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Page 378 (1968: The Defining Year)






Department
of 'Defense (USMC) Photo A191816

In
fighting for the Hoa Vang headquarters in August, Marines take cover
from an unseen VC sniper. The interior of a destroyed structure can
be seen with only the floor and a chair still undamaged.

airbase because a battle was raging around the Hoa Vang District headquarters,
which lay along the highway, midway between Da Nang and the north end
of the bridge. A company of the 402d Sapper Battalion had assaulted
the district headquarters and blocked movement along Highway 1. In their
initial attack, the sappers penetrated the headquarters defenses and
were repulsed only after hand-to-hand fighting inside the compound with
U.S. advisors, South Vietnamese National Police, and even local government
officials taking part.25 The attack waned at about 0400,
allowing the relief force to move into the headquarters where they left
eight Marines as reinforcements before continuing toward the bridge.
No sooner had the platoon starred toward the bridge than the enemy sappers
resumed their attack.26

The 1st Platoon reached the river at 0430, just in time to meet another
enemy onslaught directed against the bridge. From the airbase, a larger,
combined relief force under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph
J. N. Gambardella, Commanding Officer, 3d Military Police Battalion,
moved south coward the bridge.* This force, designated Task Force Kilo,
consisted of two platoons from the 3d Military Police Battalion; Company
K, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines; Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion;
and Ontos antitank vehicles, reinforced by a company of ARVN Rangers
mounted in armored personnel carriers. Behind them, crash crews from
the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing followed with firefighting equipment, attempting
to extinguish the fires caused by the attack on the Hoa Vang District
headquarters.27

At 0500, Lance Corporal Henry Lowery, leading a nine-man ambush patrol
southwest of the bridge, radioed Lieutenant Kelly that he intended to
attack and recapture the south end. Lowery's squad advanced to within
25 meters of the south tower, receiving only sniper fire. Two Bell UH-1
Iroquois "Huey" helicopter gunships appeared overhead and Lowery attempted
to signal them to provide supporting fire on the tower. The helicopters
mistakenly attacked the Marines instead of the entrenched Communists.
With one man killed and two wounded, Lowery withdrew his squad to the
relative safety of a nearby rice paddy to await help.28

When dawn broke over Da Nang just after 0600, aircraft began attacking
the Viet Cong in the bunkers at the south end of the Cam Le Bridge.
The two "Hueys" were joined by a Douglas AC-47 Spooky gunship, a Douglas
A-1 Sky raider, and McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom jets which unsuccessfully
pounded the enemy bunkers with napalm, high explosive bombs, and cannon
fire.29


* Colonel Gambardella, the MP battalion commander, recalled that this
was the second call for assistance on the night of 22-25 August. Just
before midnight, he responded to a request for assistance from the commander
of the ARVN Special Forces headquarters in the center of Da Nang city
which was under attack. He deployed two platoons from his battalion
who cordoned off the headquarters. Four of the attackers were killed
and two were captured. Col Joseph J. N. Gambardella, Comments on draft,
dtd 16Jan95 (Vietnam Comment File).







Page 378 (1968: The Defining Year)