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Page 63 (1968: The Defining Year)

Photo courtesy of Col Robert W. Lewis, USMC (Ret)

Aerial view of Hill 881 South in November 1967, reveals
the strategic outpost northwest of Khe Sanh. The Khe Sanh base can he
seen in the background.

camp which could be used by a company-sized relief force. Captain
John W. Raymond led Company A into the jungle to find such a route,
avoiding well-used trails to reduce the risk of ambush. The straight-line
distance was less than nine kilometers, but only after 19 hours of struggling
through the treacherous terrain, did the Marines reach the CIDG camp,
proving that it could be done, but demonstrating that it could not be
done quickly or easily. The 26th Marines attempted no further efforts
to locate cross-country routes to Lang Vei.

On 9 November, III MAF moved to increase the intelligence collection
capability at Khe Sanh by deploying a detachment from the 1st Radio
Battalion* under now Lieutenant Colonel Gray to the combat base. The
detachment moved to Hill 881 South and established an electronic listening
post, much as Gray's other unit had done four years earlier.19

The crachin so hampered air operations at Khe Sanh during
November that on the 18th, Lieutenant Colonel Wilkinson passed the word
to his men to prepare for the possibility of reducing rations to two
meals per day.20 The same weather problems affected direct
air support bombing missions. To improve the accuracy of bombing near
Khe Sanh during periods of heavy fog or low clouds, the Marines installed
a radar reflector atop Hill 881 South which, in theory, would serve
as a navigation aid to attack aircraft supporting the combat base. The
reflector did not work, however, as it was incompatible with the radar
systems on board the Grumman A-6A Intruder attack aircraft which were
designed to carry out bombing missions in conditions of restricted visibility.21

Enemy activity increased dramatically during December. The 3d Marine Division's intelligence offi-

* Radio battalions are Marine Corps electronic warfare units capable of coniluctins signal intelligence activities, mainly intercepts.

Page 63 (1968: The Defining Year)