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Having had a taste of the enemy's tenacious defense, the Marines prepared
themselves for the coming battle. Captain Drez remembered that:

We dug
in and prepared for what we knew would be a real hard push the next
day. The enemy had shown themselves to be there in force, and they also
showed that they were not going to give up easy. The word came down
from battalion that we could expect . . . the 3d Battalion, 36th
NVA Regiment
to die fighting. They had shown no inclination to
surrender or to become Hoi Chanhs [ralliers]. They were good, hard North
Vietnamese Army troops.74

At 1120 on the 8th, the 3d Battalion, 26th Marines attacked to the
north with five companies abreast. The 2d Troop, 4th ARVN Cavalry, which
had arrived the previous evening, consisting of 12 armored personnel
carriers (APCs), reinforced the Marine assault. In their path, the Marines
reported 79 dead North Vietnamese near the site of the previous day's
battle. When Company H reached a rice paddy a few hundred meters from
their starting point. Communist troops hidden in a treeline suddenly
opened fire, trapping Marines in the paddy. For 30 minutes, the Marines
returned fire individually, then began moving in small groups toward
a large bunker which appeared to be the linchpin of the Communist defenses.
Just beyond the bunker and treeline, they could see the Song La Tho,
on the other side of which the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines remained in
its blocking position.75

The Marines requested air support. Because of the proximity of the
1st Battalion, 1st Marines, the aircraft had difficulty attacking targets
without endangering friendly troops. In one instance, a napalm bomb
impacted directly on Company H, but miraculously bounced safely away
before detonating. Captain George B. Meegan, the commander of Company
L, 26th Marines in another sector, recalled that a "napalm strike landed"
by his 1st Platoon and that several Marines sustained minor burns.76
Neither the airstrikes nor mortar and 3.5-inch rocket fire overcame
the enemy resistance.

When supporting arms failed to silence the enemy in the bunker facing
him, Captain Drez requested Lieutenant Colonel Robertson to provide
him with some of the ARVN APCs. The APCs arrived, armed with recoilless
rifles, and halted in the rice paddy. According to Drez, however, the
ARVN refused to help. Instead, Drez had his attached combat engineer,
Private First Class Michael A. Emmons, jerryrig a satchel charge consisting
of C-4, hand grenades, two 3.5-inch rockets, and a five-second fuze.
With the assistance of another Marine, they carried the satchel charge
to the top of the bunker where Drez lit the fuze and Emmons nipped the
charge through an embrasure. When the others ran, Emmons momentarily
remained atop the bunker. The explosion tossed him into the air, but
he landed unhurt.* The blast smashed the bunker, killing all but one
of the North Vietnamese inside. The Marines reported 39 enemy dead and
l prisoner in the vicinity of the bunkers.77

The other attacking companies also had their share of fighting. Captain
Foster's Company A overran an enemy fortified position containing 12
bunkers and 30 covered fighting holes, reporting 47 North Vietnamese
dead. Several hours later, Company A attacked and killed nearly 20 North
Vietnamese in a firefight which ended with 6 Marines dead and 12 wounded.
Late in the afternoon, Captain Meegan's Company L engaged an enemy platoon.
In a short, but fierce encounter, Lima Company accounted for another
reported 15 enemy killed, at a cost of 5 Marines dead and 11 wounded.78

The combat on 8 December was so intense that some senior Marines said
that it was "the fiercest fighting they had ever seen."79 That night
Staff Sergeant Karl G. Taylor of Company I led a rescue effort to relieve
the company's lead platoon, cut off by enemy fire. After his Marines
took out several of the most severely wounded, Sergeant Taylor returned
with another four volunteers to reach yet another group of seriously
wounded men lying near an enemy machine gun position. Finding the position
too strong, Taylor told his Marines to go back and then armed with a
grenade launcher charged across the open paddy. Although wounded several
times, Sergeant Taylor silenced the enemy weapon. The sergeant was posthumously
awarded the Medal of Honor.80

On the morning of 9 December, the enemy still occupied a narrow strip
of ground between the 3d Battalion, 26th Marines and the Song La Tho.
It would take another push to finish the job.

After supporting arms, including the battleship New Jersey
lying off the coast with its 16-inch guns, bombarded the enemy's last
remaining toehold all night and most of the morning, the 3d Battalion
launched its final drive at 1000 on the 9th. The Marines assaulted violently,
yet methodically, destroying and searching every bunker and fighting
hole in their path. Enemy resistance was tenacious, but lacked


* Emmons was later awarded a Silver Star Medal for his action.








Page 435 (1968: The Defining Year)