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Page 591 (1968: The Defining Year)

Photo is from the Abel Collection

LCpl James L. Phillips. at the wheel of a M 103 Iwlldnzer cm Ja mem/w nf the 1st Engineer Ba t till-ion, clears a treeline in the western sector of the Da Nang area of operations during Operatnm Woodpecker. The land clearing operation was designed to deny the enemy possible ambush and rocket sites.

aver four million square meters in the 7th Marines sector, the 1st Battalion in June moved into the Go Noi Island area and joined the 27th Marines in Operation Allen Brook. Clearing over two million meters from June through August with bulldozers, tractors equipped with rome plows, and even tanks with dozer blades, the Marine engineers, once the civilian population was evacuated, literally nued the Go Noi." With the completion of the Go Noi project, the battalion continued with further clearing operations. Operation Woodpecker II and III, in the area west or the Yen River, and after September, in the 1st Marines sector along the coast."

The Marines at I>a Nang also experimented with a barrier project aimed at keeping enemy rocketeers from bombarding the Marine base. Beginning in May, the 7th Engineer Battalion starred putting down a single-apron barbed wire fence along the outer edges ot the so-called I>a Nang Rocker Belt, a semi-circle centering on the airfield and extending out to the extreme range of the enemy 122mm and 144mm rockets. By June, the 1st Marine Division completed the initial plans for the project. The original concept called for a W-merer-wide cleared strip of land consisting of two parallel barbed wire fences, concertina wire entanglements, observation towers, and minefields. Beginning in earnest on 2 July, the 7th Engineers completed the initial phase of the project in the 7th Marines sector, clearing more than 15,()()() meters by 23 August. The task involved more than 37,(X)0 man-hours, including mine sweeps, security, equipment operators, and averaging two 25-man platoons from die engineers and an equal number or personnel rrom the supported units. Beginning in September, but hampered by flooding and heavy rains, the engineers continued with Phase II into December. Although the 7th Engineer Battalion would end on 12 December the laying of the two parallel barbed wire fences, the project would remain unfinished at the end of the year. It would not be until the following March that the Marines would renew their emphasis and begin anew the barrier effort."

By the end of 1968, the Marine engineers together with the Navy Seabees and Army engineers had accomplished almost minor miracles in the restoration

*See Chapter 17.

Page 591 (1968: The Defining Year)