Page 210

Page 210 (1968: The Defining Year)

one time, the tank turned around and trained its
90mm main gun directly at the building
occupied by Thompson and his command group. The tank fired bur according
to the battalion commander 'the round hit a scone archway between us
and exploded.' Again, the tank opened fire, raking the building with
its .50-caliber machine gun, but Thompson's operations officer 'had
the presence of mind to get on the radio and get the tank from firing
at us.' Major Thompson later related that the tank commander, the tank
platoon sergeant, 'was very embarrassed about taking his battalion commander
under fire.' Without any other major incidents but sustaining casualties
of 5 dead and 30 wounded during the day, by 1800, the Marine battalion
succeeded in attaining all of its objectives. According to the battalion's
report, 'enemy contact . . . was lighter than any previous offensive
day.' One Marine observed, 'Hey it's Washington's birthday.'19

Department of Defense (USMC) Photo


A Marine sergeant from the
1st Battalion. 5th Marines sits with his weapon on the throne inside
the Imperial Palace. The palace was recaptured from the North Vietnamese
by South Vietnamese forces, not by the U.S. Marine battalion.

To the west of the American Marines, however, the
North Vietnamese continued to fight for nearly every inch of the old
city still in their hands. In the Vietnamese Marine sector on the 22d,
the enemy fired 122mm rockets followed by ground attacks on the Marine
positions. Although forced back, the North Vietnamese maintained the
pressure on the Marine task force. On the 23d, the Vietnamese Marines
'were in moderate to heavy contact' throughout the day and 'no advances
were made . . . .' Venting his anger at what he considered the slow
progress of the Vietnamese Marines in a message to General Westmoreland,
General Abrams threatened to recommend to the South Vietnamese Joint
General Staff the dissolution of the Vietnamese Marine Corps. He complained
to Westmoreland that the Vietnamese Marines in the last three days 'have
moved forward less than half a city block,' although being the 'strongest
force in the Citadel either Vietnamese, U.S., or enemy.'20*

Notwithstanding Abrams' frustrations, both the 3d
ARVN and the Vietnamese Marines were about to close out the chapter
on the battle for the Citadel. On the 22d, the 3d ARVN Regiment had
assisted the Vietnamese Marines in quashing the enemy attack and mounted
a counterattack spearheaded by the 1st Division's Black Panther Company.
ARVN and American artillery, on the night of the 23d, spoiled another
NVA attempt to break through South Vietnamese defenses in the western
sector of the Citadel. The 2d Battalion, 3d ARVN then launched its own
surprise attack along the southern wall. At 0500 on the 24th, soldiers
of the ARVN battalion pulled down the Viet Cong banner and raised the
Republic of Vietnam standard in its place on the Citadel flag tower.
By 1025 on the 24th, the 3d ARVN Regiment had reached the southern wall
and secured it. General Truong then ordered the Black Panther Company
and the 2d Battalion, 3d ARVN to assault the Imperial Palace. Meeting
little resistance, the ARVN troops, by late afternoon, recaptured the
palace with its surrounding grounds and walls by lace afternoon. In
the meantime, the Vietnamese Marines took the western wall. By nightfall,
only the southwest corner of the Citadel remained under enemy control.
Under cover of darkness at 0300 on the 25th, the 4th Vietnamese Marine
battalion launched a surprise attack and eliminated this last pocket
of North Vietnamese organized resistance in the

*Colonel Talman C. Budd II,
a former advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps, commented that the
criticism of the Vietnamese Marines was unjust. He claimed that U.S.
commanders were critical without understanding the Vietnamese limitations.
He remarked that the Vietnamese Marines were basically light infantry
with their battalions numbering about 400 to 600 men and 'were standing
roe to toe with the same NVA with far less resources than the Marine
units had. The VNMC had a battery of 105mm howitzers; no tanks, Ontos,
or other supporting arms.' According to Budd, 'the battle in the western
sector of operations was in many respects more difficult and ferocious
because the enemy had the unrestrained ability to replenish his forces
and supplies with impunity through the west wall.' Budd admitted, 'the
Vietnamese could have been more aggressive under some circumstances
but I'm still not sure that Hue City was one of chose cases.' Budd Comments.

Page 210 (1968: The Defining Year)