Page 080

[Image 1: Photo courtesy ot
MajGen John E. Murray, USA (Ret) Despite the prohibition against military
and South Vietnamese forces worked closely together. Seen here are LtGen
Truong, MajGen Murray, LtGen Khang. Capt (Mrs.) Strickland and LtCol Strickland,
and Gen Lan, receiving an award from Gen Murray.]

Page 80(The Bitter End)

Truong, was told that the defense of Da Nang had now become the top military priority in MR l. He immediately communicated this change in strategy to General Lan, informing him to anticipate immediate movement of the Marine Division into positions vacated by the departing airborne units and assumption of primary responsibility for the defense of Da Nang. Within hours of the decision to withdraw the airborne units from Military Region l, the Vietnamese Marine Corps, following Truong's orders, redeployed its forces, removing both of its brigades from Quang Tri. It shifted Brigade 147 south from My Chanh to Phong Dien where it straddled Highway l on an arcing line from the 4th Battalion, west and south of the city, to the 7th Battalion on the east side. General Lan ordered the 369th Brigade to move to a position north and west of Da Nang and directed the 258th Brigade to deploy south of Da Nang where it could cover the city's exposed southern flank. Additionally, the newest Marine brigade, the 468th, had been designated by the JGS as replacements for the departing Airborne Division. At the same time Truong's forces were shifting, the Communists launched heavy attacks against the recently arrived defenders of Phong Dien, the 4th and 5th battalions of the l47th Brigade. With no reserve available, General Lan ordered the brigade to delay the North Vietnamese Army and then fall back on Hue.24

By 17 March, the 258th Brigade had deployed to Da Nang and replaced the already departed 2nd Airborne Brigade. The next day, General Lan moved the division command post from Huong Dien, Thua Thien Province to Marble Mountain Airfield, southeast of Da Nang. This placed both Truong's I Corps Headquarters located at Da Nang Airfield and Lan's command post within miles of each other.

Even though the defense of Da Nang had become their primary mission, the Marines, on 20 March, were ordered to defend at all costs their positions north of Hue. That same day, VNAF C-130s delivered the 468th Brigade to Da Nang and its Marines deployed to defensive positions from the northern end of the Hai Van Pass along Highway l to Phuoc Tong. While this was underway, the l47th prepared for its task. To accomplish its mission the l47th Brigade had been task-organized into four infantry battalions, an artillery battalion, and various supporting units. Days earlier in anticipation of heavy fighting, division headquarters

Page 80(The Bitter End)