Battle of Hamburger Hill, May 11-20, 1969
The Battle of Hamburger Hill, or the Battle of Ap Bia Mountain, was one of the key battles marking the end of American involvement in the conflict in Vietnam. By the Battle of Hamburger Hill, the American public had lost support for the continuing effort in Vietnam; it was no longer worth the sacrifices in lives and resources.
The Battle of Hamburger Hill was part of Operation Apache Snow. The goal of Operation Apache Snow was to eliminate incursions from Laos and protect several key towns. The capture of Hamburger Hill took some nine days of heavy fighting, including multiple air strikes, barrages of artillery and some 10 different infantry attacks. Finally, on May 20, 1969, U.S. and South Vietnamese troops reached the summit of Hamburger Hill.
Americans had drastically underestimated enemy forces at Hamburger Hill. The North Vietnamese had access to reinforcements from Laos, and the assault at Hamburger Hill required more troops than originally allotted.
The U.S. lost 56 men, and had 420 wounded in the fighting; the North Vietnamese lost nearly 600 men, and perhaps a large number more. After a long and difficult battle, the U.S. and South Vietnamese were victorious, but less than a month after the battle, orders were given to abandon Hamburger Hill. The sacrifices at Hamburger Hill had provided no advantage.
By the Battle of Hamburger Hill, the U.S. opposition to the war was growing; only 39 percent of Americans still supported the war. The loss of life, cost in resources and number of wounded at Hamburger Hill made it a key moment in the political arguments that eventually led to the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam. The media, already largely opposed to the war, also seized upon the Battle of Hamburger Hill and the withdrawal from Hamburger Hill as a clear failure of military strategy.