(1968: The Defining Year)
Photo from Abel Collection
Fire fighters from Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 11
battle flames engulfing two Grumman A-6 Intruder aircraft from Marine
all-weather attack squadron \/MA-242(AW).
the enemy gunners followed with another 29 rockets, mostly aimed at the southern end of the airbase. Considering the amount of ordnance that the enemy expended, casualties were relatively small. The rocket attacks resulted in the deaths of 3 Marines and the wounding of another 11. Material and equipment losses, however, were much more extensive. The rockets destroyed five aircraft, nine items of ground equipment, two vehicles, and one warehouse outright. Fourteen aircraft, six pieces of ground support equipment, five buildings, and another two vehicles sustained damage of one sort or another.' Lieutenant Colonel William K. Rockey, the commander of the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, later wrote: 'The rocket trails of approximately 10 to 20 missiles as they rose into the air to arc over our positions to strike the Da Nang Airbase was vividly clear to all.' He observed that the 'rocket launching position was located directly south' of his command group, 'an estimated distance of more than 3,000 meters.'27
The Marine response to the bombardments was rapid. Immediately the 11th Marines artillery units 'initiated counrer-rocket tires' at suspected avenues of approach. As various outposts reported their sightings to the Division FSCC, the artillerymen then shifted these fires to actual sices. On the ground, at least one Marine unit prevented a rocket attack. A pacrol from Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, operating below the battalion's command post on Hill 10, saw about 10 North Vietnamese soldiers jusc south of the Tuy Loan River preparing positions. The Marines called in artillery and mortar missions. Although the enemy troops fled, the Marines found five unexpended 122mm rockets on the site. Later that night, the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines reported 15 secondary explosions from Marine counter-mortar artillery fire. In the
* Colonel Robert W.
Lewis, who as a lieutenant colonel commanded VMCJ-1 at Da Nang at the
time. remembered that the 'rocket damage at Da Nang consisted almost
entirely of aircraft damage. The rockets were accurate and landed on
the MAG-11 flight line.' Col Robert W. Lewis, Comments on draft, n.d.
(Dec94} (Vietnam Comment File), hereafter Lewis Comments.