DUC PHO—The sudden flash and sharp crack of enemy mortar explosions
shattered the silence.
The incoming rounds signaled the beginning of a three-hour battle
which many men of the Recon Platoon and Company B of the 2nd Battalion, 35th
Infantry will long remember.
The "Cacti’ had been sweeping an area where there had been
recent clashes with units of a North Vietnamese battalion. It was late
afternoon when the infantrymen set up their perimeter for the night.
Ambushes were set along enemy routes.
At 2:30 am the first mortar rounds landed and contact was made for the
third time in three days.
The NVA hit the "Cacti" with everything they had. It was
estimated that 100 to 150 rounds of 60 and 82mm mortar and recoilless rifle
fire were hurled at the infantrymen. The enemy supported by two machine
guns, then assaulted, attempting to penetrate the perimeter.
Artillery immediately began to pound the charging enemy and was lifted
only long enough for gunships and "Spooky" to have their chance.
"My platoon was on ambush when the first rounds landed,"
said Lieutenant Walter Twyford. "We moved back to the perimeter as fast
as we could. The men on the perimeter were running low on ammo when we
arrived after slicing through the enemy on the way in."
The Recon Platoon, also on ambush, moved back to reinforce the
Dug-in behind rice paddy dikes, the "Cacti" fought to hold
off the furious assault by the NVA unit. The enemy change carried them close
enough to throw grenades over the paddy dikes.
Gunships from the 1st Squadron, 9th Air Cavalry delivered their
ordnance within 20 meters of the infantrymen with flawless accuracy, driving
back the enemy. With the enemy momentum broken, the "Cacti" swept
the enemy back.
A total of 30 NVA were killed and three detained. Sixteen weapons were
seized, including a 57mm recoilless rifle and three light machine guns.