One Good Deal After Another (continued)
17 September 1968: The "To Do" List
After the hell of 16 September, we remained in the general LZ Margo area under the operational control of the 9th Marines until 1 October. I do not recall receiving any operation orders from the 9th Marines until near the end of September. It is highly likely that the regiment was giving us the time needed to recover from 16 September.
We had plenty of things to do, all of which were top priority.
1. Evacuate the remaining WIA’s and the KIA’s from 16 September.
2. Evacuate casualties incurred on 17 September.
3. Evacuate all excess weapons and other equipment (damaged or otherwise) plus the personal belongings and packs of the dead and wounded via helicopters using external slings.
Landing Zone Margo was to be cleared of all signs that would tell the enemy the level of damage that had been inflicted. He certainly had an indication but there was no sense in allowing him to count packs and weapons.
Surveying the gear. A work party collects damaged and intact weaponry after the mortar attack on LZ Margo. The owners were in aid stations, on hospital ships or in morgues. Detail from a larger photo by Thomas H. Roadley.
4. Return to the offensive employing F, G, and H Companies. Captain John Cregan’s E Company had been the last to return to Margo on 16 September and was in the open, climbing the northern slope of Margo when the mortar barrage hit. When it all ended, Captain Cregan’s company was well understrength and for that reason, was subsequently often employed as the Forward Command Post defensive force.
5. Leave LZ Margo proper but watch it closely in the event the NVA facing us decided to give it a good look. The elements leaving Margo for a short displacement were the Forward Command Post, Echo Company, 1st Lieutenant Al Green’s 81 mm mortar platoon (reduced from 8 tubes to 4), the Engineer Platoon under 1st Lieutenant Jerry Ashcroft and what was left of 1st Lieutenant Pat MacDonald’s Reconnaissance Platoon.
Alfa Command Group under the canopy. Hidden by foliage, the BLT's command group gathers for a briefing. At left with a bandaged arm is 35-year-old Major Lynch. The group devised the plan to recover from the Margo attacks and quickly regain an aggressive fighting posture, while in the surrounding hills, a thousand Marines awaited "the word". Photo by Thomas H. Roadley.