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ported by a pair of Bell UH-1E "Huey" gunships. With the flareship lighting the battlefield and the Hueys and AC-47s suppressing the enemy fire, the Sea Knights moved in to pick up the patrol leader and his corpsman, completing the extraction at 0209. Only a quarter of an hour later. Team Cayenne, thought to be destroyed by the enemy, suddenly came up on the radio. There were still six Marines alive, but wounded, on the hill. In the darkness and confusion of the sudden attack, the patrol leader had believed them lost. The rescue effort went back into motion, with two helicopter gunships arriving on station at 0254, closely followed by another pair of Sea Knights. By 0334, the six wounded men were on board the helicopters and on their way to Da Nang. One of these Marines later died of his wounds.


AC-47s remained on station over the abandoned position for the rest of the night, shooting at fleeting targets. As each gunship ran out of ammunition, another replaced it. At 0642, four CH-^16s inserted a reaction force into the ruined position to search for additional survivors and to collect the remains of those who had died. The reaction force found seven dead Marines and one dead Viet Cong in and around the position.53


Fortunately, the experience of Team Cayenne was the exception to the rule. Most Stingray patrols occupied their positions, remained there for several days, and departed again without serious incident, sometimes without even sighting the enemy. There was even occasion for the grim humor that is prevalent in combat. First Lieutenant Philip D. Downey, leader of Team "Night Scholar" during an insert atop Loi Giang Mountain, three kilometers southwest of An Hoa, turned in this report of a sighting on 10 June:


20 VC with 10 bathing beauties. 10 women were bathing with 6 guards. Black PJs, khakis and towels;


packs, rifles, and soap. Called F[ire] M[ission}, resulting in 3 VC KIA conftirmed] and 5 VC KIA probfable). Unable to observe women after this due to bushes, but patrol felt the water frolics were over.54


Stingray patrols were capable of inflicting enemy casualties far out of proportion to their own size. Team "Elf Skin," occupied a position on a narrow ridge overlooking the Arizona Territory and the Song Vu Gia from 10 June to 16 June.* In this Communist-infested area, it recorded 25 separate enemy sightings which totalled 341 Viet Cong. From its concealed position, the team fired 24 artillery missions, for a reported tally of over 40 enemy dead.55


Two weeks later, a team known as "Parallel Bars," took up a position at the peak of the dominant Hon Coc Mountain, six kilometers south of Go Noi Island. Just after noon on 25 June, it saw about 100 VC moving west along a narrow finger outside the hamlet of An Tarn (l), just southwest of Go Noi Island. An artillery fire mission using "Firecracker" ammunition accounted for more than 30 reported enemy dead. A little over three hours later, another group of about 80 Communists moved west along the same finger, in the same direction. This group, too, appeared to be leaving Go Noi Island. The Marine patrol leader contacted an observation aircraft on station over the area and arranged for an airstrike, this time killing about another 30 of the enemy. At 1855 the same day. Parallel Bars spotted another group of 16 Viet Cong, also moving west, 100 meters west of the previous sighting. Another "Firecracker" mission fell upon the enemy, but it was too dark for the team to observe the results. Incredibly, at 0800 the next morning, the team sighted a fourth group of 27 Viet Cong moving along the same finger, but about 900 meters further southwest than the first three groups. Parallel Bars called for fire still again, and reported killing five or more VC.56


Stingray patrols supported all major operations. Teams occupied positions in or near the area of operations and coordinated their activities with the responsible infantry unit. As an operation ebbed and flowed according to intelligence reports of the enemy's activity, the Stingray patrols moved to new observation posts to maintain support of the infantry. Even while some teams were supporting major operations, others remained far beyond the TAOR of any friendly unit, directing artillery and airstrikes on Communist forces moving to and from their base areas. For 1968, III MAF claimed Stingray operations to have resulted in more than 3,800 enemy killed.57**



*The "Arizona Territory" was the name commonly used by the Marines to describe the area northwest of An Hoa bounded by the Song Thu Bon, the Song Vu Gia, and the mountains south of Thuong Duc.


**Colonel Stinemetz, who commanded the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion unti1 July 1968, quoted the following reconnaissance statistics for the month of May: 149 patrols, 476 sightings, 59 contacts, 6,606 enemy sighted, 362 fire missions and 42 air strikes; 46 enemy KIA by small arms, 681 enemy by air and artillery. He stated that the Marines captured five weapons and took two prisoners- Marine casualties were 6 dead and 45 wounded. Stinemerz Comments. As with all statistics of enemy casualties and body counts, however, the historian and reader must take these as trends rather than absolutes. Colonel James W. Stemple, who commanded the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines in the latter half of 1968, recalled an incident in October when his battalion entered an area where reconnaissance teams had








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