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Department of Defense Photo A 191447

Marines
of BLT 2/4 board a "Mike" boat (landing craft, mechanized) for return
to their base area in the Napoleon/Saline area of operations, after
inflicting and sustaining large casualties in the Dai Do village complex.

 

from the previous day's fighting who could not be evacuated.* By 1935,
on 3 May, Companies G and H had completed their grisly mission and began
to depart the Dai Do area. Shortly after 2100, the last elements of
the two companies had returned to the BLT's old command post at Mai
Xa Chanh.50

The three-day fight for the Dai Do complex had been a bloody one for
both sides. From 50 April through 2 May, BLT 2/4 had sustained casualties
of 81 dead and nearly .300 wounded.** Marine estimates of the number
of enemy dead ranged from nearly 500 to over 600. According to Lieutenant
Colonel Weise, based on the estimates and counts made by other units
around Dai Do, the Marines found 600 bodies in the immediate area of
the battle and another 500 to 600 in the extended battle area. Admitting
that "body count figures are always suspect," Weise, nevertheless argued
that even if one "cut these figures in half for inflation, you're talking
about the equivalent of two enemy regiments that were decimated in that
area." Lieutenant Colonel Weise later received the Navy Cross and Captains
Vargas and Livingston were later awarded the Medal of Honor for their
actions in the Dai Do battles.51

The End of the First Offensive

While the Dai Do sector may have been the site of the heaviest fighting
during this period, the 320th NVA Division had not limited
its efforts only to this area. Throughout the three-day period, from
30 April through 2 May, the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines near Cam Phu continued
to have sporadic contact with scattered units of the enemy division.
The 2d ARVN Regiment also reported continuous action during the night
of 1-2 May. Its 1st Battalion sustained 5 dead and 16 wounded in taking
Dong Lai to the west of Dai Do and claimed killing 39 of the North Vietnamese.52

To the northeast, the Army's 3d Battalion, 21st Infantry ran into
the most intense combat outside of that in Dai Do in the Nhi Ha sector
along Jones Creek. The departure of Company G from the Nhi Ha and the
Lam Xuan village complexes on the night of 30 April-1 May, left the
entire Jones Creek area open to the North Vietnamese. With the assignment
of the Army battalion of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade to the operational
control of the 3d Marines on the evening of 1 May to fill that gap.
Colonel Hull ordered the commander of the 3d Battalion, Army Lieutenant
Colonel William P. Snyder, to reenter the area the following morning.53


About 0800 on 2 May, the battalion landed in a helicopter landing zone near Lam Xuan East (located on the eastern bank of Jones Creek and so designated to differentiate it from its neighboring hamlet with the same name located on the opposite bank about 1,000 meters to the northwest). The battalion occupied the two Lam Xuans with relative ease, and then moved on to Nhi Ha. At this juncture, the North Vietnamese sprung one of their traps. In close combat, the enemy killed 9 of the American soldiers and wounded 15.


* Colonel Charles V. Jarman, whose 1st Battalion, 3d Marines relieved
BLT 2/4, recalled that several of the Marine dead had their hands tied
behind their back. It was his belief that these Marines "were captured
and subsequently executed by the NVA when the battle appeared to be
going against them." Col Charles V. Jarman, Comments on draft, dtd 12Dec94
(Vietnam Comment File).

** All ot the sources basically agree about the number of Marine dead.
The listing of the number of wounded, however, vary from 247 mentioned
by III MAF to 297 according to Brigadier General Weise. According to
General Weise, his personnel officer gave the figures of 81 KIA and
297 wounded and evacuated while he "was in the hospital ward aboard
the U.S.S. Iwo Jima." BGen William Weise (Ret) Itr, dtd 11Mar83
to BGen Edwin H. Simmons (Ret) (Weise Folder, Dai Do).






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