The Newton Citizen (Georgia) has posted an article chronicling the story of Paul Longgrear, a US Army officer who commanded a special forces unit in Vietnam that engaged a unit of North Vietnamese PT-76 tanks.
Lang Vei soon received a warning from the NSA to stop patrolling trails. The NSA had overheard NVA orders to set up ambushes and reposition men and equipment. The “beast” was stirring.
“The NVA overran the village of Khe Sanh near the Marine base in late January,” Longgrear recalled. “Apparently they thought the Marines would bail out the village, but our mobile strike force hit the NVA from their rear. We killed a bunch of bad guys, but it caused the NVA to change tactics. Instead of using tanks against the Khe Sanh Marine base, they used two tank battalions against Lang Vei, that’s 16 PT-76 tanks.”
Feb. 6, 2330 hours: Sgt. Nickolas Fragos reports, “tanks inside the wire.”
“That’s when all your training kicks in,” Longgrear said. “We left the TOC to man 81mm mortars. It was pitch dark outside, so we lit up the night with illumination rounds so the Montagnards could see the NVA infantry. A tank without infantry support is a rolling coffin.”