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most urgent matter, and that I would support him from my present position as best I could ... I also advised Lieutenant Colonel Muir of our situation as I had been doing all day.14

While Company I maneuvered through An Cuong (2) encountering periodic strong enemy resistance, Colonel Peatross committed one company of his reserve battalion to the battle.* A ship of the special landing force, the LPH Iwo Jima with Companies I and L, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines and HMM-163 on board, arrived onshore shortly after 0930. As the intensity of the battle increased, Colonel Peatross ordered a halt to the advance of the units from LZs RED and WHITE and along the coast to prevent the overextension of his lines. He ordered Company L, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, commanded by Captain Ronald A. Clark, to be landed. This company was helilifted to the regimental CP at 1730. There it was placed under operational control of Lieutenant Colonel Muir, who ordered dark to reinforce Comer's group and then join Company I in the search for the supply train.

Supported by two tanks, Clark's force moved out. As the company advanced through the open rice paddies east of An Cuong (2), it came under heavy fire, wounding 14 and killing four. The Marines persevered and the VC broke contact as night lull.

The addition of a third Marine company to the area, coupled with the weight of supporting arms fires available, evidently forced the 60th VC Battalion to break contact. The Marines radioed the Galveston and Orleck requesting continuous illumination throughout the evening over the Nam Yen-An Cuong area.** As darkness fell, Colonel Peatross informed General Walt that the VC apparently intended to defend selected positions, while not concentrating their forces.15

Lieutenant Colonel Muir decided that it was too risky to continue searching for the supply column that night, especially after having learned that the column, although immobilized, was no longer in danger. Muir ordered Captain Clark's Company L to move to Phase Line BANANA and join Companies K and L, and establish a perimeter defense there. He also ordered Company I to return to the regimental CP. For all intents and purposes, the fighting was over for Company I; of the 177 men who had crossed the beach, 14 were dead, including the company commander, and another 53 were wounded, but the company could claim 125 dead VC.

During the night of 18 August, Colonel Peatross brought the rest of the SLF battalion ashore. Company I, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines arrived at the regimental CP at 1800 followed shortly by Lieutenant Colonel Bodley and his command group. Just after midnight, Company M landed across GREEN Beach from the Talladega. With the arrival of his third battalion, Colonel Peatross completed his plans for the next day.

The regimental commander's concept of action remained basically the same, squeeze the vise around the VC and drive them toward the sea. As a result of the first day's action against the 60th VC Battalion, he readjusted the battalions' boundaries. At 0730, Lieutenant Colonel Muir's battalion, with Companies K and L abreast and Company L from Bodley's battalion following in reserve, was to attack to the northeast from Phase Line BANANA. Simultaneously, Fisher's unit, with Companies E and G, was to drive eastward to the sea, joining Muir's force. Jenkins' Company H, Comer's group, and Company I were to withdraw to the regimental CP.*** The remainder of Lieutenant Colonel Bodley's 3d Battalion, 7th Marines was to fill the gap. Companies I and M of his unit were to move out of the regimental CP, extract the ambushed supply column, and then move toward An Thoi (2) to

 

*Major General Peatross recalled that at the time he did not have the authority to commit the SLF battalion. General Walt could not delegate this decision without first receiving permission through command channels, himself. General Walt had arrived at the 7th Marines CP earlier in the day, but had departed before the heavy fighting broke out. At this time, Lieutenant General Krulak, CGFMFPac, who was in Vietnam on an inspection visit, flew into the CP by helicopter while "rifle, and recoilless rounds were flying around." General Karch, who was also present, told Peatross "to keep him [Krulak] aboard the helicopter and then fly to the command ship of the SLF, and then obtain permission to employ 3/7." General Krulak later remarked that he was not entirely successful in this mission: "We watched the confusion then took off, only to have to land with a hit in our chopper's gas tank.'' Colonel Peatross, nevertheless, received permission to employ both the SLF infantry and squadron since "the number of helicopters seemed to be reduced by the hour.'' MajGen Oscar F. Peatross, Comments on draft MS, dtd 260ct76 (Vietnam Comment File), and Lt Gen Victor H. Krulak, Comments on draft MS, dtd 2Aug77 (Vietnam Comment File).

**At about 0530 the next morning, the ships ceased firing; their magazines had been emptied of star (illumination) shells.

***Company H had accounted for 156 dead VC and sustained 45 evacuated casualties; 15 killed and 30 hospitalized.

 

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