1. 080200H May 70
CAP 1-3-2 reported contact with approx one hundred (200) VC/NVA at BS555892. The enemy locations were the following grids BS855591, 556896, 555894, 554892. The CAP patrol base received heavy SAF, RPG, satchel charges, and chicoms from the enemy. The enemy force attacked the PB from the W and using satchel charges and Bangalore torpedoes to breach the barbed wire fence. The enemy was driven back but several were killed in the CAP’s position. Artillery, gunships and spooky were used and at 0230an Army reaction plt was requested. Army reaction force reached the location at 0515H and lined up with the CAP. The contact location was swept on several occasions with the following results: twelve VC KIA, sixteen NVA KIA, one (2) B-40 launcher, seventy eight (120) chicoms, ten (12) satchel charges, two (5) RPG rnds (rockets), assorted 782 gear and misc documents captured. The units involved were elements for the 21st NVA Regt. and 95 B Sapper Bn. One USMC and two (3) PF were KIA. One (8) USMC WIA (non evac), ten (13) PF WIA (E).
A combined operation with CAP’s 1-3-2 and 1-3-9 was attacked by a combined force of VC and NVA on the 5th, believed to be elements of the 95th B sappers. Four days later, CAP 1-3-2 came under heavy attack from a combined force of approximately 100 VC and NVA. This was the largest contact of the month and the CAP killed 16 NVA and 12 VC. Later, people reported that the enemy carried away approximately 60 more killed and wounded. The enemy killed were positively identified as the 95th B sappers.
Okay, here I go with what I remember about May 8, 1970, the night CAP 1-3-2 was attacked by a large force from the 21st NVA Regiment that was augmented by VC. I hope this proves worthwhile.
MacKnight and I were the two Marines on 9er George on May 8, 1970. We were both in the bunker manning the radio as the relay for CAP 1-3-9.
Your CAP, 1-3-2, had positioned itself such that it didn’t have radio contact with our company headquarters, CACO 1-3. In fact, the only American unit 1-3-2 had contact with was 9er George. MacKnight and I were your radio relay that night.
Sometime during the night, I want to say around 0200, the enemy attacked 1-3-2. The enemy substantially outnumbered CAP 1-3-2, including the Popular Forces platoon associated with the CAP.
The contact was heavy right from the start, and as I remember it, the CAP Commander wasn’t able to respond. I don’t remember MacKnight or I ever communicating with him. He was there, but must have gone into shock or something. I remember some others from 1-3-2 on the net, but they were communicating with you.
You were the Marine we communicated with in 1-3-2 because you unhesitantly took charge of the CAP when it desperately needed competent leadership. Quite a feat for a Lance Corporal or for any Marine for that matter. It seems that all of the communications that we received that were to be forwarded to CACO 1-3 or to Fire Support Base Stinson were from you.
I do remember listening to every word of radio communications that went on with the CAP. I also remember having a difficult time convincing CACO 1-3 that you guys were under attack, not to mention under attack by an enemy force much larger than the CAP. They definitely couldn’t comprehend what you meant by the enemy force being a large one. I remember telling you that CACO 1-3 wanted to know how large the enemy force way. It seemed picky that they came back a couple of times to find out how large when you kept telling me that the enemy was everywhere, not just to the front or side, but everywhere they could possibly be. They just didn’t get it.
No units could get to your location until first light. That included CACO 1-3, CAP 1-3-9, soldiers from the Americal Division, and other PF units. That left the 10 or 12 of you coupled with the PFs to fight for your lives until support could get there in the morning.
MacKnight and I relayed your requests for artillery support to Stinson. You would give us your needs and we would relay it to Stinson. It seems that we spoke directly with Stinson because the situation was that urgent.
We also coordinated air support for you in the forms of helicopters and Snoopy. You directed the helicopters on when and where to illuminate the area. When Snoopy arrived on site, you took over and directed it to where the enemy was. Seems like there was a spotter aircraft on site at some point in time, probably when Snoopy was on site.
Dave, I distinctly remember (and I’m sure MacKnight would agree) you being so in control of yourself and the CAP as a whole. Scared, but in control of yourself to the point that your voice was calm in the midst of all hell having broken loose – a hell that others, including myself, can’t and don’t care to even imagine. To think that a squad of Marines and a platoon of PFs were attacked while in a village without the benefit of any perimeter defense by a much larger element of the 21st NVA Regiment is hard to comprehend and even harder to comprehend when it is taken into consideration that the friendlies lost only a handful and the enemy lost more than 40. You did what few others could have done.
I seem to remember that when daylight came the helicopters started working on the enemy as it fled the area.
The CAP literally survived the attack because of your leadership. I have no doubt about that. None! I don’t mean to take anything away from any of the others, but you were the key to the other Marines living through the night. No doubt about it.
I hope this helps. Please let me know if I missed anything, which I’m sure I did.
Dave, as always, God bless you.
(Additional information not included in the previous email follows. CACO 1-3 personnel had a going away party for one of their sergeants who was rotating back to the States the night of the attack. LeBlanc remembers CACO 1-3 wanting to know where the enemy was and Frenier telling him to tell them to the effect, “They are everywhere. They are so close that I’ll put one of them on the radio if they want to talk to them.” CACO 1-3 understood better when they received that message and became more responsive.)