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South of the ARVN encounter on the 16th, in the Napoleon-Saline area
of operations, Lieutenant Colonel Meyers' battalion assumed operational
control of BLT 2/26. The following day, the battalion landing team cordoned
the Xuan Khanh Resettlement Hamlet, five kilometers northeast of Cua
Viet, in conjunction with a sweep and search of the hamlet by elements
of the Vietnamese Coastal Group 11, National Police, and the local Marine
Combined Action company. While detaining no villagers, the Marines evacuated
two civilians for medical treatment. Before returning to its amphibious
shipping on the 19th, the BLT conducted a search and destroy mission
from Oceanview to the DMZ, uncovering and destroying numerous bunkers
and boobytraps.33


Despite extended periods of torrential rains brought on by the northeast monsoon during October, both ground and aerial reconnaissance missions indicated the presence of a sizable enemy force south of the Ben Hai between Gio Linh and Con Thien. On 15 October, the 3d Marine Division set in motion yet another one-day raid into the DMZ to prevent any further enemy build-up in the area.34 Weather caused the Marines to postpone the raid from 18 October until the 22d.35 The scheme of maneuver called for a coordinated armored attack into the Demilitarized Zone by a 1st Brigade task force from Con Thien, Marine infantry and armor from the Napoleon-Saline area of operations, and a 2d ARVN Regiment task force from Dong Ha.

In preparation for the strike, on 21 October, Lieutenant Colonel Meyers'
battalion assumed operational control of Company H, 9th Marines, which
unit, LVTs transported to Outpost C-4, five kilometers northeast of
Cua Viet. The following morning Company H, supported by tanks and amtracs,
moved up the coast and took up blocking positions in the vicinity of
Ha Loi Trung, within one kilometer of the southern boundary of the DMZ.36


At 0800 on 23 October, elements of the 2d ARVN Regiment attacked on two axes into the DMZ, north of Ha Loi Trung. The main attack, led by the 1st Battalion, 2d ARVN Regiment, supported by two troops of the 11 th ARVN Armored Cavalry and a platoon of tanks from Company C, 3d Tank Battalion, moved across the boundary, approximately two kilometers from the coast. Three kilometers to the west, the secondary attack, led by the 2d Battalion, 2d ARVN Regiment, supported by Company H, 9th Marines and a platoon of tanks from Company A, 3d Tank Battalion, was launched. By noon, the two ARVN and Marine task forces were not only heavily engaged, but also had trapped an enemy unit of undetermined size between their positions and the sea. With artillery, U.S. Army gunships, and naval gunfire reinforcing friendly tank fire, the combined tank and infantry assault swept through the area, killing a reported 112 enemy soldiers, 63 of whom were credited to the tank crewmen of Company A. By dusk, the enemy broke contact and what remained of the North Vietnamese unit escaped further up the coast.37


On the same day, attacking north from A-3 and Con Thien into the DMZ and then eastward along the Ben Hai toward the site of the Marine and ARVN action, the brigade task force, composed of three companies of the dismounted 1st Battalion, 61st Mechanized Infantry, encountered only light resistance. As the task force continued eastward during the 24th, through Kinh Mon, Tan Mon, and An Xa along an abandoned railroad, Company A engaged an enemy platoon, reporting another seven NVA killed. At 0830 the following morning, Company A reestablished contact, this time with an estimated enemy battalion in well-fortified bunkers. Minutes later, Company B took a volley of heavy small arms and mortar fire. By 1030 the engaged companies had linked up, and while Company A attacked to the northeast against the enemy's flank, Company B assaulted and overran the enemy position, capturing one 82mm mortar, two 60mm mortars, and two .50-caliber antiaircraft weapons. Both companies, later reinforced by Company B, 77th Armor, remained in contact until 1800, during which time they made maximum use of air, artillery, and naval gunfire support. As a result of the action, the Americans reported 231 enemy dead. Brigade losses were 4 killed and 24 wounded. The task force withdrew southward on the 26th and during the remainder of the month, brigade troops continued to exploit minor contacts north of A-3 and recover their destroyed and damaged tanks in the DMZ.38

Despite the destruction of major elements of the 138th and
270th NVA Regiments, the victory was cause for concern. The
reappearance of these two regiments in northeast Quang Tri Province,
after suffering heavy casualties in several engagements during the past
three months, not only confirmed their capacity to regroup rapidly and
assimilate replacements, but also attested to both their flexibility
and their maneuver-ability in frequently attacking and then withdrawing
across the Ben Hai.







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