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of predawn attacks on 18 June, when NVA sappers crawled to within
30 feet of Company K, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines near the jungle road.
Preceding their assault with a mortar preparation, the enemy sprang
from their nearby positions against Company K, quickly penetrating the
lines. The Marines held their ground and fought back, using artillery
and air support to help repulse the attacking North Vietnamese battalion.
After four hours of fighting, the Marines drove back the Communist troops.
Three Douglas A-4E Skyhawks of Marine Attack Squadron 311 pounded the
retreating enemy, killing many. Sporadic fighting continued through
the day; the Marines engaged enemy snipers and automatic weapons emplacements
left behind to cover the withdrawal. When the last resistance ended,
131 North Vietnamese lay dead in and around Company K's position. Marine
casualties numbered 11 killed and 30 wounded.70

On the day after Company K's battle along the jungle road, Operation
Robin South ended and the 4th Marines returned to Khe Sanh having accomplished
its mission. The Marines cratered the road in 28 places, destroyed 2
bridges and 4 culverts, and created a rock slide in one place. In addition,
they reported killing 635 enemy and captured 48 NVA, an extraordinary
prisoner count. Large quantities of enemy facilities were destroyed
and supplies captured in the area of operations, dealing the North Vietnamese
a hard blow.71

Operations Robin North and Robin South were the first multi-regiment
Marine Corps operations "supported entirely by helicopter."72
Marine commanders were highly enthusiastic, touting the "mobile offensive
concept."73 One unit's official account recorded that the

. . . confirmed that
fire base techniques are well within the operational scope of the
Marine Corps, both conceptually and doctrinally .... Experience will
improve our ability to manage the fire base concept. "Robin South"
gave us a running start.74

Khe Sanh: Operation Charlie

General Westmoreland departed Vietnam on 11 June, in the middle of
Operation Robin South, and was relieved by General Creighton Abrams,
his former deputy, as Commander USMACV. Just over a week later, on 19
June, TF Hotel began executing the 3d Marine Division plan for the evacuation
and destruction of Khe Sanh Combat Base: Operation Charlie.75*

The units returning from Operation Robin South assumed new positions
to screen and support the evacuation. Along Route 9, battalions of the
4th Marines occupied key terrain from which they could control the road
and protect the many convoys between Khe Sanh and Ca Lu required to
move the supplies and equipment out of the combat base. The 1st Marines
defended Khe Sanh and the surrounding hill positions. The 3d Battalion,
9th Marines reported to the 1st Marines at the combat base to serve
as a work force to assist Company A, 1st Engineer Battalion in the physical
dismantling and destruction of the facilities at Khe Sanh.76

The plan for Operation Charlie called for the Marines to withdraw
all salvageable supplies and equipment and to destroy all fortifications
and anything of possible use which they could not move. They went about
the task thoroughly. Convoys rolled from Khe Sanh to Ca Lu daily, heavily
laden with stockpiled supplies, salvaged fortification materials, and
previously stranded damaged equipment. Detachments from the 3d and 11th
Engineer Battalions and the 3d Shore Party Battalion arrived with bulldozers
and mechanics to help with the work. Even burned out vehicle hulks and
damaged equipment were cut apart into smaller pieces, moved to secure
areas, and buried to prevent their use in enemy propaganda. The same
Navy Seabee unit which had toiled to repair and upgrade the airstrip
months before now returned to

* General Rosson observed that he was involved "directly and personally"
with the decision to deactivate Khe Sanh." He remembered that after
the "decision [to deactivate} had been made early in June. I discussed
with General Davis the methodology and timing of the deactivation."
Gen William B. Rosson, Comments on draft, dtd 27Feb95 (Vietnam Comment
File). General Hoffman remarked that he received a decision from higher
headquarters sometime in June "that we would abandon Khe Sanh combat
base in favor of moving to a new combat base" initially called Stud.
While Hoffman believed his units "were successfully conducting reconnaissance-in-force
operations in any direction we wanted to," he recognized the desirability
of consolidating mobile operations and shortening supply lines. MajGen
Carl W. Hoffman, Comments on draft, dtd 15Dec94 and MajGen Carl W. Hoffman
intvw, 14Nov68, pp. 151-53 (Oral HistColl, MCHC), hereafter Hoffman
Comments and intvw. According to Army historian George L. Mac-Garrigle:
"Westy never wanted to abandon Khe Sanh; Abrams certainly did. When
Westy returned to Washington for his confirmation hearing [for his appointment
as Army Chief of Staff), Abe was the "acting ComUSMACV." The agreement
was, the base would not be abandoned on Westmoreland's 'watch' and I'm
almost certain that MACV provided Westy with his 'cover' statement."
George L. MacGarrigle, Comments on draft, dtd 5Dec94 (Vietnam Comment

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