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Khe Sanh is the district capital of Hướng Hoá District, Quảng Trị Provincemarker, Vietnammarker, located 63 km west of Đông Hà.
Khe Sanh base, 1968
Diagram of base.
Khe Sanh Combat Base was a United States Marine Corps outpost in South Vietnam (MGRS 48QXD850418) used during the Vietnam War. The airstrip was built in September 1962. Fighting began there in late April of 1967 known as the "Hill Fights", which later expanded into the 1968 Battle of Khe Sanhmarker. U.S. commanders hoped that the North Vietnamese Army would attempt to repeat their famous victory at the Battle of Dien Bien Phumarker, and the battle ended as a failure for the North Vietnamese Army. The defense of Khe Sanh became one of the largest sieges of the war and commanded heavy international attention in the media one of several climactic phases of the Tet Offensive. On July 5, 1968, Khe Sanh was abandoned, the U.S. Army citing the vulnerability of the base to enemy artillery. However, the closure permitted the 3rd Marine Division to construct mobile firebase operations along the northern border area.

In 1971 Khe Sanh was reactivated by the US Army (Operation Dewey Canyon II) to support Operation Lam Son 719, the South Vietnamese incursion into Laosmarker. It was abandoned again sometime in 1972. In March 1973, American officials in Saigon reported that North Vietnamese troops had rebuilt the old airstrip at Khe Sanh and were using it for courier flights into the south. Today Khe Sanh Combat Base is a museum where relics of the war are exhibited. Most of the former base is now overgrown by wilderness or coffee and banana plants. However, to this day nothing will grow on the airstrip itself.

United States President's Inaugural Address

On January 20, 2009, the President of the United States Barack Obama, referred to the Battle of Khe Sanhmarker in his Inaugural Address:

[I]t has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

US produced news reel about Khe Sanh

Popular culture

The Australian rock group Cold Chisel used "Khe Sanh" for the title of a song about an Australian Vietnam veteran. The song describes the bitterness felt by many Australian conscripts following the war. In reality few Australians served at Khe Sanh during the war.

Bruce Springsteen also mentions Khe Sanh in the third verse of his song "Born In the USA".

The battle is mentioned by the character Walter Sobchak, played by John Goodman in the film The Big Lebowski. While giving a eulogy about his friend Donny moments before scattering his ashes, he begins to speak about the Vietnam War, and says:

He died.... He died, as so many young men of his generation, before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright, flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdok, and Hill 364. These men gave their lives.


Yet another pop-culture reference came in the 1997 movie That Thing You Do when at the end it is revealed that the Bass Player, whose character was never given a name, got a Purple Heart at the battle of Khe Sanh.

Notes

  1. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/inauguration_obama_text;_ylt=AvJmhY6uxhzBJyRPbp3z9sYGw_IE



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