3rd Campaign 

 

Revision Date:  03//21/02

 

During this time period the 2/94th took part in TET Counteroffensive

(01-30-68 to 04-01-68)

 

Partial Description of TET Counteroffensive

 

On 29 January 1968, the Allies began the Tet-lunar New Year expecting the usual 36-hour peaceful holiday truce. Because of the threat of a large-scale attack and communist buildup around Khe Sanh, the cease-fire order was issued in all areas over which the Allies were responsible with the exception of the I CTZ, south of the Demilitarized Zone.

Heavy fighting also occurred in two remote regions: around the Special Forces camp at Dak To in the central highlands and around the U.S. Marines Corps base at Khe Sanh. In both areas, the allies defeated attempts to dislodge them. Finally, with the arrival of more U.S. Army troops under the new XXIV Corps headquarters to reinforce the marines in the northern province, Khe Sanh was abandoned.

 

Tet proved a major military defeat for the communists. It had failed to spawn either an uprising or appreciable support among the South Vietnamese. On the other hand, the U.S. public became discouraged and support for the war was seriously eroded. U.S. strength in South Vietnam totaled more than 500,000 by early 1968. In addition, there were 61,000 other allied troops and 600,000 South Vietnamese. (End of partial description.)

 

On 30 January 1968, elements of the 320th closed down Highway 9, which led to Dong Ha and out West to Khe Sanh.  Camp Carroll, now isolated, started receiving incoming fire from the NVA firing batteries.

 

On 30 January 1968, Colonel Rizza, Director of Gunnery Department, USAAMS, Fort Sill Oklahoma visited the Battalion.  

 

The next morning, a B52 strike was ordered against the 320th to the North and the North West.  In addition fighter aircraft and the C130 gun ships (Puff) were called in to strike in the same general areas. 

 

During the B52 strike the NVA started shelling Camp Carroll and the men who told not be in their bunkers for fear of collapse during the B52 strike, did indeed use their bunkers.

 

Also during this time heavy spraying of the defoliant Agent Orange was used around Carroll and the perimeter. Unknown to the Marines and Army personnel this was an enemy they could not see or fight no matter how much bravery was shown. (See note at end of history.)

 

Account from a Marine that was part of the Marine contingent on Carroll during TET:  I was with E Company 2nd Battalion 9th Marines. In order to drive the NVA away from the Carroll perimeter and out of the valley our company moved down into the valley below the day after TET began (Feb 1st or Feb 2nd).  Intense fighting took place that day near Highway 9 and on Mike’s hill west of Cam Lo near the bridge and creek.  There was a squad that had been assigned to the CAC unit at Cam Lo the night before TET broke out that was hit pretty hard. Casualties were sent back to Camp Carroll or Dong Ha depending on severity of their wounds. (End of account)

 

Note from Chronicler:

The 2/94th artillerymen on Carroll can never express in words the witnessed bravery shown, dedication to duty and each other the perimeter Marines at Carroll exemplified.  With men such as these on our perimeter the hill was always secure.  They did battle in the valley and the hills to keep the enemy away from the big guns.   To borrow the slogan of the 108th they did indeed perform, "Deeds Above Words".  

 

The NVA 320th also had two 81mm antiaircraft gun emplacements to the North of Carroll.

 

On 5 February 1968, Captain Durkin; C Battery Commander, and Sergeant First Class Jones; acting First Sergeant, were injured by incoming artillery and Medevac'd.  Enemy artillery hit the C Battery command post wounding the above personnel.

 

On 5 February 1968, Captain William Trinidad Dominguez assumed command of C Battery and Sergeant First Class Goodner was re-assigned from Service Battery to C Battery as the Chief of Firing Battery.

 

On 5 February 1968, incoming artillery at the Rockpile killed Private First Class James Allen Lowery; A Battery, from Port Orford, Oregon.

 

On 7 February 1968, three new M107 175mm SP guns were received to replace C Battery Guns 1, 3, and 4.

 

On 19 February 1968, Specialist Douglas Williams from Salt Lake City, Utah, B Battery was killed in a heavy artillery and rocket attack on Camp Carroll. 

 

On 19 February 1968, during the same heavy artillery attack Headquarters Battery received two KIA’s: Private First Class Kenneth Hornbaker from Mercersburg, Pennsylvania and Specialist Arkie Wright from Williamsburg, Ohio, and one serious WIA. Note from Chronicler: It is thought the chronicler remembered the WIA’s last name was DeCosta. He had severe head wounds and later wrote back that he was recovering from those wounds.) 

 

 

On 19 February 1968, Captain William Trinidad Dominguez and Lieutenant David Sandeen were injured by incoming artillery and med-evaced.  In addition one-quarter ton truck was destroyed. Captain John Cooley assumed command of C Battery.  Lieutenant Robert Delap, Fire Direction Officer, assumed the position of Executive Officer of C Battery.

 

On 23 February 1968, in the early morning, Gun #1, A Battery at the Rockpile, exploded during a fire mission.  The gun was completely destroyed, but none of the crew was injured.  Four Marines were reported injured by shrapnel over three hundred meters away. A Battery was coming under constant harassing fire from the enemy.

 

Account from Sergeant Wayne Wells;  A Battery, Gun #2, Section Chief:  My gun was the next gun over from the one that blew up. The section chief of the blown up gun had loaded a round with the rotating band cover on it and it was jammed. He then put his rammer together with his bell rammer and tried to knock the round out. The rammer broke off in the barrel. He now had the rotating band cover on the projectile and the bell rammer on the front of the projectile.

 

What a mess!  He came over to my gun and told me he was going to try and shoot it out using Charge Two. He had so much stuff in the gun it would not take all three charges. I told him he was crazy. FDC advised him to shut the gun down and void his mission.  I then heard him announce that he was going to shoot it.

 

I told my section to get in the hole because this nut was going to blow up his gun.

 

He put his 50-foot rope on and got his crew down in the hole. He fired it. The rest is history.

 

The Marines on top of the hill about 300 yards up received a number of gun pieces. (End of account)

 

The 2/94th supported the Third Marine units involved in the hill battles around the combat base at Khe Sanh: Especially those major battles for hill 861, 861A, 881S, and 881N.  The 2/94th defended the Khe Sanh combat base perimeter with effective fire support. Especially when bad weather kept the aircraft support to a minimum or the suddenness of the attack precluded aircraft intervention.

 

The 2/94th is credited in holding the NVA at bay until reinforcements could be sent out to the Khe Sanh Combat Base area. (History Channel)

 

In addition the news reports from that time reported that the final push on Khe Sanh would not come until the 175’s at Carroll and Rockpile had been silenced. (Walter Cronkite Report on Khe Sanh)

 

B Battery fired in support of Hill 861 near Khe Sanh while under hostile attack.  Staff Sergeant Brum, Corporal Robinson, Private First Class Hillis, Private First Class Willard were wounded while manning their guns.  The support was well appreciated by the Marines near the hill and the enemy KIA was estimated at 130.

 

Accounts from Marines, Marine Forward Observers, and other Army Units at the hill battles and on the Khe Sanh perimeter report the 175’s devastating toll on the two NVA divisions operating in the area. (End of account)

 

Actual accounts from Marines on 861A reports:  an undersized company of the 26th Marines (E/3/26) had not been set up long enough to have their defenses the way they wanted them to be.  Early in February 1968 about 3:30 AM two Battalions of NVA regulars contested the Marines for the hill.  175mm supporting fire was called in immediately and continued until 7:00 AM.  The 175mm fire support broke up the attacking Battalion and in the words of one of the Marines describing the action stated, “A bunch of pissed off young Marines took care of the rest.”  In addition to the attacking Battalion the Marine FO then turned the fire to the reserve Battalion of NVA and all but destroyed them.  This combination of devastating 175mm fire support and bravery of the young Marines on 861A preserved the integrity of the hill so important to the defense of Hill 881N and Hill 881S and the Khe Sanh Combat Base.  If 861 and 861A had fallen this would have left both 881 hills totally isolated. (End of account)

 

Actual accounts from Marines posted on the East Perimeter of the Khe Sanh Combat Base: document a heavy ground attack that was turned with 6 rounds from the 175’s on Carroll and Rockpile.  Unconfirmed body count was 76.  The Marines that were under the attack report smiles on their faces when they saw the 175’s heavy destruction of the NVA Regulars that were trying to over run their positions. (End of account)

 

Army perimeter defense units of the 1/44th at Khe Sanh also report:  the importance of the 175mm perimeter support when needed expeditiously and were relied on heavily.  ” We relied heavily on the big 175mm guns at Camp Carroll and the Rockpile to lay in their fire missions at predetermined coordinates and suspected NVA positions”. (End of report)

 

Actual account of a C Battery 2/94th gunner - We were always in a rush when we had a fire mission for Khe Sanh. We knew that they were in a very bad spot when they called for us to help them out. That was our job, and we knew that if we were in their place that we would want the most help possible as quick as we could get it, so we always pushed ourselves to see just how fast we could get the rounds out and on the way. (End of account.)

 

Excerpt from the S&S Vietnam Bureau:  A Marine convoy carrying supplies from Carroll to Khe Sanh was hit three miles from the Rockpile by 200 to 300 NVA Regulars.  Many of the 109 communists that were killed were hit by air strikes and 175mm artillery fire. (End of excerpt)

 

By reports from supported troops the NVA hated the big guns at Carroll, Rockpile, Gio Linh, Dong Ha and any other places the big guns were assigned in the I Corps area.  The big guns could target anti-aircraft firing on U.S. planes, fortifications, and infiltration routes in North Vietnam. (End of report)

 

During TET and the siege, located with the 2/94th on Carroll were elements of the Army’s 1st Battalion 44th ADA (Dusters and Quads), Kilo Battery 4th Battalion 12th Marines, and Charlie Battery 1st Battalion 12th Marines.

 

The Marine Tank unit assigned to Carroll and the Carroll area, including the refugee village at Cam Lo, was Marine B Company 3rd Tank Battalion.

 

The perimeter defense Marine contingent during this time was the E and H company of the 2nd Battalion 9th Marines (Although units of the 4th and 26th Marines were also present at various times)

 

Marine mortar units that supported the hill are unknown at this time. (May have been from 2/12th Marines.)

 

The 2/94th men from Service Battery (Mother Truckers) continued their dirty dangerous job of hauling the ammo, powder, and supplies for the 2/94th guns and 2/94th personnel to all the firebases.  From Dong Ha and sometimes Camp Evans they delivered their precious cargo along Highway 9 to the outposts along the DMZ; Con Thien, C2, C1, Carroll, Rockpile, LZ Stud, etc.  In addition they made the dangerous trip up Highway 1 to Gio Linh.  These convoys were constantly under duress from land mines, mortars, small arms and ground attacks, and the enemies other Allis the Vietnamese weather and road conditions.

 

Account from Squire (Skip) Knowles, Headquarters Battery, regarding convoy ambush on 14 March 1968: 

Reading in your email about the convoy reminded me of a round trip convoy I was on from  Dong Ha and back to JJ in a scout jeep driven by Specialist John Vanover (believed to be Lieutenant Colonel Kamstra's driver) after the start of TET.

 

Before Tet, as you recall, we used to drive unescorted. On the return leg with only few miles to go to Camp Carroll, we heard radio reports about rifle fire on the lead vehicles up ahead. We were advised to seek cover so we moved up the line of trucks to relay the message (only the scout jeeps had radios) then quickly pulled over and hit the ground next to some high grass. After a few minutes we got the word to return to our vehicles and proceed with all due haste to Camp Carroll, only to discover the jeep had a flat, and we couldn't find the jack.

 

As Vanover searched the jeep, other vehicles proceeded past us; except,  thankfully, a Marine Corp tank that was protecting the rear. The crew jumped out, bringing with them an enormous tank jack that literally popped the rear of the jeep into the air. Like an Indy pit crew, they swapped tires for us in no time flat.

 

As soon as they lowered the jeep Vanover floored it and raced off passing truck after truck heading up the approach to Camp Carroll as Pack 75 rounds whistled overhead at a rate of two or three a minute (only time I ever heard them coming and going). INCOMING!

 

The plan, of course, was to get back and find cover. By the camp entrance, shrapnel killed one of the 2/94 convoy drivers, a red headed kid named Ken Greene from Jersey City, New Jersey who'd just transferred in from 8/4. I'd seen him alive just minutes earlier. (End of account)

 

The 2/94th sent guns from B Battery to LZ Stud YD 002-493  (Vandergrift) for a short period. This move to LZ Stud was thought to be a strategic move to enable the 2/94th guns to silence the NVA Artillery that was hitting Khe Sanh from within the Laotian border.

  

The 2/94th sent guns from B Battery to C1 (Charlie 1) YD 213-672.

 

During this time some 2/94th 175mm guns were converted to 8-inch guns.

 

Account from a Marine that was part of the Marine contingent on Carroll during TET:  You may recall a situation where a Marine recon patrol ran into big trouble one late afternoon (March 5, I think).  E/2/9 was pulled off the front of Carroll’s line to go fetch the dead officer who had been left behind when the patrol was extracted out.  But darkness fell before we could lift off the LZ.  You guys fired all night to keep Uncle Ho's Finest away until morning.

 

You guys on the guns were always Johnny-on-the-spot when it came to fire support.  Thank you very much.  I recall a day when my squad escorted a FAO out northwest of Cam Lo.  He called in an air strike up in the DMZ and then we just cooled our heels awhile.  His radioman carried 2 PRC-25s (wow!) so he could hear both sides of a conversation.  Somebody who was awfully excited called in a fire mission.  He really rattled it off fast.  The FAO said his call sign put him in Khe Sanh.  He had to say it all over again because he spoke too fast to get it all.  He was asked what his target was and he said, "I got a Battalion o' gooks in the open and running."  When asked how far away they were, he said, "Fifty meters and closing!"  It seemed like only a second before we heard guns open up and the FDC announced, "They're on their way!"  Now that's service!!!!!

 

There was one night, though, that y'all really annoyed me.  We got the word that Carroll was going to be overrun.  So we were pulled back from our front line and placed in a tight perimeter along dirt "road" directly in front of the 175s.  I mean directly in front of the muzzles...about 20 feet!

 

Every time a gun captain would yell, "Stand by!”  I'd cover both ears, open my mouth wide, and lay flat on the hard-packed adobe.  Then the damned thing would explode course the first gasp only sucked in burnt cordite.  Gag a maggot! The ground was so hard it broke our E-tools trying to scratch its surface.  No joy there.

 

I must have dozed and missed a warning order because one cannon went off without my preparations.  I think it popped my eardrum, 'cause I got a little blood from it.  At that, I just picked up my gear, sat behind the gun, and the NVA and USMC be damned!  Of course, nothing happened that night.  All plans and intelligence must first be cleared through Hanoi! (End of account)

 

Personal Greeting of Thanks from an E/2/9 Marine Sergeant to the men of the 2/94th. Thank you for being there for a whole bunch of us when we needed it most.  Even if at the time we didn't know exactly who were the agents of our deliverance.  You and your boys were often our literal "saviors".  I believe God puts us where we need to be at the times we need to be there.  He sure put your outfit where I needed you at the right time.  Thanks!

 

You know the last stanza of the Marines Hymn?  The part that goes, "If the Army or the Navy ever look on Heaven's scenes, they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines"?  What isn't said there is that we'll be pulling guard duty while the 2/94th Boys are busy knocking down the gates of Hell with precision fire!

A sincere "Semper Fi!" to you, and God bless you all. (End of greeting)

 

Enemy attacks continued to be very heavy throughout February and March 1968, resulting in a great deal of damage to equipment and positions.

 

During Operation PEGASUS the 2/94th at Carroll and the Rockpile supported the 1st Air Cavalry and Marine breakout convoy along its way and during its operations.

  

On 9 March 1968, A/2/94 returned to Camp Carroll from the Rockpile.

 

On 9 March 1968, A/8/4 OPCON to 2/94 displaced from Carroll to the Rockpile.

 

On 12 March 1968, Captain Trinidad returned from the hospital and assumed command of the C Battery. It is assumed that Captain Cooley went back to HHB.

 

On or about 25 March 1968 the relief column was observed by the Marines and Army units on Carroll down on Highway 9 on its way to the Rockpile and LZ Stud and on to Khe Sanh.

 

C Battery Command Personnel Changes:

 

Battery Commander

5 Feb 1968 Captain William B Durkin.

5 Feb to 19 Feb 1968, Captain William Trinidad Dominguez.

19 Feb to 12 March 1968, Captain John Cooley. 

12 March to 31 March 1968, Captain William Trinidad Dominguez.

 

XO

1 Jan to 19 Feb 1968, Lieutenant David E. Sandeen. 

19 Feb to 31 Mar 1968, Lieutenant Robert A. Delap.

 

Asst XO

1 Jan to 28 Jan 1968, Lieutenant Felix J. Muller.

28 Jan to 17 Feb 1968, Lieutenant Robert A. Delap.

19 Feb to?? Lieutenant Jeffrey P. Newton.

 

FO

1 Jan to 28 Jan 1968, Lieutenant Robert A. Delap.

29 Jan to 17 Feb 1968, Lieutenant Jeffrey P. Newton.

1 Jan to 31 Mar 1968, Lieutenant Robert Pautsch.

 

First Sergeant

1 Jan to 31 Mar 1968, First Sergeant Jack E Hobgood. 

 

Analysis:

The Battery is going through an infusion program in the lower ranks and officer slots.  This is for the prevention of key personnel being lost during the same month.  A high state of morale and professionalism has been maintained during this quarter.  

Signed by William Trinidad Dominguez, CPT, Arty, Commanding

 

 

On the morning of 1 April 1968, the Marines started moving north along Highway 9 towards Khe Sanh from LZ Stud.  Several Fire Missions were shot in support of the Marines to protect their movement.  The clap of thunder of the artillery could be heard coming from Camp Carroll, the Rockpile, and LZ Stud. Fire Missions were being fired to clear a path for the infantry assault elements and close support artillery units. 

  

Previous Campaign was 2nd Campaign, Counteroffensive, Phase III   (06-01-67 to 01-29-68)

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Next Campaign is 4th Campaign, Counteroffensive, Phase IV (04-02-68 to 06-30-68)

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