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Page 105 (1968: The Defining Year)

Departmenc of Defense (USMC)

Photo A413469

BGen Foster C. LaHue, here
in an official portrait, was the assistant division commander of the
1st Marine Division in January 1968 and also assumed the additional
duty of CG, TF X-Ray. in command of the 1st Marine Division forces at
Phu Bai.

 inflicting upon the enemy an estimated 80 dead. U.S.
and South Vietnamese intelligence officers later identified two enemy
battalions as taking part in the coordinated attack, the NVA 1st Battalion,
9th Regiment
, probably attached to the new 4th NVA Regiment,
and the VC K4B Battalions.64

After the events ot the 7th, the enemy units in the
Phu Loc area limited their efforts for the most part to intermittent
mortar and harassing attacks by fire on both the Combined Action units
and the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. The most serious incident occurred
on 12 January when an enemy mortar attack on a 1st Battalion, 5th Marines
defensive position south of Phu Loc rcsulted in 6 Marines killed and
11 wounded. At the same time, the NVA and VC units continued their interdiction
of Route 1 with minor ambushes of convoys and blowing up bridges and
culverts. Between 7-15 January, the enemy had detonated 10 bridges,
knocked out 4 culverts, and cut the highway in 3 places. Marine engineers
and Navy Seabees repaired most of the damage within three days. On the
15th, however, one bridge was still out, but 'bypassable.'65

The Formation and Deployment of Task Force

By mid-January, the 1st Marine Division had established
its Task Force X-Ray headquarters at Phu Bai and the deployment of U.S.
forces from southern I Corps and Da Nang to the northern battlefield
in Operation Checkers had begun in earnest. Initially as parr ot the
Operation Checkers planning in November 1967, the III MAF staff considered
sending individual 1st Marine Division units north and placing them
under the operational control of the 3d Marine Division. At that point.
Major General Robertson, the 1st Marine Division commander, recommended
instead that the 1st Division merely extend its area ot operations inco
Thua Thien. General Cushman concurred and on 4 December 1967 General
Robertson activated the Task Force X-Ray planning staff, under his assistant
division commander, Brigadier General Foster 'Frosty' C. LaHue, to carry
out the new mission.66

After a brief period of consultation between the 3d
Marine Division and the Task Force X-Ray staffs, on 18 December, General
Robertson's headquarters issued its operational order outlining the
transfer of responsibilities. The concept called tor Task Force X-Ray
to move its headquarters to Phu Bai and take over the 3d Marine Division
command post there. General LaHue would assume operational control of
both the 1st and 5th Marines. The 1st Marines with two battalions would
deploy to Camp Evans while the 5th Marines with three battalions would
relocate to the Phu Bai and Phu Loc sectors. Thus, the 1st Marines would
conduct operations in northern Thua Thien while the 5th Marines would
bear the same responsibility in the southern half of the province.67

This redeployment would be carried out in a series
of 'incremental jumps.' In an exchange of messages and a conference
ac III MAF headquarters on 21 December, Task Force X-Ray and 1st and
3d Marine Division staff officers worked out a timetable and agreement
on the boundaries between the two divisions. The 1st Battalion, 5th
Marines in its move to Phu Loc was the vanguard of Task Force X-Ray.68

On 11 January, the 1st Marine Division ordered the
activation of Task Force X-Ray at Phu Bai. The new command initially
was to consist ot the 5th Marines regimental headquarters and two of

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