Abandonment of Hiep Duc information
MAG-16 was a US Marine Corps unit
For date 651118
VMO-6 was a US Marine Corps unit
MAG-36 was a US Marine Corps unit
Primary service involved, US Marine Corps
Incident reference: 65111818.KIA This information is available on CD-ROM.
Quang Tin Province, I Corps, South Vietnam
Location, Hiep Duc
Description: The official USMC history starts that after reports of the attack on Hiep Duc reached Da Nang, Marine Phantoms and Skyhawks arrived over Hiep Duc and conducted strikes. At the same time, MAG-16 and MAG-36 prepared to lift two ARVN battalions into the area. COL O'Connor, the MAG-16 CO, and LTC Zitnik, the CO of VMO-6, made an early morning reconnaissance flight to look the area over and select the LZ. O'Connor recalls: 'The area was ominously quiet. We didn't see a living soul. There was much evidence of the fight the day before. The typical triangular shaped French fortification in the village had been penetrated in several places. There were several corpses hanging on barbed wire around a few of the outposts across the Song Thu Bon.' The ARVN commander selected a small hill about 80 meters high and about 700 meters from the village as the LZ because they believed all the open areas would be ambushed. The lift was organized from Tam Ky. The LZ was a small, two ship area on the western end of a ridgeline that contained some peaks over 200 meters high. Unknown to the allies, the VC had emplaced 12.7mm machine gun positions for the NVA 195th AA Battalion on the high hills which dominated the LZ.
The enemy gunners allowed the first two helicopters to land and then opened fire on the following waves. COL O’Connor stated: ‘The enemy were actually firing down on the landing helicopter and several were hit. It soon became obvious that we had to knock out those guns on the peak or suffer unacceptable helicopter losses. I stopped the helicopter flights, and directed them to circle their positions about 3 miles each of the hill. Then, A-4’s and F-4’s began a thorough neutralization of the gun positions under control of some Army light fixed-wing aircraft. We took the risk of stropping the lift because we had less than a company in the zone. Enemy ground movement was observed after the first helicopter landed as the enemy displaced from their original positions around the open areas and moved into the village toward the LZ.’ VMO-6 gunships and USMC jets struck the enemy as they moved.
After the 20-minute halt, the insert resumed. Although the VC ground forces were converging on the LZ, the Marines were able to land a superior force without further opposition. For this operation, the Marines had employed 30 UH-34s, 17 were hit, and 3 badly damaged. One Marine crewman was KIA and three others WIA.
The relief force had its work cut out for it, but with Marine close air support and determined fighting, the ARVN gained the advantage. By the end of the 19th, the ARVNs reoccupied Hiep Duc but the 1st VC Regt still controlled the critical terrain to the northwest. The two ARVN battalion killed 141 VC and captured 87 weapons while suffering 33 KIA and 73 WIA. The American advisor with the ARVN estimated the Marine air support had accounted for another 300 VC KIA.
While I Corps was decided to regarrison Hiep Duc, the NVA attacked the outpost at Thach Tru and the ARVN command had no chose but to pull the two battalion from Hiep Duc and thus abandon the district capital.
The source for this information was USMC 65 P. 98
Additional information is available on CD-ROM.
Please send additions or corrections to: Gary Roush Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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