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US Marines in Vietnam: 1968 The Defining Year

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Page 438(1968: The Defining Year)

On 6 December, General Dwyer issued the order launching Operation Taylor Common. The task force's mission was to "neutralize" Base Area 112 and to develop Fire Support Bases (FSBs) to interdict Communist infiltration routes leading from the Laotian border. The plan included three phases. The first step was to be a search and clear operation to ensure that An Hoa was secure. Units of the task force, in coordination with the ARVN 1st Ranger Group would sweep the Arizona Territory and the area between Liberty Bridge and An Hoa. In the second phase, TF Yankee would penetrate Base Area 112, establish a series of fire support bases in the eastern half of the area, and begin reconnaissance-in-force operations to locate and destroy the enemy. Phase three was to be an extension of the second phase, with Marine battalions operating out to the western edge of Base Area 112 in search of enemy units and facilities.89

In order to free the 5th Marines for assignment to TF Yankee, the 1st Marine Division ended operation Henderson Hill at midnight, on 6 December. Exactly one minute later. Operation Taylor Common began.90

At 0830, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadrons 165 and 364 delivered BLT 2/7 to the Arizona Territory to act as a blocking force for the 1st ARVN Ranger Group. Other units, including the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, were already in the field when the operation began. To these Marines, the fact that Operation Henderson Hill had given way to Operation Taylor Common made little difference, at least initially, for the mission of the units around An Hoa remained the same as before. Having completed Operation Meade River, the 2d and 3d Battalions of the 5th Marines departed Dodge City, sweeping the area from Liberty Bridge to the hills south and southwest of An Hoa. Lieutenant Colonel Stemple recalled that during this sweep his Company G "flushed a group of six Vietnamese in civilian clothes." The company commander sent a platoon to investigate. As the Marines approached, someone among the Vietnamese fired a weapon. The troops dropped to the ground, but soon discovered they were not the

Page 438(1968: The Defining Year)
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