FROM THE BOOK: Just after my helicopter took off, communist antiaircraft guns located north of An Loc directed a ferocious barrage at us. Luckily, not one round hit our helicopter, but when we tried to land at Loc Ninh, the curtain of North Vietnamese antiaircraft fire was so thick my American pilot was unable to land there.
Looking down on Loc Ninh from above, my heart sank. Smoke curled skyward from the town. Heavy artillery barrages rained down on district military headquarters and the headquarters of 9th Regiment, 5th Division. . . .
"The struggle for freedom in Vietnam goes on," said General Tran Van Nhut on the occasion of a Vietnam memorial's dedication in 2004. "It is a peaceful but unfinished war."
Tran Van Nhut grew up with a great love for his country's history and served in the Army of South Vietnam from the Republic's inception in 1954 until its demise in 1975. In 1970, he was appointed province chief of Binh Long (Peaceful Dragon) Province and commander of its Regional, Popular, and People's Self Defense Forces. It was in that capacity that he became involved in the sixty-six-day Battle of An Loc, in 1972, which ended in a significant South Vietnamese victory.