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On 4 October, Company H found a 152mm artillery position, ringed with
machine gun and mortar emplacements, and 12 rounds of 152mm ammunition,
1,600 meters south of the Ben Hai. To the northeast, Marines discovered
two 85mm howitzer positions with accompanying antiaircraft guns. Several
hundred meters from the howitzer positions, they found a partially burned
Soviet, six-cylinder diesel, full-tracked prime mover, capable of towing
a 152mm artillery gun, which appeared to have been hit by a 105mm howitzer
round. It was suspected that the 152mm guns were removed from the area
shortly after the insertion of the battalion. Not only were there signs
indicating the use of tracked vehicles, but one night Sparks' Marines
reported hearing heavy engine noises to the north.

The most significant enemy contact occurred on 8 October as First
Lieutenant Tyrus F. Rudd's Company H approached Dong Ong Cay from the
south. Despite a tenacious fight the defenders lost a reported 17 dead,
while Rudd's Company suffered 2 killed and 11 wounded. During the engagement
the Marines observed numerous bodies being dragged away, 11 of which
were found the following morning. In a search of the hill, the Marines
found another vehicle, a 12-cylinder diesel Soviet medium tracked artillery
tractor with a rear winch.

BLT 2/26 continued to search the road until 16 October when it returned
to the Cua Viet area by helicopter. There it participated in two short
operations, the cordon of Xuan Khanh Resettlement Village and a sweep
north from Oceanview to the DMZ. With the departure of Lieutenant Colonel
Sparks' battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Twohey's 1st Battalion, 3d Marines,
which had moved into the DMZ on the 8th and was sweeping to the east
and west of the BLT, assumed the mission of searching the road and destroying
enemy installations in the area.

Twohey's Marines discovered more than 488 rounds of 152mm artillery
ammunition, truck parks, and support camps as they moved north. By 17
October they had reached the Ben Hai, one kilometer north of Dong Ong
Cay, where they found a shallow fording site built of rock and three
cable bridges over the river. The rock, or "underwater bridge" was rendered
unserviceable by several 8-inch howitzer missions and the cable bridges
were destroyed by fixed-wing and artillery strikes. Using 422 of the
captured 152mm artillery rounds, 3,000 pounds of C-4, and cratering
charges placed in and along the road, Twohey's battalion, working together
with a detachment of engineers, destroyed major portions of the road.
They also blasted holes in the canopy to make the road more visible
from the air. The 1st Battalion, 3d Marines was helilifred from the
DMZ on 22 October to provide security for installations along Route
9. Although both Sparks' and Twohey's Marines continually heard tracked
vehicles moving north and responded with a massive artillery and air
assault, the 320th NVA Division was able to remove its heavy
artillery from the area.

As October began, 8,000 meters to the west, Lieutenant Colonel Colleton's
1st Battalion, 9th Marines continued to sweep westward in the DMZ. The
search, however proved fruitless and on the 7th the battalion withdrew.
The same day, Lieutenant Colonel Chen's 2d Battalion, 3d Marines was
inserted into the DMZ, 8,000 meters further west. Unlike September,
when enemy contact was heavy, Chen's Marines engaged few enemy troops,
mostly logistical support personnel who seemed startled that Marines
had invaded what they considered their rear area. Although numerous
caches, supply trails, and rest centers were discovered, the greatest
enemy soon became the weather. The rain, constant and torrential, not
only caused difficulties in movement and resupply, but numerous cases
of immersion foot. After 17 days in the DMZ, the battalion was helilifred
to Camp Carroll and from there by foot moved to the Mai Loc area for
operations with Regional and Popular Forces. By 26 October all Marine
units had left the DMZ and the allies terminated the series of operations
against the three regiments of the 320th NVA Division.

Thwarted in two attempts at victory in the lowlands during April and
May, the enemy division, in August, chose another route which, as Colonel
Barrow stated, led to a third defeat:

He had
to choose some other way to attempt to do his dirty work of interdicting
our roads and attacking civilian settlements. And so he chose this inhospitable
area, northwest of the Rockpile, and if one will look at a map you can
see that to him that it was a wise choice because, one, it was an area
that made his targets quite accessible. He was only six, eight, or ten
clicks away from the Rockpile. It was an area that was so rugged that
he could assume that it was inaccessible to us, that we would not have
the means to enter it unless we chose to do it overland and we would
pay a heavy price if we did. The fact that we moved in and forced our
way, if you will, onto the ridgelines on an equal footing with him and
showed great determination in seeking out his supplies which were so
carefully concealed, upset his plans. He had prepared this area as his
battlefield . . . We couldn't have hit him at a better time. We hit
him









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