The Battle of Dai Do
~Dedicated to the brave, young Marines of the
3rd Marine Division, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, Golf Company~
In May of 1968, the North Vietnamese launched what has been called their "Tet II" or"Mini Tet" offensive, striking 119 provincial and district capitals, military installations, and major cities including Saigon. Unlike Tet I, which was primarily a Viet Cong uprising, Tet II was almost entirely an NVA affair.
Most of the attacks were limited to mortar and rocket fire, but a major battle developed along the DMZ as the NVA attempted to do what they failed to do at Khe Sanh-- open an invasion corridor into the South. The first step was to crack the US 3rd Marine Division defenses by overrunning the Marine combat base at Dong Ha.
The battle began on April 30, with the ambush of a US Navy utility boat by elements of the 320th NVA Division at the junction of the Bo Dieu and Cua Viet rivers. These rivers were vital logistics links for US Marine forces deployed along the DMZ. From the Gulf of Tonkin, supplies flowed up the Cua Viet to its junction with the Bo Dieu to the Marine outposts at Khe Sanh, Camp Carroll, the Rockpile, and to numerous fire support bases, including Con Thien.
Since Battalion Landing Team 2/4 was in the area, it was ordered to eliminate the threat to the crucial waterway. Nicknamed the "Magnificent Bastards," the battalion was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Weise. At the abandoned villages of Dong Huan and Dai Do on the bank of the Bo Dieu, the Marines ran into heavy enemy fire. Reinforced by B company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, and supported by the boats of a Navy Assault Group, Weise launched an attack to clear the area.
Faced by 48th and 52nd Regiments of the 320th NVA Division, Weise was heavily outnumbered and forced to fall back to defensive positions north of the river. But he had stopped the enemy attack, and the NVA reinforcements were turned back by the "Gimlets" of the Army's 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, who occupied blocking positions at Nhi Ha to the northeast. On May 3, the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment joined the battle, only to find out the NVA had fled.
The NVA attempt to open an invasion corridor into South Vietnam had failed. The "Magnificent Bastards" and the "Gimlets" had saved the day, for if they had failed, the NVA would have been free to overrun the major supply bases at Dong Ha and Quang Tri, and the entire DMZ defenses would have been undermined. However, the cost had been high. The Marines suffered 81 casualties and another 297 seriously wounded, while Army forces at Nhi Ha sustained 29 deaths and 130 wounded. But the enemy suffered even greater losses-- not only did the NVA fail to achieve their objective, they also left 1,568 bodies on the battlefield.
The invasion of South Vietnam called for in Phase III of the General Offensive/ General Uprising had been forestalled. It was four years before the NVA tried again with its Eastertide Offensive in 1972, and seven years before it succeeded with its 1975 Spring Offensive.
(Submitted by Jim Pierce, from the "Historical Atlas Of The Vietnam War")
Note: My dear friend, Jim Pierce, has put together a wonderful tribute to his Uncle Richard Abshire, and the Marines of G/2/4 who were killed at the Battle of Dai Do. Please check it out, and say a few kind words in your heart for these Marines who sacrificed so much.~DR
By Keith William Nolan
"Throughout 1968, US Marine Corps units patrolled to the edge of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and manned combat outposts stretching from the Laotian border to the South China Sea in an effort to seal the demarcation line and prevent the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) from infiltrating large units into the South.
"As part of the post-TET American counteroffensive, the 3rd Marine Division was preparing to attack NVA units staging along the DMZ when, on April 29, the 320th NVA Division was spotted less than four miles from the Marine's Dong Ha Combat Base. Brutal fighting soon developed in nearby Dai Do as the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, know as the "Magnificent Bastards," struggled to eject NVA forces from this stragic hamlet located just two miles from the Division's headquarters and main supply base.
"Aided by the "Gimlets" of the US Army Americal Divison's 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, who became embroiled in a bitter battle at neighboring Nhi Ha, the "Magnificent Bastards" held their ground in a seesaw contest with the larger NVA force until they were relieved by the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, on May 3."(From the cover of "The Magnificent Bastards," published by Presidio Press, 1994).
Jim Pierce's Tribute to his Uncle Abshire
In Memory of Vicente Aguilar, Jr.
2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, Golf Company
Memories of Dai Do
~By BrigGen William Weise~
An Amtracers View Of The Battle Of Dai Do
~By Amgrunt -Thomas P. Williams~
Memories of Dai Do Echo 2/4
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