Shepherd, overlooking Route 9 and the confluence of the Sony Rao Quan
and Da Krong. Bourne maintained one rifle company at the fire support
base and employed the three remaining companies, on a rotating basis,
in a mobile defense. According to the plan, the companies moved from
patrol base to patrol base in the field every two to three days. In
addition to company patrols out ot Shepherd, the battalion conducted
a two-company search operation in the Huong Phuc region to the southwest
near Hills 549 and 587. Soon after entering the region on 21 August,
Companies L and M came under heavy and continuous rocket-propelled grenade,
75mm recoilless rifle, 60mm, and 82mm mortar fire. The companies maintained
a tight defensive position on Hill 549 tor several days before being
relieved by elements of the 1st Battalion.
Despite extended periods of' inclement weather during September, Bourne's battalion continued the program of constantly patrolling its sector of the regimental area of operations. On 13 September, the battalion was split with the Bravo command group and Companies I and L displacing to Vandegrift Combat Base. The Alpha command group and Companies K and M remained on Shepherd.
Although the two remaining companies continued to send our long-range patrols, the Marines encountered only friendly Monragnards and no enemy troops during the month. However, while on patrol, north of Ra Co Ap, three kilometers west of Shepherd, elements ot Company M captured two Vietnamese males, carrying a white flag. Initially thought to be North Vietnamese soldiers, they later revealed that they were ARVN officers who had been captured at Hue during the Tet Offensive in February. They reported that they had escaped from an enemy prisoner of war camp, located near the junction of Route 9 and Xe Pen, on the Laotian border, and said to have contained at least 30 American prisoners. The enemy, they noted, were in the process of taking them and others to a camp in North Vietnam.
During August and early
September there were indications that the 246th Independent NVA
Regiment had reentered South Vietnam and was moving east coward
Huong Hoa, south of the Khe Sanh Combat Base. In addition, the elements
of the 83d Engineer Regiment were believed to be constructing
a road from Laos into the Vietnam Salient. The 1st Battalion, 66th
Department of Defense (USMC) Photo A801184
Frank E. Garretson, right, CG, TF Hotel, accompanies MajGen Ormond R.
Simpson, center, and MajGen Raymond G. Davis, left, CG 3d MarDiv. MajGen
Simpson assumed command of the 1st Marine Division on 21 December 1968.