Vietnamese troops into mountains southwest of Da Nanr. (USMC Photo A329574.
orange tracers into the surrounding jungle. Despite the high volume of suppressive fire, several helicopters in the first wave sustained hits from Viet Cong automatic weapons. One, damaged critically, crashed in the landing zone. Its crew members, all of whom escaped injury, were picked up by another Marine helicopter, piloted by Major John R. Braddon, which had been designated as the search and rescue aircraft for the operation. Another UH-34D with battle damage proceeded to the outpost from which the Army helicopter missions were originating and made an emergency landing.
The second assault wave was delayed while VNAF Skyraiders renewed their efforts to dislodge the enemy from his positions around the embattled landing zone. The helilift resumed at 1355 in the face of reduced but stubborn Communist resistance. During this phase of the troop lift, one VNAF and several Marine helicopters were hit by enemy .50 caliber fire. The Vietnamese aircraft, which lost its tail rotor controls, spun sharply while trying to take off and crashed near the center of the zone. Its crew members escaped injury and were picked up by Major Braddon's rescue helicopter.*
After this incident, as the South Vietnamese soldiers began fanning out from the landing zone and forcing the Communist gunners to withdraw deeper into the jungle, the landing proceeded somewhat faster. The fourth and final assault lift of the day was executed at 1730, after which 357 of the 420 ARVN troops had been transported into Landing Zone BRAVO. During the first day of the operation, 15 of the 19 participating Marine UH-34Ds were hit. Only 11 Marine and VNAF
*For his role in the two successful rescue attempts, Braddon was awarded the Silver Star Medal.