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side. After the Swift boat left the junks at a point off shore, the
Marines rowed them to the northern landing site where an impatient Captain
Harrington was waiting for them.

Arriving in the Citadel while it was still light, about 1800-1900
on the 14th, Harrington and his command joined the remainder of the
battalion. That night, Major Thompson briefed Harrington on the situation
and told him that it would be Company D's turn to go against the tower
the next morning. Harrington returned to his company and prepared them
for the coming attack.37

On the 15th, Marine artillery and naval gunfire once more hit the
enemy positions. Under the pounding this time, part of the tower gave
way. With another break in the cloud cover, two Marine A-4 jets darted
in under the gray skies and dropped 250- and 500-pound bombs on the
target.* Backed both by tanks and Ontos, the Company D Marines pressed
forward with Company C protecting its right flank. The North Vietnamese,
nevertheless, defended their positions tenaciously and Major Thompson
ordered Company B, which had been in reserve, again into the attack.
After six hours of hard fighting, including hand-to-hand combat, Harring-ton's
1st Platoon established a foothold at the base of the tower. According
to one account, Marine Private First Class John E. Holiday made a "one-man
charge" against an enemy machine gun bunker on the wall, firing his
"machine gun from the hip, 'John Wayne' style." The rest of the company
followed him and captured the tower.38**

The capture of the tower came at no small cost. Thompson's battalion
lost 6 men killed and sustained more than 50 wounded, while claiming
20 enemy dead. That night, Captain Harrington left one squad in the
tower and established his CP in a damaged house below the wall. In a
surprise night attack, the NVA retook the tower for a brief period.
According to Harrington, the Marine squad fell back without orders and
the company commander at the base of the tower suddenly saw North Vietnamese
soldiers crawling over the rubble of the tower. Laying down a base of
fire from his defensive positions, Captain Harrington led another squad
in a counterattack. The tower finally remained in Marine hands.39

Continuing the Advance


On the morning of the 16th, the battalion continued to push southeast along the Citadel Wall. Major Thompson's Marines immediately made contact, "engaging the enemy at extremely close range." Despite heavy enemy resistance, the 1st Battalion advanced about 150 yards. At that point, Major Thompson called a halt to allow fresh supplies reach the battalion. In the days' fighting, the Marines accounted for another 63 North Vietnamese dead while sustaining casualties of 7 killed and 47 wounded.40


For the next few days the 1st Battalion met the same close-quarter resistance from the enemy. In contrast to the enemy in southern Hue, the battalion discovered that the NVA units in the Citadel employed "better city-fighting tactics, improved the already formidable defenses, dug trenches, built roadblocks and conducted counterattacks to regain redoubts which were important to ... [their] defensive scheme." Major Thompson later observed that the older city consisted of "row after row of single-story, thick-walled masonry houses jammed close together and occasionally separated by alleyways or narrow streets." The Marines encountered "hundreds of naturally camouflaged, mutually supporting, fortified positions." Moreover, according to the battalion commander, "both of our flanks were exposed to enemy." To the east, or left flank, four- or five-story houses stood outside the moat from which the "NVA were able to dominate the top of the Citadel wall with observation and fire." To the west, or right flank, the "imperial palace provided the enemy a haven from which he could deliver small arms, rocket and mortar fire." Eventually Thompson received permission to fire mortars and on a "few occasions to have the ARVN fire artillery for us inside... the palace walls." As Major Thompson wrote in 1980, the enemy "had everything going for him."41


Thompson countered the enemy fixed defenses with heavy artillery, naval gunfire, liberal use of riot control agents, and when the weather permitted, fixed-wing support. Major Thompson observed, however, "there was slow, misty cold rain falling constantly. I don't recall seeing the sun during that period and the cloud cover broke enough to allow close air support on about three brief occasions." The Marine battalion commander depended largely on his unit's own firepower, espe-

* In 1980, Colonel Harrington in his comments to Keith Nolan recalled
only one air strike while he was in Hue and that was while he was attached
to the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines. Harrington Comments on Nolan ms, dtd
24May83 (Harrington Folder, Nolan Papers). The battalion report, however,
mentions that the battalion controlled a flight of A4s against the Citadel
wall. 1/5 AAR, Opn Hue City.

** A search of award recommendations failed to locate any prepared
for Private First Class Holiday for this action.





Page 201 (1968: The Defining Year)