It was "not a relief in the sense of a rescue... But relief in the sense of reopening ground contact and eliminating the enemy
with mobile operations". That's what the man himself , General William C. Westmoreland, said.
Initial planning for Operation Pegasus was started in January 1968, but was Interrupted by TET. After the 1st AIR CAV had
restored control to Quang Tri and Hue, the command group turned their attention once again to Khe Sanh, which was one of
the reasons for moving the 1st AIR CAV to I Corps.
April 1, 1968 started Operation Pegasus. It was cloudy and foggy, which kept the choppers on the ground. You could see it in
the faces of the Marines who marched by the choppers, a little bit of a smirk appeared, because the vaunted 1st AIR CAV could
not get off the ground. But around 1300 hours the sun had burned off the fog and it was clear enough for the choppers to fly.
The command to saddle up came. The 1st AIR CAV's time to ride had come.
It was the 7th Cavalry making the first air assaults to Landing Zone (LZ) Mike and LZ Cates about halfway to Khe Sanh. The
aerial observation pilots could not believe the sight appearing in front of them. As many as 30 Hueys descending into the LZ's.
In one day, actually 1/2 day, the CAV had put a full Infantry Brigade within 5 miles of Khe Sanh, to the utter disbelief of the
The initial reconnaissance by the 1st of the 9th Cavalry and the excellent job of artillery and air strikes were so good, that
plans were accelerated and the 2nd Brigade was sent in a day early on 3 April. Two days latter the 1st Brigade was airlifted to
the battlefield, along with 3 battalions of ARVN's. In 5 days the 1st Air Cav had brought over 15,000 combat troops to the battle
The Cav took the high ground and opened 7 LZ's in 5 days. LZ Wharton got into an artillery duel with NVA 130mm cannon's.
Guess who lost the duel ? Not the CAV! The resupply choppers were hauling upwards of 500 tons of artillery ammo a day to
the forward tubes. LZ Stud was bombarded once, but the NVA forward observers were spotted and killed.
The enemy was leaving unbelievable amounts of weapons and ammo behind as they left the battlefield. Over 763 individual
and crew served weapons were captured by the AIR CAV. This was in stark contrast to TET where very few weapons were left
At about 0800 hours April 8, 1968 PFC Juan Fordoni, from Puerto Rico, was the first AIR CAV trooper to make contact as he
clasped hands over the barbed wire with a Marine Lance Corporal. Soon to follow were signs reading "Under New
Management, complements of the 1st AIR CAV".
The 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry and the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry, after landing on LZ Snapper, engaged in several sharp fights
as they pushed north towards Khe Sanh and then west towards the Laotian border and the Special Forces camp at Lang Vei.
The camp was retaken by the 1/12th after a day of fighting. The 1/8th and 1/12th also had good luck in turning up many of the
large supply caches around Khe Sanh. On every day of the operation the 1st Brigade units turned up caches of weapons and
ammunition. One such cache contained 50,000 rounds of AK-47 ammo and 1600 mortar rounds. Mopping up continued and 2
days later the Lang Vei Special Forces camp was recaptured under light resistance on April 10. That same day General Tolson,
Commanding General of the 1st AIR CAV, was ordered to extract the division and prepare to air assault into the A Shau Valley.
Operation Pegasus was terminated on April 14, 1968 so that Operation Delaware, the code name for General Tolson's cavalry
raid into the A Shau Valley, could get under way.
The operation cost the allied forces 315 casualties, including 59 KIA and 5 MIA.
The cost to the NVA was at least 1300 KIA and the loss of 623 individual and 200 crew-served weapons plus much valuable
The Relief of the Marines at Khe Sanh