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The combined ARVN, U.S. Army, and Marine attack into the Demilitarized
Zone during the last week of October would be the last. Effective 2100
hours, 1 November, Saigon time, as announced by President Lyndon Johnson,
the United States would cease all offensive operations against the territory
of North Vietnam. The halt in no way applied to offensive operations
within the Republic of Vietnam, but it did apply to offensive operations
north of the Demilitarized Zone's southern boundary. The pre-November
rules of engagement authorizing operations by ground forces in the DMZ
south of the Provisional Military Demarcation Line were now revoked.
However, General Abrams later sought authority, and gained approval
from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to send squad-size patrols into the
southern portion of the DMZ to "capture prisoners and obtain other positive
proof that the NVA rather than the VC are operating in the southern
portion of the DMZ."39 What these patrols would find would
be disturbing.40

Defeat of the 320th Division

Unlike the Napoleon-Saline and Kentucky areas of operations at the
beginning of August, the Lancaster II and Scotland II areas remained
relatively quiet. Colonel Edward J. Miller's 4th Marines continued extensive
company patrol operations throughout the central portion of the Scotland
area of operations with Lieutenant Colonel Thomas H. Galbraith's 1st
Battalion searching the jungle canopy 10 kilometers west of LZ Stud.
The battalion also retained responsibility for security operations in
the immediate area of the combat base. Lieutenant Colonel Louis A. Rann's
2d Battalion operated from Fire Support Base Cates and the 3d Battalion,
under Lieutenant Colonel Frank L. Bourne, Jr., operated out of Fire
Support Base Shepherd.

To the east, in the Lancaster area of operations, the 3d Marines,
under the command of Colonel Richard L. Michael, Jr., continued to conduct
search and destroy operations and to provide security for Thon Son Lam,
Camp Carroll, and Route 9. Lieutenant Colonel Charles V Jarman's 1st
Battalion provided security for the Marine installation at Thon Son
Lam, Khe Gio Bridge, and conducted company patrols and daily road sweeps
of Route 9. The 2d Battalion, under Lieutenant Colonel Jack W. Davis,
secured not only Thon Son Lam, but Camp Carroll, Dong Ha Mountain Observation
Post, and the battalion's assigned portion of Route 9. Commanded by
Lieutenant Colonel William H. Bates, who, on 28 July, had replaced Lieutenant
Colonel James W. Marsh, the 3d Battalion, 3d Marines continued anti-infiltration
operations from Fire Support Bases Margo and Joan, northwest of Camp

To the south of the Lancaster area, lay a small area of operations
in the Ba Long Valley, carved out of the east portion of the Scotland
area and western portion of that assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Division,
being swept by Colonel Robert H. Barrow's 9th Marines. Originally planned
as a multi-battalion sweep of the long fertile valley, which extends
west from Quang Tri City to LZ Stud, the 9th Marines soon lost Lieutenant
Colonel Francis X. Colleton's 1st Battalion to the defensive needs of
both LZ Stud, now renamed Vandegrift Combat Base, and Ca Lu, and Lieutenant
Colonel Frederic S. Knight's 2d Battalion to a competing operation in
Leatherneck Square.

On 2 August, following a 48-hour delay due to a lack of helicopter
transports. Company I, 3d Battalion, 9th Marines under Captain Gary
E. Todd, was helilifted onto Hill 385, 12 kilometers southeast of Ca
Lu. After the infantry company had established a defensive perimeter
and had the artillery register supporting fires, Marine helicopters
brought in the following day an engineer detachment and its equipment
to begin construction of a new fire base there, Fire Support Base Holcomb.
As Captain Todd later remarked, "the engineers couldn't contribute much
until we established security."41 In the meantime, other
helicopters had inserted Lieutenant Colonel Edward J. LaMontagne, the
3d Battalion commander, and his command group and two rifle companies
into the Cua Valley, or Mai Loc area, to the north, who initiated a
sweep south along Route 558 toward Holcomb and the Ba Long Valley.

The construction of Holcomb was, as Colonel Barrow recalled, a new
experience for the regiment:

We went
about it in a very methodical, carefully planned manner. We reconnoitered
with the engineers, who would have a large hand in building it; the
artillery, who would have to shoot from it; the infantry, who would
have to defend it; and helicopter personnel, who, of course, would have
to use it to resupply and build up the forces.42

Following two days of air preparation, which included the dropping
of several "daisy cutters," the Marines occupied the hill, and infantry
and engineers working side by side using demolitions, chain saw, and

Page 396 (1968: The Defining Year)