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reinforced by a third battalion from

Saigon, to clear the southwestern wall.' With the Vietnamese Marines on the

western flank, he placed the 3d ARVN Regiment in the center with orders to

attack south towards the Imperial Palace. The Vietnamese general placed his

Reconnaissance Company on the right flank of Major Thompson's 1st Battalion, 5th

Marines, which renewed its assault in the southeastern sector.10

From the 18th through the 20th, the American
Marine battalion and South Vietnamese units in the Citadel continued
to meet dogged resistance from the enemy. If the NVA in the Citadel
were now fighting a rear guard action, they contested nearly every piece
of ground. Even with mounting casualties, the North Vietnamese continued
to throw replacements into the fight and their supply lines remained
open. During the early morning hours of 19 February, two enemy battalions
attacked the South Vietnamese Marines in the southwestern sector of
the Citadel. Although the Marines, supported by artillery, beat back
the enemy assault, several high-ranking NVA officers and political leaders
used the 'diversion' to make good their escape from the city.11

In the southeastern sector, on 19

February, after regrouping, the American Marine battalion resumed the offensive.

With Companies B, C, and D in the vanguard, and Company A still in reserve, the

1st Battalion, 5th Marines only made nominal advances against its stubborn foe,

holed up in the rubble, structures, and walls of the Citadel. Major Thompson,

the battalion commander, later remembered that one particular building, 'a

large, two-storied administrative building (the largest in the Citadel)' was of

particular concern to him. From it, the enemy had excellent observation and

fields of tire. According to Thompson, he 'felt that if we could take this

position, the rest would be easy.' By the 20th, however, Thompson believed that

most of the companies had run out of steam and that some new approach was

needed.12


Photo is from the Abel

Collection

Walter Cronkite, the CBS
Evening News anchorman, is filmed covering Marine operations in Hue.
The battle for Hue prwided dramatic footage for the TV cameras which
Americans at home could view almost the next day.


 


At Phu Bai and Da Nang, both Generals Abrams
and Cushman shared Major Thompson's concern about progress in the Citadel
and American casualties. News correspondents with the Marines in the
old city filed dispatches and film about the intensity of the fighting
in the old city that American audiences viewed and read almost the next
day.' One dramatic picture showed a Marine tank with a makeshift litter
on its rear, carrying wounded from the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines back
to the battalion aid station. Reporter Lee Lescaze wrote an article
entitled 'Shortage ot Men, Air Support Slows Marine Drive in Hue' that,
on 19 February 1968, appeared on page 1 of the Washington Post.
According to Lescaze's account, the battalion had only advanced four
blocks and still were two blocks from the southern wall of the Citadel.
He quoted Marine company officers asking 'when are they going to get
help.' Lescaze described the lead companies 'trying to keep on line
as they maneuver through buildings and rubble of Hue.' In some instances,
corporals were acting


* Colonel Talman C. Budtl II, then Major
Budd and advisor ro the Vietnamese Marine Task Force, remarked thac
Major Thon^, the Vietnamese Marine Task Force commander, maintained
his command post with his 1st Battalion commander, since they were close
friends. According to Budd, he did so because Colonel Yew, 'the ceremonial
Asst. Commandant, was sent up to Hue to oversee the TF 'A' operations.'
The Task Force Commander 'resented that Col Yew had been sent up to
Hue so rather than locating the TF CP [Command Pose] in the vicinity
of the 1st ARVN Division where Colonel Yew was . . . [he] chose to move
his CP forward with his old friend the 1st Battalion commander to keep
Colonel Yew out of his hair.' Col Talman C. Budd II, Comments on draft,
dtd 30Mar95 (Vietnam Comment Pile), hereafter Budd Comments.

** Two of the news correspondents, Alvin
B. Webb, Jr., of the United Press and H. D. S. Grcenway of Time Mayzim,
were wounded when they and Charles Mohr of the Nru Ywk Times pulled
a wounded Marine to safety in the Citadel. Braesrrup, Big Story, l,
p. 238.




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