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Citadel. Outside of the eastern walls of the Citadel, a two-battalion
ARVN Ranger task force cleared the Gia Hoi sector, a small enclave located
between the Citadel and the Perfume River that had been under NVA control
since 31 January. Save for mopping-up operations, the fight for the
Citadel was over.21

For the U.S. 1st Battalion, 5th Marines in the Citadel, except for
isolated skirmishes, its last significant action occurred on the 22d
with the seizure of the southeast wall and its approaches. Major Thompson
had hoped to participate in the taking of the Imperial Palace, but as
he later ruefully observed: "For political reasons, I was not allowed
to do it. To save face, the Vietnamese were to retake the 'Forbidden
City' . . . ." Marine tanks, Ontos, and recoilless rifles, however,
provided direct support for the assault on the palace. On 26 February,
ARVN forces relieved the Marine battalion, which departed the Citadel
to join the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines in a two-battalion sweep east
and north of the city.22

Closing Out Operation Hue City

For the Marines, the operation, now officially called Hue City, lasted
about another week. While the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines essentially
mopped up in southern Hue,* the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, since 12
February, had conducted numerous company and platoon-size combat patrols
south of the Phu Cam Canal. The battalion relieved the 101st ARVN Engineering
Company that had been surrounded by NVA just southwest of the new city.
On 24 February, the battalion began a three-company sweep south of the
city in conjunction with the two battalions of the 1st Brigade, 101st
Airborne Division. Under cover of darkness at 0300, the battalion advanced
south of the Phu Cam Canal along Route 1 and then swung west and easily
took its first objective around 0500, a piece of high ground 1,000 meters
south of the canal and west of the highway. About an hour later. Company
F secured its second objective. Hill 103, another 1,000 meters south,
again without meeting any resistance.** On Hill 103, Lieutenant Colonel
Ernest C. Cheatham, the battalion commander, established an outpost
manned by an artillery forward observer team, a forward air controller,
and an infantry squad from Company F for security. He then prepared
to advance through a Vietnamese cemetery upon his main objective, an
ARVN engineer battalion compound, about 1,500 meters to the west. The
engineers had held out against repeated VC and NVA assaults since the
beginning of the month.23


Close to 0700, with Company G on the right. Company H on the left, and Company F following in trace, the battalion began its attack to secure the ARVN compound. Enemy mortars and automatic weapons fire forced the Marines to take cover among the tombs. After the battalion called in artillery and mortars on the suspected enemy positions, Company G, about 0830, reached the perimeter of the base and tied in with the ARVN engineers there. After discussing defensive arrangements with the ARVN base commander, the Company G commander. Captain Charles L. Meadows, reported back to Lieutenant Colonel Cheatham about the situation. The company commander warned Cheatham that the ARVN engineers had extensively mined the approaches to their compound and that a guide was required to pass through safely.

* First Lieutenant Ray L. Smith, the acting Company A commander, recalled
that his company on 10 February together "with a militia of cooks etc.,
that they called 'B' Company," returned to the MACV compound and "began
pushing east." At first, the battalion encountered little resistance
as it covered two blocks and reached the soccer stadium. Smith remembered
that they had a road to cross east of the stadium and "we bumped hard
again." According to Smith, an ARVN major, who had been on leave and
hiding from the NVA, joined them and informed the Marines that a North
Vietnamese battalion headquarters was next door to his house. With clearances
obtained from the Vietnamese authorities for "unobserved fire . . .
for the first time," the Marine battalion called in supporting artillery
and mortar missions. The following morning, the Marine infantry "went
in" under a CS gas cover: "We had some fairly heavy resistance, but
we cleared it out easily . ..." Smith remembered, "we found where they
had their battalion headquarters," but the enemy bodies had been cleared
out. After the taking of the headquarters. Smith wrote that Company
A got some rest "and were used mostly for security until we left." 1stLt
Ray Smith to Capt Gordon D. Batcheller, dtd 25Mar68, Encl to Col Gordon
D. Batcheller, Commenrs on draft, dtd 10Dec94 (Vietnam Comment File).
Unfortunately, the 1/1 Command Chronology and journal file is silent
on this incident, 1/1 ComdC, Feb68.


** Brigadier General Michael P. Downs, who as a captain commanded Company F, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, recalled that on the 24th, his company passed the remains of a Marine convoy that had been ambushed earlier in the month in an attempt to bring supplies to an isolated Marine artillery bartery located at the Rock Quarry across the Perfume River from Phu Bai. Two men from his company who had been wounded and trying to rejoin the company were among the casualties: "It was a demoralizing site." BGen Michael P. Downs, Comments on draft, dtd 19Dec94 (Vietnam Comment File), hereafter Downs Comments. Colonel Robert C. V. Hughes, who had commanded the 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, recalled the same convoys. He wrote: "All the vehicles were disabled and remained at the ambush sire until control was reestablished later in the month." According to Hughes, the Marine artillery battery was nor attacked during the entire period and occasionally initiated counter battery fire on enemy rocket launching sites in the Phu Bai sector. Col Robert C. V Hughes, Comments on draft, n.d. [1995} (Vietnam Comment File).





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