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the south of the contact. At the same time, Colonel Smith ordered the helicopter
lift of his 1st Battalion, 9th Marines into other blocking positions
to the north.

During the next two days while the enemy sought to disengage, the
9th Marines with 12 companies attempted to place a cordon around the
NVA forces. When either of the two assault battalions, the 1st Battalion,
4th Marines or the 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, found itself in too close
to an action, "the unit involved backed off and assaulted the NVA with
massive supporting arms." According to a 9th Marines account: "On one
occasion, the encircled enemy attempted to escape across the trace;
however, artillery ..., gunships, fixed wing and tanks were brought
to bear . . . with devastating effect." By noon on the 24th, the fight
was over in the 9th Marines sector. Since the morning of the 22d, the
Marines had sustained about 100 casualties, 23 dead and 75 wounded and
evacuated, but had reported killing 225 of the North Vietnamese and
captured 3 prisoners.71


On 25 May, the flats above Dong Ha in both the 2d ARVN regimental sector and the Napoleon/Saline area again became the centers of action. That morning Company E, BLT 2/4 encountered an NVA force in about battalion strength near Nhi Ha, while the ARVN about 2,000 meters above Dong Ha ran into a similarly sized force. Once more the Marines rapidly reinforced both over land and by helicopter-borne forces. In the Nhi Ha sector, Colonel Hull, the 3d Marines commander, ordered the helilift of Company H BLT 2/4 into blocking positions to the south while Company E attacked the hamlet from the north under a rolling barrage. In fighting that lasted all day, the two Marine companies together with supporting artillery and air reported killing 238 of the enemy. Marine casualties were also heavy, 18 dead and 33 wounded and evacuated. To the southwest, the 2d ARVN Regiment in their contact, near Thuong Nghia, just west of the former Dai Do perimeter, repulsed the enemy attack, and claimed killing 122 of the enemy.72


On the 26th, concerned that the North Vietnamese 320th was again attempting to cut the Cua Viet or even strike at Dong Ha itself, General Davis attempted to cordon off the North Vietnamese units. He ordered the helilift of the 1st and 2d Battalions, 9th Marines into blocking positions west of Nhi Ha and placed the two battalions under the operational control of the 3d Marines. At the same time, he ordered Colonel Smith, the 9th Marines commander, to move the 3d Battalion, 3d Marines and the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines overland to exploit the ARVN contact near Thuong Nghia.73

In the southern cordon on the 26th, the two Marine battalions, the
3d Battalion, 3d Marines and 3d Battalion, 9th Marines, formed blocking
positions about 3,000 meters north of Thuong Nghia. The 3d Battalion,
9th Marines, in the vicinity of True Kinh, twice encountered resistance
from North Vietnamese in entrenched defenses. In the first clash, about
1300, the battalion ran into a force of about 100 enemy troops. After
first contact, the Marines pulled back "to allow heavy pounding of enemy
positions by air and artillery." The battalion sustained casualties
of 10 Marines dead and 12 wounded. At the same time, it captured 5 prisoners
and reported killing 56 of the enemy.74


In the second action later that afternoon, about 1630, Company K, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines outside of True Kinh came under intensive small arms and automatic weapons fire. Tanks attached to the infantry attempted to reinforce the company, but became bogged down in the rice paddies. An aerial observer called in close air support so that the company could withdraw before last light. Captain McTiernan, whose Company I protected Company K's left flank, recalled that during this action, his troops "saw a long column of troops moving out of a small hamlet located 200 yards to our left front." Apparently the enemy was attempting to reinforce their units engaging Company K. With assurances that the column was NVA, Company I opened fire with devastating effect in what Captain McTiernan described "as target practice ... In the course of ten or fifteen minutes the entire column was destroyed." Still the 3d Battalion had not gone unscathed, Company K sustained 23 wounded and reported 5 missing in action. During the same day, the ARVN about a 1,000 meters to the north of Thuong Nghia claimed to have killed 110 of the enemy while suffering casualties of 2 dead and 7 wounded.75


On the 27th, the 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, reinforced by the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines, took its objectives, meeting only scattered enemy resistance. In True Kinh, the Marines recovered the bodies of the five men from Company K reported missing the day before. Throughout the day, the Marine units in the southern cordon killed about 28 of the enemy while sustaining only four wounded. For the next two days, the Marines in the two battalions together with the ARVN maintained the cordon subjecting the North Vietnamese units between them to "massive fixed-wing and general support ordnance . . . ." Finally on the 30th, enemy resistance broke and the two battalions "swept through the area," taking 18 prisoners and recovering 23







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