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US Marines in Vietnam: 1968 The Defining Year

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Page 328(Mini-Tet and Its Aftermath in Southern I Corps )


CHAPTER 17

Mini-Tet and Its Aftermath in Southern I Corps

Going into the Go Noi-Mini-Tet and Operation Mameluke Thrust, May 1968-Operation Allen Brook Continues-Mameluke Thrust Also Continues

Going into the Go Noi

By the beginning of May 1968, both the Marines at Da Nang and the Communist forces in Quang Nam were in the midst of preparations to launch offensive operations against one another. While during April the enemy in Quang Nam had largely confined its activities to guerrilla activities, the increased number of reconnaissance Stingray sightings indicated that Communist regulars were reinfiltrating their old positions. The Marine command was especially concerned about the Go Noi Island sector, about 25 kilometers south of Da Nang, outlined by the confluence of the Ky Lam, Thu Bon, Ba Ren, and Chiem Son Rivers.

In the Go Noi, the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines in April had conducted Operation Jasper Square* in the western sector with relatively limited contact. Nevertheless, the Communists had controlled the area for years. With the continued existence of both a Communist political and military command infrastructure there, the local populace maintained a strong Viet Cong orientation, making the island a relatively 'safe haven' for both NVA and VC military units. III MAF knew Go Noi was home to three local Viet Cong units, the R-20 Battalion, V-25 Battalion, and T-3 Sapper Battalion, as well as Group 44, the headquarters for the enemy's operations in Quang Nam Province. It also suspected that elements of the 2d NVA Division were trying to reenter the sector.1

In early May, Major General Donn J. Robertson, the 1st Marine Division commander, ordered the 7th Marines into the Go Noi to forestall the NVA from staging a new offensive. On 4 May at 0500, Lieutenant Colonel Charles E. Mueller's 2d Battalion, 7th Marines launched a two-company 'No Name Operation' into the Go Noi. Crossing Liberty Bridge at 0500, Companies E and G, supported by a platoon of tanks, attacked eastward towards the main north-south railroad tracks. On the first day of the operation, the Marines evacuated some 220 civilians, mostly old men, women, and children, out of the Go Noi to the district capital of Dai Loc.2

In the first phase of the operation, which soon became Operation Allen Brook,** the battalion encountered light although persistent resistance from enemy local force and guerrilla units. For the next few days, the 2d Battalion attacked to the east towards the main north-south railroad tracks experiencing increasing but still relatively scattered opposition to their advance. Although the terrain was flat with relatively clear fields of fire, the local units were familiar with the locale and took full advantage of the advantages offered by the fortified hamlets that dotted the Go Noi. Surrounded and interlaced by dense hedges, these hamlets were connected one to another by a series of trenches and tunnels which provided 'excellent cover and concealment' for their defenders.3

While Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines relieved Company G on 7 May, Colonel Reverdy M. Hall, the 7th Marines' commander, also reinforced the 2d Battalion on the same day with Company K from the 3d Battalion. Through 8 May, the Marine companies accounted for some 88 enemy troops at a cost of 9 Marines killed and 57 wounded. On the 9th, about 1820, the sweep forces just west of the railroad tracks came under heavy small arms and machine gun fire as well as a mortar salvo outside of the hamlet of Xuan Dai (2). Taking casualties of l dead and 11 wounded, the infantry pulled back and called for artillery support and airstrikes. After the last air mission, the Marine companies clambered over the tracks which fronted the hamlet on the west and pushed into Xuan Dai (2). Thirty minutes after the initial action, the Marines secured the hamlet. As a result of this action, the Marine battalion reported 80 enemy killed. A Stingray patrol about 1900 observed some 200 enemy troops moving to the southwest of Xuan Dai and called in


* See Chapter 13.

** Lieutenant Colonel Mueller recalled that the operation 'very quickly became operation Allen Brook' in that his two other companies 'and a myriad of support was attached to my battalion.' A 'No Name' operation usually involved two companies with minimum support. The concept was to 'reinforce quickly when significant contact was made.' LtCol Charles E. Mueller, Comments on draft, n.d. [Jan95] (Vietnam Comment File).



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