These bomb-scarred hills are located on the eastern side of
Khe Sanh. This photo was shot from a hill (located about two miles from Khe Sanh) where a five-hour firefight left three Marines dead and 21 wounded on June 24, 1969. Nearly 40 NVA soldiers died on the perimeter of the hill.


In early June 1969, 3/9 embarked on an arduous operation in the Da Krong Valley south of Vandegrift and just east of Khe Sanh, site of the infamous siege barely a year before. That siege was part of the Tet Offensive of 1968 that successfully inflicted horrendous losses on the NVA and all but wiped out Viet Cong activity in the I Corps. For the most part, the I Corps -- except for the Ashau Valley -- was relatively quiet for the latter part of 1968 and first half of 1969 while the NVA rebuilt their forces.

By the summer of 1969, however, the NVA again began infiltrating the northern provinces in sufficient numbers to be a significant pain in the butt. Running ambushes, night-time firefights and increased rocket attacks
on installations were stepped up by the NVA.

In the third week of June, 1/9 (earmarked to be one of the first units to be pulled out of the Nam as part of Nixon's Vietnamization policy) suffered significant losses in a series of night battles. Because the "Walking Dead"
was about to be pulled out, and because we were just a couple of miles away, 3/9 was sent in to relieve 1/9 near Khe Sanh.

While being choppered into a small hill located less than two miles from Khe Sanh (see photo) one could not help but be impressed by the lunar type landscape caused by the bombs dropped during the siege. The jungle and
elephant grass had not yet had time to heal the scarred hills.

We knew that relieving the "Walking Dead" could not be a good thing. And, so, after already having been in the bush for more three straight weeks, we joined Operation Utah Mesa. (Please see Photo No. 21)




 Photos 19--27