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extracted both groups of Marines to Camp Carroll. The units sustained
one Navy corpsman killed and four Marines wounded. It was obvious that
the enemy was becoming much more aggressive all along Route 9 and the
DMZ in general.83


After a few brief quiet days, the DMZ war in the western Kentucky sector also flared up. After leaving Hill 28 and uncovering an enemy base area, Lieutenant Colonel Bendell's 3d Battalion, 4th Marines took up its new positions at An Dinh between A-3 and Con Thien to investigate recent probes at the latter base. The battalion immediately began patrolling its area of operations. On the 17th, Bendell planned to send out a two-company patrol the next morning near an abandoned hamlet just north of the trace about two miles northeast of Con Thien. Company M was to be the blocking force while Company L was to be the sweeping force.85


The evening of the 17th, Captain John D. Carr, the Company L commander, held a meeting of his platoon commanders. Second Lieutenant Kenneth L. Christy, who headed the 3d Platoon, remembered that Carr briefed them on the next day's planned patrol. According to Christy, he noticed that the route of advance "took us through a bombed out ville that we all referred to as the 'Meat Market'," because it was "Charlies' area-and almost everytime we went there either us or them, somebody got hammered." Christy's platoon had run a patrol in that area very recently, but there had been "no sign of Charlie or Charlie decided not to engage." Captain Carr assigned the point position to his 1st Platoon. Lieutenant Christy argued ("to the degree that a second lieutenant argues with a captain") that his platoon knew the area and should have the point. Captain Carr, however, stated that the 3d Platoon needed a break and he wanted to give one of the other platoons the point experience."


As planned, with the 1st Platoon on point, followed by the 2d Platoon with the command group, and the 3d Platoon bringing up the rear. Company L departed the battalion lines at An Dien in pre-dawn darkness. Suddenly the NVA about 0945 from well-camouflaged bunkers and spider holes near the "Meat Market" sprang their ambush on the Marine company. The 1st Platoon on the point engaged what it thought was a NVA platoon only to find itself divided into separate groups, with the forward element cut off from the rest of the company. Captain Carr brought up the 2d Platoon and his command group and joined the rear element of the 1st Platoon, in a large B-52 bomb crater.86

In the company rear, Lieutenant Christy recalled that when the ambush
occurred, "it sounded like a few sporadic gun shots and then all hell
broke loose." The men of his platoon hit the ground "facing outward
as we usually did." Christy took cover in a 105mm shell crater with
his platoon sergeant and radio man. At that point, Captain Carr ordered
the 3d Platoon commander to join him, about 180 meters to the platoon's
front. Under heavy automatic fire, the 3d Platoon joined Carr in a series
of rushes taking shelter in shell and bomb craters along the way. Miraculously,
the platoon had made the dash without sustaining any casualties. According
to Christy, "we closed off the backside of what was the company perimeter."87


As Company L more or less consolidated its position, the North Vietnamese continued to direct automatic weapons fire from all sides, mortars, and even large caliber artillery upon the embattled Marines. More urgently, the enemy was using the cutoff squad-size remnant of the 1st Platoon, about 100 meters in front of the rest of the company, as "bait" in a "NVA killing zone." Lieutenant Christy remembered Captain Carr told him that there were "dead and wounded up front and needed 3d Plat [platoon] to go up there and collect them up so we could get the wounded and dead med-evaced and the hell out of the area."88


By this time, the North Vietnamese fires had somewhat diminished. Captain Carr and a forward artillery observer who was with the cutoff troops, Sergeant Michael J. Madden, called in supporting U.S. artillery. Sergeant Madden also made radio contact with an air observer in a Huey who brought in helicopter gunships to keep the enemy at bay. Under this protective cover, Lieutenant Christy took one of his squads and joined by Captain Carr reached the 1st Platoon group. Christy then deployed his men and crawled forward to another crater where Sergeant Madden, although wounded, was still calling in artillery strikes. There were four other wounded men with Madden. Christy remembered Captain Carr covering him with a shotgun while he went forward again to reach some Marine bodies, including that of the 1st Platoon commander, some 50 meters to the front. With the supporting artillery fires, the 3d Platoon squad brought back the wounded and dead of the 1st Platoon. According to Lieutenant Christy, he admonished some of his men for being too gentle and that the bodies were not going to be hurt: "Lets get these people policed up and get out of here before Charlie starts firing us up again."89


In the meanwhile, upon hearing of the Company L predicament, Lieutenant Colonel Bendell, the battal-




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