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Page 420 (1968: The Defining Year)

Photocopy of painting from Marine Corps Art Collection

In this contemporary painting by Marine combat artist
Maj Albert M. "Mike" Leahy, the artist depicts a Marine Douglas A-4E
Skyhawk in a close air support mission during Operation Maui Peak about
to bomb and rocket enemy positions on a ridgeline near LZ Sparrow. Thuong
Duc can be seen in the background.

Battalion, 5th Marines stepped off in the attack westward along Route
4 toward the Special Forces camp. This was to be a feint to distract
the enemy from the landing of the helicopter-home elements. Soon after
crossing die line of departure, however, the Marines became decisively
engaged with the NVA 1st Battalion, 141st Regiment, and Colonel
Beckington canceled the plan tor a feinc and ordered the 2d Battalion
to clear the enemy from the battlefield.20

While the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines mounted the hills overlooking
Route 4 and came to grips with the enemy, other units joined the operation.
At 1030, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing helicopters, carrying the 3d Battalion,
5th Marines, swooped down inro LZ Sparrow, four kilometers south of
Thuong Duc. The preparation fires had ended at 0730, after severely
pounding the LZ and surrounding area. If the fires had hurt the North
Vietnamese units in the vicinity, the enemy commander apparently made
good use of the three-hour break between the end of the preparation
and the landing of the helicopters. As the first wave of aircraft touched
down in the landing zone, a hail of heavy machine gun fire filled the
air. Unable to complete the mission against such stiff resistance, the
helicopters turned away, carrying the 3d Battalion back to An Hoa.21

At 1100, BLT 2/7 and two ARVN battalions landed unopposed in LZ Vulture and LZ Hawk, seven kilometers northwest of Thuong Duc. While the rest of the battalion remained at the LZ with Battery W, 3d Battalion, 11th Marines, Companies E and G, 7th Marines struck out for the high ground overlooking Thuong Duc from the north. The terrain was extremely chal-

Page 420 (1968: The Defining Year)