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indicated he would rather stay where he was, but Lieutenant Colonel Barr gave him little choice.18

Shortly after 1630 on the 10th, Wells and his radio operator flew by helicopter to the Tay Loc airfield in the Citadel where the Marine lieutenant was to provide support to the 2d Battalion, 4th ARVN and the Black Panther Company, which had just retaken the field. As the aircraft approached Tay Loc, the enemy took it under sniper fire. The two Marines leaped out of the hovering craft and ran into a Quon-set hut, near the airfield tower, and 'full of Australians [advisors to the Vietnamese units there] playing cards and drinking scorch.' At that point, Wells recalled he was told that General Truong wanted to see him at the Mang Ca division headquarters compound, about a mile to the east.19

Upon Wells reaching the division headquarters, General Truong briefed him upon his new assignment as a forward observer with the 'supporting remnants of an ARVN Airborne battalion pinned down in a forward area.' Wells remembered that he 'was shocked to learn that the [1st Battalion,] 5th Marines had not arrived yet and that he and his radioman would be the only Americans in actual combat with the ARVN.' The Vietnamese general pointed out to Wells, on a large wall map, the location of his designated outpost, surrounded by enemy troops. Truong explained the Vietnamese unit required 'his 'big guns' immediately to break the siege.' According to Wells, 'Truong emphasized . . . that the Emperor's Palace of Perfect Peace and the Royal City itself were in a strict no-fire zone, but H&I [harassing and interdiction] fires could be designated on the outer wall surrounding the Palace grounds.'20

After the briefing, two ARVN soldiers, whom Wells remembered as rangers, escorted the Marine lieutenant and his radioman through the dark streets and alleyways to the ruins of a Buddhist pagoda, about 500 meters west of the Dong Ba tower. Wells recalled it cook him about three hours to negotiate the half-mile distance from the Mang Ca compound to the pagoda. Inside and around the courtyard of the temple only a short distance from the Imperial Palace were about 100 Vietnamese troops. According to Wells, they were surrounded by North Vietnamese forces. Given his ominous circumstances. Lieutenant Wells nicknamed his refuge the 'Alamo.' For the next two weeks. Wells called in Marine supporting artillery and naval gunfire from ships off the coast, adjusting his target selection by reference to his map and to sound.21

In the meantime. General Truong revised his plans for

the battle of the Citadel. With the arrival of the South Vietnamese Marine Task

Force A at Phu Bai, he proposed to have them replace the battered Vietnamese

airborne battalions in the eastern sector. The airborne units would then return

to Phu Bai and be flown back to Saigon. Through the chain of command, he asked

for Task Force X-Ray to provide him with a U.S. Marine battalion. The U.S.

Marine battalion would then relieve the Vietnamese Marines and attack to the

south. After the arrival of the American Marines, the Vietnamese Marines would

push to the west and then turn south, advancing along the western wall. In the

meantime, the four 3d ARVN Regiment battalions would continue to clear the

northwest sector. Eventually the allied forces would surround and isolate the

NVA forces, holed up in the former imperial palace


Department of Defense (USMC) Photo A422067



Vietnamese Marines deploy after U.S.

Marine helicopters, in the background, have brought them into a landing zone

near Hue. While not depicted in this photo, on 11 February, Marine helicopters

had brought one company and the Task Force Headquarters directly into the

Citadel.




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