Photo from the Abel Collection
David N. Buckner, right, and 1stLt Kenneth Tolpingrud of the 2d Battalion,
9th Marines examine two captured NVA 12.7 mm antiaircraft guns near
cache on the northeast slope of Dong Ha Mountain. Dug into the side
of the mountain were six large bunkers, which, upon closer inspection
were found to have false floors. Beneath the flooring, McTiernan's Marines
discovered two complete 75mm pack howitzers and 26 rounds of howitzer
ammunition. The howitzers were believed to be the ones that had harassed
Camp Carroll sporadically during the preceding months.*
A second phase of the operation followed quickly on the heels of the first. One enemy infiltration corridor within the area of operation had not been touched by the 9th Marines, 3d Marines, or the 2d ARVN Regiment: it was the upper Song Cam Lo basin. On 27 July, the 1st and 3d Battalions, 3d Marines simultaneously assaulted three landing zones, Joan, Margo, and Becky, which subsequently were developed into fire support bases for future operations." In addition, a permanent observation post was established on Dong Ha Mountain. During the two-battalion sweep of the river basin, "the enemy chose to avoid contact," observed Brigadier General Carl Hoffman, the Task Force Hotel commander, "and therefore we can't point at any statistics to prove the worth ot this particular effort." Hoffman noted, however that "in penetrating this corridor we demonstrated our capacity to do this and we also opened another half dozen landing zones."34
Colonel Barrow's 9th Marines was phased out of the operation on the
31st, followed on 3 August by the 3d Marines, now under Colonel Richard
* Captain McTiernan remembered that they assembled one of the pack
howitzers in the enemy bunker and that "you could fire and hit Camp
Carroll by simply using line of sight to elevate and traverse the gun."
McTiernan Comments. Colonel Stuart recalled that the Marine Corps Commandant,
General Leonard F. Chapman, directed that the 75mm pack howitzers be
sent to the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. Stuart Comments.
** Colonel Vaughn R. Stuart, the 3d Marines commander at the time,
stated that according to Marine Corps intelligence this was a major
NVA infiltration route into Vietnam from Laos. Stuart remembered that
General Davis told him "that it we made a sizeable contact, he would
give me as many battalions as l needed . . . (and] that l was free to
cross the Laotian border, provided the contact we made was sizeable.
He attached one proviso to this verbal directive ... l was to call before
my first troops crossed. ... he would not stop me from going but he
wanted to know just before l commenced to cross." Stuart Comments.