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weapons. For the days of the cordon, 26-30 May, the 9th Marines reported
that the two battalions killed a total of 161 of the enemy, captured
26 prisoners, and retrieved over 100 enemy weapons, including 29 crew-served
weapons. Marine casualties were also heavy, 41 dead and 119 wounded.
The ARVN during their participation in the southern cordon operation
claimed to have killed 384 of the enemy and sustained 19 killed and
45 wounded.76

During the same period, the 3d Marines in the northern cordon sector
around Nhi Ha encircled a North Vietnamese battalion in the hamlet of
Lai An, about 2,500 meters northwest of Nhi Ha. While BLT 2/4 and the
1st Battalion, 9th Marines established blocking positions, the 2d Battalion,
9th Marines reinforced by the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines attacked Lai
An. Using 11 companies to form the cordon, the 3d Marines finally secured
the hamlet on 30 May. Again the price was high. In the taking of Lai
An, the Marines sustained casualties of over 20 dead and 200 wounded.
From 27-30 May, the 3d Marines reported the finding of 90 bodies and
the capture of 8 prisoners in the fight for Lai An.77

The "second" battle for Dong Ha was over. Once more the 320th NVA Division had taken heavy casualties and retreated north of the DMZ. In the two phases of the second offensive, the 3d Marine Division reported killing over 770 of the enemy. Combined with the number estimated killed by the ARVN, the enemy division would have lost more than 1,000 dead from the period 22 May to the end of the month, not including the 61 prisoners captured by the allies. Allied casualties including 112 dead totaled 558.78

Thus in the two offensives mounted by the 320th NVA Division,
the North Vietnamese had lost over 3,000 troops. While American casualties
had been heavy, their total of dead and wounded was about half of the
reported number of North Vietnamese killed. What was even more apparent
was that the second offensive was even more futile than the first. While
the North Vietnamese may have sustained fewer casualties in the second
offensive, they also fought much less effectively. According to the
3d Marines, the enemy troops in the later encounters showed poorer discipline
and while well-equipped were less experienced and more willing to surrender.
General Davis related that one captured North Vietnamese sergeant stated
that of the 90 men in his company, 62 were new. One frightened enemy
soldier captured near Lai An told the Marines that his unit lost 200
out of 300 men since crossing the Ben Hai River. In any event, the 320th
remained out of action in the DMZ war for the next two months.79

In many respects, questions still remain about the intent of the enemy.
Obviously, the thrust of the 320th was part of the overall NVA so-called
"mini-Tet offensive" that the enemy attempted in May to initiate country-wide,
a somewhat "poor man's imitation" of the January-February Tet offensive.
More than the earlier offensive, except for increased fighting in the
capital city of Saigon, the North Vietnamese May offensive was largely
limited to attacks by fire at allied bases and acts of terrorism in
the hamlets and villages. In I Corps, while the North Vietnamese may
have attempted to cut the Cua Viet, they did not or were not able this
time to coordinate that attempt with attacks against the major cities
of Quang Tri, Hue, and Da Nang. Moreover, the 320th apparently
mistakenly fired early upon the shipping on the Cua Viet, giving away
its presence and triggering the Marine response, before all of its units
were in position. After once engaged, while showing tenacity, the North
Vietnamese division revealed little imagination and an inability to
counter the American advantages in manpower, equipment, and supporting

For its part, the 3d Marine Division made several changes in the way it was fighting the DMZ war. Immediately upon taking command of the division, General Davis issued a directive to reduce the number of units manning the strongpoints. In Davis' words, "battalion positions . . . immediately . . . [became] company positions." For example, in the 9th Marines sector, one battalion was responsible for all the strongpoints with one company positioned at each. The other three battalions were "'swing' units" to reinforce a developing battle using helicopter assault and cordon tactics.80

Some controversy has arisen over the question about the 3d Marine
Division tactics in the earlier offensive. If the division had used
more mobile operations and attempted to reinforce Lieutenant Colonel
Weise's BLT 2/4 at Dai Do would it have destroyed or trapped more of
the 320th? This is one of the questions that may never be answered
and it is of course much easier to answer with hindsight after the event.
In all fairness to Major General Tompkins and his staff, his attention
and that of his command had been directed towards Khe Sanh since the
beginning of the year. He had inherited the barrier and Dyemarker situation
from his predecessor and was under constant MACV pressure to maintain
and man these defenses. Even if Dyemarker and Khe Sanh were not factors.
General Tompkins at

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