One Good Deal After Another (continued)
16 September 1968: Tragedy
The two punishing NVA mortar attacks on LZ Margo and the accompanying, quickly defeated infantry attack that occurred during the afternoon of 16 September, are described elsewhere in our website.
The one other major event of the day, the postponed B-52 Arc Light, was delivered on an area roughly 5 km north of Margo sometime during the early afternoon of 16 September. We had expected to witness the standard earth shaking, intensive, totally impressive display of air power.
Sadly, it didn’t happen quite that way.
Arc Light: A B-52 Stratofortress drops 500-lb bombs from its bomb bay over Vietnam. Photo courtesy of cc.gatetech.edu.
What did happen was a noticeably small number of explosions. Maybe there were many duds or as I thought at the time, maybe there were only two B-52’s, not the usual three. It was a beautiful, clear afternoon and I could see only two aircraft. Afterward, other Marines told me that they had seen the usual three birds. So, duds must have been the problem. The Arc Light that brought us so much trouble and so many casualties proved to be far from impressive.
Devastated by an Arc Light run, this hillside near the Laotian border was once triple-canopy jungle. Photo courtesy of au.gov.
Not mentioned in the chronology is the fact that the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines soon afterwards conducted a helicopter assault into the area hit by the Arc Light. I remember it vividly because they encountered resistance and we helped with artillery support.
What I do not recall is the date. It was probably the 17th.