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In 1968 soldiers of the United States Marines successfully defended Khe Sanh, repelling the North Vietnamese attempt to seize the base. But the North Vietnamese ultimately erected a monument symbolizing, ironically, its victory, when, weeks later American forces were withdrawn from the area.
Capt. Breeding and his men defended Hill 861A against attack between February 4 and 5, 1968. Breeding described the combat environment: " When Charlie got inside the wire it was just like a World War II movie with...knife fighting, bayonet fighting, hitting people on the nose with your fist and all the rest of that..." Seven Marines died in the battle; 35 were seriously wounded.
Lt. Brindley led his platoon in an assault on entrenched North Vietnamese troops during the Battle of Hill 881 between January 18-20, 1968. Brindley was one of two platoon commanders who were shot and killed during the assault. (Lt. M.H. Thomas was the other platoon leader killed; see below). He was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.
On January 2, 1968, Lt. Buffington led a group of Marines that confronted a North Vietnamese scouting party of six outside the Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB). Buffington's men shot five members of this enemy team; one soldier apparently escaped. It has been reported in official Marine records as well as personal reminiscences that the dead members of the North Vietnamese search party included a regimental commander and some of his staff. This event was, to some extent, a wake-up call, for the soldiers at the KSCB.
"A war like the war in Viet Nam is as much a political war as it was a military one.
We won the military one, and lost the political one.
And because we lost the political one, we lost the whole war."
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (john boy) in a message posted to the newsgroup soc.history.war.vietnam on August 16, 1996.
Camp, R.D., Pitcher
Lima Company Commander (3rd Battalion, 26th Marines)
Richard Camp wrote a book, Lima-6, about his experience commanding a Marine infantry company in Khe Sanh. In the introduction to the book, retired Marine Corps General R.G. Davis writes that Camp's book "portrays times in the Vietnam War at their lowest ebb. Instead of attacking the enemy we were on the defensive..." Earlier in his Introduction, General Davis blames the "eventual disaster" that was Vietnam on a too slow build-up of forces. He was there, he might be right. After a brief stint as a battalion assistant operations officer, Camp served as an aide to Davis. After Vietnam, Camp moved up the ranks in the Marine Corps, eventually retiring, after 26 years of service, as a colonel in July, 1988.
January 21,1968 was a particularly active day of enemy artillery fire on the Khe Sanh Combat Base. The base was being pelted by 82mm mortar rounds and 122mm rockets. An ammunitions supply and fuel storage area were set ablaze. Nine Marines were killed, 37 were wounded. Major Campbell bravely went about the base collecting enemy artillery fragments which were then analyzed. The fragment analysis was used to develop an effective counter-battery barrage to help silence the enemy.
Promoted to Major in November, 1967 after commanding India Company (3/26th) at Khe Sanh, Caulfield was from New York City. Of Khe Sanh, Caulfield has said: "In the last analysis, Khe Sanh was defended because it was the only logical thing to do. We were there, in a prepared position and in considerable strength. A well-fought battle would do the enemy a lot more damage than he could hope to inflict on us." By 1989, Caulfield was a Major General in the Marine Corps.
From: email@example.com (John R. Tegtmeier), Co B, 3/21, 196th LIB and Aeroscout Company, 123rd Aviation Battalion Americal - 1967/1968 --- VWAR #190 CWL #123 in a message to the newsgroup soc.history.war.vietnam on August 16, 1996.
Capt. Bill Dabney, a fearless leader of men during the siege of Khe Sanh is described by his colleague, Capt. Camp (see above) as "a big, naturally taciturn man, a Naval Academy dropout and Virginia Military Institute graduate who had served an enlisted tour in which he made sergeant. A superb leader of enormous personal stature, Bill's standing in the Marine corps was considerably enhanced by his marriage to the elder daughter of the Marine Corps' legendary beau ideal, Chesty Puller."
Lt. Dillon was commander of the Bravo Company 2nd platoon (1/26) on March 30, 1968, when Bravo Company avenged an enemy attack of February 25. One of the objectives was to capture an enemy trench. It took Dillon's platoon just 13 minutes to secure the trench.
During the enemy artillery barrage of January 21, 1968, Lt. Eberhardt assisted by his supply chief removed almost 100 "dud" shells from the base compound. According to an official Marine account: "For three hours, these Marines carried out between 75 and 100 duds and disposed of them, knowing that any second one might explode."
During the battle for Hill 881N on January 20, 1968, Lt. Foley assumed command of India Company's third platoon after Lt. Brindley (see above) was killed in action.
-- Peter Brush in a reply message to the soc.history.war.vietnam newsgroup, August 1996.
On January 19, 1968 Lt. Fromme engaged the enemy near Hill 881N in a mission to recover important documents and equipment left behind from an earlier engagement. Fromme's 1st platoon came under enemy fire during the mission. According to accounts Fromme "deployed his men and moved among their positions encouraging them." He was awarded the Bronze Star for his valor. On the next day, Fromme led his platoon during another engagement with the enemy.
John Gilece commanded Mike company during the battle for Hill 881. On January 20, 1968, Gilece's company was heli-lifted to the engagement area and manned the perimeter of Hill 881S while Bill Dabney's (see above) India Company moved northward towards Hill 881N to seek out and attack the enemy.
On January 16, 1968, Colonel Francis Heath's 2nd Battalion arrived at the Khe Sanh Combat Base and joined the 1st and 3rd Battalions. For the first time since Iwo Jima the three battalions of the 26th Regiment were operating together.
-- John Prados & Ray W. Stubbe, Valley of Decision: The Siege of Khe Sanh. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston, MA.; 1991.
Colonel John Hennelly commanded the Marine artillery battalion (1/13) assigned to Khe Sanh. Given the tactical importance of artillery fire power during the siege of Khe Sanh, Hennelly's guns were a critical factor in the defense of the Base.
From June to August 1967, Colonel Kurt Hoch, described as an "older, balding, heavyset man" commanded the 3rd Battalion at Khe Sanh.
Capt. Norman Jasper was the Kilo Company commander during the Battle for Hill 861. Kilo Company was defending the hill outpost on January 20, 1968.
-- Vietnam 10 Years Later: What Have We Learned?: Remarks of Lawrence W. Lichty
Lanigan, J.P., Pitcher
Regimental Commander, 3rd Marines
Col. John Lanigan was the regimental commander of the 3rd Marines during the 1967 "Hill Battles". On May 13, 1967responsibility for the Khe Sanh area was transferred to Col. John Padley (see below) and the 26th Marines.
Col. David Lownds became the regimental commander of the 26th Marines on August 27, 1967, replacing Col. John Padley. Khe Sanh was Col. Lownds' first Vietnam assignment and he remained in command of the 26th Marines through the siege. His command of the 26th Marines ended on April 15, 1968. On May 23, 1968, Col. Lownds was in Washington, D.C. to receive a Presidential Unit Citation from President Lyndon Johnson on behalf of the 26th Marines.
A member of Capt. Dabney's India Company which defended Hill 881S, Lt. Owen Matthews played the bugle at the defiant flag ceremonies conducted on the Hill during the siege of Khe Sanh.
On February 25, 1968 a platoon from Capt. Ken Pipes' Bravo Company on a mission to locate an enemy mortar position was ambushed and some 26 Marines were killed. This ambush was avenged by Capt. Pipes on March 30 when Bravo Company launched a "classic raid" and killed 115 enemy soldiers. Pipes was wounded during the fight and was awarded the Silver Star. Nine Marines were killed in action during the assault.
Historian Eric Bergerud
Capt. Henry Radcliffe led Alpha Company during the battle for Hill 64 on February 8, 1968. Leading a frontal assault on the enemy, Radcliffe drove the enemy from the Hill outpost in 15 minutes.
Capt. Bob Richards flew one of the helicopters that helped evacuate survivors of the Fall of Lang Vei on February 6, 1968. It has been reported that his helicopter was so overloaded that he was unable to gain the necessary altitude and so he flew at tree-top altitude back to the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
On February 8, 1968 an attack by North Vietnamese troops from the 101D Regiment of the 325C Division occurred around 4:45 am. The enemy was assaulting a Marine outpost on Hill 64 defended by a platoon from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. This platoon was led by Lt. Roach. The North Vietnamese troops quickly overran the northeast sector of the outpost. What followed is described in Valley of Decision by Prados and Stubbe: " Roach raced across the top of the hill and tried to organize his men, providing cover fire for surviving Marines who were wounded or trapped. Two or three squads of NVA [North Vietnamese Army] soldiers were already in the trenches...One North Vietnamese leaped up and shot Roach..." By 9 am a relief platoon from Alpha Company mounted a counterattack and repelled the enemy within 15 minutes. 21 Marines were killed on Hill 64, including Lt. Roach who was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously.
Along with Lt. Brindley (see above), Lt. Michael H. Thomas was killed in action during the battle of Hill 881 in January 1968. Thomas has been described as a skillful and brave leader who inspired other men to be courageous. Because of the leadership of men like Thomas, the Marines were able to crack the enemy's defenses on the Hill outposts. But the cost was high. Thomas was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.
Lt. Col. Bill White was one of three Marine helicopter pilots who designed an airborne delivery system of needed supplies to the soldiers at Khe Sanh. Making use of helicopters, the so-called "super gaggle" tactic accounted for the delivery of over four thousand tons of freight during the siege. In their history of the siege of Khe Sanh, authors John Prados and Ray Stubbe write: "Helicopters were an indispensable component of the team that won the battle of Khe Sanh."
-- From: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 22 Aug 1996 08:26:53 -0400
As battalion commander when a patrol was ambushed on February 25, 1968, Lt. Col. Jim Wilkinson took responsibility for the losses (26 Marines killed or missing in action). Wilkinson decided not to send another unit after the ambushed patrol. His decision was questioned, but it is reported that years later, he still believed he did the right thing. Wilkinson had commanded the 1st Battalion for over eight months and by mid-March he was replaced. Later, he became the executive officer for the 4th Marine Regiment.
--General Earl Wheeler on March 27, 1968.
Wheeler made these comments to the 583rd Meeting of the National Security Council. (Source document declassified July 8, 1980)
General Cushman assumed command of III MAF on July 1, 1967. He was, in effect, the senior Marine officer in Vietnam. Prior to his service in Vietnam, General Cushman had a very distinguished career in the Marine Corps. From February 1957 through January 1961, he was the National Security Advisor to the Vice President, Richard M. Nixon. His disagreement with General Westmoreland over military strategy in Vietnam has been documented elsewhere. After Vietnam, General Cushman became a Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Colonel John Padley assumed command of the 26th Marine Regiment on May 13, 1967. Padley had joined the Marines in February 1941 and was the Executive Officer for the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines during Iwo Jima. Padley's command of the regiment ended August 14, 1967, after the Khe Sanh "Hill Battles".
General Bruno Hochmuth was commander of the 3rd Marine Division in 1967. As such he was responsible for the Khe Sanh and DMZ areas in Vietnam. On November 14, 1967, the UH-1E helicopter General Hochmuth was flying in exploded, killing all aboard.
General Lewis Walt basically disagreed with General Westmoreland's plans for defending the Khe Sanh area. A native of Kansas, General Walt was a highly decorated Marine having been awarded 2 Navy Crosses and a Silver Star during World War II. His command of III MAF ended June 1, 1967 when General Cushman (see above) became III MAF's commander.
A member of the indigenous Bru (whom the French called Montagnards), Anha was Eugene Poilane's illegitimate son and Felix Poilane's half-brother. Anha became the Deputy Chief of the Huong Hoa district and lived in the Ta Cong district. A commentator has provided the following description of Anha: " He is what I expected, an active personality, leader of a struggling people. Wore a white shirt with black jeans, shower shoes, and wearing a steel pot on his head, a flak vest with ammo magazines in its pockets."
Born in France in 1888, Monsieur Poilane first arrived in Vietnam in 1909. In 1926 he started the first coffee plantation in the Khe Sanh area.
Unofficial estimates place the American casualty figures at 1,000 dead and 4,500 wounded. Estimates of enemy casualties span the range from 10,000 to 20,000 killed in action.
PITCHER ERA IP R ER BB K W L Capt. Camp 3.10 206 79 71 92 133 15 7 Major Campbell 3.73 186 90 77 84 124 12 10 Major Caulfield 3.80 187 96 79 61 120 10 15 Lt. Col. Heath 3.37 211 90 79 49 125 10 13 Lt. Col. Hennelly . 3.22 207 86 74 67 118 14 8 Capt. Jasper 3.95 98 47 43 35 47 7 8 Col. Lanigan 4.40 90 46 44 37 50 1 6 Capt. Pipes 3.60 90 39 36 35 59 3 6 Lt. Col. White 3.11 107 47 37 35 53 3 6 Lt. Col. Wilkinson 3.90 97 47 42 30 52 5 3 Total Pitching 3.54 1479 667 582 525 881 80 82BATTER POS BA AB H HR RBI Capt. Breeding 2B 0.246 411 101 18 60 Lt. Brindley 3B 0.209 412 86 4 24 Lt. Buffington CF 0.237 393 93 12 42 Capt. Dabney RF 0.231 376 87 8 34 Lt. Dillon 1B 0.247 373 92 12 40 Lt. Everhart SS 0.255 365 93 15 50 Lt. Foley IF 0.253 359 91 16 57 Lt. Fromme IF 0.270 571 154 5 43 Capt. Gilece C 0.283 583 165 0 46 Lt. Col. Hoch OF 0.326 298 97 0 24 Col. Lownds RF 0.250 280 70 8 37 Lt. Matthews OF 0.258 275 71 1 28 Capt. Radcliffe LF 0.273 271 74 3 33 Capt. Richards IF 0.207 251 52 4 22 Lt. Roach OF 0.214 252 54 12 41 Lt. Thomas C 0.236 242 57 15 38 Total Batting 0.252 5712 1437 133 619
Update Note: Two original Commanders are in line for promotion to the Overleague next season (1997). Col. Lownds and Capt. Camp were selected by the Warriors during the August Reactivation Draft.
Vice President Richard Nixon, at the dedication of the United States Marine Memorial ("Iwo Jima Memorial"), November 10, 1954.
The 26th Marine Regiment's first battle was at Iwo Jima during World War II. Created in January 1944, the new regiment arrived in Iwo Jima in February, under the command of Col. Chester B. Graham. In fact it was a group of soldiers from the 26th that first raised the flag on Iwo Jima. At 10:20 a.m. on February 23, 1944 five soldiers from the 3rd Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines raised the U.S. flag atop Mt. Suribachi. On March 5, 1946 the 26th Regiment was disbanded. The regiment was reactivated on March 1, 1966 under the command of Col. John J. Padley. Elements of the 26th arrived in Danang, Vietnam in August of that same year.
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