Page 539

Page 539 (1968: The Defining Year)

Department of Defense (USMC) Photo A190802

Marines are seen stacking empty 105mm casings at
Khe Sanh, indicative of the artillery support provided for the base.
In the background, partially obscured by clouds, is Hill 950.

While Khe Sanh was the center of attention for MACV and the press,
the war along the DMZ had not diminished. During January and February
1968, in addition to Khe Sanh, the 3d Marine Division had fought a series
of heavy engagements ranging from the sector just north of Camp Carroll
to the Cua Viet along the coast. During these two months, in support
of all units, the 12th Marines fired a total of 411,644 rounds, 212,969
in January and 198,675 in February. The number in January represented
a 12 percent increase over the previous month, and while February's
total was six percent lower than January, it was still much higher than
the December figure.* It was not until March that the 3d Marine Division
artillery regiment reported a significant reduction in its fire support.
In some 30,000 missions, only 20 percent of which were observed,** the
12th Marines expended nearly 190,000 rounds of all calibers as enemy
activity exhibited a "reduction in aggressiveness." For this three-month
period, the 12th Marines fired about 15 to 17 percent of its total rounds
in support of the 26th Marines at Khe Sanh with the rest in support
of the other regi-

* There are differences between the total rounds reported fired in
the 12th Marines reports and those of the division. While the figures
are higher in the regimental reports, the ratios between che sources
remain roughly the same. The totals lisred above are based upon the
reports in the 12ch Marines command chronologies as they contain a breakdown
of missions. The 3d Division reports only give totals and it is assumed
that these did nor include some of the categories listed by the regiment.
See 12th Mar ComdCs and 3d MarDiv ComdCs, Dec67-Feb68.

** Lieutenant Colonel John A. Hennelly, the commander of the 1st Battalion,
13th Marines, explained that at Khe Sanh with both the infantry and
artillery forward observers locked into defensive positions at both
the base and the hill outposts, "there weren't many 'eyes' to handle
observed fire missions." He mentioned, however, that when Marine aerial
observers (AOs) were "on station . . . we could get a lot done, counterbattery
and otherwise. Without Marine AOs we were in a hurt locker." According
to Hennelly, the Air Force AOs were less effective: "They kept insisting
that they were flying at tree cop level-but l never saw any 10,000-foot
trees over there." Hennelly Comments.

Page 539 (1968: The Defining Year)