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Page 49 (1968: The Defining Year)






Photo courtesy of Col John D. Carr, USMC (Ret)

LtCol Lee R. Bendell, the commanding officer of the
3d Battalion. 4th Marines, center, poses with the company commanders
of the "Thundering Third." From left are Capt John L. Pricharcd
(Company I). Capt John D. Carr (Company L). Bendell, Capt Raymond W.
Kalm Jr. (Company M), and Capt Edward O. Leroy (Company K)

out and permitted the company commander "to deploy fire power
immediately to the front." Following a trail near the destroyed
village of Xuan Hai where the DMZ boundary made a northward hump on
the map, 1,800 meters northwest of Hill 28, Prichard's point. Staff
Sergeant C. L. Colley, spotted four to five North Vietnamese troops
to his front. The company commander ordered two platoons forward to
a slight rise in the ground and brought his third platoon in behind
the CP (command post) group to protect the rear. In the initial exchange,
the North Vietnamese had the advantage, but the Marine company soon
had the upper hand. Moving rapidly back and forth across the Marine
line, Prichard and his officers and NCOs rallied their troops and "India
Company rather shortly gained fire superiority."58

At that point, around noon, the Marines observed a second group of
NVA maneuvering to reinforce the first. The company brought the reinforcements
under 60mm mortar and small-arms fire and forced the enemy to lie low.
A half-hour later, the Marines, themselves, came under heavy enemy 82mm-morcar
bombardment from their right flank, generally to the northeast. By this
time, it was apparent that the enemy was in "strong blinkered positions
all across the front and right front of India Company."59

Despite marginal flying conditions because of 500- to 1,000-feet cloud
ceilings and reduced visibility, an aerial observer (AO) arrived over
the scene. Giving his call sign "Smitty Tango," the AO made
radio contact with Prichard and adjusted the company's 6)mm counter-mortar
fire. The Marine mortars knocked out one of the enemy tubes and "caused
the others co cease fire." With this success to his credit, the
AO pulled off and the company called in an artillery mission, hitting
the enemy positions with mixed caliber rounds. The Marine shelling "threw
[NVA] bodies in the air as




Page 49 (1968: The Defining Year)