tenant General Richard G. Stilwell,* to the Seventh Air Force which
would coordinate future surveillance and air attacks on reemerging targets.
Damage to the North Vietnamese combat capability in the Cap Mui Lay
Sector as a result of Operation Thor was substantial: more than 500 artillery
and anti-aircraft positions, numerous bunkers and storage areas, and at
least two surface-to-air missile sites were destroyed. Also, allied observers
detected 352 secondary explosions and 236 secondary fires, providing evidence
of probable hits on ammunition and supply dumps. The operation, however,
was to have a more lasting effect. Artillery fire from north of the Demilitarized
Zone declined significantly following Thor, as did the frequency ot antiaircraft
opposition experienced by reconnaissance aircraft at all altitudes.**
While Operation Thor was in progress, the 3d and 9th Marines, in coordination
with the 2d ARVN Regiment, launched attacks against enemy troops driven
south ot the Demilitarized Zone by the massive air and artillery bombardment.
On 2 July, Colonel Hull's 3d Marines, composed initially of the 1st and
2d Battalions, began moving from the Cua Viet into an area north of A-1,
centered on Jones Creek, a tributary of both the Song Cua Viet and Song
Ben Hai. Lieutenant Colonel Charles V.Jarman's 1st Battalion, the first
unit to move out, swept north along the west bank of the tributary, while
providing security tor the ARVN engineer effort on the Lai An road. To
the east, the 2d Battalion, under Lieutenant Colonel Jack W. Davis, swept
north toward the village ot Nui Trung.
As Jarman's Marines moved northward toward the abandoned and destroyed
village ot Lai An on the 4th, Captain Gary D. Dockendorffs Company C came
under mortar and small arms fire from an estimated enemy platoon in the
village ruins.19 The remainder of the battalion immediately maneuvered
to exploit the contact, preventing the enemy from withdrawing. Pressing
the attack, Jarman's Marines, covered by air, artillery, naval gunfire,
and the direct fire ot 90mm tank guns on the flanks, advanced from position
to position. "If it gets too tough," Lieutenant Colonel Jarman told one
of his company commanders, "pull back and we'll pound them some more.
Then we'll see how tough they are."20 By the 6th, the battalion secured
Lai An and reported 134 North Vietnamese dead among its ruins.
The following day, after endeavoring to regain contact with the retreating
NVA, a battalion pacrol encountered an enemy company occupying positions
around Tai Nu, one kilometer northeast of Lai An. The NVA company, armed
with an 85mm light field gun, mortars, and automatic weapons, was first
taken under artillery fire and then overrun by a coordinated tank and
infantry assault.21 In the Tai Nu action, the Marine
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Center of Military History
U.S. Army LtGen Richard G. Stilwell, left, the new CG, Prov Corps,
talks with South Vietnamese BGen Hgo Quang Truong, CG, 1st ARVNDiv. Although
under III MAF, Prov Corps had operational control of the two Army divisions
and the 3d Marine Division in northern I Corps.
*0n 1 July, Army Lieutenant General William B. Russun, the former Prov Corps commander, became Acting CG III MAF while General Cushman, the 111 MAF commander tx)k a month leave in the United States. Major General Richard G. Stilwell, who had served a short tour as Deputy Commanding General. Ill MAI-", Army, on 1 July assumed command ot Provisional Corps, Vietnam. That same day, in a brief ceremony held at Phu Bai, he was promoted to the rank ot Lieutenant General by Secretary of the Army Stanley R. Resor. Fifteen days later, Headquarters, XXIV Corps was activated and the personnel and equipment ot Provisional Corps, Vietnam, were absorbed by the newly activated Army corps. Operational Report, Headquarters, XXIV Corps for Period Ending 31 October lydH. l')Nov("H, p. l. In contra-st to Rosson, who enjoyed excellent relations with the Marine command, Stilwetl's relations were somewhat more tenuous. Marine Brigadier General Earl E. Anderson, Cushman's Chief ot Staff, wrote in May 196H that Stilwell was rather "unpopular" at III MAF headquarters and predicted that when he assumed command of Prov Corps, "he's goin^ Co be a hard one to deal with after he ^ets his three stars." A few months later Anderson wrote that Stilwell was otten "by-passing General Cushman and goin^ directly (o ComUSMACV. The boss has spoken to him about this on one or two occasions . . . ." BGen E. E. Anderson Itr to MajGen Murray, dtd l''May(iH, and Icr to MajGen McCutcheon, dtd 9Sep6H, Ends, Gen Earl E. Anderson, Comments on draft, dtd IHOecy.i (Vietnam Comment File). More diplomatically, General Cushman stared that Stilwell "could be abrasive . . .", but that "he was a fine combat man." Gen Robert E. Cushman, Jr., intvw, INov 19H2, (Oral HistColl, MCHC, Washington. D.C.), pp. 34-35.
**For a detailed account of the artillery's role in Operation Thor, see Chapter 26.
(1968: The Defining Year)