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include the enemy Base Area 114 in northern Thua Thien Province,
and Base Area 101 in southern Quang Tri Province. The division
command post with one brigade would be located at the former Marine
base at Camp Evans. This brigade would be responsible for operations
to clear out Base Area 114. While part of the same operation,
Operation Jeb Stuart under the command of General Tolson, the second
brigade upon its arrival would deploy to Quang Tri. It would relieve
the 3d Marines of its responsibility south of the Thach Han and take
over the La Vang base area.17

On 22 January, the 1st Air Cavalry's 1st Brigade, under the command
of Army Colonel Donald V. Rattan, deployed from Landing Zone El Paso
near Phu Bai and established a new fire base at Landing Zone Jane, about
10,000 meters south of Quang Tri City. Three days later, the 1st Brigade,
four battalions strong, moved from Jane to Landing Zone Betty, just
below the 3d Marines headquarters. One Marine, Corporal William Ehrhart,
with the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, recalled the day the Cavalry arrived:

One
morning, army helicopters, mostly Hueys, . . . just kept coming and
coming and coming, dropping down and disgorging soldiers like insects
depositing eggs, then flying off to be replaced by still more helicopters.
All day long they came. I had never seen so many helicopters before.
I had never even imagined that so many helicopters existed.18

With the arrival of the Army brigade, Operation Osceola II became
a one-infantry battalion operation under the 3d Marines and responsible
only for the protection of the Quang Tri airfield and its immediate
environs. Colonel Lo Prete moved his command post from La Vang to Ai
Tu west of the airfield. On 27 January, Lieutenant Colonel Gravel's
1st Battalion, 1st Marines reverted to the control of its parent regiment
and joined the 1st Marines at Phu Bai.19

Heavy Fighting Along the DMZ

There had also been a readjustment of forces in the central DMZ front.
On 20 January, the 4th Marines, under Colonel William L. Dick, had taken
over the Lancaster area of operations from the 3d Marines. Outside of
a slight change of name, Lancaster II retained the same forces and mission
as the old operation. Colonel Dick and his staff moved into the 3d Marines'
old command post at Camp Carroll and assumed operational control of
the two battalions already in Lancaster, the 2d and the 3d, of the 9th
Marines.* Artillery batteries under the operational control of the 1st
Battalion, 12th Marines directly supported the infantry base areas in
Lancaster: Camp Carroll, Thon Son Lam or Rockpile area, and Ca Lu. Like
Colonel Lo Prete before him. Colonel Dick's main task was to keep Route
9 open in an area characterized by rolling hills, an occasional ravine,
overgrown brush, streams, and dry streambeds. Still Route 9 was the
main land logistic lifeline for the Marine outposts in the DMZ sector.20

With the move of the 4th Marines to Camp Carroll, the regiment's "tempo
of action picked up immediately." Upon the first night of the arrival
of the regimental headquarters and staff, North Vietnamese gunners fired
some 30 140mm rockets into Camp Carroll reinforced by 15 rounds of 85mm
artillery fire. Although causing relatively little damage, these turned
out to be the first shots in a determined attempt by the North Vietnamese
to isolate Camp Carroll and cut Route 9.21

Four days later, 24 January 1968, elements of the 320th NVA Division,
an elite unit and veteran of the 1954 Dien Bien Phu campaign and newly
arrived in the DMZ sector, initiated the enemy campaign in earnest with
an ambush of a Marine "Rough Rider" convoy. The convoy was on a routine
artillery resupply mission from Dong Ha to Camp Carroll. It consisted
of three trucks and a jeep armed with quad .50-caliber machine guns.
Around 1330 that afternoon, when the trucks were about to turn into
the Camp Carroll access road, about 3,000 meters above the Marine base,
the North Vietnamese sprang their ambush.22

The enemy soldiers opened up with small arms, mortars, machine guns,
and recoilless rifles, immediately immobilizing all four vehicles. Using
their weapons, including the quad .50, to defend themselves, and taking
what cover they could, the Marines with the convoy called for assistance.
The 4th Marines sent a reaction force from Camp Carroll, consisting
of a platoon from Company H, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines;

two tanks, one a flame tank, from Company B, 3d Tank Battalion; and
two Army M42 Dusters from Battery C, 1st Battalion, 44th Artillery.
The North Vietnamese, however, were waiting for the reaction column.
An enemy gunner fired on the lead tank, stopping it with a recoilless
rifle round and killing the


* Actually it was a battalion and a half, as the 2d Battalion, 9th
Marines only had two companies in Lancaster. The other two companies
were under the command of the battalion executive officer in the neighboring
9th Marines Kentucky area of operations. See Chapter 3.







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