BY LCPL. EARL C. GERHEIM Phu Bai, Vietnam - North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars failed in an attempt to elude U.S. Marines and lost 145 killed during an operation northeast of PhuBai.
The operation began as Leathernecks of 2nd Battalion, Third Marine Regiment were heli-lifted into an area to begin their assault. Marines of the lst Battalion„ First Marine Regiment were positioned to the south as a blocking force.
The assault troops encountered no enemy resistance until the afternoon of the first day, when two Marine companies were hit by a force of North Vietnamese. The Leathernecks swept over the enemy positions after an hour of bitter fighting within 35 meters of the NVA fighting holes and bunkers. Air strikes and small arms were used to overpower the enemy, as the Marines continued their pursuit. A mass ~ grave, containing 18 enemy bodies, was found at nightfall.
The following few days saw scattered light contact as Leathernecks chased the enemy toward the blocking force.
During the afternoon of the fourth day an estimated 200 enemy made contact with lst Bn., First Marine Regiment Leathernecks who had begun to move northward in an entrapment effort. Contact was heavy as the Marines culled in air and artillery support to drive the enemy from their firmly entrenched positions. Leathernecks of the 2nd Bn., Third Marine Regiment attacked from the east and assaulted across 500 meters of open sand.
The Marines were temporarily pinned down by heavy enemy fire but managed to drive the NVA back after fierce small arms combat which continued into the night. Fifty-nine NVA were killed in the battle. Five prisoners were apprehended during the operation. One surrendered to Marines, while the remaining four were captured while hiding in bunkers by alert Leathernecks.
Marines Reverse Ambush
KHE SANH -- Marines staged an air-ground team effort to kill 43 North Vietnamese (NVA) soldiers after a Leatherneck platoon was ambushed during a road sweep near Khe Sanh. A platoon from "E" Co., 2nd Bn., Third Marine Regiment, lst Marine Division was taken under intense enemy rifle, machinegun, rocket and mortar fire from an enemy company.
The NVA were dug in at the side of the road within 50 meters of the Marines. Alerted as a reaction unit, the remainder of the company hurried to the ambush site to aid the platoon. The Marines called in close air support from fixed wing aircraft and continued to rake the enemy positions with smallarms, and machinegun fire as the aircraft pounded the enemy with bombs and 20mm cannon strafing runs. The leathernecks then swept over the enemy positions, finding 43 bodies and assorted field gear, much of it new.
Joint Effort Nets 43 NVA
By Cpl. Earl Gerheim Khe Sanh - Marines startled an air-ground team effort to kill 43 North Vietnamese (NV9) soldiers after a Leatherneck platoon was ambushed during a road sweep near Khe Sanh. A platoon from "E" Co., 2/3. lst Marine Division taken under intense enemy rifle, machinegun, rocket and mortar fire from an enemy company.
The N9A were dug in at the side of -hr road within 50 meters of the Marines. Alerted as a reaction unit, the remainder of the company hurried to the ambush to aid the platoon. The Marines called in close air support from fixed wing aircraft and continued to rake the enemy positions with small arms and machinegun fire as the aircraft pounded the enemy with bombs and 20mm cannon strafing runs.
The Leathernecks then swept over the enemy position, finding 43 bodies and assorted field gear much of it new.
Marine Unit Routs NVA Near KheSanh
By Cpl. Earl Gerheim KHE SANH - A Leatherneck ,company killed 19 North Vietnamese (NVA) soldiers and captured two heavy machineguns when they assaulted a hill near Khe Sanh to aid a beleaguered Marine unit. A company from 2/3 lst Marine Division was occupying the hill when they were encircled by a company of NVA Another company from the battalion, occupying a nearby position, was called to support the unit.
The Marines assembled at the base of the hill and then charged the enemy lines. With the Marines advancing up the hill, and Marine fire coming down the NVA were caught in the jaws of a Leatherneck assault. Utilizing small arms, grenades and machineguns, the Marines battled the.NVA at almost point blank ranges. One enemy machinegun bunker was destroyed by grenades as Marines charged the NVA positions and drove them off the hill.
2/3 Leatherneck Has 'A Hard Time' During Sweep
By Cpl. Earl Gerheim PHU BAI-A Leatherneck had his helmet shot off, his pistol shot out of his hand and an enemy grenade land in the bomb crater he'd taken cover in, yet he didn't suffer a scratch.
Sgt. Percy Love, (9063 Emerald, Chicago, Ill.) was a platoon guide with "E" Co., 2/3, when his company was assigned to secure a helicopter landing zone near Khe Such and occupy a hill overlooking the landing site. Love's platoon took the lead as the company advanced up the hill. "It was bad terrain and the going was hard," Love recalled. The Marines were approaching a tree line when they were hit by heavy enemy rifle and automatic weapons fire. The initial burst killed the point man and wounded another Marine.
Love maneuvered forward to see where the enemy was located when he saw the point man lying in front of a bomb crater. "I didn't know if he was dead or not," said Love. "I decided to go get him." Armed with a pistol, crawled to the crater, dove in and moved to the edge the point man was lying stood up in the crater to .. the fallen Marine and was hit automatic weapons fire that knocked off his helmet and shot the pistol out of his hand. Love crouched down in the hole and decided to make one more attempt to reach the casualty. Aware that the enemy had his position zeroed in, he stood up to make one more effort to pull the point man into the crater. As he stood, a grenade struck him in the shoulder, bounced, and landed next to him. "I looked at the grenade lying there smoking and knew I better to get out of the crater," so I jumped out just before the grenade exploded, said Love.
Rounds Close Enough - Marines Helmet &
PHU~BAI-A Marine doesn’t always have a chance to shave in the field, but one Leatherneck recently had two very close "shaves" during an operation, northeast of Phu Bai. Within five days, PFC William Wright (Newark N..L) had his canteen shot out of his hand and his helmet punctured. Wright's first encounter came leading his squad from (2/3) on an assault against fortified North Vietnamese positions. Wright's squad occupied the right flank of the attack formation.
The Marines advance 400 meters across rice paddies and took cover behind a paddy dike continuing fire. Wright, thirsty from the hot sun and tired from moving in the rice paddies, reached for his canteen. He was drinking when the canteen was hit.
Four days later, his company was involved in a frontal assault against the enemy, The Leathernecks encountered heavy small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire pinning them down within 30 meters of the enemy. Wright maneuvered his squad into position. Returning fire, he felt something hit the side of his helmet. He examined his steel pot and found a neat hole in it.