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CHAPTER
7

The Enemy
Offensive in the DMZ and Southern Quang Tri, 20 January-8 February

The Cua Viet is Threatened-Adjustment
of Forces in Southern Quang Tri Province-Heavy Fighting Along the DMZ-A
Lull in Leatherneck Square-The Cua Viet Continues to Heat Up-The Battle
For Quang Tri City-Tet Aftermath Along the DMZ

The Cua Viet is Threatened

Beginning on 20 January, the North Vietnamese intensified
their efforts in the north from Khe Sanh to the Cua Viet. While most
public and media attention was focused upon the Khe Sanh base, the Marine
command could not ignore its northern logistical lifeline from the Cua
Viet Port Facility to Dong Ha along the Cua Viet River channel. From
Dong Ha, Route 9 connected the isolated Marine bases at Cam Lo, Camp
Carroll, the Rockpile, and Ca Lu. The continued presence of large North
Vietnamese forces along the eastern DMZ as well as the buildup of forces
in the west around Khe Sanh limited the ability of the 3d Marine Division
to concentrate its forces in any one area. Even with the arrival of
the additional Army forces in the north, the division was still spread
out from its Quang Tri base in the south, to Khe Sanh in the west, and
to the Cua Viet in the east.

Almost simultaneously with attacks on Khe Sanh, the
North Vietnamese appeared to be making a determined attempt to halt
the river traffic on the Cua Viet. On 20 January, enemy gunners positioned
on the northern bank of the river forced the temporary closing of the
Cua Viet. Up to this point. Lieutenant Colonel Edward R. Toner's 1st
Amphibian Tractor Battalion with an infantry company. Company C, 1st
Battalion, 3d Marines, attached to his command in Operation Napoleon,
largely had responsibility for the security of the river. The battalion
was becoming more and more hard pressed to carry out this mission.1

Department of Defense (USMC)
Photo A 191332


Marine forklifts unload Navy landing
craft at the Dong Ha ramp. With the Cua Viet too shallow for large-draft
vessels, the Navy used both LCMs (landing craft, mechanized) and LCUs
(landing craft, utility) to ply the river between the Cua Viet Facility
and Dong Ha to bring in supplies to Marines in the DMZ sector.





Page 113 (The Enemy Offensive in the DMZ )