ed by Marine tanks, amphibian tractors, and naval gunfire, the defenders
drove off the enemy who left eight dead. Later the same day, allied
observers spotted a platoon of NVA in the same area and called in artillery
and naval gunfire, resulting in two reported additional enemy killed.
On 8 August, two battalions of Lieutenant Colonel Vu Van Giai's 2d
ARVN Regiment engaged elements of the 1st Battalion, 138th NVA Regiment,
two kilometers east of Gio Linh and two and one-half kilometers south
of the DMZ. As the engagement intensified during the afternoon, the
ARVN committed the remaining two battalions of the regiment. Despite
receiving more than 150 rounds of mixed artillery and mortar fire, the
ARVN battalions pressed the attack, supported by artillery and tactical
airstrikes. Suffering more than 100 casualties the enemy battalion withdrew
northward under the cover of darkness after the six-hour battle.
Following a week of brief, but sharp clashes around Gio Linh, Lieutenant Colonel Giai's 2d ARVN Regiment launched an attack into the southern half of the Demilitarized Zone in an effort to reestablish contact with the enemy regiment. Early on the morning of 15 August, elements of Company A, 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion, with 15 LVTs and 2 tanks, rolled out of Outpost C-4 and proceeded to within one kilometer of the zone's southern boundary, turned, and proceeded back to C-4. Company As diversion was to set the stage for the ARVN attack.
The raid into the DMZ, planned and controlled by the South Vietnamese,
was to be executed by the elements of the 2d ARVN Regiment, 11th ARVN
Armored Cavalry, and the 3d Marine Division's tank battalion, organized
into four cross-reinforced task elements. According to the plan, the
combined infantry and tank force was to attack north of the Song Cua
Viet into the DMZ. The task force would then turn west, envelop the
1st Battalion, 138th NVA Regiment, and attack south.
The combined elements of the ARVN and Marine task force departed their respective bases at 0400 on the 15th, and by dawn had moved up the beach to the northernmost point of advance without detection. The task force then turned west, moving from the beach into an area composed of abandoned rice paddies. Although a number of tracked vehicles and tanks became mired in the swampy ground, 10 tanks from Companies A and B, 3d Tank Battalion, continued to sweep northwestward toward the Song Ben Hai and then south, where they surprised the enemy "who were eating breakfast."10 After preplanned B-52 Arclight strikes and under covering artillery and tank fire, the allied task force eventually overran the well-entrenched enemy command post, supported by its own 105mm artillery. Marine tankers, who described the day's action as a "turkey shoot," were credited with 189 killed and 70 probables out of a total of 421 reported enemy dead.11 Although the Marine tank companies suffered no casualties, two tanks and a retriever were damaged by mines.
Lieutenant Colonel Giai in his report on the raid, stated the mission
was only 50 percent accomplished; Lieutenant General Richard G. Stilwell,
the XXIV Corps (formerly Prov Corps) commander, was less restrained
in his observations about the success of the ARVN. He reported to General
Creighton Abrams, the MACV commander, that the 1st Battalion, 138th
NVA Regiment, "was,... to have attacked south across DMZ last night;
it will do no attacking for some time to come. Meanwhile, the morale
of the 2d ARVN Regiment has never been higher. It was a good days work."12
Several days later, in Paris, Ambassador W. Averill Harriman informed North Vietnamese negotiators that South Vietnamese infantrymen had conducted a reconnaissance of a suspected North Vietnamese concentration south of the Song Ben Hai in the "South Vietnamese portion of the Demilitarized Zone. Here they encountered the 1st Battalion of the 138th North Vietnamese Army Regiment .... Once again, I urge that you accept my proposal for restoration of the Demilitarized Zone to its original status."13
For the balance of the month, the remaining elements of the 138th
NVA Regiment evaded all but minor engagements with Marine and ARVN
patrols in the area. The North Vietnamese, however, continued to use
the Demilitarized Zone as a base for attacks into South Vietnam, especially
into the central and western portions of Quang Tri Province.
In the Kentucky area of operations, to the west, Colonel Ross T. Dwyer's 1st Marines experienced little activity other than minor squad-sized encounters during the first half of August. The exception was an encounter with 30 enemy troops by First Lieutenant Arthur A. Pierces Company F, 9th Marines, three kilometers east of Con Thien. In the face of U.S. artillery and fixed-wing support, the enemy broke contact and Pierces Marines began a sweep through the area. During the sweep, the Marines regained contact, but the enemy again broke and ran, and Company F moved through the area, capturing a number of weapons and packs while counting 11 enemy dead.