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Page 231 (1968: The Defining Year)

Photo is from the Abel Collection

A Navy LCU (landing craft, utility) arrives at the Dong Ha LCU ramp
laden with drums of asphalt. Although thv NVA made some attempts to
close the Cua Viet, the Navy had established Task Force Clearwater to
convoy river traffic from the coast to Dong Ha.

Another reason for the relief of the 3d Marines at Quang Tri was to
free the regiment to assume control over the ground operations to safeguard
the vital Cua Viet water passageway to Dong Ha. With the interdiction
of much of Route 1 during and after Tet, the lifeline of the Marine
forces in the north depended more and more upon the sea and to a somewhat
lesser extent upon air resupply. During February, III MAF sent by ship
from Da Nang to Dong Ha over 45,700 short tons of material as compared
to 3-42 tons arriving at Dong Ha by air. With the disruption of the
land lines of communication and the occasional enemy interdiction of
the Cua Viet, the 3d Marine Division reported that the "divisions [supply]
requirement fell short." The division especially lacked communications
equipment and repair parts. In order to meet the division's needs. III
MAF limited shipment to those supplies considered "combat essential."'
With the approval of MACV, General Cushman also curtailed the shipment
of "Dye-marker" material and halted all construction work on the barrier.
Still Major General Rathvon McC. Tompkins, the 3d Marine Division commander,
recalled that in mid-February at a very critical juncture, the division
received for three days large "shipments of cement and culverts from
Da Nang." According to Tompkins, he sent an angry message to III MAF
to "delay the culverts and cement in favor of food and ammunition."22

* Lieutenant Colonel Otto Lehrack, who as a captain commanded Company
I, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, commented [hat during this period resupply
was difficult for the Marines of his battalion: "We took helmets, flak
jackets and boots off our dead. l knew a Marine in Graves Registration
who was my only reliable source for compasses." LtCol Otto Lehrack,
Comments on draft, dtd 19Nov94 (Vietnam Comment File), hereafter Lehrack

Page 231 (1968: The Defining Year)