Small Wars Journal

Climbing Hamburger Hill 50 Years After The Vietnam War’s Brutal, Haunting Battle

Climbing Hamburger Hill 50 Years After The Vietnam War’s Brutal, Haunting Battle by Paul Schemm – Washington Post

DONG AP BIA, Vietnam — We climbed the worn stairs heading steeply up the mountain into the heavy jungle. They looked like the way to some forgotten temple complex a thousand years old but had actually been built just 10 years ago to ease the ascent to Dong Ap Bia, the Crouching Beast, Hill 937 — Hamburger Hill.

It is one of the most famous battles of the long Vietnam War. It inspired a movie and congressional hearings, symbolizing for some the incredible bravery of the American infantry in Vietnam and for others the futility and waste of the war.

We weren’t climbing those stairs to settle that question, though we had others. Where exactly on this hill had the battle been fought all those years ago? On May 10, 1969, the U.S. Army’s most decorated unit, the 3rd Battalion of the 187th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, known as the Rakkasans, spent 10 days taking this hill against a deeply entrenched enemy. Every year the veterans mark the anniversary of the battle in Fort Campbell, Ky., and this year it’s the 50th.

The approach from the east side of the hill was the easy way up. This terrain didn’t play much of a role in the battle; instead, accounts of the war describe most of the 10 days of brutal combat taking place on ridges to the north and west of the hill…

Read on.