Page 251

Page 251 (1968: The Defining Year)



Photo
courtesy of LtCol Charles E. Mueller, (USMC) Ret

Prior
to Operation Allen Brook, MajGen Donn J. Robertson briefs syndicated
columnist Joseph Alsop on the situation at Da Nang. Trudging up the
hill to view the terrain are LtCol Charles E. Mueller, the commander
of the 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, in the lead, followed by Gen Robertson,
then Mr. Alsop. Two of the Marines are carrying what appears to be a
briefing map.

the Arizona
spotted some 200 main force troops wearing green utilities, helmets,
and flak jackets. The Marines called in helicopter gunships and an artillery
fire mission. "May Fly" reported 51 of the enemy killed. During the
rest of the day and through the night of 8 April, the reconnaissance
team counted nearly 170 more enemy troops in nine sightings which resulted
in an estimated 70 enemy dead. Later in the month, from 23 April through
the 30th, two other Marine Stingray teams, one overlooking the Arizona
and the other the Go Noi, in 17 sightings, reported nearly 370 enemy
troops moving through the Thu Bon and Vu Gia River Valleys and claimed
191 of the enemy killed by Marine supporting arms.77

On 27 April, III MAF organized Operation Quick Track, under Lieutenant Colonel
John F. T. Kelly, of the III MAF G-2 staff, to crack the 2d NVA Division.
According to Marine intelligence, the enemy division had retreated southwest
to the Laotian border after the failure of its Tet campaign, but was
planning now to mount a new offensive in the Da Nang area of operations.
With his command post on Hill 55 south of Da Nang, Lieutenant Colonel
Kelly's task force consisted of a small headquarters, the provisional
company of the l st Reconnaissance Company, a detachment of Sub-Unit
1, 1st Radio Battalion with signal intelligence capability, and the
U.S. Army Special Forces 14th Company, Mobile Strike Force and the 245th
Surveillance Airplane Company, 16th Aviation Group. The 1st Marine Division
and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing would provide support when necessary. Task
Force Kelly, named after its commander, began its first inserts on 30
April and continued the operation into May. According to Kelly, Operation
Quick Track reflected Lieutenant General Cushman's "innovative use of
intelligence to track ahead of the enemy rather than report history."78


With the obvious movement of enemy regulars into the western and southern avenues of approach to the Da Nang base. General Robertson decided upon a series of preemptive operations. In the first. Operation Ballard, on 29 April, the 7th Marines sent one





Page 251 (1968: The Defining Year)