Page 157

Page 157 (1968: The Defining Year)

Department of Defense (USMC) Photo A190390

A bandaged VC, wounded in the fighting for Nam O,
waits for evacuation. The prisoner talked freely to his captors while
he received medical attention.

The Da Nang Northern Sector Defense Command dispatched a provisional
company to assist the Combined Action Marines as well as the security
detachment. The provisional company linked up with two South Vietnamese
Ranger companies that were operating in the area to contain the battalion
from the 4th NVA Regiment which had slipped through the Hai
Van Pass the night before. With part of the force establishing blocking
positions north of the hamlet, the rest of the provisional company and
South Vietnamese Rangers moved through Nam O. By the afternoon of the
31st, the Marines and Rangers had completed their sweep. They collected
some 200 people that they detained for further questioning. Some of
the VC in the hamlet fled south, but encountered a platoon from Company
E, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines coming up to reinforce the allied forces
in the Nam O region. In the resulting engagement, the Marines of Company
E killed about 13 VC. The enemy unit was from the Q-55th Local Force
, which normally operated in the area. A prisoner captured
in Nam O identified a North Vietnamese battalion, probably from the
4th NVA Regiment, operating below the Hai Van Pass with the
'mission to form civilians for demonstrations.''59

According co a South Vietnamese account, the ARVN Rangers killed 150
of the enemy and captured another l S in the battle tor Nam O and in
other fighting below the pass through 31 January. ARVN intelligence
officers speculated that the battalion from the 4th NVA Regiment
was supposed to have spearheaded the attack on the city of Da Nang the
previous day, but arrived too late to influence the battle.60

In other sectors of the Da Nang TAOR, the Communists also maintained the pressure on the allied forces. For the most part, die VC and NVA limited their attacks on the Marines to mortar bombardments and harassing small arms fire. Although agent reports and other intelligence indicated continued enemy assaults north of the Cau Do River against Hoa Vang and Da Nang City, most ot these came to naught. The l st MP Battalion completed three sweeps of the airbase perimeter and the areas just southeast, southwest, and just north ot the airbase without incident. The battalions Company B, however, in an operation with a Combined Action platoon in two hamlets on the Tien-sha Peninsula or Da Nang East, surprised a VC force in two hamlets north of Marble Mountain. The Marines and Popular Force troops killed 22 ot the enemy and took another 23 prisoner.61

There were two serious incidents in the 7th Marines sector. In the
3d Battalion, 7ch Marines area of operations, about 2,000 meters west
ot Hill 55 on the other side of a bend in the Yen River, a scjuad from
Company L at 1145 ran into what eventually turned out to be a fairly
large-sized enemy unit. Reinforced by the remainder of Company L and
two platoons from Company M together with two tanks and a LVT, the Marines
engaged the NVA. Company L, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines sec up blocking
positions on the east bank of the Yen. Able to establish clear fields
of fire in the rice paddy where the heaviest firefight occurred, the
enemy prevented the 7th Marines elements from closing with them. After
dark, both sides withdrew, the Marines to night defensive positions
and the NVA to the west. In the engagement, the Marines lost 5 killed
and 12 wounded. They counted 3-4 enemy dead. Noting the new web gear
and weapons with the North Vietnamese bodies left on the battlefield.
Marine intelligence officers believed the North Vietnamese unit to be
from the 31st NVA Regiment.62

About 5,000 meters to the northwest, later that night, a squad from Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines encountered an enemy force possibly from the

Page 157 (1968: The Defining Year)