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Page 417 (1968: The Defining Year)





Photo
is from the Abel Collection

PFC R. R. Kransiewski, right, adjusts the antenna
of radioman LCpl A. J. Terry, who is talking on the radio during a routine
sweep south of Da Nang by Company L, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines. Other
Marines of the company can be seen advancing in the background.


tance. At 0900, while the battle raged, Lieutenant Colonel Charles
F. Bunnell, Jr., replaced Lieutenant Colonel Watson as Commanding Officer,
BLT 2/7.

In the early afternoon, ARVN units to the north began pushing the
enemy southward. BLT 2/7 maintained steady pressure from the west, so
that the North Vietnamese were forced into the 3d Battalion's blocking
position. Airstrikes and artillery fire tore into the trapped enemy.
At 1600, with the North Vietnamese still resisting strongly, aircraft
unloaded 500-pound bombs and napalm on them, prompting enemy troops
to begin fleeing in groups of 20 to 30. Aircraft and artillery continued
to bombard the area, bur a North Vietnamese flag still flew over an
enemy bunker.

Companies G and H moved forward in the assault, soon hitting antipersonnel
mines and boobytraps. Despite the heavy bombing, the remaining North
Vietnamese maintained heavy and accurate fire from their fortifications.
At dusk, the Marines dug in, hard by the North Vietnamese bunkers. Lace
that night, Marines reported a strong odor of marijuana drifting from
the enemy's positions.

At dawn on the 21st, the Marines attacked once more, and quickly captured
the objective. They found the area so liberally seeded with mines and
boobytraps that, after three Marines suffered wounds, both companies
withdrew and called an airstrike against the area in hopes of detonating
the devices. Returning once again, they found the usual assortment of
bunkers, trenches, and fighting holes, food, equipment, and documents.
Three prisoners indicated that the area was the command post of the
NVA 36th Regiment and the main position of that organization's
2d Battalion. The Marines reported 69 enemy dead, and the prisoners
admitted that their battalion had lost 80 dead and 60 wounded in the
previous day's fight at the treeline. Their battalion's assistant commander
was killed in the action.12

After another day of sweeping the area, BLT 2/7 returned to the Dai
La Pass sector west of Hill 327 and assumed a division reserve mission.
The 3d Battalion remained south of Hill 55, searching for the enemy,
but the destruction of the 2d Battalion, 36th NVA Regiment
brought at least temporary calm to that part of the province.13

As often happened, however, a hard-fought victory in one part of the
province had no effect on enemy activity elsewhere. Shortly after midnight
on 21 September, three explosions rocked the Esso gasoline depot at
the northern end of Da Nang Bay. With two large fuel storage tanks ablaze,
sentries fired on a man who entered the water immediately after the
attack, but the man apparently escaped. Later, Marines found a ladder,
satchel charges, blasting caps, and a length of fuze in and around the
compound.14

The following night. Communist rocket units attacked Marble Mountain
Air Facility, damaging 45 helicopters. Other rockets struck Da Nang
Airbase, Force Logistic Command, the NSA Hospital, and I Corps headquarters.
At the same time, enemy forces launched company-sized ground attacks
on Hoi An,









Page 417 (1968: The Defining Year)