the Communists through the afternoon of 15 June and into the early evening,
making liberal use of close air support and artillery. When they overran
the enemy positions at 1930, the Marines reported 84 North Vietnamese
dead. Their own casualties were 7 killed in action and l 5 wounded.44
The action near Hill 55 marked the end of the sweep through the Dodge
City area and the focus of Operation Mameluke Thrust moved once again
to the western valleys. On 14 June, the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines marched
out from An Hoa, leaving Company-K to guard the fire support base, and
crossed the Song Yen into the Arizona Territory. Just across the river
from An Hoa, Company l came under attack. A Communist mortar round killed
the company commander, a platoon commander, and the company gunnery sergeant
and seriously wounded the company executive officer. First Lieutenant
Joseph T. Campbell. As the only officer left alive, Lieutenant Campbell
refused evacuation and assumed command of the company. He directed medevac
helicopters into and out of the landing zone and organized suppressive
fire on the Communist positions nearby. Before he himself could be flown
out. Lieutenant Campbell succumbed to his wounds. For his heroic action,
he received the Navy Cross, posthumously.45
Northeast of Thuong Duc, another dramatic action took place the following day when Company K, 3d Battalion, 26th Marines received mortar fire while escorting a convoy. Corporal David M. Sivak volunteered to recover a machine gun abandoned during the initial contact. He crept uphill toward the weapon until a North Vietnamese soldier in a nearby fighting hole spotted him and began throwing hand grenades. Although wounded in the chest by a fragment, Sivak emptied 12 full magazines from his M16 at his tormentor.
Sivak finally reached the machine gun and continued advancing into the
enemy position. The NVA soldier suddenly stuck his head out from a hidden
runnel. Deciding against running toward his comrades tor rear of being
shot in the back, Corporal Sivak threw the machine gun at the North Vietnamese,
who then ducked back into the tunnel.
The enemy soldier looked out from the tunnel a second time and Sivak attacked with his bare hands.
Photo is from the Abel Collection
Marine Cpl David M. Sivak from the 3dBattalion, 26th Marines poses with various
North Vietnamese weapons captured in a recent operation. In his hand he
holds the K-Bar knife with which he killed a North Vietnamese soldier
in a hand-to-hand fight.