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Page 291 (The Battle for Dong Ha )

Chapter 15

The Battle
for Dong Ha

Why Dong Ha?-The Fight for
Dai Do, The First Day-The Continuing Fight for Dai Do-The End of the
First Offensive-The Second Offensive

Why Dong Ha?

With the commitment of large U.S. forces to the far
western reaches of I Corps in Operations Scotland II around Khe Sanh
and Delaware in the A Shau Valley, the North Vietnamese decided to mount
a new offensive in the eastern DMZ. Perhaps hoping that the American
command with its attention riveted to the west would be caught off guard,
the 320th NVA Division at the end of April and early May struck
in the sector just above Dong Ha. Dong Ha served not only as the command
post for both the 3d Marine Division and the 9th Marines, but also remained
the main logistic base for the north. It lay at the junction of Routes
1 and 9 and was the terminus of the Cua Viet River route. During the
month of April, while the new Quang Tri base and Wunder Beach further
south in Quang Tri Province alleviated some of the logistic pressure
on Dong Ha, nearly 63,000 tons of supplies came in by sea at the Cua
Viet port facility for the 3d Marine Division and then were shipped
up the Cua Viet River to Dong Ha.1

Despite its obvious importance, Dong Ha was vulnerable
to a determined enemy attack. The most immediate available troops were
from the nearby 2d ARVN Regiment which had its command post in the town
of Dong Ha. Marine support units rather than line infantry were at the
Dong Ha base itself. Major General Rathvon McC. Tompkins' only reserve
was Task Force Robbie, under Colonel Clifford J. Robichaud, consisting
of a rifle company. Company D, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, and an armored
company,-Company A, 3d Tank Battalion, reinforced by four Army vehicles
including two M42 'Dusters,' a pla-

Department of Defense (USMC) Photo A801122

An aerial photo shows the sprawling
Dong Ha base and surrounding terrain. Dong Ha was the headquarters and
forward base of the 3d Marine Division. The airstrip can be seen in
the center of the picture.

Page 291 (The Battle for Dong Ha )