Page 422

Page 422 (1968: The Defining Year)

is from the Abel Collection

Troops from the 5th Marines cross a small stream
in Operation Maui Peak. The second Marine in the water is carrying a
3.5-inch rocket launcher and a following Marine carries a rocket round
for the weapon in addition to his rifle.

ited the close air support "very instrumental in turning the tide of battle . . . . " Friendly casualties totalled 8 dead and 20 wounded.30

During the next few days, enemy contact diminished. BLT 2/7 finished its sweep of the high ground and moved into the valley, nearer the Special Forces camp. The 2d Battalion, 5th Marines maintained its position and conducted patrols. South of the Song Vu Gia, the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines continued to struggle through the heavily forested and treacherous slopes, finally capturing LZ Sparrow on 14 October with the only enemy resistance being desultory mortar fire. Later that day. Company F of BLT 2/7 entered the Thuong Duc Special Forces camp, officially lifting the so-called "siege.31*

In mid-October, Tropical Storm Elaine struck Quang Nam, dramatically curtailing operations." In the seven days ending on l S October, 39 inches of rain fell around Thuong Duc, with as much as 13 inches falling in a single day. Swollen rivers washed away many bridges and left others under six feet of water. Air operations slowed to a near halt and many units, particularly those in the hills, suffered a lack of critical supplies. The Special Forces unit at Thuong Duc supplied some food to the Marines to see them through the crisis. Eventually, the rain washed out Route 4 between Hills 52 and 65, then Route 540, to the east, over which convoys carried supplies to Hill 65 for distribution to the forces participating in Operation Maui Peak.32

* Lieutenant Colonel Ronald R. Welpott, who as a captain commanded
Company F during the operation, recalled chat his company was the only
one to enter the camp "as the size of the camp and heavy rains made
it more suitable for the rest ot the battalion to remain in the hills
above the camp to the northwest." Lieutenant Colonel Ronald R. Welpott,
Comments on draft, dtd 19Mar95 (Vietnam Comment File).

** General E. E. Anderson, the III MAF Chief of Staff, observed at
the time in personal letters that the storm had brought both U.S. and
enemy operations "to a standstill," and that for "several days we needed
wadin^ boors and rain suits." BGen Anderson, Itrs to MajGen McCutcheon,
dtd 17Oct68 and LtGen W. J. Van Ryzm, dtd 25Oct68, Encl to Gen E.E.
Anderson, Comments on draft, dtd 18Dec94 (Vietnam Comment File).

Page 422 (1968: The Defining Year)