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K, dug in about 150 meters southwest of the original contact. Corporal
Kelly, who had become the radioman for Company M, remembered that "Kilo's
platoons: first, second, weapons and what was left of third were strung
out in a tactical withdrawal." Major Findlay consulted with Captain
Frank. According to Corporal Kelly, the Company K commander "want[ed]
to go back in ... we have people in there." With heavy rain and low
cloud ceiling precluding any more air support and well-entrenched enemy,
Findlay decided against an immediate assault: "We're going to pull back
.... Come first light we're going to get some more firepower in here
and go after them."

During the night, Company L returned to A-3 while Companies K and
M established a two-company defensive perimeter west of Route 1 near
Gio Linh. The 12th Marines provided heavy supporting fires around the
two exposed companies. Corporal Kelly remembered that it was a wet "miserable
night . . . [and] rain swirled into the hole chilling us . . ."At the
end of the long and comparatively uneventful night, the Marines prepared
to renew the attack. A detachment of tanks from Gio Linh joined the
two companies and the Marine artillery opened up with their preparatory
fires upon the enemy entrenchments.

Under cover of the Marine artillery bombardment followed by Huey gunship
strafing runs, on the morning of 8 February, the two Marine companies
crossed Route 1 into a small woods that contained the NVA entrenchments.
As Kelly observed: "It was all grunts now." The NVA suddenly began to
panic and bolt. Corporal Kelly later described the Marine attack:

Now
Kilo was the grim reaper, killing anything that moved as they assaulted
through the North Vietnamese trenches and bunkers in a tactic so simple
and direct I was amazed by its effectiveness. Their firepower was a
wave of destruction surging before them, overwhelming the enemy. It
was over quickly.89

Other members of the battalion remembered the events of that morning
less melodramatically. Captain Otto J. Lehrack, the commanding officer
of Company I, later wrote that his recollection was that Company K "did
launch an assault, supported by tanks from Gio Linh, but by that time
there wasn't much of an enemy force left and it was pretty much of a
walk." According to Lehrack, the company sergeant of Company K, Gunnery
Sergeant Jimmie C. Clark, later told him: "What NVA was left in the
holes were chained to their guns ... so they couldn't get up and run."
Clark went on to state: "We went in and retrieved our own and brought
our own people out. . . . We were pretty beat and torn up, but we had
to do it."90

During the two-day fight, casualties were heavy for both sides. The
Marines claimed to have killed 139 of the enemy, but sustained a total
of 30 Marine dead and 35 wounded. Some of the wounded were from the
previous two ambushes and perilously survived the night among the North
Vietnamese. One American survivor related that an English-speaking North
Vietnamese soldier called out "Corpsman, I'm hit," and then shot the
Navy medic when he came to assist. Another Navy corpsman, Hospital Corpsman
3d Class, Alan B. Simms, who remained unscathed, hid and tended four
wounded Marines, saving their lives. At least four of the North Vietnamese
soldiers blew themselves up with grenades rather than surrender. After
helicopters evacuated the American wounded from an improvised landing
zone, the Marine infantry loaded the American dead and North Vietnamese
gear upon the tanks. According to Kelly:

It was
absolutely quiet except for the groans of the loaders and the sounds
made by the bodies of the dead being dragged to the tanks. They were
stacked four high-one on his back, the next on his stomach-the heads
and arms placed between the legs of the body underneath to lock in the
stack and prevent it from toppling. . . . The tank crews watched in
horror.

The tanks returned the bodies to Gio Linh and the infantry returned
to A-3.91

Once more, the war along the DMZ for another brief period went into
one of its customary lulls. Contrary to General Tompkins expectations
that the North Vietnamese would make their major effort in the Camp
Carroll/Rockpile/Ca Lu sector, the 4th Marines in Lancaster had few
flareups of any significant action. The enemy made no significant attempt
to cut Route 9 after the fighting for "Mike's Hill." Outside of an artillery
bombardment on Camp Carroll on 2 February, and an attack on a truck
convoy a week later, the Lancaster sector remained quiet during the
first two weeks of February. While maintaining pressure all along the
DMZ front, the NVA largely limited their Tet offensive in the north
to the disruption of the Cua Viet supply line, which apparently was
intertwined with the attack on Quang Tri City. As captured enemy documents
later indicated, North Vietnamese commanders attributed their failure
to take Quang Tri City to their inexperience with the coordination of
large forces that involved two major commands: The DMZ Front
and the Tri Thien Hue Front.92 This failure of coordination
characterized the entire enemy Tet offensive and was especially true
of the enemy attacks in the Da Nang area further south.





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