One Good Deal After Another (continued)
17-19 October 1968: Ocean View
Excerpt from the BLT 2/26 Command Chronology for October 1968.
The Nomads landed at Ocean View without incident and had the chance to just relax for the rest of the day.
The amtrac battalion’s staff briefed us on the situation, then we were told that we had two tasks to perform. One was to visit a village some distance away to make certain that there were no NVA troops using it as an assembly or rest area. The second was the need for a combat patrol to go northwest back to the DMZ to make certain that the NVA who had been harassing Ocean View the day before were no longer in the area.
The amtrac battalion briefing included the fact that the NVA activity the previous day had been broken up by the 5 inch guns of a US Navy destroyer steaming just offshore.
Map of the northern coast of South Vietnam shows Ocean View, base of the the 3rd Amtrac Battalion, just below the DMZ, with outposts Alpha 1 and Charlie 4 to the south. The mouth of the Cua Viet River empties into the Gulf of Tonkin at lower right. Courtesy of Lindsay Thrum, medium.com.
That piece of information led to the conclusion that we would probably not encounter any NVA. Troops in the open or even in prepared defensive positions don’t have much of a chance against naval gunfire that’s controlled by naval gunfire teams ashore. Smart enemy troops usually leave a naval gunfire target area at high speed.
The conclusion proved accurate. Both missions were accomplished. No NVA were encountered.
The one tragedy occurred when one of the amtracs transporting the two companies up to the DMZ hit a commercial anti-tank mine. The troops were riding atop the tractor and none were injured. The crew was also uninjured. However, the tractor started smoking just as a Staff Sergeant from the amtrac battalion who had been with another tractor, ran over and stepped into the crippled tractor to make certain it was empty.
As an Amtrac (Landing Vehicle, Tracked, Personnel, Mark 5) smolders in the background, Major Jarvis Lynch leads two companies into the DMZ in search of NVA who had been harassing the Amtrac base. Photo by Thomas H. Roadley.
Almost immediately, the tractor exploded in flames. The amphibious tractors of the day were gasoline powered and the gas tanks were under the hull in order to have protection from the water when at sea. The mine had ruptured the gasoline tanks and the explosion killed the Staff Sergeant. We were told that the Staff Sergeant was a highly regarded leader within the battalion. He was sorely missed by his companions. His loss was a serious price to pay for a fruitless operation.
The next day, BLT 2/26 returned to the three ships of the Amphibious Ready Group.