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platoon leaders taking the place of wounded or dead company officers.
One officer remarked, "We don't have enough men, enough air support,
or enough artillery to do this thing quickly . . . ."13*

On 20 February, General Abrams radioed General Cushman that he recognized
the efforts of everyone "to reduce the siege of Hue and that the weather
has had considerable impact." Abrams, nevertheless, considered "the
measures so far taken to be inadequate and not in consonance with the
urgency of the problem or the resources you command." The Army general
considered it "essential that we bring to bear every available means
at our disposal in firepower and support to eliminate the enemy forces
in Hue." He directed Cushman to give priority on artillery fires to
both the ARVN and Marine units in the city. Abrams declared that General
Truong should coordinate "all outside support rendered and we should
be responsive to his requests." He told Cushman: "In accomplishing all
the above, I direct that the resources owned by the U.S. be unstintingly
committed to the support of the Vietnamese forces of all types cutting
out all the red tape and administrative procedures that in any way hinder
the conduct of the battle." According to Abrams, "this is one battle
and anything anyone has that is useful should be committed to its early
and final conclusion."14**


At the same time he radioed Cushman, General Abrams also sent a message to General Tolson of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. He told Tolson: "You have a priority task to clear the northwest, west and southern approaches to Hue within the next 48 hours, using all resources at your disposal . . . ." Abrams then ordered General Tolson to "make personal contact with BG Truong . . ., assess the situation within the city . . . and report personally to this headquarters with your proposed plan of action." The MACV (Forward) commander then promised Tolson that he would issue the "necessary orders" to General Cushman "to insure that all available resources are placed at your disposal to accomplish this mission."15


Despite the note of anxiety in Abrams' messages, the battle for Hue was in its last stages. On 20 February, reenforced by the 2d Battalion, 501st Infantry and the 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry, the 1st Cavalry's 3d Brigade, now four battalions strong, prepared to clear the Que Chu area. With clearing weather and both air and artillery support, the 3d Brigade advanced against stubborn enemy forces, who fell back towards Hue. By the end of 22 February, the Brigade was within 2,500 meters of the city walls. In the two days of the attack, the U.S. troops had killed more than 120 of the enemy. The brigade was about to close the western approaches to Hue, cutting the enemy supply route into the city. On the previous day, U.S. Army Brigadier General Oscar E. Davis, the assistant division commander of the 1st Cavalry, had become the coordinator of supporting arms fire in the Citadel with his headquarters collocated with General Truong at the Mang Ca compound.16


In the Citadel, Major Thompson had decided on another tack to get his battalion moving again. On the afternoon of the 20th, he held a conference with his company commanders. Thompson stated that "to continue the attack as before would be sheer folly" and suggested the possibility of a night attack. According to Thompson, most of the company commanders "were not very enthusiastic ... they were willing to try, but I could see that their hearts were not in it." He understood their reluctance, "they had endured a great deal during the past two weeks." On the other hand, a few days earlier, he had given his reserve company, Company A, to First Lieutenant Patrick D. Polk. In a brief period. Polk had revived the morale of the company, which had taken horrendous casualties on the first day of action in the Citadel. Thompson believed that "Pat Polk and Company A were ready to go." According to the plan, a platoon from Company A was to seize three key facilities, including the two-story administrative building, flanking the North Vietnamese positions during the night. At first light, the rest of the battalion was to launch the general attack.17


As planned, the 2d Platoon, Company A, led by Staff Sergeant James Munroe, moved out at 0300 on the 21st from the company perimeter. Divided into three approximately 10-man teams, the Marines cap-

*The 1st Marine Division responded to obvious concern by higher headquarters.
Although not disputing the accuracy of Lescaze's article, a division
message stated that of the 10 platoons of the battalion in the Citadel,
three were commanded by lieutenants, one by a gunnery sergeant, two
by staff sergeants, two by sergeants, and two by corporals. In its message,
the division observed that weather permitted fixed-wing support only
on three days, 14-16 February 1968. Because of the need for accuracy,
the division stated it used only 8-inch howitzer and naval gunfire in
support of the battalion. It admitted that "1/5 casualties have been
high. During past week, priority of personnel replacement has been given
to the 5th Marines." 1st MarDiv msg to CGFMFPac, dtd 21Feb68, Encl 14,
1st MarDiv ComdC, Feb68.

** Brigadier General Paul G. Graham, who as a colonel served as the
G-3 or operations officer of the 1st Marine Division, believed that
this message, "was simply a case of a frustrated Abrams trying to direct
one of his subordinate commanders to hurry the Hue campaign which would
relieve him of some political stress caused by the Hue attack." BGen
Paul G. Graham, Comments on draft, dtd 20Nov94 (Vietnam Comment File),
hereafter Graham Comments.




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