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Sixteen battalions, 12 Army and 4 Marine, operated in Thua Thien Province.
Seven Marine battalions, including the 3d Amphibian Tractor battalion,
stayed in the Da Nang area of operations while five Army battalions
from the U.S. Army Americal Division continued Operation Wheeler/Wallowa
in the Nui Loc Son sector. Of the remaining eight battalions of the
Americal, four were at Chu Lai and the rest split between Quang Ngai
and Duc Pho.10


With the possible exception of the Khe Sanh sector and continuing harassment of Marine positions along the eastern DMZ, by the end of the month, the enemy tempo of operations throughout I Corps had diminished. Even along the DMZ, the intensity of the NVA attacks no longer marched those at the beginning of February. In fact, the number of ground assaults in February actually declined while the NVA confined most of its activity to artillery, rocket, and mortar bombardment. Taking advantage of the apparent lull in the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong Tet offensive, the American commanders continued to make adjustments and to take the fight to the enemy throughout the I Corps sector.11

In southern I Corps, the Americal Division continued with Operation
Muscatine in Quang Ngai Province. For the most part, the Army units
experienced relatively light contact except for two significant clashes
with a VC battalion. In the first, on 12 February, Americal Task Force
Barker conducted a combined operation with the 2d ARVN Division and
engaged in a five-hour firefight. The Americal task force reported killing
78 of the enemy with the loss of 1 U.S. soldier. Eleven days later,
on the 23d, Company A, 3d Battalion, 1st Infantry apparently encountered
the same enemy unit with almost the same results. The Americans claimed
to have killed 68 of the enemy at a cost of the lives of 2 U.S. soldiers.
For the entire month, the Americal Division in the operation killed
over 270 of the enemy and sustained casualties of 13 killed and 124
wounded. The division also reported recovering 35 individual enemy weapons
and accidentally killing 8 innocent civilians caught in the crossfire
between American and VC units.12

Further north, in the Wheeler/Wallowa area of operations, the Americal
Division also accounted for a significant number of enemy casualties.
On 9 February, in the Que Son Valley, elements of the division engaged
a battalion of the 29th NVA Regiment. In little over seven hours, the
American soldiers killed more than 200 of the enemy and recovered 53
individual and 13 crew-served weapons. Near the end of the month, 1st
Squadron, 1st Cavalry and a troop of the 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry
ran into another fairly large Communist unit and accounted for 148 enemy
dead and recovered 32 individual and 9 crew-served weapons. For the
month, the Army units in the operation sustained casualties of 98 dead
and 455 wounded while in turn killing nearly 1,200 of the enemy, taking
24 prisoners, and recovering 274 individual and 37 crew-served weapons.
The division acknowledged that 92 "innocent civilians" also inadvertenrly
met their death as a result of the operation. Despite the two battalion-sized
actions, Operation Wheeler/Wallowa mostly involved numerous contacts
between American and NVA/VC small-unit patrols.13

The war in the 1st Marine Division Da Nang area of operations, especially
after the repulse of the 2d NVA Division's offensive in the
second week of February, also reverted to a small-unit war. For the
Marine units in the TAOR it was a period of retrenchment and readjustment.
By the end of the month, the newly arrived 27th Marines took over the
sectors formerly held by the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines and the 2d Battalion,
3d Marines. Lieutenant Colonel Bacher, the commander of the 2d Battalion,
27th Marines, remembered that when he arrived he was met by a




Abel Collection

A Marine combat engineer carefully disarms a boobytrapped 105mm artillery round south of Da Nang,








Page 228 (1968: The Defining Year)