The Exploits of a Heroic D445 Soldier – and the Waterfall Ambush of D445 by 7RAR
ED: My apology – Ernie Chamberlain set me this article which included a photograph of Nguyễn Minh Khanh, unfortunately the format is not compatible with my system.
Herewith a recent Vietnamese media report on a D445 Battalion commander – Nguyễn Minh Khanh (pictured above), which is indicative of the florid hyperbole and the overstating of VC
combat exploits – including alleged Australian casualties. Khanh was also involved in 7RAR’s “Waterfall Ambush” of D445 elements in late December 1970 near Xuyên Mộc.
A recent Vietnamese media report lauded: “The hero Nguyễn Minh Khanh – a lowlander, was born in 1939 in Xuyên Mộc village, in Xuyên Mộc District in Phước Tuy Province (now part
of Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu Province), and was awarded the Heroic Medal. He was a Party member, chairman of the veterans’ association in Châu Thành District … .”
“In 1960, Nguyễn Minh Khanh enlisted in D445 Battalion. Along the way, he was involved in many outstanding combat exploits. Nguyễn Minh Khanh fought and commanded in 102
battles, wiped-out and wounded 659 enemy (including 224 Australians and 50 Americans), captured 26 and wiped out a puppet ((ie ARVN)) company and an Australian platoon – and inflicted heavy casualties on three other companies, shot down 10 aircraft, set fire to 23 tanks, and seized 57 weapons.”
“On 15 August 1970, Nguyễn Minh Khanh led the ((D445)) battalion and repulsed 15 attacks by Australian tanks at the base of the Minh Dam mountains, setting fire to 13 vehicles, and killing and wounding 110 enemy ((possibly a reference to 1 ATF’s Operation Massey Harris)). Having suffered successive defeats, the Australian military applied encircling tactics – by constructing a barrier-shield ((around Đất Đỏ)), and for two months not one of our people were able to enter the villages and get food and supplies. Nguyễn Minh Khanh set up suicide teams … and the first three comrades were killed, but the following groups were able to observe the enemy’s defensive system and used B-40s ((RPG-2s)) to attack continuously. After 10 minutes of combat, they had destroyed the enemy bunkers and the enemy’s barrier-shield tactic was defeated ((around Đất Đỏ)).”
“Nguyễn Minh Khanh was awarded 10 medals of different categories and was declared an outstanding combatant six times. On 29 January 1995, Nguyễn Minh Khanh received the
Hero of the People’s Armed Forces Award, and a major road in Bà Rịa Town was named after him.” He died in 2003.
Nguyễn Minh Khanh features prominently in the Vietnamese-language histories of D445 Battalion as its political officer and commander (1969- 1973). He was with a D445 force
ambushed by B Coy/7RAR and 1/1/3rd Cav Regt at the Cà Thi “Waterfall Clearing” (YS 690668 – about seven km south-east of Xuyên Mộc town) on 31 December 1970. 7RAR
recovered 23 D445 bodies from the ambush site – including the D445 2ic – for detail, see:
O’Brien M.P.J., Conscripts and Regulars, 1995, pp.232-234; and Chamberlain, E.P., The Viet Cong D445 Battalion: Their Story, 2016 (Scribd accessible), pp.136-137; and 2011, pp.79-80.