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Photo from the David Douglas Duncan Collection, MCHC

A
Marine sniper team on Hill 861A from Company E, 2d Battalion, 26th Marines
goes into action. On the left is LCpl Albert Miranda with his Remington
700 sniper rifle, taking aim at a distant target, while his partner,
in the center, LCpl David Burdwell, points out the enemy soldier to
his platoon commander, Second Lieutenant Alec J. Bodenweiser, with the
binoculars.

and within the perimeter. Captain Baig later speculated that the heavy and
accurate artillery fire (almost 2,000 rounds from the 1st Battalion,
13th Marines alone) on and behind the assaulting Communists had prevented
their reserves from joining the attack.55

The Fall of Lang Vei

Having failed to capture first Hill 861, then its neighbor 861A, the
North Vietnamese turned their attention elsewhere. Their next target
was the new Lang Vei Special Forces Camp, defended by Detachment A-101,
Company C, 5th Special Forces Group and four CIDG companies of Bru Montagnards.

Lang Vei was a heavily fortified position on Route 9 about two kilometers
from the Laotian border from which Detachment A-101 ran patrols to monitor
North Vietnamese infiltration into Quang Tri Province. About a kilometer
closer to Khe Sanh was the village of Lang Vei, site of the old Special
Forces camp. Here, the survivors of the Royal Lao BV-33 Battalion, overrun
by North Vietnamese tanks at Ban Houaysan a few days before, rested
with thousands of civilian refugees, including their own families.56


The many missions assigned to the 26th Marines for the Khe Sanh battle included responsibility for providing fire support tor Lang Vei and for reinforcing the camp should the enemy attack it. Lieutenant Colonel Hennelly sent a 1st Battalion, 13th Marines forward observer to the camp on 6 January to register defensive fires. A month earlier, Colonel Lownds sent a company from Khe Sanh to Lang Vei to rehearse the reinforcement plan. It stayed off the road under the assumption that the enemy would set ambushes along Route 9 as part of an attack on Lang Vei. Because of the heavy jungle, the company rook 19 hours to cover the nine-kilometer distance.57


At 0030, 7 February, the North Vietnamese struck the Lang Vei camp. In the first engagement between




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