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Page 415 (1968: The Defining Year)

Gen Earl.E. Anderson Collection

Photocopy of III MAF Briefing Map (Nov-Dec 1968)

Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. Quinn consolidated the three companies in defensive positions about 3,000 meters to the southwest of the original contact. By this time. Colonel Herbert L. Beckingcon, the 7th Marines commander, had alerted Lieutenant Colonel LeRoy E. Watson, whose BLT 2/7 (the SLF battalion) was under the operational control of the 7th Marines. While BLT 2/7 established blocking positions, Quinn's 3d Battalion was to sweep through the previous day's contact area.5

As planned, at first light on the 15th, Marine helicopters landed the BLT 2/7 command group and Companies F and H in the southern Dodge City sector. At the same time, the three companies of Quinn's battalion attacked to the northeast. At 1700, Company L found the bodies of the four Marines who had been reported the previous day as missing in action. The two battalions linked up on the morning of 16 September and continued to sweep the area. While encountering no significant resistance, the Marines uncovered and destroyed 72 heavily fortified bunkers.6

Both battalions continued the search until the afternoon of 17 September. At that time. Colonel Beckington, the 7th Marines commander, ordered a change in plans. The 3d Battalion, 7th Marines was to return to its combat base area the following morning while BLT 2/7 was to stay in place, receive reinforcements, and then support the 51st ARVN Regiment.7

As scheduled, on the morning of 18 September, Marine helicopters brought in Companies E and G of BLT 2/7 and took out the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines. BLT 2/7 advanced southeast below Route 4 toward the main north-south railroad line. The mission of the Marine battalion "was to conduct sweeps to find, fix and destroy the enemy" in the new area of operations. At the time, "the only certain information ... was that ARVN forces of the 51 ARVN Regiment . . . were in contact with a 'large' NVA force" north of the La Tho River near the railroad. On the evening of the 18th, the BLT established defensive positions just west of the railroad berm.8

The following morning, the BLT reached the railroad near its intersection with Route 4 and prepared for resupply. Company F sent a security element into a treeline 250 meters east of the railroad. When the Marines approached to within 15 meters of the heavy

Page 415 (1968: The Defining Year)