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The enemy troops were
unimpressed by the broadcasts. As the 1st Marines reported, "they chose
to fight."61


After the broadcasts, the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines launched its attack. Although the enemy resisted in isolated groups, clearing even small fortified positions was dangerous and difficult. It took the Marine battalion the entire day of 29 November to secure the first objective. Phase Line Alpha, about 800 to 1,000 meters above Route 4.62

On 30 November, the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines continued its northward advance, reaching Phase Line Bravo, where the area between the railroad berm and die Suoi Co Ca becomes narrow, constricting maneuver and further compounding fire support coordination problems. Still, the blocking forces on the eastern bank of the river, BLT 2/26 and the 2d Battalion 5th Marines ambushed and cook under fire enemy troops attempting to avoid the tightening cordon. Marines called nightly upon Air Force AC-47 gunships to add their deadly fires co those of the Marines on the ground. Lieutenant Colonel Stemple, the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines commander, remembered that enemy troops tried to swim the river at night to escape to the south.63

On 1 December, about
two kilometers north of Route 4 and just above Phase Line Bravo, at
a small bend in the Suoi Co Ca which would become known as the "Hook,"
the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines ran into a strong bunker complex. As the
1st Marines reported, "the Hook was not to be taken in a few hours.
The enemy fire from well entrenched, reinforced bunkers was devastating."
In the first encounter. Company L sustained 2 dead and 28 wounded. The
Marine battalion pulled back and called for artillery and air support.64

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

An
aerial view of the bend of the Suoi Co Ca River, called the "Hook" by
the Marines, makes it obvious how the "Hook," like the Horseshoe obtained
its name.









Page 432 (1968: The Defining Year)