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Page 375 (1968: The Defining Year)








Photo
trom Abel Collection

From
an observation tower in his company sector, Capt Charles S. Robb, the
son-in-law of President Johnson and commander of Company I, 3d Battalion,
7th Marines, points out key terrain features to the South Vietnamese
Chief of the Joint General Staff, Gen Cao Van Vien. who is on an official
visit to Da Nang. MajGen Carl A. Youngdale, the new commander of the
1st Marine Division, is seen directly behind Robb.


Early the following day, 19 August, a Viet Cong company attacked and
overran Combined Action Platoon 2-4-3 northeast of Hoi An. At 2100 that
night, 30 to 40 VC attacked recon team "Trailer Park," atop Hon Coc
Mountain, south of Go Noi Island. Only the quick intervention of a Douglas
AC-47 Spooky gunship, with its potent, multiple Gatling guns, saved
the team from destruction.

Following a battalion-sized VC attack on Combined Action Platoon 2-3-4
during the early morning hours of 20 August, Youngdale's view of the
situation changed. In a report to General Cushman that day, he estimated
that the enemy could "close on principal targets in the First Division
area in one night in launching his 3d phase offensive."13

While the 5th Marines, under Colonel Paul G. Graham, pursued Communist
survivors of the Battle of Chau Phong south of Da Nang,* the 27th Marines
continued final preparations for redeployment to the U.S. and the 1st
Marines began arranging its move from Quang Tri Province to the Da Nang
TAOR.** It was a hectic period in the 1st Marine Division and the specter
of the heralded third offensive continued to grow. General Youngdale
made minor adjustments to the plan for the defense of Da Nang, reinforcing
those sectors which appeared to be most in danger.14 His
daily report for 21 August concluded that:

The enemy appears
to have completed his preparation for his offensive. Small scale mortar
attacks on Dai Loc and Thuong Duc in the last 24 hours possibly reflect
last minute registration. The enemy may launch his offensive at any
time . . . .15

The
Storm Breaks

The streams which drain the rugged mountains of central Quang Nam
Province follow the slope of the land toward the South China Sea, growing
in size and strength as they meet other streams. By the time they reach
the flat coastal plain, the streams have become rivers which twist through
the populated farmlands, branching and rejoining again in a crazy patchwork.
In every area through which a river passes, the local Vietnamese give
it a name, so that by the time it reaches the South China Sea, it has
acquired many cities along the way. The river which flows along the
southern boundary of Da Nang, separating the cicy from the fertile paddy
region of the coastal plain, is called Song Cau Do, at least along that
particular stretch. About

* See Chapter 17.

** From the beginning, the President had indicated that the deployment
of the 27th Marines to Vietnam was temporary and in March he and his
advisors directed that the reyiment return in July. This was later delayed
until September. See Chapter 2" tor the deployment and redeployment
of the 27th Marines. See also Chapter 13 for the initial deployment.








Page 375 (1968: The Defining Year)