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"would attempt to play 'dead.'" The brigade only lost three aircraft
to enemy gunfire.77

By the morning of 1 February, it was obvious that the North Vietnamese
had given up on the attempt to take Quang Tri City. In the city itself,
ARVN and local South Vietnamese militia and police mopped up. Outside
the city, the Communists initiated a halfhearted anti-government march
against Quang Tri by the residents of Tri Buu. The South Vietnamese
police quickly dispersed the demonstration and by that evening, with
support of U.S. fixed-wing air support, ARVN forces retook Tri Buu.
For the most part, the North Vietnamese were now only interested in
getting out the best they could. During the night, many of the NVA units
broke down into small groups to make good their retreat. Some North
Vietnamese soldiers tried to escape by mingling among the thousands
of refugees now leaving the city. Captain Nawrosky told of his company
finding at least two North Vietnamese soldiers who "had donned civilian
clothing over their own uniforms . . . they'd thrown their weapons away
and they tried to get out wearing civilian clothes."78

While the mopping up or pursuit phase continued for several more days,
most of the major contacts were over by 1 February. In the most significant
action of the day, Company A, 1st Battalion, 502d Airborne Regiment,
newly inserted into the operation and supported by ARA and gunship helicopters,
killed over 75 of the enemy near a large cathedral about 5,000 meters
south of Quang Tri City. According to American records, the North Vietnamese
lost over 900 men killed, 553 by the ARVN, and 86 captured, as well
as substantial weapons and equipment, in their aborted attempt to take
Quang Tri City. The allies took substantial casualties as well, but
much less in comparison to the North Vietnamese.* The outcome may very
well have been different and caused even more complications for III
MAF if the Cavalry's 1st Brigade had not been in position to have come
to the assistance of the South Vietnamese. Still the unexpected tenacious
resistance by the poorly regarded and outnumbered 1st ARVN Regiment
and the local militia provided the opportunity for the Cavalry to come
to the rescue.79

Tet Aftermath Along the DMZ

On the DMZ front, the North Vietnamese continued to place pressure
on the Marine units, but to a somewhat lesser extent than before Tet.
Along the coast, above the Cua Viet, the 803d continued its
efforts to cut that vital waterway. BLT 3/1 in Operation Saline remained
the frontline battalion. Of all the battalion's units, Captain John
Regal s Company K in the hamlet of Lam Xuan was the most vulnerable
and exposed to an enemy attack. Having stayed in Lam Xuan since finally
securing the hamlet on 29 January and having observed increased enemy
activity, Regal believed "that something was up." On the afternoon of
1 February, he requested and received permission from his battalion
commander, Lieutenant Colonel McQuown, to move to new night positions,
about 300 meters east of Lam Xuan.80

Waiting until darkness so that it could not be easily detected, the
company shifted to new fighting positions. Later that night. Regal received
intelligence that added weight to his opinion that his company had been
targeted by the enemy. An enemy officer captured in the fighting for
Mat Xa Thi on the 31st told his captors that the 803d planned
a battalion-size attack against one of the Marine companies. Regal had
no doubts that the company was his.


Company K had only a short wait until the fireworks began. At about 0245 on 2 February, about 100 82mm mortar rounds followed by a similar number of 130mm artillery rounds fell into the company's former positions in Lam Xuan. According to Regal, "Lam Xuan was sparkling like a Christmas tree . . . Fortunately for us we weren't there." With additional light provided by a flare ship over Gio Linh that lit up the entire Cua Viet area, the Marines then spotted the enemy infantry. Captain Regal later wrote: "There they were; from my position, I could see the enemy walking from right to left in single file. They were just outside a hedgerow, east of the hamlet, no more than 100 meters from our line." As the forward elements of the North Vietnamese unit approached the Marine positions, they appeared confused as officers tried to regroup their men. Regal believed that the enemy "must have been going to sweep through the area into which we had moved after they found we had abandoned the village and just stumbled into our lines."

Regal called for an illumination round which completely exposed the
enemy troops in front of the Marine lines. He then gave the signal to
fire. For the next few hours until sunrise, the outnumbered Marines
of Com-

*The after-action reports and the Vietnamese accounts do not provide
specific American and allied casualties. Department of the Army records
show, however, that for all of Operation Jeb Stuart, not just for the
battle of Quang Tri City, through 10 February, U.S. casualties were
58 KIA and 303 wounded as opposed to 855 enemy dead. Dept of the Army,
Operational Summary/Brief, dtd 11Feb68 (CMH Working Papers).





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