|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
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.
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)