Colonel Pham Van Dinh with Camp Carroll base surrendered to NVA
Under heavy shelling pressure and being besieged in days during the Easter Offensive 1972 or The 1972 Spring – Summer Offensive, Colonel Pham Van Dinh and most of the 56th Infantry Regiment surrendered to the North Viet Nam Liberation Army at the Camp Caroll base at 2pm on April 2, 1972
In the year 1972, North Vietnamese Army (NVA) launched massive conventional invasion with support by tanks and heavy weapon support by Soviet and China. This invansion was called the Easter Offensive 1972 or The 1972 Spring – Summer Offensive with the target to gain as much territory and destroy as many units of the ARVN as possible, to improve the North’s negotiating position as the Paris Peace Accords drew towards a conclusion.
Colonel Pham Van Dinh graduated from the Thu Duc Military Academy and was judged as young and eager commander. In 1970, Lieutenant Colonel Dinh was assigned as a regimental deputy to the 54th Infantry Regiment and in 1971 was assigned commander of 56th Infantry Regiment
At 11:30 am on March 30, 1972, the campaign headquarters Tri-Thien opened the campaign Spring Summer 1972 or the history also called the Summer Fire 1972 attacks throughout the South but the heaviest pressure was in the area. Quang Tri, along the 17th parallel. High-intensity consecutive assaults supported by tanks for the first time in large numbers made the Republic of Vietnam’s forces suddenly and rapidly collapsed.
Around 9 am on March 30, 1972, when the 2nd and 56th regiments of the 3rd Infantry Division undertook the conversion of the camp and the assigned area of responsibility. Colonel Dinh’s 56th Regiment moved northward, replacing the 2nd Regiment at Camp Carroll, the Fuller Fire Base and the Khe Gio.
No one could beleive the 56th regiment surrendered beacause at that time, Tan Lam base also called Camp Carroll base was heavily fortified by bunkers, thickened wooden walls and sandbags, the outside is filled with barbed wire. The base was heavily armed with 22 howitzer batteries including 105mm howitzer, 155mm howitzer 175mm howitzer and some light Duster tanks (40mm cannons).
On March 30, Camp Carroll base was under heavy shell by NVA 130mm gun. On April 1, ARVN Khe Gio base was overwhelmed and the remaining ARVN soldiers withdrawed back to Tan Lap base. Liberation Army artillery broke all communication equipment in the base. Under the heavy pressure of artillery fire Liberation Army, on March 31, 1972, Lieutenant Colon contacted brigadier General Vu Van Giai for reinforcements. “If it is not reinforced, Tan Lam base can only keep a few days.”
General Giai replied:
“Try to keep it, reinforcements will reach there soon”
On April 1, General Hoang Xuan Lam – 1st Corps commander of the ARVN called Dinh to inform that NVA attacked many areas and the 1st Corps had no reserve force to help tha Camp Carroll base, so Pham Van Dinh and the 56th Regiment had to keep Camp Carroll base at all costs and only by itself
Veteran Ho Van Duyet recalled: “At that time, I was a teacher of the Artillery Officer School sent to serve the strategic offensive in 1972. I was accompanied by Artillery Regiment 38, Group 304, attacked Carroll base by the 56th Regiment, 3rd Division.
On April 2, 1972, I continued to implement the fire plan. Around the beginning of the afternoon, a radio reporter told me: “There was a guy who asked to meet the chief!” I said, “It’s a mess, but nothing, no matter what.” A moment later, the soldier reported: “That guy is claiming to be the lieutenant colonel’s commanding officer.” Sao Ha is the code name of the commanding observatory.
By the way, I guess an officer should take me. “Hello! What are you doing today? The other side replied: “I, Lieutenant Colonel Pham Van Dinh – 56th Regiment commander requesting to meet the highest command. Please tell us your identity and rank. “
Listen to that statement, I think this hand must be very formal training in the US. Personally, I never expected dialogue with the enemy so embarrassed not know how to address. I replied to Lieutenant Colonel: “We do not have the habit of classifying the enemy with the enemy. I’m not the highest commander, but I can answer what I need to ask, if my powers are transferred to higher levels. “
“I suggest you stop firepower for an hour, we want to negotiate.”
Shortly thereafter, the regiment assembled the 13 commanding officers of the regiment in the command post to decide. Open the first, said the situation is very desperate. The base was unable to resist the constant attack of the Liberation Army. Then Say your true thoughts, “If you continue to fight, many will die. And if we have been wounded, dying, to gain a victory, no one will care for us later. We have to take care of ourselves now. “
After talking with the commander of the NVA Liberation Army. Pham Van Dinh asked his officers ideas if any one wanted to keep fighting or surrender. Only Major Ton That Man, commander of 1st battalion waht to continue to fight. The remaining officers remained silent and Pham Van Dinh keep talking about their families, about the prospect of their return alive. No one agreed to keep fighting against NVA except from Major General Ton That Man. at 14:00, Pham Van Dinh gave the instruction to open the gate of Camp Carroll base to surrender to NVA