“Khe Sanh, South Vietnam, March 1968: US Navy Hospital Corpsman Theodore Rutkowski of Pittsburgh lies on the ground just outside of Khe Sanh’s outer defenses and uses a stethoscope to listen for signs of Viet Cong tunneling beneath the beleaguered base. Covering him is US Marine Julian Kalama of San Lorenzo, Calif.”

Photographed by John Olson for Stars and Stripes

Friday, April 5
1550 I got the word today that our battalion may walk to Khe Sanh tomorrow. This could be disastrous. We’ve incurred a lot of dead and wounded since we’ve been here. I hope to God we make it alive. I’ve had a lot of close calls and I’m getting scared again. Everyone is scared of this area. The NVA are numerous and good fighters. We’re digging in again for tonight.


Saturday, April 6

1400 Well, we tried to walk from this LZ to Khe Sanh, but we had to come back as the two forward companies received effective fire. Now our company is supposed to air assault to 500 meters east of Khe Sanh. This is a glory push to see who can be the first to walk into Khe Sanh. I hope we make it.


Sunday, April 7

1045 We air assaulted to an open area on a mountain top and received light sniper fire. We found a complex (NVA) with rockets, mortars-tube and ammo-AK-47s, and all sorts of material. I have a sharp AK-47 which I hope to keep. We are to go to Khe Sanh.


Monday, April 8

1130 Today, D company was the first to walk into Khe Sanh on Highway Nine in two months. The Marines had been pinned in, but now they can move. My platoon was the first in. This place is bunkers and trenches. The in-coming artillery is deadly.


Colonel Joseph E. Abodeely, USA (Ret)

Journal entries from Abodeely in 1968 during the siege of Khe Sanh. Abodeely was then a lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). 1st Air Cav was part of Operation PEGASUS which aimed to relieve the besieged Marines at Khe Sanh. The operation was ultimately successful. 

Even flying at high altitudes, B-52 Stratofortresses were capable of hitting targets with great precision. During Operation Niagara, the aerial bombing campaign to support American troops at Khe Sanh, the bombers could accurately hit Vietnamese positions a sixth of a mile away from American forces, often to great effect. One PAVN prisoner even stated that three quarters of his regiment was lost to a single B-52 raid alone. 1968