H/2/7 Vietnam History
In early March 1965 units of the 3rd Marine Division were dispatched to Vietnam, due to the belief by President Lyndon Johnson that the South Vietnamese were in imminent danger of being overtaken by the Viet Cong, the indigenous guerrillas who had the active support of North Vietnam. This belief led to the formation of Battalion Landing Teams (BLT). Hotel Company had first been called back into service in 1964 and was largely made up of Marines fresh out of boot camp and Marines who had served with Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines and had a tour of duty in Okinawa under their belt. Such was the grouping of "old salts" and "boots." The need for more troops became apparent and on 7 July 1965 BLT 2/7, and hence Hotel Company, landed on the beach in the II Corps Tactical Zone at Qui Nhon and relieved the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines who had been in place only seven days.
Upon landing Hotel Company relieved the men of L/3/7 on the south side of Hill 562 facing the Qui Nhon airfield. In?the remaining days of July, Hotel ventured further into hostile territory eventually moving their base of operations from Hill 562 to one closer to the interior. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. Firefights, ambushes and booby traps were all a part of life and although casualties were few at this point, most believed things would get worse. By November the Marines and Corpsman of Hotel were able to establish a sixth sense regarding the enemy?s tactics and reacted accordingly. The Hotel Marines were unable to utilize this new-found wisdom because on 5 November 1965 the Marines and Corpsman of Hotel were loaded aboard ship and sent north to the port of?Chu Lai in the I Corps Tactical Zone.By January 1966 Hotel's ranks were infected with hookworms and ringworms. As a result, they suffered much and were reduced in their effectiveness. In February Hotel participated in OPERATION DOUBLE EAGLE PHASE II. This operation bloodied Hotel substantially. They suffered twelve wounded in a nine day period, nine of those on a single day. However, this was nothing compared to what was about to occur. On 4 March 1966 Hotel, Fox and Golf Companies, along with elements of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines and 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines engaged a large enemy force northwest of the city of Quang Nagi in OPERATION UTAH. Despite determined assaults by the Marines, they failed to break the enemy's defenses. Ammunition ran low and some members of Fox Company utilized discarded Communist AK-47 rifles against their former owners. As darkness drew near the Company's of 2/7 were ordered to disengage and pull back 250 meters to set up a defensive perimeter. North Vietnamese troops pounded the Marines with mortars and an infantry attack. The fierce onslaught was brought to a bloody halt by a heavy concentration of firepower from Hotel Company. Second Battalion, 7th Marines paid a heavy price this day, 43 killed and 104 wounded. In that single days fighting, Hotel suffered 21 dead and at least 31 wounded. After an onslaught of Marine air and artillery the North Vietnamese retreated from the battlefield leaving 150 dead.
Throughout the remainder of Hotel's first year in country the operations continued to mount: OPERATION INDIANA (April), OPERATION NEVADA (May), HOT SPRINGS (May), OPERATION MONTGOMERY (May), OPERATION MOBILE (May), OPERATION FRANKLIN I (June) and OPERATION OAKLAND (June). Marine pacification efforts began in earnest in July of 1966. The combination, pacification/civic action efforts were believed valuable by Marine Corps leadership. Hence, Hotel carried out County Fair and Golden Fleece Operations which had civic action overtones. County Fair operations were designed to break down the infrastructure of the Viet Cong in villages that were located in un-pacified areas. Golden Fleece operations were very successful attempts at protecting peasants during the rice harvest by freeing them from Viet Cong harassment.
Early fall through December 1966 was a time of squad, company and battalion size operations. In some cases the Hotel Marines and Corpsman worked closely with the United States Army and the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam). In December OPERATION SIERRA commenced in the Mo Duc and Duc Pho Districts of Quang Ngai Province. In keeping with their tactical past, operations continued and in January 1967 OPERATION DESOTO began. It lasted until 7 April. In its aftermath came a second major relocation of the battalion.
In mid-April, Hotel and the other elements of the battalion moved 50+ miles north to the Danang TAOR (Tactical Area of Responsibility). Hotel settled into an idyllic setting above an ESSO tank farm overlooking the South China Sea. Old French concrete bunkers were placed near the road, an eerie testament to those who fought before and lost. Aggressive day and night patrols began immediately as did the building of bunkers and the securing of the combat base with concertina wire. Hotel was also given the responsibility of building a compound to house a Marine CAP (Civic Action Platoon) near the village of Kim Lien one kilometer south of the ESSO tank farm on National Route 1. Kim Lien had been a strategic point since the summer of 1966 when it was discovered that the nearby Nam-O River was being used to ferry troops and supplies to the local insurgents. In 1966 a CAP was built near Kim Lien but didn't flourish. The CAP's fate seemed undecided until Hotel was tasked in 1967 with re-building the compound in a slightly different location, but still close to the village of Kim?Lien. By rotating single platoons, Hotel provided the labor to build the CAP defenses. The job was largely completed by the beginning of June and Hotel was tasked with manning the tiny outpost until the assigned CAP Marines arrived. At 0200 on 7 June Hotel's position at the Kim Lien CAP was assaulted by what was believed to be a platoon sized enemy force. Despite being hammered with approximately 10 B-40 Rockets, hand grenades and 700 rounds of small arms fire, the Marines and Corpsman of 1st Platoon Hotel Company held out and bested their attackers in fighting that was, at times, measured in single digit feet.
Hotel's second year in-country with the same monotony with which it had started. Patrols through the insufferable heat of the jungle, on the sides of the Annamite Mountains, patrols along scorching sandy beaches and patrols up Route 1 toward the Hai Van Pass were common. In September the weather began to cool ever so slightly as OPERATION NEW YORK and OPERATION PHOENIX?took place. On 24 October OPERATION KNOX commenced. Ostensibly, this action was designed to engage 800 main and NVA forces in a steep mountains typified by thick vegetation and canopy. It will never be known if 800 enemies were present but late in the day after scaling one very high and slippery mountain, the men of Hotel stepped in to the enemy?s front yard. The ensuing firefight was difficult due to terrain and advantages held by enemy. They were ensconced in bunkers elevated to Hotel's position. Somewhat of a stalemate was reached close to the mountains peak by days end. Hotel assaulted in the early hours of 25 October and was successful, largely due to the enemy retreating and leaving behind only a small number to delay the final push to the top.November and December brought monsoon rains and cold weather but patrols, listening posts and ambushes continued in spite of the elements. Providing convoy security, know as Rough Riders, became a regular event. Small scale patrols were run which occasionally drew sniper fire. Despite the weather, numerous booby trapped grenades and artillery rounds were encountered. Because of the swollen rivers and streams it was a difficult time aggressively engage the enemy.
In early January 1968 Hotel shifted their base camp to Liberty Bridge the crossing point on the Song Thu Bong River. This new assignment moved Hotel into a primarily flat terrain with open rice paddies to the immediate south, east and north. A look to the west revealed Arizona Territory and more rice paddy's that abruptly stopped at the foot of the mountains. If one looked to the far northwest he would see a very inhospitable place called "Charlie Ridge." With the weather warming and the rain subsiding patrols were able to penetrate further but an eerie calm prevailed... Daily sniping by the enemy was a common occurrence and contact had doubled since the fall. It was clear to a few that something was up.
That something was the TET offensive of 1968. On 31 January the VC and NVA attacked with fierceness all across South Vietnam. Hotel on the other hand, had begun to experience the affects of this buildup beginning in mid-month and continuing throughout February 1968. On 4?March the Marines struck back with OPERATION NUTCRACKER followed in April by OPERATION WORTH. WORTH was a multi-battalion operation that netted 167 enemy killed and 21 weapons captured. May brought the most significant operation of the spring, OPERATION ALLEN BROOK. ALLEN BROOK's aim was the prevention of an attack on Danang by the 36th and 38th North Vietnamese Regiments. On and off participation in this operation would continue until its termination in August 1968.
Since March, rumors had been rampant that the entire battalion was to embark on a "float phase". This is a way to give the men time to re-train, re-fit and re-arm. In June the battalion was re-designated BLT 2/7 and embarked for the Philippines. On 1 and 2 July the Marines and Corpsman of Hotel conducted a landing exercise at the Zambales Training Area, Subic Bay. On 4 July Hotel embarked aboard the USS Tripoli and sailed the following day for a return to Vietnam and began service as a sea based?immediate action force to be employed whenever and wherever the need was most. During the period 9-22 July Hotel Company participated in Operation Eager Yankee (an amphibious assault)/Houston IV (a heliborne assault) in Thua Thien Province, east of Phu Bai. On 23 July, 17 hours after concluding its participation in Operation Eager Yankee/Houston IV, Hotel launched an assault in Quang Nam Province and began participation in Operation Swift Play/Allen Brook. Since 24 July the Marines of Hotel had been placed OPCON (Operational Control) to the 27th Marines and had drawn a second stint on Go Noi Island as well as a northerly sweep through the Nui Do and Nui Ui Dap Mountains.
On 12 September Hotel returned to the control of 2/7 and occupied Dai La Pass and on the 15th began OPERATION DODGE CITY AREA. Enemy forces in the Dodge City area (defined as that area between Battalion Headquarters on Hill 55 and Go Noi Island) had been able to build substantial bunkers, fighting holes and trenches. With this advantage the enemy was able to engage at close distance Marine patrols, thereby inflicting maximum casualties. At first light on 15 September Hotel and Fox Company inserted via helicopter into the southern Dodge City area. Their mission was to assist 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines and the 51st ARVN Regiment who were in heavy contact with a sizable enemy force. Hotel swept west and established a night defensive perimeter. On 16 September the sweep continued until physical contact was made with 3/7. Both units moved forward but were soon remanded to an assembly area on Liberty Road. Orders were for 3/7 to be withdrawn to its combat base the morning of the 18th and for 2/7 to be inserted in their place. Once inserted, Hotel and the other elements of 2/7 conducted a sweep east-southeast. The only thing for certain was that the 51st ARVN were in heavy contact north of the battalion AO. At 1830, having encountered a large water barrier, Hotel was ordered to set up a defensive position. Golf Company set up along what was known as Phase Line Tangerine and the other company's including, Hotel and the command group, set up a short distance away. Early on the 19th, with all companies pressing the attack, Echo Company encountered an NVA squad, killing four. Fox Company moved forward to establish out posts (OP's) to 2/7's front. Marines and Corpsman of Fox Company reached a position about 15 meters from a tree line and came under fire from small arms and RPG fire. The enemy was well entrenched with snipers on both flanks. Hotel, Golf and Echo Company's fought to relieve pressure on Fox. This could of been brought to a swift conclusion by the Marines had they been able to employ their air and artillery resources but this was not to be. The problem was controlling the ARVN air support. They continually flew through the airspace causing frequent check fires of mortar and artillery and making coordination of Marine air difficult if not impossible. By late afternoon the ARVN were brought under control and the entire battalion was able to break contact sufficiently so that accurate air and artillery support could be employed.
At first light on the 20th Golf and Hotel Company swept the site of the previous day?s battle. Much in the way of military articles were found including inter-locking trenches and fresh grave sites. Personnel effects of the enemy dead revealed them to be members of the 2nd Battalion, 36th NVA Regiment. The battalion continued to gain a stronghold on the area and had called in napalm and 500 pound bombs on a known bunker complex. Enemy was seen to flee in groups of twenty and thirty. The fleeing NVA were taken under fire but resistance was still strong from the bunker area and nearby tree lines.On 21 September Hotel continued their attack on the bunker area and surrounding tree lines. After disarming and removing numerous booby traps Hotel and Golf Company uncovered an extensive network of fighting holes and bunkers. The latter produced large quantities of food, equipment, weapons and documents, much of which was classified. It was later revealed through prisoner interrogation and document analysis that 2/7 had not only engaged the 2nd Battalion, 36th NVA Regiment but also elements of the 38th NVA Regiment. At dusk Hotel and Golf Company established defensive positions in the enemy defensive complex and the rest of the battalion moved to a new blocking position to the south. On the 22nd Hotel continued to search and destroy the enemy defensive complex and by 1700 they arrived by truck at the Dai La Pass.
October brought new challenges in the form of OPERATION TALLEDEGA CANYON (30 September-5 October), OPERATION MAUI PEAK (6 October-17 October) and OPERATION SABINE DRAW (28 October to 1 November). The going was not easy for Hotel. The weather was again beginning to change and varied between clear with occasional overcast and some scattered showers. The area under investigation was known as Happy Valley-Sherwood Forest, west of Danang and Hotel was once again aligned in our search for the enemy with the ARVN. During this time the men of Hotel and of the BLT re-embarked aboard the USS Tripoli and conducted their operations from this vessel. OPERATION DARING ENDEAVOR (10 November-17 November) was interesting in that the friendly participants included, in addition to BLT 2/7, 1st Squadron, 1st Calvary, US Army, a platoon of South Vietnamese National Police Field Forces (NPFF), a South Vietnamese Provincial Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) and elements of the 2nd Republic of Korea Marines (ROK). The objective of Operation Daring Endeavor was to perform a beach landing (Echo Company) on an area known as Barrier Island and multiple heliborne insertions. The position of this island indicated it might be used as a staging area for attacks on Hoi An and Danang. Considering the number of elements involved in DARING ENDEAVOR it was not a huge tactical success. November rains hampered foot movement, restricted maneuver and interrupted aerial supply. Low-lying areas were prone to flood and there was a corresponding spike in cases of?foot immersion.
The months of May through?17 November proved to very difficult indeed. Hotel sustained too many wounded and dead. The men of Hotel were finding the assignment of BLT very costly. Their mettle was soon to be put to the test in an operation called MEADE RIVER. To understand this operation it is necessary to understand its size. It was the largest encirclement of the war. Participating, under the direction of the 1st Marine Regiment were the following:
? Elements of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalion 1st Marines.
? Elements of 2nd and 3rd Battalion 5th Marines.
? Company's A and C of 1st Battalion 7th Marines.
? BLT 2/7 (Echo, Fox, Golf and Hotel)
? 2nd and 3rd Battalion 26th Marines.
? Numerous battery's from 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalion 11th Marines
? 3rd Platoon, 8" Howitzers and 1st 155 Gun Battery
? Numerous ARVN, GVN, ROKMC, PFF and PRU forces.
Hotel Companies participation in this Operation is certainly significant, but is a small part of a very large battle. Hotel's initial assignment was to, along with the rest of the BLT, land by helicopter in an area south of the Golden Gate Bridge and establish a north-south line with the northern end being a small river and the southern boundary Route 4. BLT 2/7 is to maintain visual contact with 1/7 to its north and 2/26 to the south. The objective is for BLT 2/7 (and others) to attack eastward to a railroad berm running north-south through Dodge City and link up with 3rd Battalion 5th Marines. Hotel's helicopter boarding was staged aboard the USS Tripoli and required 12 helicopters to lift 144 men. The insertion was completed at 1000 hours on 20 November near National Route 1D. Hotel's attack on Objective 8 began at 1630 and they were in immediate heavy contact with an enemy force of unknown size. Fighting was fierce in the largely flat area and Hotel experienced 15 wounded Marines and one killed on the first day of battle. As darkness began to fall the BLT began to withdraw to a cordon along Route 1D. However, Hotel remained in place, formed a company size perimeter and provided security for a downed helicopter whose rotors had?clipped a tree during a medevac mission. On the 22nd Hotel and the other units of BLT 2/7 remained in place as planned. The plan for 23 November called for Lima 3/26 to sweep from the north to a position along National Route 4. Once accomplished, Hotel was to attack from the southwest only after Golf had moved across the river and established a base of fire. L/3/26 began its sweep north at 0750 on the 23rd. Resistance was encountered and the companies advance was slowed. At 1325 Golf 2/7 crossed the river and at 1325 established a base of fire in support of Hotel. Hotel had advanced but the going was tough. They did however advance so far that it was prudent to pull back slightly for the night in order to maintain the integrity of the cordon. On the morning of the 24th the plan was for Golf Company to attack through a tree line to the railroad berm. Hotel was to attack to the southeast through the area where it had encountered heavy contact the day before. Once completed, Hotel was to establish a blocking position on the railroad berm.
Company K, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines was assigned to assist Hotel in their attack of the 24th. At 1530 both companies came under attack from heavy small arms, automatic weapons and M-79 fire 100 meters to their front. This fire emanated from a tree line that concealed enemy bunkers and trenches. Attempts by both companies to outflank the enemy were unsuccessful and at 1830 Hotel and Kilo pulled back. Hotel sustained 7 killed and 31 wounded. Due to their diminished ranks, one platoon from Echo was assigned to Hotel in order to ensure the cordon was maintained. On 25 November the entire force of BLT 2/7 pulled back slowly allowing artillery and air to pound the target area. As the Marines and Corpsman began to distance themselves from the enemy, the larger the ordinance dropped on the target area. The next day (26 November) the Marines and Corpsman of Hotel moved to the railroad berm with no resistance. Hotel remained at this position until 4 December. This was not idle time. Hotel ran patrols throughout the area west of the berm and discovered enemy bodies (whole and pieces) and other accoutrements of war. Two days after completing their assignment in OPERATION MEADE RIVER Hotel was thrown into OPERATION TAYLOR COMMON.
TAYLOR COMMON took place in the vicinity of the An Hoa combat base (Phase I), Go Noi Island (Phase II) and Arizona area (Phase III). Thus the operation had three distinct elements. The operation began on 6 December 1968 with Hotel Company being inserted unopposed at a landing zone (LZ) named LZ Champagne. It would be an understatement to observe that this area was out in the bush. Throughout the month Hotel encountered the enemy and destroyed him. On the last day of the month BLT 2/7 ceased to exist and 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines was finally resurrected. No more ship assignments for the men of Hotel.
January through March 1969 was, if nothing else, different in that the first two months were spent living with 1st Tanks in Danang. At night the Hotel men were dispatched to different areas in this AO and set up night defensive positions with tanks, Ontos (a tracked vehicle with six 106 recoilless rifles mounted on one chassis) and other large caliber hardware. On the evening of 22 February the NVA launched a post-Tet attack. His efforts were confined to rocket, mortar and ground attack at several installations adjacent to the Danang Vital Area and consisted of 25 rounds of 122mm rockets. Also, significant is the enemy?s attack of a remote outpost named Reno. OP Reno was situated atop a mountain (in Charlie Ridge) of 324 meters in height and allowed for a broad view of the valley below, including the Dai La Pass and Hill 327 (2nd Battalion Headquarters). OP Reno received a number of incoming mortars and was literally under siege in the hours after 0220.?Toward the end of February Hotel was relieved of their duty with 1st Tanks and were assigned back to 2/7 and ordered to flush out the VC (Viet Cong) and NVA from the OP Reno and Charlie Ridge areas. Consistent contact was made during this post-Tet period between all companies of the battalion and the NVA/VC. Substantial sighting and firefights occurred on the valley floor between Hill 327 and OP Reno and near the junction of route 542 and 540. On 2 March 1969 a report surfaced that anti-aircraft fire had been observed near OP Reno. Hotel and Fox Companies, along with the 129th PF unit, were dispatched to deal with the situation. Artillery and air strikes preceded the kick-off of the operation. Initial contact was heavy for both companies. A subsequent sweep of the area revealed 32 NVA killed 16 weapons and miscellaneous documents of field gear. In this two day period Hotel sustained seven wounded. Toward the end of March 1969 planning was undertaken for OPERATION OKLAHOMA HILLS.It was clear that the area known as the "rocket belt", a great arc anchored beginning at the Hai Van Pass in the north and ending at Marble Mountain in the south, with Danang in its center, was infected with the enemy. By understanding the minimum and maximum range of the enemy 122mm rockets the division could determine where to patrol. First Marine Division was running up to 500 patrols a day and still the rockets came. The large mountainous region west of Danang , encompassing such well-known areas as Charlie Ridge and Happy Valley had long been suspected as a region that not only harbored enemy troops, but major base camps and infiltration routes, all of which posed clear and present danger to the Danang Vital Area. The area of Charlie Ridge and in northerly companion, Worth Ridge were high, narrow ranges, cut by numerous steep-sided valleys, ravines and gorges and were covered by dense multi-canopied jungle with dense undergrowth. Movement through Happy Valley would be hampered by similar dense undergrowth and razor-sharp 7 to 10 foot elephant grass.
OKLAHOMA HILLS began on the night of 30 March when the Marines of Hotel left Hill 10 and proceeded by foot west toward the mountains. By early morning Hotel and the other companies of the battalion were under the canopy of the jungle without being sighted by the NVA. Events moved smoothly the morning of the 31st. All landing zones were delivered courtesy of the 11th Marines Artillery and navel gunfire. The 2nd Battalion, 51st ARVN Regiment was choppered in to LZ Hawk (three kilometers northeast the Thoung Duc CIDG Camp), and 3rd Battalion, 51st Regiment in to LZ Eagle (three kilometers northwest of the Thoung Duc). The morning of 1 April BLT 3/26, along with a 4.2" mortar battery from 1st Battalion, 13 Marines, arrived at LZ Robin overlooking Happy Valley. By close of day on 1 April, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines and thus Hotel Company had completed the attack from Hill 10 to Hill 502 with 3rd Platoon, Hotel in the lead. They arrived high atop a mountain in Worth Ridge and began construction on what was to become known as Firebase Buckskin. This was necessary due to the fact that any further westward penetration and 2/7 would out distance themselves from there artillery support at FSB Stallion.
At first light on 8 April L/3/7 uncovered the first of what were to be many enemy base camps. Moving into what was later learned to be the Q-79 Dispensary, they engaged 20 North Vietnamese soldiers attempting to flee to the southwest. Meanwhile, elements of 2/7 searched the valley floor north of Worth Ridge. Once completed, the battalion moved toward Hill 745, the suspected base camp of the NVA 31st Regiment. Here Hotel ran platoon sized patrols which led to the engagement of small pockets of tenacious NVA defenders. Through 15 April Hotel and the other companies of 2/7 continued to receive enemy fire contesting their advance. On 19 April 2/7 withdrew to Hill 785 (2 kilometers southwest of FSB Buckskin) and to FSB Buckskin itself, and prepared for helilift back to their point of origin at Hill 10.
In early May Hotel was relocated from Hill 10, 3 kilometers SSE to Hill 41. Through July Hotel continued to run day patrols, night ambushes and listening posts. On 21 August 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines were given the mission of aiding the US Army's 196th Infantry Brigade who were heavily engaged southeast of FSB Ross in an area known as Death Valley1. This area is in the far southwestern reaches of the battalion TAOR and encompasses the flatlands, paddies and foothills of the Que Son Mountains. However, Hotel was left behind at FSB Ross in reserve and was not immediately deployed. By the 22nd Golf Company had advanced to south of Hill 381 and Fox Company was deployed around the 2/7 CP. On the 23rd Company G was ordered to investigate the knoll near the base of Hill 381. Golf Company moved out in 120 degree heat through razor-sharp elephant grass. As they moved forward in heat the NVA hit them. Dead and wounded mounted and all the men from Golf could do was remain low in the elephant grass. Repeated attempts to retrieve their dead only exacerbated the situation. On the 23rd Hotel received orders to prepare for a helilift into an LZ secured by Fox Company. By 1700 Hotel had linked up with Golf and was given the task of retrieving all Golf killed or wounded who might be on the knoll. Golf Marines led Hotel's 3rd platoon to the place on the knoll that they bodies lay. Upon seeing the Hotel Marines, the NVA threw chi-com grenades wounding at least one. Golf Company provided an all too close base of fire for the Marines of Hotel but it was to no avail. Hotel could not reach the Golf casualties and thus pulled back. Golf and Hotel set up for the night along the terraced paddy dikes below the knoll.
Daylight on the 24th Hotel 3/11 Artillery un-leased their 155mm artillery shells from FSB Ross after which F-4 Phantoms and Cobra helicopters topped off the preparation for another assault of the knoll. Golf Company assaulted to the area of their previous battle losses and found the bodies of three of their brethren. Third Platoon Hotel?assaulted the knoll from a different angle than Golf and quickly advanced to the crest without sustaining any casualties other than those who passed out from the noonday heat.
With the nondescript knoll secured, Hotel and Golf got back to the original mission; move west and relieve the pressure on the Army. First and third platoons began advancing on the southern slope of Hill 381only after preparatory fire was halted. Eventually the two platoons exited what was left of the elephant grass into a rice paddy area. Halfway into the paddy the NVA unleashed a fusillade of fire that included, AK-47's, RPG's, RPD's and mortars. Third Platoon's M-60 gunner was shot dead and the balance of the platoon, some wounded, took refuge behind a boulder. The NVA were firing from high ground ahead and from a tree line on the left flank. Second Platoon sprung into action by?moving forward to aid their comrades. Third Platoon called in F-4 Phantom aircraft and they laid down napalm, 250 and 500 pound bombs within 75 meters of their position. The seemingly undaunted NVA fired at the F-4's as they screamed by. As dusk began to fall on 25 August, 3rd Platoon and 1st Platoon were able to pull back to the CP and 2nd Platoon. They had left five dead in the field and one missing. During the night they hiked back to the knoll where it had all started that morning. In the early hours of the 26 November, 3rd Platoon asked for, and received, permission to retrieve their dead and search for their missing Marine. Both were accomplished without incident.
During September 1969?high heat, high humidity and rough terrain continued to take its toll on Hotel Company. From FSB Ross, Hotel ran their day and night patrols killing and wounding numerous enemy. Heavy rains marked the month of October thus decreasing Hotel's mobility and maneuverability. Patrols were lucrative in the area west and south of FSB Ross and in Antenna Valley. In November, Hotel's?assigned mission is the securing the Rockcrusher area and Route 535. The weather turned back to hot with little rain. Hotel Company was in the field almost constantly during this time and moved daily through the highly contested area. December 1969 brought an increase in enemy sightings and between 22 and 31 December Hotel conducted an un-named operation that nets substantial enemy killed, wounded and captured.
The new year of 1970 finds Hotel patrolling the flatlands and foothills adjacent to FSB Baldy only a few kilometers from the eastern reaches of the Que Son Mountains. On 27 January Hotel is relieved of their current duties and is helilifted to Cau Ha Combat Base, and what is to be an extended operation in the Que Son Mountains. More specifically they're going to fight NVA in the Pagoda Valley and Phu Loc Valley. This operation continues unabated until 27 February 1969. They have killed plenty of NVA in some of the countries toughest terrain. March brings out the NVA snipers and these guys are very, very good. One is skillful from 900 meters. There is a noted increase in booby traps, caves found, tunnels located and grenades thrown into the Marines night defensive position (NDP). Hotel is deployed to the field and on the move daily in search of the enemy in the Que Son valley.? In mid-April the battalion shifted its emphasis to pacification. Golf and Hotel Companies are assigned VC controlled target villages. It is believed that a continuing Marine presence will give the peasants hope and the desire to relocate to an area not in VC/NVA control. It works. Not only did the VC resist the Marine effort, they lost a sizeable number of soldiers in the process. Over 400 refugees were relocated by Golf and Hotel to safer havens away from the VC.
Hotel's five year anniversary in July is marked by a helilift into the Que Son Mountains on 5 July. On the 13th Hotel wounded one VC who retreated to a cave. This eventually led to the capture of 20 POW's and the killing of 8 VC. Three individual weapons and one USMC PRC-25 Radio were retrieved. Noteworthy in the month of August is an increase in mines and booby traps used both as delaying tactics and harassment. From 1-24 August the Company participated in OPERATION PICKENS FOREST. Hotel killed several NVA and captured numerous weapons. On 21 August Hotel and Golf Companies conducted a night attack, killing 1 NVA and locating 12 bunkers. On the 24 the battalion relocated to LZ Vulture to work the Happy Valley Area. From 31 August to 30 September the battalion participated in OPERATION IMPERIAL LAKE. All four rifle companies were inserted into the Que Son Mountains by helicopter. Between 5 and 11 September the companies were deployed to surround elements of the 3rd NVA Headquarters, approximately 30-50 enemies.?The NVA occupied the high ground and due to the extremely steep slopes were able to snipe the Marines at will. Accurate sniper fire killed one Hotel Marine and one was killed by a booby trap.
On 1 October Hotel was located at the battalion cantonment at LZ Baldy. The next day Hotel was relocated to the 9th Engineer Battalion cantonment in Danang and placed OPCON to the 1st Marine Division. It was on this day that Hotel Company commenced stand down. On 12 October 1970 the battalion closed its Command Post at Danang, RVN and embarked aboard U.S. Naval vessels for relocation to Camp Pendleton, California. Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines was reduced to zero strength 10 November 1970, the 195th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.2, 3
1 Death Valley information condensed from Death Valley, The Summer Offensive I Corps, August 1969 by Keith William Nolan. Copyright ? 1987 by Keith William Nolan. Published by Presidio Press.
2 Text and information for this web page is credited to A Brief History of the 7th Marines, by James S. Santelli, History and Museums Division Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps Washington, D.C., 1980.
3 Text and information for the is web page is credited to the series U. S. Marines in Vietnam, 1965 thru 1971 authored by Jack Shulimson, Major Charles M. Johnson, USMC, Major Gary L. Telfer, USMC, Lieutenant Colonel Lane Rogers, USMC, V. Keith Fleming, Lieutenant Colonel Leonard A. Blasiol, USMC, Charles R. Smith, Captain David A. Dowd, USMC, Graham A. Cosmas and Lieutenant Colonel Terrance P. Murray, USMC. Published by History and Museums Division Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps Washington, D.C. 1978 through 1986.
Posted by Stephen Cone
Apr 29 2004 07:12:35:000PM