This period was from July 1 -November 30, 1970.
Throughout the summer and fall of 1970, USAF aircraft flew interdiction
and close air support missions in Cambodia to help ensure that the major
towns and cities stayed in friendly hands. Gunships proved especially
effective in defending Phnom Penh. the Cambodia: capital; the town of
Kompong Chorn. 50 miles to the northeast; and Kompong Thom. about
65 miles north of the capital. On August 8 Cambodian troops, backed by
USAF close air support, drove North Vietnamese forces from Sltoun, an
important highway junction between Kornpong 1hom and Phnom Penh.
Despite these efforts, Communist forces controlled about half of Cambo-
dia by November and kept the highway closed between Phnom Penh and
the seaport of Kompong Som, 100 miles to the southwest. The Cambo-
dians had to resupply Phnom Penh and their troops by transporting goods
up the Mekong River. and Allied aircraft escorted the river convoys to
protect the ships from attack.
The chaotic military situation in Cambodia during 1970 closely re-
sembled the one to the north in Laos. With the coming of another wet
season. Laotian forces began 2 new offensives in an effort to wrest
control of the Plain of Jars from the Pathet Lao and the North Vietnam-
ese. 'l‘he first offensive occurred between August 2 and 23 and the
second from August 31 to October 23. The Communist forces retreated
slowly to the srmtheast rim of the plain. inflicting heavy losses on the
Royal and irregular Laotian forces. During the Laotian offensives, the
USAF provided close air support and continued to attack supply routes in
both the notthem and southem parts of the country.
In South Vietnam, the withdrawal of U.S. forces gained momentum. The
USAF redeployed the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing to the United States in
September, 1970 and inactivated or redeployed several of its A-1, A-37,
and F-105 squadrons. Meanwhile, on September 1, Gen. Lucius D.
Clay. Ir.. assumed command of the Seventh Air Force. Six weeks later,
on October 12, President Richard M. Nixon announced that the U.S.
would withdraw 40,000 more troops from South Vietnam by December
1, 1970. leaving about 33S.(510 military personnel in the country. Subse-
quently, in November, the USAF redeployed 2 tactical reconnaissance
squadrons from South Vietnam to the United States.
Whaever the rate of U.S. disengagement. intense fighting continued.
The Allies mounted a helibome. multi-brigade operation between July 12
and August 5 to disrupt Communist transportation networks in the
mountainous border area near the Kharn Due airstrip, only 55 miles
southwest of Da Nang. Allied ground forces received extensive close air
and airlift support from the Seventh Air Force. but reported few contacts
with the enemy.
Later in the year, on November 21, the USAF and the U.S. Army at-
tempted to rescue U.S. prisoners of war believed held at Son Tay, a
prison camp 70 miles northwest of Hanoi. Two C-130s led a rescue
force of helicopters and A-1 aircraft from bases in Thailand to Son Tay,
while F-105Fs suppressed North Vietnamese surface-to-air missiles. The
C-130s illuminated the prison compound and marked targets for the
A-1s‘ suppressive fire while 1 helicopter crash landed in the compound
and the rest landed outside. The raiders found no POWs and withdrew
without loss of personnel, although the helicopter in the compound was
blown up and 1 F-IO5F was destroyed by enemy fire.
A few hours after the Son Tay raid, some 200 U.S. tactical aircraft, sup-
ported by 50 other airplanes, bombed SAM sites, antiaircraft gunsites,
and supply and transport facilities in North Vietnam near the Mu Gia and
the Ban Karai Passes, and in the DMZ. Within a few days, on November
25, 1970, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegation again boy-
cottcd the Paris peace negotiations.