No more than a bare hilltop when first established, Ripcord was two and a half months later a heavily bunkered bastion standing ready to provide artillery coverage for the opening of three firebases directly in the objective area.
It was at that time, on the eve of the allied offensive, that the enemy struck at the intruders in their mountains. Mortar crews began shelling Ripcord early one morning, and small teams of enemy infantry engaged those units that choppered in to silence the mortars. Resupply helicopters came under heavy antiaircraft fire; two were downed.
In a terrible finale to that first day of surprised, a sapper force penetrated the perimeter of a company bivouacked for the night on a strategic peak two and a half kilometers southwest of Ripcord and demolished the unit from inside out. The sappers themselves also suffered heavy losses.
Thus began the battle for Firebase Ripcord.
From Ripcord: Screaming Eagles Under Siege, Vietnam 1970 by Keith W. Nolan. © 2000. Presidio Press. Used with permission. For more information visit www.presidiopress.com