DUC PHO — Following artillery preparation, 18 air strikes and naval
gunfire, infantrymen from the 3rd Brigade Task Force, 25th Division recently
assaulted battered enemy positions and finished off what remained of an
estimated North Vietnamese battalion.
After a day and a half of fierce fighting, which left the battlefield
scarred by artillery and bomb craters, the "Cacti" assaulted with
two companies, leaving 81 enemy dead and capturing huge amounts of weapons,
equipment and documents.
The battle took place in a heavily fortified area approximately eight
miles southeast of Duc Pho in lower Quang Ngai Province.
The area was believed to have been one of the primary resupply points
for the NVA as the mountains run almost to the coast.
The battle, one of the largest to date for Task Force Oregon, began
when Company A, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry made contact while on a sweep
of the area.
The crack NVA unit was tenaciously holding ground between two hills
and fighting from prepared bunkers, tunnels, caves and complex trench
Receiving heavy fire from automatic weapons, Company A maneuvered to
flank what was later estimated to be a NVA battalion.
Captain Lloyd Yoshina, Company A commander who was wounded by the
initial burst of fire, said, "The fire was so heavy I couldn’t move
even three feet to get to my radio."
Although members of the company attempted to get to him, Captain
Yoshina ordered them hack so that they wouldn’t be hit. Refusing to be
evacuated, he was still commanding his company a day later when the battle
Artillery, gunships and air strikes were immediately called in to
pound the entrenched enemy. Major James E. Moore Jr., 1st Battalion, 35th
Infantry commander who was hovering overhead in his command helicopter,
coordinated the supporting fires as well as combat assaults and the units in
By mid-morning Company B had been airlifted into the area of contact.
Upon touching down, the company quickly maneuvered to assault the enemy
However, the NVA, dug-in in caves and bunkers, continued to fight
throughout the afternoon. During that time other units were moved into the
area and by nightfall the enemy was surrounded by four companies and a
Before darkness engulfed the battlefield, the "Cacti" had
killed 43 NVA and captured 16 weapons.
When darkness came, flare-ships turned the battlefield back to day.
The battle continued throughout the night.
At daylight the "Cacti" were still receiving heavy fire from
the entrenched NVA. Once again the area was saturated by air strikes and
While the supporting fires continued, Major Moore lifted his field
commanders out by helicopter and conducted a detailed aerial reconnaissance
of the battlefield for the final assault.
By mid-morning the air strikes and artillery were lifted. Through a
screen of smoke and in 103 degree heat, two "Cacti" companies,
accompanied by Colonel James G. Shanahan, 3rd Brigade commander, assaulted
and overran the enemy positions.
Besides killing 81 NVA, the 3rd Brigade troops seized 151 82mm mortar
rounds, thousands of rounds of small arms ammunition and large quantities of
weapons, grenades and other equipment. They also detained one NVA sergeant.
The "Cacti" were still policing the battlefield when Major
General William B. Rosson, Task Force Oregon commander, landed in the middle
of the area to commend the infantrymen on a "tremendous victory."