February 28 This day during the Vietnam War

February 28,1968 – Fighting at FSB Andersen, 17−28 February 1968 The Australian defence of FSB Andersen was left to 3 RAR, a troop of M113 armoured personnel carriers from A Squadron, 3 CAV and a troop of engineers from 1st Field Squadron. Artillery support was provided by 161st Field Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery and the American 155-millimetre (6.1 in) M109 self-propelled medium guns of B Battery, 2/35th Artillery Regiment. A radar detachment from 131st Divisional Locating Battery was also attached as were elements of 161st Reconnaissance Flight. A Company, 3 RAR together with the supporting arms was left to defend the base, while the other three rifle companies continued reconnaissance-in-force operations throughout the AO. Airstrikes and artillery also targeted known Viet Cong base areas, however the number of ground contacts was limited. Late on the evening of 17/18 February the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army launched an assault on FSB Andersen. The first attack was preceded by a heavy rocket and mortar barrage in the early hours of the morning, followed by two waves of infantry each of company size. The attack focused on the south-west of the perimeter manned by 3 RAR’s echelon and mortar platoon, as well as an American medium artillery battery. The perimeter wire was subsequently breached, but the attack was repulsed by mortar counter-battery fire, Claymore mines and the heavy weight of machine-gun fire from armoured personnel carriers and the American gunners. The communist barrage had had a devastating effect, falling among the American and New Zealand gun positions, the mortar lines and the battalion echelon, as well as scoring a direct hit on an Australian engineer standing patrol. A second attack shortly after, this time from the north, was repelled by small-arms fire from the forward Australian pits. Total Viet Cong casualties were unknown, although four bodies were found on the wire at dawn, while numerous bloodstains and bandages were found during a later sweep of the perimeter and a suspected mortar base-plate location. Seven Australians and one American were killed, while 22 Australians and three Americans were wounded. As a result of the growing threat to the Australian base, the decision was made to reinforce FSB Andersen, with C Company, 3 RAR flown in by the time of the second attack two nights later. The APCs had also been redeployed to cover the south-east ridge and the southern approach from Trang Bom. The communist assault commenced just before midnight on 19 February, this time focussing on the south-east, and was preceded by heavy machine-gun fire. The attack was stopped short of the wire, regardless the forward pits were hit by rifle grenades, while the Assault Pioneer positions were attacked with satchel charges. The only casualties were four Viet Cong killed. The final attack on 28 February also began with a mortar attack, but the communist assault wave was broken up by mortar fire, and was forced to withdraw to the east. Three Americans were wounded. A clearing patrol later revealed that the Viet Cong had inserted a mortar team to the edge of the rubber trees by night in a Lambretta and a cart and had then manhandled the tubes into position. 3 RAR’s defence of FSB Andersen was the first occasion in the history of their operations in Vietnam that an Australian fire support base had been subjected to a ground assault while during all three attacks the cavalry and artillery in support had played a key role in the defence. Throughout the later part of the operation the patrolling rifle companies had systematically searched the AO and although contact was infrequent the patrols had been effective in denying the subsequent use of the area to launch rocket attacks against the bases in Long Binh and Bien Hoa. 

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