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Marines saw another 10 NVA in the open and took them under mortar,
grenades, and small arms fire. The result was another dead enemy. Company
C apparently intercepted an enemy force either trying to enter Hai Le
or more likely, trying to reach the river for operations closer to Quang
Tri City.19

Despite the sudden flurry of activity, Operation Osceola for the 1st
Marines was drawing to a close. The operation officially terminated
at midnight on the 20th.20 For the entire operation, the
1st Marines reported killing 76 enemy troops, 21 of them during January,
at a cost of 17 dead Marines and 199 wounded. In addition, the Marines
took prisoner one VC and three NVA. From 1 to 20 January, the Marines
sustained casualties of 26 wounded and no dead as compared to 7 dead
and 70 wounded during December. The December figures were somewhat skewed
by the mortar attack on the airfield which accounted for 1 of the dead
and 40 of the wounded. Despite the relatively few enemy dead, Colonel
Ing considered the operation a success. He pointed to his "Operation
Minefind" which accumulated 377 explosive devices uncovered by Marines
and another 370 pieces of ordnance brought in by civilians. Ing believed
that this program together with the occupation of key hamlets and constant
patrolling rendered "a most effective enemy weapon virtually ineffective
and drastically reduced the number of Marine casualties incurred as
a result of mines." Most significantly, with the one exception of the
mortar attack on the airfield, the 1st Marines protected the increasingly
important Quang Tri base with its growing logistic facilities from enemy
attack. Although enemy units in the Quang Tri sector were on the move,
they seemed deliberately to avoid Marine patrols and positions.21

Operation Neosho and Operations in the CoBi-Thanh Tan,
1-20 January 1968

Further south, in the CoBi-Thanh Tan sector of northern Thua Thien Province, during January, the remaining 3d Marine Division regiment, the 4th Marines at Camp Evans, was winding up Operation Neosho. Like Osceola and the DMZ codenamed operations, Neosho was a permanent area of operations rather than a tactical campaign with short-term objectives. Marine units had been operating in the CoBi-Thanh Tan since the spring of 1966 and the 4th Marines had established its command post at Camp Evans in December of that year. In 1967, the regiment continued to run operations in the region, changing the name designation from time to time for the usual reporting and record-keeping purposes. On 1 November 1967, Operation Fremont became Operation Neosho with the same units and in the same area of operations.22

The area of operations stretched from the My Chanh River south to the river Bo, a distance of some 14 miles. From west to east, from the fringes of the enemy Base Area 114 to Route 1, the sector consisted of 17 miles ofjungled mountainous and hilly terrain. East of the Marine operating area lay the infamous "Street Without Joy," a coastal strip of interlocking hamlets extending 20 miles north and south.* Since the days of the French War against the Viet Minh, the "Street" had been a Communist bastion. The enemy had long used the CoBi-Thanh Tan Valley, the opening of which was located seven miles south of the Phong Dien district capital, Phong Dien City, as the avenue of approach from their mountain base area into the "Street Without Joy." From Camp Evans near Route 1, three miles south of Phong Dien, the 4th Marines could sortie into the valley to impede the movement of NVA and VC regulars into the coastal lowlands. The regiment also maintained manned outposts on two pieces of strategic ground. These were Hill 51, about 4,000 meters north of the valley opening, and Hill 674, about 2,000 meters south of the valley. From Hill 674, which dominated the surrounding peaks, the Marines had established a radio relay station to ensure adequate voice communication within the operating area.

On 1 November 1967, at the start of Operation Neosho, Colonel William L. Dick, the 4th Marines commander, a veteran of four World War II campaigns including Iwo Jima, had three infantry battalions and one artillery battery under his operational control. At Camp Evans, the 3d Battalion, 26th Marines provided security for the regimental command post, the artillery battalion, the 3d Battalion, 12th Marines, and supporting forces. The two remaining infantry battalions, BLT 1/3, the SLF Alpha battalion, and the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, were conducting a subsidiary operation to Neosho, Operation Granite, south of CoBi-Thanh Tan, and west of Hill 674.23

In Granite, the Marines encountered their stiffest opposition during
Operation Neosho in 1967. With its 1st Battalion under its command together
with the

* "The Street Without Joy" also refers to that portion of Route 1
from Quang Tri to Hue as well as the coastal strip. See Bernard B. Fall,
Street Without Joy (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Company, 4th
edition, 1965), pp. 144-47.

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