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the approaches to Hue. For example, on 28 March, an aerial photo reconnaissance
mission over the valley revealed the existence of what Marine intelligence
officers dubbed the "Yellow Brick Road," a newly constructed corduroy
road extending from the A Shau through Laos and Base Area 607
into Quang Nam Province. Beginning on 19 April, after two days of B-52
preparatory strikes in the valley, the 3d Brigade of the 1st Air Cavalry
and the 1st Brigade of the 101st reinforced by an ARVN airborne task
force began Operation Delaware in the A Shau.83

For about a month, units of the two Army divisions conducted a series
of "leap-frog" helicopter assault operations throughout the length and
breadth of the A Shau. While initially encountering heavy antiaircraft
fire, U.S. supporting air and artillery eventually silenced the enemy
guns.* The Army troops met mostly local enemy rear echelon troops and
engineers, but occasionally fought engagements with regular infantry.
At the end of the operation, the Americans reported killing 735 of the
Communist soldiers, while suffering 142 dead and 731 wounded. The ARVN
task force lost 26 killed and 132 wounded. As General Cushman observed,
the A Shau was "not a ... a fortress of combat troops . . ., but ...
a highway, you might say, for logistics supply and for the movement
of reinforcements and replacements." The allies captured huge caches
of enemy weapons, equipment, ammunition, foodstuffs and other military
supplies including more than 70 trucks, two bulldozers, and a destroyed
PT-76 tank from the 3d Battalion, 203d Tank Regiment before
the operation concluded.84

To fill in the gap in the forces in the north during the Delaware
A Shau operation. General Cushman, with the concurrence of MACV, transferred
the Americal Division's 196th Light Infantry Brigade to the operational
control of General Rosson in Prov Corps. In turn, the Prov Corps commander
assigned the new brigade to Camp Evans as the corps reserve under the
operational control of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. About the same
time, on 18 April, after the close of Operation Pegasus, the 26th Marines
moved from Khe Sanh to the Quang Tri base and took over the area of
operations there. Further north at Dong Ha, the 3d Marine Division had
established a small division reserve built around an armored task force,
called Task Force Robbie, after the nickname of its commander, Colonel
Clifford J. Robichaud, the former division inspector.85**

For the larger part of April, the three 3d Marine Division operations along
the DMZ, Lancaster II, Kentucky, and Napoleon/Saline, continued with
most of the same forces as they had the previous month. As a sub-operation
of Lancaster II, from 12-16 April, BLT 3/1 carried out Operation Charlton
in the Ba Long Valley. The battalion captured one crew-served weapon
and held 56 detainees, but sustained 11 wounded. While in April, the
3d Marine Division reported higher enemy activity in the form of artillery,
mortar, and rocket attacks on Marine positions on the DMZ front, the
number of American and Communist casualties in Operation Kentucky were
actually lower than the previous month. In Operation Lancaster II, however,
at the end of April, the North Vietnamese increased their artillery
bombardment of Camp Carroll to about 40-50 rounds a day.86

In the Cua Viet sector at the end of the month, the enemy posed the
greatest threat. On 27 April, the Navy's Task Force Clearwater warned
III MAF that the enemy was apparently preparing to interdict the waterway.
North Vietnamese artillery and rocket attacks on the port facilities
at the mouth of the Cua Viet and the offloading ramps at Dong Ha also
increased. On 29 April, the ARVN 2d Regiment engaged an NVA unit from
the 320th NVA Division. During the night of 29-30 April, enemy
machine gunners opened up on Navy patrol craft in the Cua

* Lieutenant General Richard E. Carey, who served in Vietnam in 1968
as a lieutenant colonel and as a squadron leader, observed thar during
Delaware, the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing "provided massive fixed wing
and helo support for an entire day." He recalled that the Army lost
several helicopters in several minutes and required the Marine air since
the Army units were out of range of Army heavy artillery. LtGen Richard
E. Carey, Comments on draft, dtd 12Dec94 (Vietnam Comment File).

** According to Lieutenant Colonel Karl J. Fontenor, Major General
Tompkins established Task Force Robbie in mid-February, Fontenot while
still commanding the 3d Tank Battalion also served as the executive
officer of the task force. He recalled that General Tompkins "briefed
us personally on his expectations which essentially was to form a very
flexible organization ready for employment in any direction at any time."
The task force made its headquarters at Cam Lo since it was a centralized
position. While the task force organization was flexible, it usually
consisted of a tank company; two Army M42 tracked vehicles mounting
twin 40mm antiaircraft guns; two Army truck companies with trucks equipped
with quad .50-caliber machine guns (M55); other assorted motor transport;
an engineer detachment; and usually one rifle company. Fontenot wrote
"TF Robbie made itself pretty visible in the division area with rapid
moves over the roads to Camp Carroll, Dong Ha, etc." LtCol Karl J. Fontenot,
Comments on draft, n.d. [Dec94] (Vietnam Comment File).





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