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to the R-20 VC Battalion, south of Da Nang, the 1st VC
and 3d NVA Regiments* both part of the 2d NVA Division
started to deploy toward Go Noi Island. Elements of the 368B NVA
Rocket Artillery Regiment
were in firing positions to the west
and northwest of the 7th Marines. Other units included the 402d
Sapper Battalion
, the V-25th VC Battalion, and other VC
local forces. A warning order and plan prepared by the Communist Da
Nang City Committee called for a preliminary attack on the city by sappers
and VC troops. The attack force would consist of two groups, one to
move by land and the other by water to knock out the bridge separating
the city from Tiensha Peninsula and to capture the I Corps headquarters.
This would be followed by a rocket barrage and an assault by the main
force units on allied military units and installations. Within the city
itself, VC cadre were to force the "inhabitants into the street for
demonstrations . . . and prepare the people for continuing political
struggle against the government as well as kill GVN and ARVN cadre."12

Before the Communist forces launched their attack, the commanders
prepared to read to their troops a directive supposedly prepared two
weeks earlier by the Presidium of the Central Committee of the National
Liberation Front. The Front announced that the 1968 Tet greeting of
"Chairman Ho [Chi Minh] is actually a combat order for our entire Army
and population." The soldiers and cadre of the "South Vietnam Liberation
Army" were to move forward in the attack:

The
call for assault to achieve independence and liberty has sounded; The
Truong Son and the Mekong River are moving. You
comrades should act as heroes of Vietnam and with the spirit and pride
of combatants of the Liberation Army. The
Victory will be with us.13

The Attack

By evening on the 29th, the 1st Marine Division at Da Nang was on
a 100-percent alert. During the day, the division had positioned 11
reconnaissance "Stingray" patrols along likely enemy avenues of approach.
At 1600, one of the Stingray units, using the codename "Saddle Bag,"
situated in the mountains just south of a bend in the Thu Bon River
below An Hoa, about 20 miles southwest of the Da Nang base, reported
observing about 75 enemy soldiers wearing helmets and some carrying
mortars. The 11th Marines fired an artillery mission with unknown results.
About 50 minutes later, another recon team, "Air Hose," about 2,000
meters to the northeast of "Saddle Bag," saw more than 50 enemy troops
moving eastward. The artillery fired another salvo, which caused a large
secondary explosion. At 1920, in the same general area, still another
Stingray patrol, "Sailfish," radioed that about 200 Communist troops,
some carrying 40mm rocket launchers, passed its positions. Again the
artillery responded with "excellent effect on target." Because of an
air observer on station, the Marine gunners checked their fire. At that
point, three fixed-wing aircraft and four helicopter gunships then bombed
and strafed the enemy column. Darkness prevented "Sail-fish" from observing
the number of casualties that the artillery and air inflicted upon the
enemy.14**

At Da Nang, the Marines remained tense. One experienced Marine noncommissioned
officer, serving in his third war, First Sergeant Jack W. Jaunal of
the Headquarters and Service (nicknamed "Heat and Steam") Company, 3d
Amphibian Tractor Battalion, located below Marble Mountain, recorded
his impressions. He remembered that before midnight "the alert sounded,
and it was all hands to the wire [manning defensive positions]." Although
Jaunal's sector remained relatively quiet, he recalled that "we could
see flashes of other areas being hit" and heard mortars and rockets:
"The Marine helicopter strip [Marble Mountain] two miles to our north
got hit... Also Da Nang Airfield got it."15

Major General Raymond L. Murray, the III MAF deputy commander, remembered
that he heard a "hell of a lot of racket" and "woke up ... [to] the
airfield at Da Nang . . . being rocketed." At first, the general and

* There is some confusion, probably deliberate on the part of the
North Vietnamese, on the designation of the regiments, especially the
3d
of the 2d NVA Division. According to Marine records
the 3d NVA was also known as the 31st NVA Regiment.
There was also an independent 31st NVA Regiment that also infiltrated
into the western Da Nang TAOR. Although an attempt has been made to
use 3d NVA when referring to the regiment that was part of
the 2d NVA Division, the records do not always differentiate
between the two. FMFPac, MarOpsV, Feb-May68.

** Colonel Broman C. Stinemetz, who as a lieutenant colonel, commanded
the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, related that "in preparation for the
Tet stand-down the 1st Recon Battalion deployed the largest number patrols
ever at one time. These covered the mountainous remote zone west of
the Americal Division extending along a line northward up to and including
that high ground west of Task Force X-Ray. The collective impact of
these patrols, operating in either the Sting Ray-or intelligence gathering-mode,
significantly lessened the enemy effectiveness in the 1st Marine Division
TAOR during the Tet offensive." Col Broman C. Stinemerz, Comments on
draft, dtd 2Nov94 (Vietnam Comment File).





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