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Page 440 (1968: The Defining Year)

Both photos from the Abel Collection

Marine engineers have just cleared with explosives a landing zone for
Operation Taylor Common to take place in Base Area 112 in the rugged
terrain southwest of An Hoa. After the "big blast" some stubborn trees
and brush remain to be cleared. Below, artillerymen from the 11th Marines
at Fire Support Base Lance watch as a Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion brings
in ammunition. A 105mm howitzer can be seen in the foreground.

earth and detonated over a potential LZ at a height which would blow
down trees without creating a crater. General Dwyer personally directed
this experimental operation from a helicopter. Air Force C-130s dropped
the M-121s from high altitude, aiming for small hilltops selected by
Dwyer and his staff. In terms of explosive power, the Combat Traps proved
impressive. In General Dwyer's words, ". . . it looked like a mini-nuclear
weapon burst. The concussion rocked us in the helicopter.... it just
really blew down this high, hundred foot canopy. . . ."97 Accuracy,
however, left something to be desired. Although some near misses still
created marginally suitable LZs, Dwyer concluded that the technique
was of little use in situations requiring pinpoint accuracy. TF Yankee
returned to the proven technique ot bringing in low-flying attack aircraft
with heavy ordnance, followed by engineers with chain saws and explosives
to finish the job.98

With help from the indispensable Company B, 3d Engineer Battalion,
the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines landed, unopposed, atop Hill 558 on 15
December. A steep prominence four kilometers west of the recently established
FSB Lance, Hill 558 was, by then, awash in a sea of splintered timber,
the results of numerous M-121 near-misses. Following the pattern

Page 440 (1968: The Defining Year)