Page 163

Page 163 (1968: The Defining Year)

area with artillery. They later found 46 enemy bodies and took a wounded
man prisoner. Intelligence indicated that the enemy unit in the southern
hamlet was from the 3d Battalion, 31st NVA Regiment, and the
units in Lo Giang (5) were from the 1st VC Regiment. In the
meantime, that day, on the eastern flank of the Army units, on the east
bank of the Vinh Dinh River, the 2d Battalion, 3d Marines encountered
two companies from the 1st VC Regiment and killed about 90
of the enemy.

The enemy offensive in the Da Nang sector had spent itself. During
the next few days, Task Force Miracle conducted sweeps in its sector
and encountered relatively little resistance. Both the 2d Battalion,
3d Marines to the east of the Army task force, and the 3d Battalion,
5th Marines to the south, also reported relatively little enemy activity
in their sectors. Only the 7th Marines to the west experienced an increase
in incidents as North Vietnamese regulars and the VC main force troops
moved through the western TAOR to return to their mountain strongholds
in Base Area 114 and through Charlie Ridge into "Happy Valley."82*

To the south, in the Korean sector, the ROK Marines with the assistance
of the ARVN again drove Communist forces out of the Hoi An environs.
According to an enemy NCO from the 31st NVA Regiment captured
in the fighting, the mission of his unit was to "attack Hoi An, five
times if necessary, and set up a liberation government." Hoi An still
remained in friendly hands. In the Que Son Valley on 9 February, the
Americal Division engaged elements of the 21st NVA Regiment,
the only regiment of the 2d NVA Division that had not been
in the Da Nang sector. The 21st was also in retreat.83

According to Marine intelligence reports, on 9 February, the 2d
NVA Division
moved its headquarters back to the Go Noi from its
more forward positions. The following day, the same sources indicated
that both the 1st VC and the 3d NVA Regiments had
also withdrawn to the Go Noi. On 11 February, General Cushman observed
the 2d NVA Division "appeared to be withdrawing from contact
southward" and ordered his subordinate commanders to continue to press
the attack. He, nevertheless, released TF Miracle from the operational
control of the 1st Marine Division and returned it to its parent command.
The task force headquarters and its two battalions returned to Chu Lai
the following day. The battle for Da Nang was largely over. Despite
limited attacks later in the month, these were largely, as a report
stated, "an attempt to maintain the facade of an offensive."84

During the Da Nang Tet offensive, both sides experienced heavy casualties,
but the Communist forces proved to be no match for the allied forces.
According to III MAF figures, from 29 January through 14 February at
Da Nang, Marines sustained 124 killed and more than 480 wounded. Army
forces in the Da Nang area including the troops from Task Force Miracle
suffered 18 dead and 59 wounded. South Vietnamese and Korean casualties
probably equalled or slightly exceeded the American. U.S. estimates
of enemy casualties ranged between 1,200 and 1,400 dead. Colonel Smith
believed that the 1st VC Regiment alone lost about 600 men.
The 2d NVA Division still remained intact, but obviously was
not about to renew the offensive.85

From almost every account, the Communist attack in the Da Nang TAOR
was very inept. Despite the thinness of the Marine lines and the ability
of both the NVA and VC to infiltrate, the enemy never capitalized on
these advantages. According to a VC after-action report early in the
offensive, the writer complained that the "commander did not know .
. . [the] situation accurately . . . and that orders were not strictly
obeyed." In a 1st Marine Division analyses, the author commented that
the 2d NVA Division's approach was "along a single axis of
advance so that his eventual target was easily identifiable." Moreover,
once the NVA units arrived south of Da Nang they "made no further attempts
at maneuver even while being hunted by Marine and Army units, and when
engaged, seldom maneuvered, except to withdraw." General Robertson,
the 1st Division commander, observed that the delay of the 2d NVA
into the picture may have been because the Communist forces
"got their signals mixed ...." The VC were supposed to be inside "when
the NVA division came marching down main street. You get your timing
off and you've got problems." Another possible explanation was that
the Da Nang attack may have been a secondary assault-to cause as much
damage as possible and divert allied forces from the almost successful
effort of the Communist forces to capture the city of Hue.86**

*Igor Bobrowsky with CAP D-2 remembered the "retreating NVA/VC were certainly more pathetic on the way back out to their lairs than they were coming in on us. At the same time though, they were . . . somehow scarier-because they were so clearly desperate in trying to get away, like small packs of cornered rats looking for holes to scurry through in a burning building." Bobrowsky Comments.

** Brigadier General Paul G. Graham who was the 1st Marine Division Operations Officer (G-3) at the time disagreed with the last statement, writing "Hue had no military value to the NVA/VC. Da Nang was the prize-for success in that endeavor could have had a serious effect on the Allied efforts in the III MAF area." BGen Paul G. Graham, Comments on draft, dtd 20Nov94 (Vietnam Comment File).

Page 163 (1968: The Defining Year)