Battle of Y Bridge
The Old Reliable
May 22, 1968
Over 700 invaders killed by Reliables in five days of fighting
Saigon - A sustained enemy drive to invade this capital city from
the south was smashed by the 9th Division forces in five days of
grueling combat May 7-11.
Division infantrymen, armored personnel carriers, gun ships and
artillery mowed down over 700 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army
regulars who tried each day to enter the capital via the
Y-Bridge and Kinh Doi Canal
from the Presidential Palace.
The enemy's renewed but diminished show of strength prior to the
Paris peace talks sent thousands of men, women and children pouring
across the bridge, seeking refuge inside the city. Many didn't
make it, as the communists honored no distinction between Allied
Forces and innocent civilians.
Old Reilable units lost 27 killed in the five-day fight.
Action first exploded before dawn May 7 when an estimated VC
platoon assaulted the Y-Bridge leading into downtown Saigon. At
the same time, an ARVN outpost farther west came under siege by an
APCs of the 5th Mechanized Battalion, 60th
Infantry, which had helped repel hostile intruders from Cholon
during February's Tet turmoil, sped into the area from the Mekong
As Company C, 5th/60th approached the
ARVN outpost, it encountered heavy small arms, automatic weapons and
B-50 rocket fire. Simultaneously, Company
A, 5th/60th, racing to intercept the enemy at the bridge, also
met intense VC fire. Gunships and artillery supported both ____.
At dawn, U.S. air strikes raked the area, killing many VC who had
taken cover in a nearby factory complex. When the trapped
communists tried to flee south across open rice paddies, they were
battered by gun ships of the 3rd Squadron, 5th Armored Cavalry, and
7th Squadron, 1st Air Cavalry.
While Company A sealed off the bridge
access, Company C's tracks roared through
the factory rubble from the west, shutting off the enemy in a cement
block building near the center of the complex. All the while,
Huey Cobras and the new OH-6A Cayuse gun ships hammered the VC
position with mini guns and rockets.
The enemy body count reached 213 as fighting tapered off by late
afternoon. Contact continued into the night, with ARVN Rangers
moving into the east side of the complex to complete the deadly pincer
Early the next morning, elements of the 3d Battalion, 39th
Infantry, were summoned from Long An Province to guard the southern
entrances to the city. Reaching the Kinh Doi Canal, a major
shipping lane bordering the district of Cholon, the unit received
heavy fire from dwellings in the area. A house-to-house
counterattack chased enemy snipers to the roofs in a vain attempt to
halt the 3d/39th. Allied gun ships again devastated the
battleground with mini guns and rockets.
Meanwhile, further south, the 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, turned
back another enemy force on its way to Saigon.
In all, 115 enemy perished during the second day of fighting.
At about 10 a.m. May 9, elements of the 5th/60th
ran into heavy contact along the canal, while the
3d/39th engaged the enemy near the bridge.
As fighting intensified, the 2d Mechanized Battalion, 47th Infantry
rushed from Camp Bearcat, 20 miles away, to assist in parrying the
When heavy small arms and rocket fire greeted the 2d/47th tracks
east of the bridge, the Panthers answered with .50 cal machineguns,
which together with gun ships and air strikes, soon forced another
The Division's newest maneuver battalion, the 6th/31st Infantry,
encountered its first significant contact since arriving in Vietnam in
early April. Most of the action flared between Highways 15 and
230. At one point during the afternoon, the 6th/31st forces were
pinned down, but they soon overcame the snipers and moved to secure
the bridge north and south of the contact.
Toward evening, the enemy had lost an additional 169 men.
Earlier in the day, gun ships of the 3d/5th Cav spotted 20
medium-sized sampans hidden in a cove along a stream about 1,000 yards
from the contact. They were covered with blue plastic material
and contained packs, webbing and food. The gunships quickly
Shortly after, about 3,000 yards from the battle site, gun ships
observed two enemy 107mm rocket positions, mounted and ready to fire.
The gun ships disposed of the sites and the two rocket warheads near
On May 10, Division units continuing to sweep and secure the
southern fringes of Saigon, combined to kill 106 enemy in separate
engagements throughout the day.
At least 13 kills were credited to gun ships from Troop B, 1st. Cav
and D Troop, 3d/5th Cav.
The next day was relatively tranquil until about 7:20 p.m. when the
3d/39th exchanged heavy fire with the enemy about 500 yards south of
the Y-Bridge. Air strikes and gun ships helped the infantrymen
kill 80 VC in the two-hour struggle.
At the same time, eight miles south of Saigon, the 6th/31st felled
24 enemy in an hour-long battle punctuated by air strikes and gun
at Y Bridge
Awards presented to Saigon heroes
Saigon - Standing on the ground where one week earlier many had
fought and some had died, men of the 9th division paid homage to the
dead and honored the living May 20.
In a muddy pagoda yard only a few hundred feet from the Y Bridge on
Saigon's southern edge, generals of the U.S. Army, Air Force and
Vietnamese Army gave tribute to the combat successes of their men.
Major General Julian J. Ewell, 9th Division Commander, praised the
Division's 3d Brigade, the artillery units, the cavalry, the assault
helicopters and the Air Force. He also said the Vietnamese
National Police, ARVN Rangers, Regional and Poplar Forces units fought
General Ewell stated that "with indomitable courage and dogged
perseverance, elements of the 2d Battalion, 47 Infantry; 3rd
Battalion, 39th Infantry; 5th Battalion, 60th
Infantry; and 6th Battalion, 31st Infantry, initially set up an
impenetrable defense and then counterattacked, destroying or driving
away every enemy unit and solider. These units killed more than
one thousand of the enemy."
Thirty decorations were presented by the Vietnamese government to
the U.S. soldiers. Included were the Cross fo Gallantry with
Palm to Brigadier General Morgan G. Roseborough, assistant Division
commander; Colonel Josiah A. WallaceJr., commander of Division
Artillery; Colonel George C. Benson, 3d Brigade commander; Lieutenant
Colonel Anthony P. DeLuca, 3d/39th commander; and
Staff Sergeant Willie Holmes, platoon sergeant
of Company A, 5th/60th.
Seventy-four U.S. soldiers received the Silver Star or Bronze Star
with V device for valor. Three Army and four Air Forcemen
received the Distinguished Flying Cross; two Air Force pilots and an
air liaison officer received the Silver Star.
Six symbolic spot awards of the Silver Star were made to 10 men who
died during the Saigon fighting.
U.S. awards were presented to the deputy police commissioner of
Saigon and the district chief.
The commanding general of III Corps, Lieutenant General Ke Nhuyen
Khang, presented the decorations for his government.
Lieutenant General Bruce Palmer Jr., deputy commander of USARV,
presented the U.S. Arm awards. Major General Robert F. Worley,
vice commander of the 7th Air Force, pinned the awards ont eh Air
Even as the ceremony took place on the southern edge of the Kinh
Doi Canal, which the VC never crossed, armed soldiers were positioned
on nearby rooftops and APCs ringed the area.