the stream toward the hamlet, then swung northward with orders to attack
and seize the hamlets of La Thap (l) and Le Nam (3), which were about
1,500 meters north ofChau Phong. At 0700, Company E, BLT 2/7 engaged
a North Vietnamese company defending a low hill just northeast of Chau
Phong. The enemy troops, described as "fresh" and "determined," were
well-equipped, even to the point of wearing helmets and body armor.65
The Marines returned fire and attempted to envelop the enemy, but the
determined defense put up by the North Vietnamese drove them to cover.
Taking up positions 600 meters away, the Marines directed artillery
fire and airstrikes (the latter including CS gas) on the enemy, driving
them from the hill. The North Vietnamese left 12 dead in the position,
while Company E lost 6 Marines killed, and 25 wounded.66 On Company
E's left, Company G, BLT 2/7 also encountered a North Vietnamese unit
which similarly impeded the battalion's attack to the north. With BLT
2/7 bogged down by these pockets of resistance, the 5th Marines modified
the original plan and ordered the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines to capture
the hamlets of La Thap (l) and Le Nam (3).
At 1500, as Company G, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines approached the objective, they engaged an enemy platoon defending the hamlet of La Thap (l). The Marines advanced, returning fire, but enemy resistance increased. A five-hour shootout ensued, during which six flights of aircraft bombed the enemy, while the 2d Battalion, 11th Marines provided a heavy dose of artillery fire on the hamlet. At 2000, Company G assaulted and captured the position, killing 37 North Vietnamese and effectively ending the battle of Chau Phong. Seven Company G Marines died and 19 were wounded in the fight.67
Operation Mameluke Thrust continued for some time. But soon after the battle for Chau Phong, the Communists launched their long-awaited offensive in the Da Nang area, diverting III MAF's energies to deal with the new threat. By this time in northern I Corps, the 3d Marine Division had launched its own offensive against the North Vietnamese Divisions in both the DMZ sector and in western Quang Tri Province.