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Although wounded, Schunck single-handedly attempted to man the weapon.
Unable to do so, he moved to the assistance of a more seriously wounded
Marine who had tried to join him. Dragging the injured man to cover,
he and another Marine moved to an 81mm mortar, which they continued
to fire at the advancing enemy troops until running out of ammunition.
Schunck was later awarded the Navy Cross.19


Another Navy Cross recipient from the same action at Ngog Tavak was Marine Lance Corporal Richard F. Conklin. Once the enemy attack began, Conklin grabbed a machine gun and opened up on approaching NVA troops. Frustrated in their attempts to reach the compound, the North Vietnamese returned concentrated automatic weapons fire and tried to knock out the Marine machine gun position with grenades. Conklin threw back several of the grenades and continued to fire his weapon until he collapsed from his wounds.20


Despite such heroics, the defense of Ngog Tavak was a hopeless cause. Both Marine First Lieutenant Robert L. Adams, the commander of the Marine detachment, and Army Captain Christopher J. Silva, the Special Forces commander, had sustained severe wounds. About 0800, under cover of the Marine howitzers and automatic weapons, Marine and Army helicopters took out the most severely wounded. Among them were Lieutenant Adams, Corporal Schunck, Lance Corporal Conklin, and 15 other Marines from the artillery detachment. An attempt to bring in reinforcements proved futile and resulted in the loss of two of the helicopters. Out of 105mm ammunition, the Marine gunners "spiked" the guns with thermite grenades to render them inoperative.* Led by the senior Australian advisor, the remaining defenders of Ngog Tavak, including 13 Marines of the detachment, abandoned the camp to the enemy. After a trek through the jungle for six miles, American helicopters evacuated the survivors to Kham Duc. Of the 43 Marines and l Navy corpsman who made up the artillery detachment, 13 were dead and 20 were wounded. Only 11 men escaped relatively unscathed. In January 1969, the Secretary of the Navy awarded the detachment of Battery D, 2d Battalion, 13th Marines the Meritorious Unit Commendation for its part in the defense of Ngog Tavak.21

The survivors of Ngog Tavak were not to find Kham Duc a safe haven.
After overrunning the former, on the afternoon of 10 May, the North
Vietnamese turned their attention to the latter camp. At first, after
consultation with Generals Westmoreland and Abrams, General Cushman
had decided to reinforce the camp and counter the North Vietnamese offensive
there. Air Force fixed-wing transports and Marine and Army helicopters
brought in the Americal Division's 2d Battalion, 1st Infantry from Chu
Lai reinforced by an additional infantry company and supported by some
Army artillery. By 11 May, Kham Duc had about a 1,500-man force, including
both the U.S. Army and Vietnamese CIDG units in the camp itself and
in the surrounding hill outposts. That night, however, the 2d NVA
Division
began to pick off these outposts.22

With concern about the obvious enemy strength and not wanting to deplete
the limited allied forces at Da Nang, General Cushman began to have
second thoughts about engaging the North Vietnamese so far out of range
of any concentrated artillery. After listening to General Cushman brief
the situation, General Abrams also had little desire for a protracted
battle and agreed to a withdrawal. General Westmoreland approved the
decision. Under an umbrella of American air support, Air Force transports
and Marine and Army helicopters lifted out the last of the defenders
on 12 May, abandoning Kham Duc to the Communists. The following day,
some 60 B-52s participated in an Arclight strike, dropping some 12,000
tons upon the former allied camp. General Abrams termed the abandonment
of Ngog Tavak and Kham Duc "a minor disaster." According to a former
III MAF staff officer, CIDG camps existed only for the purposes of intercepting
and detecting infiltration and when enemy "organized forces move against
them-you're going to lose it." Brigadier General Jacob E. Glick, who
was the III MAF operations officer at the time, later recalled "that
the reporters and the press gave us a bad time about this and called
it a 'defeat.'" According to Glick, however, "We considered that we
were making the best decision in a tough situation and were saving people
and conserving resources." The forward deployment of the two Marine
105mm howitzers proved to have little deterrence upon the North Vietnamese.23

Operations Drumfire II and Thor- Guns Across the Border


Despite the loss of the two CIDG camps, the enemy offensive by the end of May had more or less faltered.

* An American air strike at noon on the then-abandoned camp insured
that the guns were indeed destroyed. The 11th Marines operations journal
on 10 May contained the notation: "D/2/13 dropped two 105mm how[itzers]
as result of combat loss at Ngok Tavak." S-3 Jnl entry, dtd 10May68,
Anx C, 11th Mar ComdC, May68. See also S-4 Jnl entry, dtd 10May68, Encl
1, 2/13 ComdC, May68.







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