Page 428

Page 428 (1968: The Defining Year)

Photo is from the Abel Collection

Infantrymen from the 5th Marines advance through
five-foot elephant grass after being dropped into a landing zone during
Operation Meade River. In one of the largest lifts, Marine helicopters
brought four Marine battalions into the cordon operation.

son placed all four of his own companies on line for the assault, then used Company L as his new reserve. He ordered Company D to move south and to sweep the northern flank of Company F, which was on the battalion left.51

Nelson scheduled a preparation fire to begin on the Horseshoe at 0630.
The fire support units found it difficult to coordinate their fires
because of the proximity of friendly units to one another, and the almost
circular shape of the cordon, which required extraordinary care to deliver
fires safely. Thus, the preparation was delayed until 0920.

The enemy reacted violently, even before the infantry attack began.
As Company G moved into positions from which it was to provide supporting
fire, the North Vietnamese went into action. Heavy fire drove Company
G to cover. Company F attempted to carry out a flank attack from the
north to relieve the pressure, but, according to Captain Ronald R. Welpott,
the company commander, "due to sporadic enemy contact, boobytraps, and
difficult terrain," it could not find a place to tord the stream separating
it from the enemy bunkers.52 Once again, the attack bogged down and
ground to a halt.53

The next day, 22 November, BLT 2/7 launched a third attack on the
Horseshoe. Following essentially the same plan as the previous day.
Company G established a base of fire while Companies D, 1st Marines
and E, 7th Marines attacked from the north, crossing the stream to strike
the enemy's right flank. The-North Vietnamese hid in their bunkers during
the preparation fire, then, when the fire lifted, assumed mutually supporting
fighting positions. They usually attempted to keep a rice paddy or other
natural barrier between them and the Marines, and in this case, caught
Company E at the stream and poured on extremely heavy fire from a range
ot 100 meters. In 10 minutes, the company lose 7 killed and 23 wounded.
With the company commander among the wounded, Company E broke contact
and withdrew to the north bank of the stream.

Meanwhile, Company D crossed the Song La Tho and attacked south along the railroad berm, about a mile east of where the BLT 2/7 attack had stalled. The

Page 428 (1968: The Defining Year)