Photo from the Abel Collection
A member of the 9th Marines operating near the DMZ hunches up
as best he can under his poncho to protect himself from the torrential
rains that struck Quang Tri Province in September.
typhoon instead of moving on shore and dissipating, had moved back
to sea and was rapidly regaining Strength. During the night of the 5th
and the early morning hours of the 6th, Typhoon Bess began slowly to
move up the South Vietnamese coastline. At a point almost due east of
Hue, the typhoon plunged ashore with heavy rains and strong winds.
Slamming into the mountains, west of Hue, late in the day, the typhoon began to dissipate and by late aftermxm, Bess was relegated to a tropical storm. But as the typhoon roared across northern I Corps, Bess dropped torrents of rain, collapsing tents and bunkers, and flooding much of the low-lying areas of Quang Tri and Thua Thien Provinces. Disaster relief operations initiated by the division took priority over all other activities not directly related to combat support.
Although the torrential rains sharply curtailed both allied and enemy
ground combat activity, it did not halt future planning. Due to steadily
increasing enemy ground, artillery, and mortar activity along the eastern
half of the DMZ, south of the Ben Hai, the 3d Marine Division again
proposed a one-day raid into the zone, scheduled for 12 September. The
plan called for Colonel Glikes' 1st Brigade to conduce an armored attack
to the Ben Hai, composed of three task forces: one tank heavy, one mechanized
infantry heavy, and an armored cavalry force. As before, the armored
attack was to exploit B-52 Arclight strikes. To the brigade's east.
Lieutenant Colonel Giai's 2d ARVN Regiment would also launch an armor
attack into the Demilitarized Zone. Both forces were to withdraw to
positions south of the zone before darkness.
As Glikes' forces prepared for the DMZ strike, the enemy resumed artillery,
rocket, and mortar attacks on allied installations throughout Quang
Tri Province, following a three-day lull brought about by Typhoon Bess.
In addition, small groups of enemy began to be sighted along the DMZ.
On the 8th, Companies A and C, 61st Infantry, dismounted, and Company
B, 11th Infantry assaulted into three landing zones, eight kilometers
northwest of Cam Lo. Meeting no resistance in the landing zones, the
companies attacked to the southwest the following day, encountering
only a few pockets of enemy resistance.
Shortly after noon on 11 September, Company D, 11th Infantry engaged
an enemy force of unknown strength occupying bunkers near the "Market
Place," four kilometers northeast of Con Thien. The company called for
Marine tactical airstrikes against the enemy, followed by artillery.
A platoon of ranks from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor moved up co reinforce.
At 18.30 the enemy attempted to break contact, but the artillery hampered
the enemy withdrawal. Fixed in position by the heavy shelling, one group
of enemy raised a white flag. The American gunners ceased fire momentarily
to allow the group to surrender. Instead the North Vietnamese broke
and ran and the artillery barrage resumed. A later sweep of the area
revealed more than 40 enemy bodies. Of seven enemy soldiers captured,
one identified his unit as belonging to the 27th Independent NVA
Regiment, a unit identified in frequent contacts with allied forces
in the area since March.
On 10 September, General Abrams informed General Davis that the proposed
allied raids into the Demilitarized Zone had been approved and that
two Arclight strikes would be provided. Preceded by the pre-planned
B-52 strikes and a 55-minute artillery and naval gunfire barrage of
the objective area, the attacking force moved into the DMZ on the morning
of 13 September. Two 1st Brigade reinforced company-size task forces,
one rank heavy and the other mechanized infantry heavy, attacked on
an axis to the northeast of Con Thien. A third brigade task force, armored
cavalry heavy, moved into position five kilometers west of do Linh.
Lieutenant Colonel Giai's 2d Battalion,