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    SAPPER ATTACK REPULSED    

DA NANG-A reinforced squad of Marines from "F" Co., 2/7, swept through a portion of Marble Mountain looking for remnants of a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) sapper unit which had been beaten back and forced to dig in.

The communists lost 37 men and numerous weapons and ammunition during the first three days of their attack on the four craggy outcroppings which comprise the Marble Mountain complex, five miles southeast of Da Nang, adjacent to positions manned by the 3rd Amphibian Tractor Bn. Marine casualties were two killed and none wounded. The assault on the four mountains began at 3 a.m. An estimated 40 NVA came ashore by rafts from the South China Sea in the vicinity of the village of Xom Son Thuy and attacked the Army Green Beret compound at the base of the largest of the four mountains. This mountain is 105 meters high and is noted for its numerous Buddhist shrines and monks who live within its caves.

At the same time, an estimated 10-15 NVA assaulted a Marine position atop a 40-meter high marble outcropping 100 meters to the west. These NVA came up the Can Bien river from the south.

Eight Marines from 3/27, 1st Marine Division, were manning the position when the NVA launched their attack with satchel charges and small arms fire.

The Marines pushed their 106-mm recoilless rifle off the top of the mountain to prevent the NVA from using it. During the attack, four NVA were killed. The Leathernecks held out against the fierce attack until first light when Marines from 3rd AmTracs came in as a relief force. Four more NVA were killed during this action.

A helicopter brought another 106-mm recoilless rifle to the top of that position and it was back in full operation by 3 p.m.

Meanwhile, other units of Marines from 3rd AmTracs were conducting sweep and clear patrols in and around the other outcroppings within the Marble Mountain complex. Four NVA were killed and two wounded NVA were captured around the mountain containing the shrines. Six more were killed in a Marine ambush at the base of a third outcropping.

LtCol. Frank C. Chace (1421 Alpha Court, N., West Palm Beach, Fla.) commanding officer of 3rd AmTracs, said the NVA were using women and children as a shield when they walked through the ambush site, preventing the Marines from taking full advantage of their positions and firepower. No civilian casualties occurred.

At 6 p.m., between 150-250 rounds of small arms fire came into the 3rd AmTrac command post from the village of Xom Son Thuy. At the same time, Marines in a tower on the northeast corner of the battalion perimeter spotted four to six NVA attempting to withdraw to the sea in basket boats. M-79 grenade launchers and small arms fire were brought into play and the boats were destroyed and their occupants killed.

At 9:44 that evening, 2/7 began arriving in the area from Go Noi island, 14 miles south of here, where they had been participating in Operation Allen Brook. When the first helicopter started to land in the AmTrac perimeter, the NVA launched a B-40 and 82mm mortar attack on the battalion command post. Five rockets and five mortars came into the area from a position on top of the largest mountain.

The entire company was brought in on the beach some 200 meters away by helicopters, under the protective cover of an Air Force C-47 "Spooky" gunship.

The next day brought more of the same, with 3rd AmTracs continuing sweeps around the base of the four outcroppings. There was intermittent contact throughout the day with three NVA killed.

At 9:45 that morning, a squad-sized patrol from Marine Combined Action Platoon 2-5-1 killed two NVA while conducting a sweep of a labyrinth of caves at the base of the fourth marble outcropping.

At 1:10 a.m., on the 25th, seven rounds of 60mm mortars fell into a Navy communications station 200 meters south of 3rd AmTracs' position. A patrol of AmTrac Marines, south of the communication station, saw flashes from the enemy mortar site and immediately assaulted the position. They swept to their east and located the launch site, but the enemy could not be found.

At 5 a.m., a six-man Green Beret outpost on top of the largest mountain called to 3rd AmTracs and said it was being over-run. NVA were attacking the position with white phosphorous.

A Huey gunship from Marine Aircraft Group-16 arrived on station in a matter of minutes and began assaulting the enemy position with .30 caliber machine-gun fire and rockets. The NVA were, at this time, within 15 meters of the outpost.

While the gunship was keeping the NVA out of the outpost, the Green Berets spotted the enemy setting up three mortar tubes within the mountain, about 200 feet below their precarious perch. The gunship was notified and it destroyed one mortar tube and killed one NVA. The communists called off their attack after they lost their mortar tube, but Huey gunships remained on station throughout the night, providing illumination for the outpost.

At the break of day, the company swept through the village of Xom Son Thuy and 3rd AmTracs followed with a house to house search. Three bunkers were found and an underground hospital which contained an assortment of medical supplies and NVA equipment. The hospital was about 40 feet in length. It and the bunkers were destroyed.

At 2 p.m. a company of Vietnamese Rangers, accompanied by men of 3rd AmTracs, conducted a search of the large mountain with the shrines. The rangers killed eight NVA and captured three 82mm mortar tubes.

From the time the action began at 3 a.m., August 23, through 4:30 p.m. on August 26, 37 NVA had been killed and the following weapons and ammunition captured:

66 60mm mortar rounds, 15 satchel charges, 101 Chinese communist grenades, 3 B-40 launchers, 3 Rocket Propelled grenade launchers, 3 AK-47 automatic rifles with 304 rounds, 1 M-16 rifle, 12 81mm mortar rounds, 1 light machinegun, 255 rounds of 7.62 ammunition, 7 B-40 rockets, 5 cases of AK-47 ammunition, 1 case of 30 caliber ammunition and 3 82mm mortar tubes!