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that the Communists in the old French bunker were ready to quit. The
tanks led the attack toward the south end of- the bridge, pumping round
after round of 90mm cannon fire into the bunker and the nearby observation
tower. The accurate, concentrated fire proved to be too much for the
Communists, who rushed from their positions, attempting to escape. Several
of them jumped into a vehicle and tried to drive away, but a tank fired
into the vehicle, sending it up in flames. Other enemy soldiers leaped
into the river and tried to swim to safety, but the Marines rushed to
the riverbank and shot them in the water.

At 1545, nine hours after receiving the order to counterattack. Captain
Moore reported to his battalion headquarters that the objective was
secured, then set about reorganizing the position. Several local Popular
Force troops were found under the bridge where they had been hiding
since the previous night. Beneath the tower, the Marines found the body
of the gallant John Eller, and in the vicinity of the bridge, 22 enemy
dead. Company A had suffered three dead and eight wounded. Captain Moore
linked up with Lieutenant Kelly's military policemen on the north bank
and his own platoon from Christmas Island, then sent a squad down the
riverbank to the west to ferret out any Viet Cong who might be hiding
there.

Department of Defense (USMC) A191818

Marine Cpl Henry
A. Casselli, holding his M16 rifle, is seen returning to the northern
end of the Cam Le Bridge over the Can Do River after helping In secure
the bridge. Other Marines cross in the background. An ad hoc force from
the 1st iind 2d Battalions. 27th Marines and including tankers and MPs
had taken part in the fighting.


To the north. Lieutenant Colonel Gambardella's Task Force Kilo fought through the remnants of the enemy sapper company which had laid siege to the Hoa Vang District headquarters, reaching the north bank of the river at approximately 1900. Lieutenant Colonel Gambardella recalled that in the attack south to the Cam Le Bridge, Task Force Kilo came under heavy fire and took several casualties. In the two fights, the Marines sustained 4 killed and 12 wounded and the RVN forces with them 3 dead and 21 wounded. Among the casualties was Navy Hospitalman Allan R. Gerrish, who placed himself between a wounded Marine and enemy machine gun fire and posthumously was awarded the Navy Cross for this action. Enemy casualties in the battles for the district headquarters and the Cam Le Bridge totaled 184. ARVN Rangers took control of the area, allowing Captain Moore and his company to move to Christmas Island. Although weary from the day's hard fighting. Company A maintained 100 percent alert in their new positions.33


Through the night of 23-24 August, there were several incidents, relatively minor as compared to the events of the previous night, indicating that the "third offensive," though seriously compromised locally, was not yet over. At 2200, a short firefight erupted at the Song Cau Do Bridge when two sampans filled with enemy troops attempted to cross the river from south to north under the cover of small arms fire and a brief mortar barrage. Return fire directed at the Communist positions resulted in 11 secondary explosions.34 Between 0200 and 0400, over 100 rounds of mortar fire fell on the command post of the 5th Marines, positions held by Company M, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, and Battery H, 3d Battalion, 11th Marines.35


With the situation in Da Nang restored, it remained for III MAF to pursue and destroy the escaping Communist units while at the same time remaining vigilant for another wave of attacks on the city. The heaviest fighting of the "third offensive" was yet to come.







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