Fifty years ago, today…
The Pentagon acknowledged for the first time that Bạch Mai Hospital and Gia Lam Airport in Hanoi had been accidentally damaged during December’s Operation Linebacker II bombing raids but, without clarifying if the damage was caused by bombing, falling debris or anti-aircraft weapons.
During Nixon’s Christmas bombing, Operation Linebacker II, on December 22, 1972, American bombs struck the hospital, obliterating the building, […] killing 28 hospital staff members and an unconfirmed number of patients.
On the 22nd, a wing of the Bach Mai Hospital, located in the southern suburbs of Hanoi, was struck by a stick of bombs from a B-52. The US military claimed that the hospital “frequently housed anti-aircraft positions.” The civilian deaths were criticized by the North Vietnamese and U.S. peace activists. The hospital sat one kilometer from the runway of [the] Bach Mai Airfield and a major fuel storage facility was only 180 metres (200 yds) away. While the patients of the hospital wing had been evacuated from the city, 28 doctors, nurses and pharmacists were killed.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed today for the first time reports of damage to the Bach Mai Hospital and Gia Lam Airport in Hanoi during heavy air raids last month over North Vietnam but, he denied that the damage was either massive or intentional. Jerry W. Friedheim, Pentagon spokesman, said at a morning news briefing:
“It appears that some limited accidental damage has occurred to some facilities at Gia Lam Airport and at a hospital the enemy calls Bach Mai. The exact extent of this damage is uncertain, as is its cause. Our information does not square with Hanoi’s propaganda claims of massive destruction at these sites.”
Report of Damage to Hanoi Hospital Confirmed By U.S.
New York Times
January 2, 1973
The True Story of the Christmas Bombing in North Vietnam 1972 (Americong/Roger Canfield/November 11, 2011)
Vietnam Christmas Bombings: 1972 Mutiny of B-52 Crews (The Veteran/VVAW/Summer 1977)