Thursday was a day filled with gratitude as families across the United States gathered together to celebrate Thanksgiving. A day later, thousands of U.S. soldiers expressed gratitude in a different way. Soldiers stormed a Colorado hilltop on Friday in tribute to the hundreds of American soldiers killed during one of the bloodied battles of the Vietnam War.
The Daily Mail reports that 8,000 U.S. troops from the 4th Infantry Division carried out “brutal” exercises on a Fort Carson hilltop in CO Friday morning. The exercises were captured via mesmerizing aerial photos. The exercise marked 55 years that have passed since the intense 110-hour Battle of Dak To during the Vietnam War. Per the outlet, American soldiers at the time engaged with the Vietcong in a painfully long 1967 battle. The battle later became known as one of the bloodiest of the entire war. Photos of the scene Friday morning capture the essence of what the battle would have looked like 55 years ago. They show troops as they navigate anti-tank trenches, barbed wire, and machine gunfire simulators.
Aerial images shows thousands of soldiers running up the side of a steep hill amid the simulated chaos.
A spokesperson for the 4th Infantry Division, also known as the “Ivy Division,” detailed the significance of the weekend exercise.
“The Ivy Division kicked off the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with a division PT event dedicated to the efforts of the Ivy Soldiers at the Battle of Dak To in the central highlands of Vietnam. 55 years ago today, the Battle of Dak To lasted 20 days. With the battle for Hill 875 lasting 110 hours alone.”
Altogether, the CO course spanned nearly 2.5 miles.
How Many Vietnam War Vets Feel About the Battle of Dak To
The 4th Infantry Division in CO intended to honor the Americans involved in the Battle of Dak To with the weekend’s exercise. However, many veterans don’t consider the battle for the hill a victory.
As stated, the Battle of Dak To, and the 110-hour battle specifically, was considered one of the Vietnam War’s bloodiest. As such, some veterans don’t actually consider the Americans’ victory there a win.
The entire purpose of the Battle of Dak To for the Vietcong was to crush the deployed American troops stationed there. In fact, the enemy hoped to crush them so badly that they would have to call for major reinforcements. This would have pulled sources from surrounding cities which would have then left those cities vulnerable. Instead, the Americans received word of the enemies’ plans via an informant. That information allowed 5,000 American troops able to withstand the force of 6,000 Vietcong.
However, during the Battle of Dak To, American forces were ordered to storm Hill 875, which, in the midst of the Vietnam War, was considered to be a tactical advantage over the enemy. Though they succeeded, the battle for the hilltop contributed to major bloodshed, with American troops losing a highly-disputed 276 soldiers.
Matt Harrison, who was one of the thousands of men ordered to storm Hill 875 in 1967, spoke out about the pointlessness of taking the hill. He said, “There was no reason to take that hill,” he argued. “I doubt there’s been an American on that hill since November 23. We accomplished nothing.”