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from Khe Sanh to the Cua Viet. On 11 April, they rocketed the Cua Viet fuel farm, destroying 40,000 gallons of gas. Five days later, rockets fell on the Khe Sanh base demolishing 300,000 rounds of small arms ammunition and 2,705 propellant charges for 155mm ammunition. Finally, on 14 May, Communist artillery shelling resulted in the blowing up of the Dong Ha ammunition supply point and the loss of 150 tons of munitions of all types.35


The Cua Viet and Dong Ha facilities remained favorite targets. Less than a month after the Dong Ha bombardment, 13 June, the NVA artillery fired 61 rounds into Camp Kistler at the mouth of the Cua Viet River. This time the shells hit the FLSG Bravo fuel dump and set fire to 16 10,000-gallon fuel bladders containing 104,000 gallons of petroleum. A week later, the North Vietnamese gunners turned their attention to Dong Ha, once more blowing up the Dong Ha ammunition dump with the loss this time of 8,500 tons of munitions. Five days later, they hit the Cua Viet fuel farm again. This time more than 187,000 gallons of gasoline and jet fuel went up in flames, resulting in the destruction of 17 of the 10,000-gallon fuel bladders and associated pumping equipment.56


While relatively quiet during July, the NVA struck the Dong Ha facility again in August. While missing the ammunition dump, some 55 enemy rounds damaged some 19 buildings, destroyed 6 vehicles, and killed 2 Marines and wounded 3 others. Finally on 30 October, just before the so-called neutralization of the DMZ agreed to at Paris, the enemy hit Dong Ha once more. Forty-eight 130mm rounds fell on the base, killing one Marine, wounding another, and causing damage to buildings and vehicles. This was to be the last major attack on Marine facilities in the north during the year.37


Marine logisticians also had to be concerned about the elements as well as enemy artillery capability. In many respects, weather patterns were more predictable and the FLC could make some preparations for the fall monsoon season. Still, monsoon storms could hit suddenly and create havoc. On 5 September, Typhoon Bess swept across the South China Sea with the center of its impact area just north of Da Nang. With 60-knot winds and 20 inches of rain, the storm caused landslides closing Route 1 in the Hai Van Pass sector and submerged Liberty Bridge in the An Hoa area south of the Marine base. Even as the storm abated the rain continued, resulting in more flooding and restricting movement of supplies and troops. By the end of September, almost all construction projects were at a standstill. Route 1 and the various secondary roads were in bad condition. The water and winds had damaged the LCU ramps at Tan My and Hue as well as the Tan-My-Quang Tri pipeline. The Marines estimated that Bess would cost them the equivalent of 7,000 man-hours to make the needed repairs to the various lines of communication and installations.


Although the worst of the damage was over, the weather provided little relief for the FLC in October. Twelve inches of rain fell at Dong Ha on the 14th and 15th, followed by 15 inches at Da Nang in the next two days. Route 1 south of Camp Evans was once more under water as was the Tan My causeway. Bridges on Route 1 required reinforcement. Still the Marine logisticians were able to cope with the situation. Based on past experience with the monsoons, they had stockpiled the most-needed supplies at forward positions. Operations throughout the period continued and the bad weather proved to be more of a nuisance than an impediment.


During this period, the FLC had resolved the M16 rifle situation. By mid-July, the FLC had obtained enough of the modified M16 rifles, known as the M16A1 to equip both the 1st and 3d Marine Divisions. As a result of extensive investigations of charges that the M16 was prone to jamming, the FLC had implemented in late 1967 a program designed to replace the original barrel/sight assembly of the rifles with a chromed chamber assembly. The new assembly reduced chamber friction and facilitated extraction of the 5.56mm ammunition with its "ball propellant"* which had caused most of the difficulty. By the end of September, the FLC had completed the retrofit and replacement of the old M 16s for both Marine divisions and their attachments. In October, the new rifles were issued to the Marines of the FLC and the 1st MAW and the following month to the Korean Marines. By November, the FLC had about completed the conversion of the remaining 9,100 rifles and established a reserve. In all, under the retrofit program, the FLC had handled more than 61,100 rifles.58


Despite the occasional reduction in Marine stockpiles caused by such programs as the M16 retrofit pro-


*The ball propellant was a spherical grain powder in the 5.56 ammunition which speeded up the cyclic rate of the rifle beyond its design rate and also "fouled the chamber and bore." Moody, Donnelly, and Shore, "Backing Up the Troops," Chap 22, pp. 23-23A.







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