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slammed machine gun fire into the enemy at the rate of 18,000 rounds
per minute and Battery B, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines joined the infantry
battalion's own mortar platoon in pounding the North Vietnamese.43


At 0700, air observers reported that "the entire battle area was littered with NVA dead."44 The observers directed attack aircraft against enemy reinforcements moving in from the west. A napalm strike killed 30 North Vietnamese and ended the enemy effort but, unfortunately, also resulted in napalm impacting less than 20 meters from Company F. Fanned by the wind, the fire spread, soon forcing Company F from their positions after an all-out attack by an enemy battalion had failed. When the flames died down, the Marines quickly reclaimed their positions and fired on the withdrawing enemy.45


Only 20 minutes later, at 1150, Company E arrived to help, first sweeping the ridge to the west of Company F. After securing this area, Company E turned on the North Vietnamese RPG gunners firing from the high ground near Company F's 1st Platoon. Within two hours of their attack, Company E put the enemy to flight. Following an emergency resupply and the evacuation of casualties from both companies, Company E moved out in pursuit. The battle cost the 2d Battalion 13 dead and 44 wounded. A search of the area revealed 230 dead North Vietnamese.46


The shelling which fell upon Company G during the battle was a reminder that the enemy still maintained artillery positions within range of Khe Sanh. All through the siege, these guns had kept firing, despite many efforts to silence them. Even afterwards, the North Vietnamese continued to pound Marine positions. General Glick, the former Task Force commander, remembered that through the period he was there: "Khe Sanh was receiving heavy shelling on a daily basis ..." and that "all commander, service, and living facilities [at Khe Sanh] were in underground bunkers or deep trenches."47 On 30 May, TF Hotel provided security for a convoy of four 175mm self-propelled guns and four 8-inch self-propelled howitzers from Camp Carroll to Khe Sanh. These heavy artillery weapons took up firing positions from which they could reach the Co Roc cliffs, where the enemy guns were believed to be, and fired for 48 hours in a limited duration artillery raid dubbed Operation Drumfire II. Like the previous attempts at counterfire, which used even B-52s against Co Roc, Operation Drumfire II had no noticeable effect.48*


The enemy's infantry showed that they could match the annoying persistence of their gunners. At 0400, 31 May, the North Vietnamese attacked Company E, 2d Battalion, 3d Marines from all sides on the very ridge where the battle had taken place three days before. The enemy again coordinated their attack with 130mm artillery fire, as well as 82mm mortar fire. The ground attack, however, in no way matched the fury of the previous engagement and the NVA disengaged in the morning.49

Only one kilometer to the north, Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines,
moving toward Company E's engagement at 0850, ran into a North Vietnamese
platoon entrenched just off Route 9. Company G, 2d Battalion, 3d Marines
and Company E, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines fell in on the right of Company
B. Attacking with all three companies abreast, supported by tanks, the
Marines closed with the North Vietnamese and overran their trenches,
finishing the fight hand-to-hand. They killed 42 North Vietnamese and
lost 8 dead and 31 wounded. A single prisoner reported his unit to be
the 102d Regiment of the 308th Division. Total Marine
casualties for the morning's fighting were 32 dead and 99 wounded. A
search revealed 136 enemy dead.50

Operation Robin

As May ended, III MAF intelligence analysts confirmed reports that
the North Vietnamese had infiltrated the 88th and 102d
Regiments
of their 308th Division into northwestern Quang
Tri Province. Further, aerial photography revealed a new enemy road
under construction in the jungle south of Khe Sanh. The road entered
South Vietnam from Laos and ran parallel to Route 9, but about 15 kilometers
further south. When discovered, the road extended approximately 30 kilometers
into South Vietnam along a path that seemed to


* Colonel Robert C. V. Hughes, the commander of the 1st Battalion,
11th Marines, observed that "Operation Drumfire II like most preplanned,
not observed, fire missions merely caused the NVA to pull back into
their tunnels and wait it out. Our "Rules of Engagement' forbid flying
aerial observers over Co Roc who could have adjusted fire missions while
the enemy was actively shelling the base." Col Robert C. V. Hughes,
Comments on draft, n.d. [Jan95?] (Vietnam Comment File). Colonel William
H. Dabney's explanation for the limited effect of Drumfire II on Co
Roc was very simple: "That's not where the guns were!" Col William H.
Dabney, Comments on draft, n.d. [Dec 94] (Vietnam Comment File). For
further information about the debate on the location of the enemy guns
near Khe Sanh see the discussion in Chapter 14. See Chapter 26 for a
further account of Drumfire II.







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