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Despite all precautions, the Navy corpsman with Cheatham's command group triggered a mine and was seriously wounded.24

Throughout the remainder of the day, the Marine companies in their defensive positions in the compound and around the perimeter came under mortar and automatic fire from a VC-held Buddhist temple to the immediate south and a ridgeline to the west, overlooking the ARVN base. Cheatham observed that the Communist gunners had preregistered their mortars and automatic weapons fire on the key Marine defensive positions and terrain objectives. Deciding upon much the same tactics as he had already employed, the battalion commander planned upon enveloping the enemy's positions under cover of darkness and coming upon him in the morning.25

The enemy, however, was not taken in by the Marine stratagem. Companies F and G moved out of the perimeter as planned and then waited for artillery and airstrikes to soften the enemy defenses. At 0700 on the 25th, the two companies launched their attacks to take the ridgeline and were met by mortar salvos and continuous and accurate automatic weapons fire. As one Marine infantryman with Company G observed, 'everyplace we'd go they would mortar us.' With supporting artillery fires, naval gunfire, and close air support, the Marine infantry finally reached the crest of the eastern portion of the ridgeline. In their efforts during the day, the two companies sustained casualties of l Marine killed and 11 wounded. The Marines, in turn, killed three of the enemy and took one prisoner. In the meantime. Company H, which had cleared out a hamlet in support of the Army airborne brigade operating to the south of the Marines, joined the other companies on the eastern ridgeline.26

On the morning of the 26th, the Marine battalion continued the attack to clear the ridgeline. In scattered skirmishes. Companies F and G on the ridgeline killed about 20 NVA and took casualties of 2 Marine dead and 13 wounded. About 500 meters to the north. Company H, supported by air and artillery, maneuvered to take the last hill on the ridgeline, where the enemy remained entrenched in fixed positions. About 1330, enemy defenders, using mortars, machine guns, and 57mm recoilless rifles, forced Company H to pull back and call tor an air strike. In the fighting, the Marines sustained casualties of one dead and five wounded and later counted six North Vietnamese bodies.27

Resuming the attack after the air strike. Company H once more pushed
forward. Again, the Communist troops doggedly resisted the Marine advance.
About 1620, once more unable to make any further heaway, the Marine
company called upon air to take out the enemy defenses. Two flights
of A-4 Skyhawks came in low and dropped their ordnance. Although the
bombs knocked out two enemy mortars and two machine guns, killing about
20 North




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