Fire Base Illingworth is an epic, never-before-told true story of a North Vietnamese Army attack and how the men of this nearly overrun Fire Base survived.
In the early morning hours of April 1, 1970, more than four hundred North Vietnamese soldiers charged out into the open and tried to over-run FSB Illingworth. The battle went on, mostly in the dark, for hours. Exposed ammunition canisters were hit and blew up, causing a thunderous explosion inside the FSB that left dust so thick it jammed the hand-held weapons of the GIs. Much of the combat was hand-to-hand. In all, twenty-four Americans lost their lives and another fifty-four were wounded. Nearly one hundred enemy bodies were recovered. It was one of the most vicious small unit firefights in the history of U.S. forces in Vietnam.
As in his acclaimed book Blackhorse Riders, a finalist for the prestigious Colby Award, Phil Keith uncovers a harrowing true story of bravery and sacrifice by the men who fought valiantly to hold FSB Illingworth—a tale never-before-told and one that will not be soon forgotten.
As he did in 2012's Blackhorse Riders, former Navy aviator and Vietnam vet Keith tells a harrowing tale that centers on an exhausted, ragtag group of U.S. Army troops as they fought for their lives against a 400-man North Vietnamese Army regiment in a vicious engagement in 1970. The action described in the previous book took place on March 26; what Keith chronicles in this follow-up is a disastrous fight that played out in the early morning hours of April 1 at a remote firebase near the Cambodian border. Fifty-four Americans were wounded in the melee (which included hand-to-hand combat) and 25 perished a casualty rate of nearly 40%. As the subtitle indicates, this is a paean to the American soldiers who fought that little-known battle men Keith calls "brave warriors." The heart of the book is a virtually minute-by-minute description of the fighting, fleshed out with some reconstructed dialogue, and based on two years of research that included interviews the author conducted with many of the American survivors. 8-page b&w photo insert and 1 map.