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relieving the 5th Marines in Operation Houston.

The expected Communist ground assault on Da Nang did not materialize
during July. In place of it, the enemy launched the heaviest mortar
and rocket attack on Da Nang since Tet. On 23 July, 143 rounds of rocket
and mortar fire fell on the city and air base, killing 6 and wounding
76. The enemy fire damaged a runway, six helicopters, a Rockwell International
OV-10 Bronco, and an Air Force Fairchild C-123 Provider. Recognizing
the need for further protection against the rocket threat, III MAF earlier
had directed the erection of a Da Nang Anti-infiltration System (DAIS)
in cooperation with ARVN forces. At the beginning of July, generally
following the outer trace of the Da Nang rocket belt, the 1st Marine
Division had started work on the DAIS, which was to include concertina
and barbed wire fencing, sensors, towers, and bunkers. By the end of
the month, Marine engineers and ARVN had completed about 65 percent
of the first of two increments of the planned project. Obviously, the
uncompleted DAIS offered only a minor impediment to the enemy rocketeers
during the month.51*

The Marines attributed the enemy's failure to carry out the expected
ground attacks in the city to the success of Operation Mameluke Thrust.
As one unit history recorded:

Prisoners
and documents continued to indicate that the enemy had a definite plan
for infiltration of Da Nang city proper with sapper and related forces.
... It appeared that Group 44 (Quang Da Special Zone) Headquarters
endeavored to carry out such a plan . . ., but was unable to consummate
the action due to interdiction of his forces prior to initiation of
his offensive.52

During the last week of July, Colonel Paul G. Graham's 5th Marines
redeployed to An Hoa from Phu Bai and began operations in the An Hoa
basin immediately. The day it arrived, the 2d Battalion moved to the
field, northeast of the fire support base, and soon encountered numerous
small North Vietnamese units. After these initial engagements, contact
tapered off dramatically. By the end of the month, the enemy appeared
to have evacuated the An Hoa area.

In the Arizona Territory, the month ended with an unusual sighting
reported by a reconnaissance team. On 28 July, Stingray patrol "Scandinavia"
sighted four Soviet-built PT-76 tanks and a wheeled vehicle barely 3,500
meters northwest of the An Hoa fire support base. An air observer confirmed
the sighting and Scandinavia called for close air support and artillery
fire on the area, resulting in four secondary explosions.53 The following
morning. Teams Albrook and Scandinavia reported two vehicles, at least
one of which was tracked, moving in circles about a kilometer northeast
of the previous sighting. Scandinavia directed artillery and air attacks
against the vehicles, but could not observe the target effectively.
Later that day, an agent report told of two destroyed armored fighting
vehicles in the same location as the first sighting.54 To verify these
reports, Companies D and F, 5th Marines searched the area of the sightings,
but found no evidence of tanks.

August began with a significant enemy contact for Stingray patrol
"Flaky Snow" in the Arizona Territory. At 0405 on 1 August, a company
of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong rushed Flaky Snow's position from
the north, using grenades, satchel charges, bangalore torpedoes, and
RPG fire to overwhelm the Marines. The enemy withdrew immediately, having
killed 5 Marines and wounded 11. To complicate matters further for Flaky
Snow, the attack temporarily knocked its radio out of action, which
prevented it from calling for help. The team got the radio working again
at 0600, and called for the reaction force. Within 20 minutes, help
arrived. The reaction force landed by helicopter, under fire from the
west, to find all of the observation post's bunkers destroyed and a
North Vietnamese flag flying over the position. The Flaky Snow Marines
claimed to have killed seven of their attackers, but a search of the
area revealed only three bodies.55

The frequency of enemy contact continued to rise in the beginning
of August. In the Arizona Territory during the first two days of the
month, A Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division,
under the operational control of the 5th Marines, killed 96 Communists
in 30 hours.56 The 5th Marines continued search and clear operations
with Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Thompson's 1st Battalion in the Arizona
Territory and Lieutenant Colonel James W. Stemple's 2d Battalion northeast
of An Hoa. Lieutenant Colonel Stemple recalled that his battalion "was
invested from the An Hoa combat base to Liberty Bridge, and was involved
in activity with the enemy on a daily basis . . . ."57

At 0915, on 6 August, Companies E and F engaged a North Vietnamese
company near the village of Cu Ban, scene of many fights between the
Communists and Operation Allen Brook forces in the previous weeks. Corporal
Robert G. Fante, a squad leader assigned to Company F, maneuvered his
men forward, pressing home the attack on the Communist positions.


* See Chapter 28 for further discussion of the Da Nang barrier.









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