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USMC Photo

Marines clean up the debris after the sapper attack on Marble Mountain. Helicopter parts are being salvaged.

that Lieutenant Colonel Muir, whose 3d Battalion, 3d Marines had arrived at Da Nang from Chu Lai to act as a blocking force, was killed on 11 September.*

By the middle of November, both regiments had made appreciable advances to the south. The 1st Battalion, 1st Marines established defenses 3,500 meters south of the Tuy Loan and its combat patrols covered over 13,000 square meters. The 9th Marines' forward battalions had formed a defensive line roughly five miles south of the Cau Do River. On the 20th, the Marines incorporated the former reconnaissance zone, the three-mile area between the La Tho and Ky Lam Rivers, into the TAOR. The 9th Marines then established new defenses along the line of the La Tho and Thanh Quit Rivers and made plans to advance to the southern boundary of the TAOR.

At Chu Lai, the Marines also expanded their TAOR, but to a more limited extent. On 8 October, General Thi approved an extension of approximately six square miles to the northwest, and Colonel McClanahan moved his 4th Marines into this area. There was no further expansion of the TAOR in 1965, but Colonel Peatross prepared plans to extend the frontline of his 7th Marines southward to the Tra Bong River.**

A different situation existed around the northern enclave at Phu Bai, where the one battalion, the 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, was spread very thin. The Marines had incorporated the populated area immediately north and south of the base into the battalion's TAOR by the end of September. The terrain to the west consisted of rolling hills with very little vegetation or population; both aerial and ground observation were excellent.

Lieutenant Colonel Sumner A. Vale, who assumed command of the battalion on l October, later commented:



. . . gradual increases were made as the result of a cat and mouse game played between the Marines and the VC. The VC would determine the general boundaries of the TAOR by plotting the sites where they were engaged by Marine ambushes. Then the VC would move their

* See Chapter 6.

**Since 13 September, one company of 1/7 already operated south of the river, maintaining a combat base on the Trung Phan Peninsula. General Peatross stated that the lines of the 7th Marines were on the Tra Bong in October, but after the attack on the Chu Lai airfield (see next section), 'the lines of the 7th were pulled back by General Walt.' MajGen Oscar F. Peatross, Comments on draft MS, dtd 260ct76 (Vietnam Comment File).

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