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observe "rounds hitting all around them [the NVA]." Spooky then called
in Marine fixed-wing attack aircraft which dropped napalm with "outstanding
coverage of target." Darkness prevented any accurate bomb assessment,
but the "Rummage" Marines could observe enemy movement when illumination
was available. According to the team leader, "We never saw the end of
the main body . . . [but] when we stopped the count, there were NVA
still in column of 4's as far as we could see with our M49 [rifle spotting
scope]."

Later intelligence and interrogation reports of prisoners of war would
indicate that the unit that "Rummage" had intercepted was probably a
battalion of the 2d NVA Division. Apparently the division was
slow in moving into the Da Nang area and was not in position to support
the local forces in the earlier phase of the enemy offensive. According
to Marine intelligence sources, Rummage may well "have rendered a reinforced
battalion combat ineffective, forcing the enemy to modify his plans
at a critical time." In a message to III MAF, General Robertson observed:
"Never have so few done so much to so many."

By this time, the Communist Tet offensive was in full bloom, not only
at Da Nang, but throughout Vietnam. In the early morning hours of 31
January, Communist forces assaulted provincial and district capitals
extending from the Mekong Delta in the south to Quang Tri City in the
north. In Thua Thien Province in I Corps, two North Vietnamese regiments
held most of Hue City and the Marine base at Phu Bai came under mortar
and rocket barrages. Along Route 1 between Phu Bai and Da Nang, VC and
NVA main force units on the 31st made some 18 attacks on bridges, Marine
company positions in the Phu Loc area, and several of the Combined Action
platoons. Elsewhere in I Corps, below Da Nang, around 0400 on 31 January,
elements of the 70th VC Battalion and the 21st NVA Regiment
struck Tarn Ky, defended by the ARVN 6th Regiment and an artillery battalion.
At daybreak, the South Vietnamese troops counterattacked. According
to the South Vietnamese official history, the enemy retreated in disorder
leaving on the battlefield, "hundreds of bodies and 31 wounded who were
captured." Another 38 of the enemy surrendered.53

Much the same occurred at Quang Ngai City in the most southern of
the I Corps provinces. At 0400 on the 31st, supported by local guerrilla
forces, the VC 401st Main Force Regiment struck the city and
airfield and initially achieved surprise, but failed to exploit its
advantage. By that night, with the enemy command and control structure
shattered, the fight was over.* The VC lost about 500 killed and some
300 weapons. For its part, the 2d ARVN Division sustained casualties
of 56 killed, 138 wounded, and one man missing. The ARVN also lost 43
weapons.54


At the American base at Chu Lai, the Communists limited their attacks to mortar and rockets although rumors circulated that the NVA were about to launch a ground assault on the base. While the Americal Division maintained a 100 percent alert, enemy gunners, nevertheless, in the early morning hours successfully launched their rockets and mortars. One 122mm rocket exploded a bomb dump and caused extensive damage. Colonel Dean Wilker, the MAG-12 commander, later recalled that the resulting blast of the bomb dump "caved in one of my hangars and damaged the others."55 The two Marine aircraft groups at Chu Lai, MAG-12 and MAG-13, sustained 3 fixed-wing aircraft destroyed and 23 damaged, 4 of them substantially. There was no further ground assault.56

In the extensive Da Nang TAOR, the early morning hours of 31 January
were almost a repeat of the events of the 30th. Enemy gunners fired
rockets at both the Da Nang Airbase and this time also included the
Marble Mountain helicopter facility on Tiensha Peninsula. No rockets
fell on the main airbase but Marble Mountain sustained some damage.
The enemy rocket troops fired in two bursts, one at 0342, followed by
a second barrage three hours later. About the same time as the rocket
attacks on the Da Nang base and Marble Mountain, enemy mortars bombarded
the command post of the 7th Marines on Hill 55 south of Da Nang and
forward infantry positions. These included Hills 65 and 52 manned by
companies of the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines in the southwestern part
of the TAOR and Hill 41 defended by Company D, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines
in the central western sector.. The mortar attacks resulted in only
five wounded and none killed among the Marine defenders. Countermortar
fire quickly silenced the enemy tubes. The Marine staff speculated that
the enemy launched the mortar attacks largely as a cover for the rocket
attacks against Marble Mountain. Even at Marble Mountain the damage
was relatively contained. The Marines lost 1 helicopter and sustained
damage to 29 others. Two


*A U.S. Army historian, George L. MacGarrigle, observed that the attack on Quang
Ngai City failed because the commander of the 401st "was unable
to coordinate the action." George L. MacGarrigle, Historian, CMH, Comments
on draft, dtd 5Dec94 (Vietnam Comment File).





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