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Department
of Defense (USMC) Photo A371543

Under
a covering smoke screen, Company D, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines crosses
the Vu Gia River in Operation Mameluke Thrust. The battalion would follow
the river into the western highlands near Thuong Duc.


the 7th Marines alone reported 77 mortar incidents as opposed to 15 in April.21

The whereabouts of the 2d NVA Division also was worrisome.
In their one major success during Mini-Tet, on 10-12 May 1968, elements
of that North Vietnamese division had overrun the Special Forces camps
at Ngog Tavak and Kham Duc in western Quang Tin Province near the Laotian
border, about 60 miles southwest of Da Nang. Concerned about the buildup
of enemy forces in the Go Noi and to the west near the Special Forces
Camp at Thuong Duc about 35 miles closer to Da Nang than Kham Duc, General
Cushman had few troops to commit to the relief of the other two Special
Forces camps. Supported by both Generals Abrams and Westmoreland, Cushman
ordered the evacuation of Kham Duc.*


Even before the abandonment of Ngog Tavak and Kham Duc, Cushman had planned an operation in the western highlands to include the region near Thuong Duc. On 9 May, III MAF had directed Major General Robertson, the 1st Marine Division commander, to conduct a spoiling attack deep into the valley region west of Da Nang, that was eventually to be codenamed "Mameluke Thrust." While Allen Brook in the Go Noi delayed the initiation of the new operation, the possibility that the NVA units that overran the more southerly Special Forces camp might next try to take Thuong Duc was an ever-present consideration. This was the reason for the replacement of the 7th Marines' battalions in the Go Noi by the 27th Marines.22

The 1st Marine Division's mission for Operation Mameluke Thrust was
to conduct "offensive operations to find, fix and destroy en[emy] forces
in [the] tactical area of interest." The NVA units believed to be located
in the area of operations included the 31st Regiment, 341st
Division
, the 368B Rocket Regiment, two unidentified battalions,
the headquarters of Military Region V, and possibly, command
elements of Group 44. The expected duration of the operation
was 21 days.23

On 19 May, the 1st Marine Division struck. Colonel Hall's 7th Marines,
with its own 1st Battalion, attacked west along the Song Vu Gia toward
Thuong Duc. Further north. Colonel Bruce F. Meyers' 26th Marines, which
the previous day, on short notice, had deployed south to Da Nang from
Quang Tri, attacked with its 3d Battalion into the hills overlooking
the eastern end of the Song Lo Dong Valley-known to


*See Chapter 26 for more details about the fight and evacuation of
Ngog Tavak and Kham Duc.







Page 338 (1968: The Defining Year)