[March 5, 2019] The Vietnam War was one of the least understood conflicts of the 20th Century. Like other wars, it also brought out the best and the worst of men. Today I will highlight the heroism of South Vietnamese Marine Colonel Le Ba Binh (Trung Tá LÊ BÁ BÌNH). His courage under fire and moral standing in the face of a determined Communist army brought him and his men forever the honor they greatly deserve.
The immense suffering of the Vietnamese people under Communist rule is consistently ignored. Fortunately, there were military leaders on the ground in Vietnam that served to remedy the horror inflicted upon them. Le Ba Binh was one of them. His actions late in the war, with the help of U.S. Marine advisors, would help set the tone for the future of the Vietnamese peoples.
In March of 1972, the North Vietnamese kicked off its largest and most destructive offensive. Dubbed the “Easter Offensive,” it began with attacks across the DMZ. For the south, men like Le Ba Binh resisted the attacks with élan, valor, and gritty determination.
Binh’s battalion held the ground defending the only major bridge across the Cua Viet River near Dong Ha. The bridge was strategic in that it was the only one that would allow tanks to cross. Binh and his men held their ground in spite of overwhelming odds. His training and leadership is what kept the unit together as his men fought for their lives.1
“It is rumored that Dong Ha has fallen…My orders are to hold the enemy in Dong Ha. We will fight in Dong Ha. We will die in Dong Ha. We will not leave. As long as one Marine draws a breath of life, Dong Ha will belong to us.” – Lieutenant Colonel Le Ba Binh
Two U.S. Marine advisors, Lieutenant Colonel John Ripley and Colonel Josh Dorsey were also key players in helping hold the Communist army. The stories of these three heroes are in Rich Botkin’s book; Ride to Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Honor and Triumph, a 2009 history of the war.
Colonel Le Ba Binh and his men deserve our greatest respect for what they did during the war to defend against an enemy intent of domination of the lives of the citizens in South Vietnam.