The Communist fired his rifle, creasing Sivak's leg, and Sivak knocked
the weapon from the man's hands. As the two grappled in the confines
of the hole, the North Vietnamese bit the Marine savagely on the arm.
Angered, Sivak bit him back, then drew his Kabar* and stabbed his opponent.
The enemy soldier produced his own knife and stabbed Sivak in the back,
but it was too late. The Marine had gained the upper hand. Sivak continued
stabbing until he realized that the man had died.
Corporal Sivak remained in the hole until his comrades overran the
hill. From captured documents, the Marines learned that the dead man
was part of a nine-man North Vietnamese mortar forward observer team.
Only when Sivak lost consciousness did his fellow Marines realize that
he was wounded.
Corporal Sivak's adventure was not yet over. The story of his experience
at the 1st Hospital Company is best told in his own words, recorded
only three weeks after the incident:
to 1st Hospital and the doctor started checking me out for malaria and
I told him that wasn't wrong and he said, "What's wrong?" .... I said,
"Well, I got stabbed in the back, I got bit in the arm, I got shrapnel
in the chest, and I got shot in the leg." He couldn't believe it until
he looked at it. He thought it was kinda funny. I wasn't in a mood to
laugh at it. They thought I might have to get rabies shots from where
I got bit in the arm, but I made out. All I had to do was get a tetanus
shot. I was scared because rabies shots, you get 16 of them, they said,
in the stomach. I got a weak stomach.46
Corporal Sivak's platoon sergeant, reflecting on Sivak's harrowing
experience, said only, "I think the bite was worser than the stab."47
Retaining control of the 3d Battalion, the 26th Marines now absorbed
the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, as well as Lieutenant Colonel Roger
H. Barnard's 3d Battalion, 7th Marines. At 0815 on 17 June, two of Barnard's
companies conducted a helicopter assault into the Hill 1235 area and
began the task of patrolling in the difficult terrain of Tho Thenon.
After a respite of five days for refurbishing, the 3d Battalion, 26th
Marines conducted a helicopter assault into the western end of Happy
Valley, near the confluence of the Song Yang and the Song lang. Meeting
no opposition, the Marines turned to the now-familiar tasks of establishing
a battalion patrol base and sweeping the assigned area.
On 19 June, the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines moved westward from the
fire support base at Hill 52, following the Song Vu Gia toward Thuong
Duc and searching the same ground covered one month before by the 3d
Battalion at the beginning of the operation. It was the nature of the
war that the only areas which were known to be secure were those areas
physically occupied, thus, it was often necessary to retrace old steps
in the search for the enemy. But this time, the Communists carefully
The 1st Battalion, 26th Marines continued to push through the valley,
past Thuong Duc, then turned northward and followed the trace of the
Song Yang to link up with the 3d Battalion, 26th Marines in Happy Valley
on 27 June. The next day, the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines linked up with
the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines at the western edge of the Arizona Territory,
southeast of Thuong Duc, then left the operation.
Southeast of An Hoa, in the Que Son area, the U.S. Army's Americal
Division planned an offensive dubbed Operation Pocahontas Forest. The
1st Marine Division developed a plan to intercept Communist forces driven
into the upper Song Thu Bon Valley by the Americal Division. At 1815
on 7 July, Battery A, 1st Battalion, 13th Marines established a fire
support base on the west bank of the Song Thu Bon, near Nong Son, about
11 kilometers southwest of An Hoa.48 Its mission was to provide artillery
support to the Marine units which would be engaged in Operation Mameluke
Thrust/Pocahontas Forest. The next morning, the 1st Battalion, 26th
Marines conducted a helicopter assault into a landing zone along the
Khe Dienne, also just west of the Song Thu Bon, but about three kilometers
upstream of the new fire support base at Nong Son.
Elsewhere, on 9 July, Mameluke Thrust began to expand once again as
the 3d Battalion, 26th Marines attacked into the Dodge City area and
the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines entered the Song Cu De Valley (called
"Elephant Valley") to conduct the "Northern Phase" of the operation.
In Elephant Valley, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines found "no signs of
well-utilized trails, prepared positions, [or] camp and harbor sites
of any sizeable enemy force."49 On 19 July, the battalion secured from
the operation and returned to Phu Bai.
As intelligence reports continued to indicate the enemy planned a
major attack on Da Nang during late July, the 1st Marine Division redistributed
forces to meet the threat.50 On 20 July, the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines
shifted from its blocking position near Nong Son, back to An Hoa. Two
days later, the 26th Marines, with the 1st and 3d Battalions, went north
to Phu Bai,
* The Marine Corps issue combat knife.
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