(1968: The Defining Year)
opened up with their 5-inch and 8-inch guns. Marine 8-inch and 155mm
howitzers from firing positions at Phu Bai and Gia Le added to the bombardment.
For the first time in several days, the cloud cover lifted for a brief
period and Marine F-4B Phantoms and F-8 Crusader jets flew support missions.
First Lieutenant Andrew C. Delaurier, a Crusader pilot from VMF-235,
observed that as his two-plane flight arrived over Hue City there was
'extremely heavy air activity everywhere.' They had co make two runs
to acquire the target, the Dong Ba rower. Once they had it, his wingman
'proceeded with one run with zunis and snakes and I followed up with
the napalm.'* Although enemy antiaircraft fire hit Delaurier's aircraft
causing him to leak fuel, he made his way safely back to Da Nang.34
Despite the heavy bombardment, the tower still stood. As Major Thompson later explained, the naval guns 'were accurate, bur of little value because their flat trajectory either hit the outside ot the Citadel wall or passed over the wall and any targets that we might have had inside the wall.' Thompson also praised the accuracy of the Marine artillery, but with the battalion on the 'gun target line** ... it [was] virtually impossible for us to lean into our fires.' In other words, with the Marine artillery firing at extreme range and parallel to the direction ot attack, the shell dispersion could cause friendly casualties. According to Thompson, the NVA also moved forward when the Marines tell back to use their supporting arms, 'so when die fires were lifted we had to fight to retake more ground.'35
The Marine attack soon stalled. On the right. Company C advanced about
100 yards, destroyed an NVA rocket position, and captured an enemy soldier
who walked into the company lines. Bur on the left flank, Company B
made no progress against the enemy-occupied tower. After several futile
attempts to take the tower. Major Thompson ordered both companies back
into night defensive positions.
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) Photo A373668
In the fighting for the Citadel,
a Marine grenadier fires his M79 grenade launcher. Apparently he has
modified his jacket to include a belt punch for grenades. He also has one
grenade stuck in his helmet strap.
Earlier that day. Captain Myron 'Mike' C. Harrington's Company D had
reverted to Thompson's command. Harrington brought two of his three
platoons to the LCU ramp in southern Hue for transportation down river
to the Citadel. At the ramp, there were two LCUs, but fully loaded with
supplies for the 1st Battalion. Harrington squeezed on board one of
the craft with his headquarters group and one infantry squad. Although
taking fire from NVA gunners on the Citadel wall, the Navy craft safely
made the trip across the river. Harrington and his small force jumped
off and waited for the LCUs to make a return trip with the rest of the
At the LCU ramp, the remaining two platoons boarded the Navy craft to join their company commander and his small detachment. Again as the LCUs made their way across the Perfume, NVA gunners took them under fire. On the opposite shore, two Marine 4.2-inch mortars responded with both high explosive and CS shells. A sudden shift of wind brought the gas fumes back on the Navy boats, blinding and choking both the sailors and Marines. The two LCUs returned to the southern ramp. The ship commanders decided against another attempt to cross the river. Fortunately after several hours, a Navy Swift boat arrived with three Vietnamese junks in row. Armed with a mounted .50-caliber machine gun, the Swift boat commander agreed to take the Marines on board the junks and row the small convoy to the other
* 'Zunis' refer to 5-inch Zuni rockets, an air-to-surface unguided
rocker with solid propellant while 'Snakes' pertain to 250- and 500-pound
bombs configured with a special tail called 'snake eyes.'
** The gun target line was an imaginary straight line from the guns
to the target.