Page 254

Page 254 (1968: The Defining Year)

Viet from the Dai Do village complex about 1,000 meters north of Dong
Ha. Colonel Hull sent BLT 2/4 to clear out the enemy. In fighting that
would last nearly a month, the battle for Dong Ha with the NVA 320th
was joined and the enemy had begun a new offensive on
the eastern DMZ to counter the allied thrusts to the west.87*

From late February through the end of April, the allied forces in
I Corps had regained the initiative. From Quang Ngai in the south to
Quang Tri Province in the north, allied troops had taken a large toll
of both enemy main force and guerrilla units. Still the cost had been
high, and the enemy was far from defeated. Outside of the battlefront,
events in Washington and Hanoi were also to influence the course of
the war. On 31 March, in a televised speech to the nation, after a relatively
poor showing earlier in the month in the New Hampshire primaries. President
Johnson in a surprise statement announced his decision not to stand
for reelection, to restrict the bombing campaign over North Vietnam,**
and to authorize only a limited reinforcement of American troops in
Vietnam. On 5 April, unexpectedly, the North Vietnamese Foreign Minister
Nguyen Duy Trinh declared that his government was willing to negotiate
with the Americans. The following month a North Vietnamese and American
delegation met in Paris. In the meantime, with the arrival of the two
Army divisions, the 101st and the 1st Air Cavalry, III MAF and Provisional
Corps had entered the foreboding A Shau for the first time since 1966
and most importantly earlier had broken the siege of Khe Sanh.88

* For the fighting at Dai Do and its aftermath see Chapter 15.

** U.S. Army Colonel Bruce B. G. Clarke wrote that according to Army
sources, at the time of the President's speech the 1st Air Cavalry Division
was preparing plans for its next mission, Operation Delaware, after
Operation Pegasus. According to Clarke, the planners developed a concept
"to press west into Laos and then turn south along the Ho Chi Minh Trail
into Laos to enter the A Shau Valley from the northwest rather than
the east." Apparently "General Tolson shut off this planning by noting
that the planners obviously hadn't heard the President's speech and
what they were proposing was politically impossible." Col Bruce B. G.
Clarke, USA, Comments on draft, n.d. [Apr95] (Vietnam Comment File).

Page 254 (1968: The Defining Year)