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meters to the northwest abutting the western stream, as were the two
remaining adjacent hamlets Dinh To and Thuong Do to the north. Rice
paddies and two cemeteries lay interspersed among the five hamlets.

Sometime during the previous days, at least four North Vietnamese
battalions, two of them for certain from the 48th and 52d
NVA Regiments
of the 320th NVA Division, had made their
way without being noticed in relatively flat and open terrain, south
from the DMZ through the 2d ARVN Regiment into the Dai Do peninsula
complex. In a relatively short time, the enemy troops were in formidable
defenses. These included a series of fortified A-frame bunkers "covered
with several feet of earth, reinforced by bamboo legs, and well-camouflaged"
and supplemented by trenches, and fighting holes. Lieutenant Colonel
Weise recalled that the bunkers "could support the weight of an M48
tank without collapsing."8

All of the North Vietnamese defenses were well designed, protected by barbed wire, mutually supporting, with clear lines of fire, and took advantage of the terrain, especially the hedgerows on the perimeter of each of the hamlets. Lieutenant Colonel Weise later stated that over time, small North Vietnamese units had come into the area and used the local populace to do "most of the work with a few of their officers in there to direct the placements of the various positions." This was all done according to a very careful plan so that all the regulars had to do when they arrived on the scene were to man the positions. Weise personally believed that the only way the enemy accomplished this task was because the 2d ARVN Regiment which was responsible for the sector "was asleep at the switch,"9*

While the 3d Marine Division had intelligence of the 320th
moving into the eastern sectors with a vague mission of interdicting
the Cua Viet, the allies had almost no inkling of the buildup in the
Dai Do area. Up to this time, the 3d Marines and 2d ARVN Regiment had
encountered mostly small groups in squad or platoon formations, and
occasionally a company-size unit to the north, east, and west of Dai
Do. The most recent actions provided some evidence that the enemy was
perhaps making his main effort to the northwest.10

In the early morning of the 30th, the North Vietnamese revealed their presence in the Dai Do sector. About 0330 enemy soldiers from positions in the hamlet of An Loc on the northern bank of the Bo Dieu fired upon a Navy Task Force Clearwater river patrol boat with small arms and machine guns. The Navy craft returned the fire and turned back for the Dong Ha ramp area. Approximately a half-hour later, the NVA from the same position opened up upon a Navy LCU, this time with rocket-propelled grenades as well as rifle and machine gun fire. The Navy ship sustained several hits and casualties, one sailor dead and six wounded. This ship too returned to the Dong Ha ramp.11

Lieutenant Colonel Weise remembered that he routinely monitored the Task Force Clearwater radio net and overheard the report relative to the last incident, the attack on the LCU. Shortly afterwards, Captain James L. Williams, the commander of Company H, radioed that one of his patrols not too far from the hamlet of Bac Vong had also seen the incident. Weise relayed the information to Colonel Hull, the 3d Marines commander. About two hours later, at daybreak, about 0600, Hull ordered Weise to investigate the incident. Since An Loc was in the 2d ARVN regimental sector. Lieutenant Colonel Weise requested Colonel Hull for a shift of boundaries, which had to be authorized by the 3d Marine Division. While waiting for the permission, Weise then alerted Captain Williams about the situation. About 0700, with the boundary shift approved, the battalion commander ordered Williams to send the platoon near Bac Vong across the adjacent stream and to "reconnoiter area from which attack occurred." At the same time, he directed Williams to "assemble remainder of Hotel [Company H] which was widely dispersed on patrol."12

For that matter, at this point of time, Lieutenant Colonel Weise's entire command was widely dispersed. Weise maintained his command post at Mai Xa Chanh at the southern terminus of Jones Creek, about 5,000 meters northeast of Bac Vong, collocated with his Company F. One platoon of Company F

* Colonel Max McQuown, whose BLT 3/1 had been relieved by Weise's BLT 2/4
in the Cua Viet, observed that a Vietnamese village or hamlet, "viewed
from the air ... looks like a group of small squares delineated by dense
bamboo hedgerows . . . Bamboo will bend with the wind but will not break.
The roots are as strong as iron. The NVA converted these natural barriers
into formidable defensive positions. They built interconnecting tunnels
under each hedgerow, reinforced the tough overhead root system and cut
and camouflaged ground level firing apertures for rifles, machine guns,
and RPGs. Mortar positions were located in houses, out buildings, pig
sties, or haystacks. The beauty of this defense was the NVA remained
in a concealed protected position and, using the connecting tunnels,
they could move to any side of a village that was being threatened and
engage the enemy without exposing themselves." McQuown agreed in his
comments with Weise that "villagers participated in the construction
of these bastions," probably having little choice, but that he believed
"some of the ARVN had to know what was going on." He declared that the
lesson that his BLT learned "was to assume all villages had similar
defenses" and to attack with sufficient troops "to get the job done
quickly." Col Max McQuown, Comments on draft, dtd 26Jan95 (Vietnam Comment
File), hereafter McQuown Comments.

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