Page 381

Page 381 (1968: The Defining Year)


At dawn on 24 August, a patrol from Company C, 1st Battalion, 27th
Marines made contact with two companies of the Viet Cong V-25 Battalion,
five kilometers south-southwest of the Cam Le Bridge in a hamlet named
Qua Giang (2). The ARVN 1st Battalion, 51st Infantry, an ARVN armored
cavalry unit, Company F, 2d Battalion, 27th Marines, and the 3d Platoon,
Company B, 5th Tank Battalion surrounded the hamlet and directed supporting
arms fire on enemy positions throughout the day and night.36

On 24 August, elements of the 1st Military Police Battalion, Company
A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and the South Vietnamese 111th Regional
Force Company swept Highway 1 from the airbase to the bridge. Despite
the previous sweep by Task Force Kilo, pockets of enemy resistance remained.
Rooting them out, the task force counted 1 prisoner and 30 enemy dead
at a cost of 6 Marines wounded.37 South of Marble Mountain
Air Facility, in a rare daylight attack, a dozen 122mm rockets fell
in the 3d Amphibian Tractor Battalion compound during mid-morning, but
they caused only minor structural damage and no personnel casualties
or equipment losses.38

General Youngdale felt that the Communists had not yet played their
full hand. On 24 August, he predicted that the enemy would continue
attacking the Cam Le Bridge, Marble Mountain Air Facility, and major
installations within the city. He also expressed concern that another
Viet Cong sapper battalion might attempt to infiltrate Da Nang from
the northwest.39

On 25 August, after pounding the V-25 Battalion at Qua Giang
(2) with supporting arms for two days and a night, the combined Marine-ARVN
force entered the hamlet, finding approximately 150 North Vietnamese
dead and the remnants of what appeared to be a battalion command post,
complete with radios.40 That evening, Youngdale reported
to General Cushman that:

. .
. infantry and sapper units may have aborted their attempts to penetrate
Da Nang from the south and may move to the south to reposition in the
vicinity of Go Noi Island. However, rocket and mortar attacks may resume.41

Acting on this analysis. General Youngdale issued orders to mount
an operation which would block the withdrawal of the Communists from
the Da Nang area and defeat them in detail.42 Named Operation Sussex
Bay, it would employ elements of the 5th Marines and the 7th Marines,
supported by ARVN and Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC) units.
H-hour was set for 0900, 29 August.

At 0815, 29 August, while occupying a blocking position in preparation
for Operation Sussex Bay, Company M, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines made
heavy contact with the enemy in the "Dodge City" area, four kilometers
south of Hill 5 5. While maneuvering against the enemy flank, the company
came under heavy fire from three sides which wounded several men. A
corpsman, Hospitalman Richard L. Powell, braved the enemy fire to assist
the wounded and was himself hit by machine gun fire, rendering his arm
useless. Despite his wounds, Powell continued to treat the casualties,
at one point advancing to assist a fallen Marine who lay within 15 meters
of a Communist machine gun. Here, Powell was hit again and killed. For
his selfless act, Powell posthumously received the Navy Cross.43

Company D, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines and Company G, 2d Battalion,
27th Marines joined the action with tanks. Assisted by aircraft and
artillery, the Marines dislodged the North Vietnamese. Friendly losses
totalled 2 dead and 41 wounded and the Marines reported killing 42 of
the enemy.44

While Company M fought, the other units involved in Operation Sussex
Bay assumed their positions. Just east of the National Railroad, a contingent
of Korean Marines established a blocking position along the Co Ca stream.
To the south, the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines occupied its own blocking
position in the western half of Go Noi Island, along the Song Ky Lam,
while the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines began a sweep of the eastern half
of the island. The 3d Battalion, 7th Marines hemmed in the area of operations
by establishing a defensive line two kilometers west of the railroad.
Finally, two ARVN units, the 21st and 37th Ranger Battalions, attacked
south along the railroad from their line of departure along the Song
La Tho.

Shortly after launching their sweep, the ARVN Ranger battalions engaged
a large enemy unit spread out between the hamlets of Dong Lien and Ha
Nong Tay (2). The Rangers returned fire and called for fire support
from the 2d Battalion, 11th Marines and ARVN artillery units. The battle
resulted in over 80 North Vietnamese dead at a cost of 8 ARVN Rangers
killed and 33 wounded.45

Further south, in the Arizona Territory, Marine units participating
in Operation Mameluke Thrust recorded significant contact with the enemy.
An NVA platoon ambushed a platoon of Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines
on 29 August near the Song Tinh Yen, killing 12 Marines and wounding
18. The

Page 381 (1968: The Defining Year)