Photo courtesy of Col Tullis J. Wootiham Jr. USMC (Ret)
Carrying out a program of "total destruction," Marine engineers
bulldoze the hamlets in the Go Noi after the civilian population has
bamboo groves for so long that the groves appeared to be raised on flat mounds of hard earth. The Communists burrowed under these groves to construct hidden bunkers with firing slits at ground level. In addition to the fortifications built by the NVA and VC for their own use, the hamlets contained bunkers built by the local populace for family protection. These bunkers, also built with materials salvaged from the National Railroad, featured sloped roofs which deflected bombs and artillery projectiles. So strong were these bunkers that some were undamaged by 2,000 pound bombs detonating 50 feet away.31
As the engineers went about the business of destroying bunkers and filling in trenchlines, Lieutenant Colonel Greenwood provided them security and continued a program of aggressive patrolling with his four companies. Contact with the enemy remained sporadic. As before the battle at Cu Ban, the enemy contented themselves with occasional sniping, attacks on listening posts, harassing mortar fire on company night positions, and an ever-increasing number of mines and boobytraps. Marines continued to fall prey to heat, as well as to enemy action, for the daily temperature averaged 100 degrees, with humidity greater than 80 percent. In the still, chick air, heat casualties sometimes ran as high as 10 percent, causing commanders to limit troop activity to the early morning and late afterncxm. While moving, the Marines did not carry excess equipment, leaving behind even their flak jackets. To further exacerbate the Marine problems with the intense heat, the enemy contaminated the water wells in the area with oil and dead animal carcasses and the local river water was seemingly impervious to the attempts to purify it with halazone tablets.32*
The battalion continued the "search and clear" routine (while the engineers gave a whole new meaning to the "clearing" aspects of the mission) without significant contact until 15 June. At 0330 that morning, behind a curtain of B-40 rockets and heavy automatic weapons fire. Communist troops fell upon Company B's night position near the National Railroad. The Marines returned fire with all organic weapons, from rifles to antitank rockets, and called for artillery fire support. In the face of Company B's tenacious defense, the North Vietnamese broke off their attack and attempted to flee, but Company B Marines pursued the broken enemy into the night, ending the engagement decisively. The next day, the Marines tallied 21 dead North Vietnamese, all victims of the abortive attack. Company B suffered only three wounded.
The 1st Marine Division ordered the area of operations extended to permit the Allen Brook forces to venture east of the National Railroad in pursuit of the enemy. Early on 19 June, an ad hex: force composed of elements of Companies B and D (under the command
*Halazone tablets were carried by che individual Marine for use in
purifying locally gathered water.