Page 390

Page 390 (1968: The Defining Year)



three. Within minutes the team received a barrage of 82mm mortars
and immediately formed a 360-degree security. A hour and a half after
the first burst of fire, gunships arrived on station and informed the
team that enemy troops surrounded them. The team later reported that
30 to 40 enemy "to the east, north and west" got up and ran when the
gunships arrived.19


In immediate response to Tender Ranches request for assistance, a Marine helicopter lift brought in a reinforced platoon from Company D, 1st Marines to help. Despite receiving .50-caliber and mortar fire in the landing zone, the Company D platoon fought through to link up with the reconnaissance team at 1930. Once consolidated, the team and reaction force received "a fire for effect" of 60 82mm mortar rounds, resulting in the death of three and wounding of eight Marines.20

Moving overland from the east, additional platoons from Company D,
along with Company C, reached blocking positions just north of the encircled
reconnaissance team before dark. At daylight on 25 August, Marine helicopters
inserted the remainder of Company D. During the insertion, however,
a UH-34, while dodging enemy fire, struck a tree breaking off the tail
section, killing 3 and wounding 14. With the arrival of elements of
the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines and Company M, 9th Marines later in the
day, the Marines effectively cordoned the area, preventing an enemy
withdrawal.


During the remainder of the 25th and into the 26th, as Companies C and D, 1st Marines pushed southward toward the other blocking forces, the enemy made several determined, but unsuccessful attempts to break the cordon. Just before midnight on the 25th, Company B, 1st Marines, which anchored the western portion of the cordon, began to receive enemy artillery fire. For the next seven hours the company was subjected to an artillery attack of more than 220 rounds. The enemy fire was so inaccurate that only one Marine was wounded. By 26 August, after three days of fighting, the enemy had lost a reported 78 killed and 28 weapons captured; Marine casualties were 11 killed and 58 wounded.


With the end of the cordon in Leatherneck Square, the 1st Marines, now commanded by Colonel Robert G. Lauffer, with its 1st and 2d Battalions, was relieved of the responsibility for the Napoleon-Saline and Kentucky areas of operations. The regiment boarded trucks for Dong Ha and then flew in Air Force C-130s to Da Nang, while Navy LCUs and LSTs carried the regiment's equipment south. On 31 August, the 1st Marines assumed the area of operations and mission formerly assigned to the 27th Marines.*


Upon the departure of the 1st Marines from Quang Tri Province, the Army's 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) assumed control of the Kentucky and Napoleon-Saline areas of operation. Composed of the 1st Battalion, 11th Infantry; 1st Battalion, 6lst Infantry (Mechanized); and 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment, Colonel Richard J. dikes' brigade was reorganized at Fort Carson, Colorado in late March for movement to Vietnam.** After months of training, the brigade's main body began moving on 22 July, and by the 31st the brigade had completed the movement of personnel from Fort Carson to Da Nang and then to Quang Tri. At Da Nang, the brigade offloaded 148 armored personnel carriers and 67 tanks which were then transshipped to Wunder Beach, southeast of Quang Tri City.


dikes' brigade originally was to assume the area of operations then assigned to the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, and possibly a portion of the Napoleon-Saline area. But because of enemy pressure and the approaching monsoon season, the 3d Marine Division ordered a realignment of forces and changes in areas of operations. The brigade, in conjunction with the 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion, would assume responsibility for a reduced Kentucky and Napoleon-Saline area of operation. The remaining portion of the sector was to be given to the 2d ARVN Regiment. The 3d Marines would take over a modified Lancaster area of operation, while the 4th Marines retained responsibility for the slightly altered Scotland II area of operations. The 9th Marines, the division's "swing" regiment, would be given the responsibility for a new area of operations, southwest of Quang Tri City.


In addition, General Davis requested that the Seventh Fleet's Amphibious Ready Group 76.4, with its accompanying special landing force be held off ashore, near the entrance to the Song Cua Viet. The landing


* At Da Nang, the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, which had moved south
in late May to participate in operations during "Mini-Tet" in the Elephant
Valley, northwest of Da Nang, rejoined its parent regiment on 7 September.
The same day, the 1st Marines passed operational control of the 2d Battalion,
27th Marines to Regimental Landing Team (RLT) 27. See Chapter 19 relative
to the arrival of the 1st Marines and departure of the 27th Marines
at Da Nang.

** Included as part of the 24,500 additional military personnel spaces
approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for deployment to Southeast Asia
in 1968, was a 4,769-man mechanized brigade (separate) requested by
U.S. Army, Vietnam. The mechanized brigade was to replace the 1st Marines
who, in turn, would replace RLT 27. MACV ComdHist, 1968, pp. 225-228.
See also Chapter 27.







Page 390 (1968: The Defining Year)