One Good Deal After Another (continued)
5-16 October 1968: Enemy Artillery
This period was spent moving through the large former artillery position that had been established and stocked with ammunition and guns but never put into action due to the aggressive actions of the 3d Marine Regiment and the 3d Marine Division.
Had the enemy been allowed to put the various types of artillery, particularly the 130mm and 152 mm pieces to work, the command and logistics facilities in the Dong Ha and Quang Tri areas would have been in extreme jeopardy.
An NVA battery of 130mm howitzers pounds the Marine garrison at Khe Sanh in early 1968. Aggressive action by Marine battalions like 2/26 prevented their use against similar targets in eastern South Vietnam later in the year. Courtesy of Quora.com.
A map of US bases just south of the DMZ during the same time frame shows the vulnerability of Marine and other units to artillery attack. Notice the scale of miles in the lower right corner with its 5-mile line and then consider that the maximum range of a 152mm cannon is 15 miles, while the slightly-less destructive 130mm howitzer can fire a shell 17 miles. Contemporary clipping (likely from Stars and Stripes) courtesy of HQ4thMarinesComm.com.
The engine noises heard at night by the rifle company we replaced must have been the North Vietnamese using the amphibious tractors as artillery prime movers to move their artillery pieces back across the Ben Hai. The noises we heard when first arriving were probably the same thing or maybe, by that time, they were trying to evacuate ammunition. There were no artillery pieces left but there was plenty of ammunition.