IVY LEAF

March 1969

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Cacti Blue's Role

Big In Mountains

By SP4 Michael Tousey

OASIS-In a month long battle, the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, drove a NVA regiment from the Chu Prong mountains on the east side of Highway 14 about 23 kilometers north of Pleiku.

Intelligence reports indicated that the enemy regiment moved into the area in an effort to interdict vital Highway 14 which links the Famous Fighting Fourth Division headquarters and Pleiku with forward units in the Kontum area. The area was also being used to stage rocket and mortar attacks on the Pleiku area.

The operation began on March 1 with Bravo and Delta Companies moving into the mountains. The Chu Prong mountains, about 5,000

feet high and many with slopes approaching 45 degrees, were covered with double and triple canopy vegetation and thick stands of bamboo. This was perfect terrain for defensive operations by an entrenched enemy familiar with the area.

Contact was first made on March 2 by Delta Company. In the following weeks two or three firefights in one day by different elements of the battalion was not an unusual occurrence.

On the 7th, Alpha and Bravo Companies combined to defeat an unknown size enemy force which left 11 enemy bodies. In two separate fights, Delta and a Recon Platoon each accounted for one NVA kill. The Recon Platoon then ended the first week of the battle by finding an ammunition cache containing 300,000 AK47 rounds, almost enough ammo to supply two battalions with a basic load.

The Recon Platoon was again instrumental in an action which brought the battle to an end on the 29th. Ten NVA bodies were found after the fight.

The impressive statistics for the month are indicative of the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantryís aggressiveness in the Chu Prong mountains. The Cacti Blue accounted for 65 enemy bodies.

The battalion captured 25 AK47 rifles. Also recovered were 111 60mm and 19 82mm mortar rounds with 126 ignition cartridges for 60mm mortars and 164 fuses for mortars.

In addition to the destruction of a battalion command post and battalion-size aid station, the month saw the Cacti Blue destroy eight tunnel and cave complexes and numerous bunkers, foxholes and fighting positions.

But most important, the NVA regimentís sanctuary and base of operations were damaged and complete use of the area was denied to the enemy. The attempt to cut Highway 14 never materialized and pressure was lessened in the Pleiku area.

 

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