3d Division Takes the Offensive
The Enemy Situation-The Offensive
Takes Shape-The Eastern DMZ-The Pressure Continues-Into the Western
Mountains-Southern Quang Tri and Thua Thien
The Enemy Situation
In northern I Corps, enemy activity throughout Quang
Tri Province was light and sporadic during the early days of June. With
the virtual destruction of two regiments of the veteran 320th NVA
Division in the eastern sector of the DMZ in late May, enemy ground
activity in the province's northeastern quadrant decreased markedly.
What enemy activity there was, was generally limited to long-range rocket
and artillery attacks on allied positions from within and north of the
Demilitarized Zone. Although squad- and platoon-sized enemy units did
engage wide-ranging allied patrols, no large North Vietnamese force
attempted to attack allied installations or formations.
Further west, agent reports placed the 270th NVA
Regiment and 27th Independent Regiment in Leatherneck
Square, the area bounded by Con Thien (A-4), Gio Linh, Dong Ha, and
Cam Lo. Intelligence analysts assumed that these two enemy units would
not only attack allied installations in the region, but attempt to destroy
the Cam Lo Refugee Resettlement Project and interdict Route 9.
Within the central portion of the province, units
subordinate to the Quang Tri Liberation Front or 7th Front,
including elements of the 812th Regiment, and the 808th
and 818th Separate Battalions, although unlocated, were poised
to venture out of their jungle sanctuaries on the Quang Tri-Thua Thien
provincial border and launch attacks against Quang Tri City and surrounding
allied bases. Forward elements of the three enemy units were known to
be in the countryside surrounding the city, attempting to obtain rice
In the western reaches of the province, centered on
the Khe Sanh Plateau, the 304th NVA Division was joined in
late May by the 88th and 102 d Regiments, 308th
NVA Division. The enemy regiments, which had arrived recently from
Hanoi, were to reinforce the 304th and launch attacks against
Khe Sanh Combat Base and Route 9, from Ca Lu west to the Laotian border.
The number of enemy units located within the Demilitarized Zone area
and in Quang Tri Province at the beginning of June was estimated at
36 infantry and 6 support battalions, and confirmed enemy combat strength
placed at 23,100 troops.1
The Offensive Takes Shape
Upon taking over in late May, the new 3d Marine Division
commander, Major General Raymond G. Davis, found the maneuver elements
of the division generally occupying fixed positions in four operational
areas centered on the Demilitarized Zone from Cua Viet to Khe Sanh.
In the coastal lowlands, or Napoleon-Saline area of operations, Colonel
Milton A. Hull's 3d Marines and Lieutenant Colonel George F. Meyers'
1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion occupied Camp Kistler at the Cua Viet's
port facility. The 1st and 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, located nearby,
conducted periodic sweeps of the area north and northwest of the port
facility, while companies of Lieutenant Colonel Meyers' battalion occupied
the C-^l strongpoint and conducted similar sweeps of the immediate area.
Also under the operational control of the 3d Marines were elements of
Lieutenant Colonel Michael V. Palatas' 1st Battalion, 9th Marines.
Northwest of Cua Viet, in the Kentucky area of operations,
the 9th Marines under Colonel Richard B. Smith provided security for
the outposts within the area of operations, from Gio Linh to Cam Lo,
as well as the major lines of communications, Routes l, 9, and 561.
Under Smith's operational control was Lieutenant Colonel Francis J.
Heath, Jr.'s 2d Battalion, 26th Marines which secured the strongpoints
at Con Thien, A-3, C-2, and C-2 bridge, all strung along Route 561,
a north-south provincial road stretching from the Demilitarized Zone
to Cam Lo. The regimental headquarters and 1st and 3d Battalions, 26th
Marines had been deployed to Da Nang on 18 May from the Quang Tri sector