Hamburger Hill

Topics: A Shau Valley, Battle of Hamburger Hill, Battalion Pages: 3 (778 words) Published: May 28, 2013
Hamburger Hill, 1969
The battle took place on Dong Ap Bia (Ap Bia Mountain) in the rugged, jungleshrouded mountains along the Laotian border of South Vietnam. Rising from the floor of the western A Shau Valley, Ap Bia Mountain is a looming, solitary massif, unconnected to the ridges of the surrounding Annamite range. It dominates the northern valley, towering some 937 meters above sea level. Snaking down from its highest peak are a series of ridges and fingers, one of the largest extending southeast to a height of 900 meters, another reaching south to a 916-meter peak. The entire mountain is a rugged, uninviting wilderness blanketed in double- and triple-canopy jungle, dense thickets of bamboo, and waist-high elephant grass. Local Montagnard tribesmen called Ap Bia “the mountain of the crouching beast.” LTC Weldon Honeycutt, commander of the 3d Battalion, 187th Infantry (the “Rakkasans”), called it “Hill 937.” The Soldiers who fought there dubbed it “Hamburger Hill.”

The fight on Hamburger Hill occurred during Operation Apache Snow, the second part of a three-phased campaign intended to destroy North Vietnam Army (NVA) bases in the treacherous A Shau Valley. The American and South Vietnamese units participating in Apache Snow knew, based on existing intelligence and previous experiences in the A Shau, that they were in for a tough fight. Beyond that, however, they had little evidence as to the enemy’s actual strength and dispositions. Masters of camouflage, the NVA completely concealed their bases from aerial surveillance. When the NVA moved, they did so at night along trails covered by triple-canopy jungle, again confounding observation from above. They effected their command and control mainly by runner and wire, leaving no electronic signature for the Americans to monitor or trace. Technology, therefore, provided scant assistance to the American battalion commander trying to “see the enemy” during Apache Snow. He had to generate his own tacticalintelligence....
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