Page 426

Page 426 (1968: The Defining Year)






Photo
is from the Col Robert G. Lauffer, USMC (Ret), Collection

In an aerial view of the 36-square-mile "Dodge City" area
south of Da Nang, the Ky Lain River, the southern boundary of the sector,
is at the top.

like many which had been conducted previously, but on a much grander
scale. Rather than surround and search single hamlets or villages, the
division planned a cordon around 36 square kilometers in the Dodge City
area, south of Da Nang.

Like Go Noi island to the south, Dodge City was heavily infested with
Communists. At the center of the fertile Da Nang-Hoi An-Dai Loc Triangle,
the area's terrain was almost completely flat, reaching only four to
five meters above sea level. Many hamlets dotted the countryside, homes
to the farming families who tended the vast tracts of rice paddies.
Waterways of various sizes crossed Dodge City, as did the National Railroad
and Route 4. The characteristics of the area gave it special potential
as a source of food and recruits for the enemy. Its proximity to Da
Nang, Hoi An, and the Dien Ban District headquarters gave it tactical
significance as a possible enemy staging area for attacks on those key
locations.44

Colonel Lauffer, the commander of the 1st Marines, recalled that the
Korean Brigade had the tactical responsibility for the area, but had
failed to keep the Communist forces out. Since its arrival at Da Nang,
the 1st Marines TAOR included the area to the north of Dodge City, but
in almost self-defense, the regiment had conducted several small-scale
operations "to familiarize units with the situation and to gain additional
intelligence." According to Lauffer, "we were fully apprised of the
fluid and rapidly changing situation concerning enemy troop strength
in the Dodge City area." For Operation Meade River, Marine intelligence
officers estimated that enemy forces in Dodge City numbered between
100 and 150 Viet Cong infrastructure personnel and could include up
to 900 NVA or VC regular forces. The only identified units in the sector,
however, were two VC companies, the R-20 VC Battalion and the
1st Battalion, 36th NVA Regiment, totalling an estimated 630
enemy troops.45







Page 426 (1968: The Defining Year)