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control was more than two hours late in getting starred. Rain-swollen
screams and the unfamiliarity of the North Vietnamese with the terrain
accounted in part for the delay.70

Unexpected resistance by the South Vietnamese forces also played a
role. At Tri Bun, tor example, the 814th VC Main Force Battalion,
attached to the 812th NVA Regiment, encountered the 9th Airborne
Battalion. Apparently the VC tried to take the South Vietnamese troops
off guard by donning ARVN pararroop uniforms. The ruse railed when one
of the 9th Airborne sentries observed that the 'impostors had worn rubber
sandals rather then the genuine jungle boots.' Despite the uncovering
of the Viet Cong, the 9th Airborne at Tri Buu was heavily outnumbered
and had little choice but to fall back into Quang Tri City. By daybreak,
the 812th had penetrated the city at several points, but the
South Vietnamese had repulsed an attack on the Quang Tri Citadel and
the jail. The issue was still in doubt at noon.

At about this time, the civilian director of the CORDs organization in Quang Tri Province, Robert Brewer, and the senior U.S. Army advisor to the 1st ARVN visited Colonel Donald V. Rattan, the 1st Brigade commander, in his command post at LZ Betty. They told Rattan that the situation inside the city 'was still highly tenuous.' Brewer believed that at least an enemy battalion was in the city and that the ARVN 'were badly in need of assistance.' The North Vietnamese appeared to be reinforcing from the east 'and had established fire support positions on [the] eastern and southern fringes of the city.' Colonel Rattan agreed to provide a relief force from his command.71

Given the disposition of U.S. and South Vietnamese forces in the sector. Rattan had the only forces available that could reinforce Quang Tri City. West ot the city at the Quang Tri Airfield at Ai Tu, Colonel Lo Prete's 3d Marines in Operation Osceola II consisted of only one infantry battalion, some artillery, and a makeshift




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