the eyes of the world were focused on the southern three Corps of Vietnam as Allied forces struck at communist sanctuaries in Cambodia. On May 4, the 101st's 3rd Bn., 506th Inf., operating with the U.S. 4th Inf. Div., joined in the assault, moving into the former NVA and VC sanctuaries in the Prek Drang base camp area of Cambodia, west of Pleiku City.

In three separate actions, the "Currahees" uncovered 520 tons of rice, 775 individual and crew-served weapons, and more than 9,000 rounds of ammunition while killing more than 65 of the enemy. The enemy area exploited by the "Currahee's" included staging areas used by the enemys B-3 Front which was involved in the battle of Ben Het in the summer of 1969 and the battle of Bu Prang Duc Lap in the fall of 1969.

In impressive ceremonies held at Thua Thien Province headquarters in Hue on May 23, the Vietnamese Civic Action Medal was formally presented to the 101st for its intensive involvement in the "health, cultural and social programs" in northern I Corps. The award was accepted by General Wright and General Melvin Zais.

The unit award, the first of its kind for the Screaming Eagles since arriving in country as a full division, was inclusive for the period of March 8, 1968 to May 2, 1970. In awarding the medal, Vietnamese Lt. Gen. Lam, I Corps commander, singled out the 101st for especially resettling 3,776 Vietnamese refugees, helping to return 76,648 persons to their homes, constructing 33 schools, 44 markets, 10 social institutions and 39 sanitation facilities.

In late 1971, and early 1972 the 101st Airborne Division began returning home to Fort Campbell. It was the last Army Division to leave South Vietnam. The 101st Airborne spent almost 7 years in combat in South Vietnam. During that time, the Division became one of the most feared units of the American Army. During Vietnam, Army forces were ordered to create black and green subdued shoulder insignia that were designed to blend in with the green uniform. The 101st is the only unit to retain their colored emblem. The North Vietnamese called the 101st the "Chicken Men" because of their insignia. (The Vietnamese had never seen an eagle before) Many enemy commanders warned their men to avoid the Chicken Men at all costs because any engagement with them, they were sure to lose.

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101st Airborne Division (Airmobile)
Republic of Vietnam

Phan Rang - Tuy Hoa - An Khe - Dak To - Quin Nhon - Song Be - Phan Thiet - Hue - Vinh Loc - A Shau Valley - Thua Thien - Dong Ap Bia - Quang Tri - Phuoc Yen - Mia Loc - Bach Ma - Bien Hoa - Phu Bai - Duc Pho - Ma Ca - Yung Tau - Kontum - Phong Dien - Gia Le - Tam Ky - Com Ranh Bay - Cu Chi - Van Xa