Kent Wonders Remembers LZ Margo (continued)
A Dangerously Small Space Called Margo
Major Lynch, the S-3, was next and didn’t miss a beat in following up on the obvious; LZ Margo was already over-crowded with Marines and bringing three more rifle companies inside the perimeter, as ordered, was nuts.
His recommendation was to immediately radio our parent unit, the 9th Marine Regiment and explain to the regimental S-3 our tactical situation and ask for 2/26 not to have to consolidate into a dangerously small space called Margo.
I did not hang around to get the gist of what was said to the 9th Marine about the gravity of our tactical situation, but the regiment did agree to talk to 3rd Marine Division CO, Major General Ray Davis, who we would soon meet in person.
BLT Operations Officer Major Jarvis Lynch in the DMZ. Photo courtesy of Kent Wonders.
I recall walking around to my little sphere of influence and telling everyone to start digging in deep.
My hole-mate was on radio watch and digging for the CP. I went to our little piece of earth and started picking and shoveling. Each swing of E-tool pick maybe penetrated the clay and rock only ¾ of an inch; it was hard and slow going. A redesign was necessary: dig a small hole as deep and fast as I could go. I looked down the slope and even the doctor was swinging the E-tool. Being in the field is a great equalizer of people, skills, and rank.
While we waited for the response to our appeal, some of the infantry were in light contact, calling in artillery strikes preferring not to move back to the LZ, but rather to attack. The danger, if not tragedy to come, was so obvious to many of us. No one was thinking about the lush mountainous ground around us, but rather just digging as fast as possible.
As best we know, each ascending command pleaded our case strongly, even to Saigon! Unfortunately there was no reversal. The order was restated: “Be back to the LZ by 1400. The B-52’s are in the air.” The other battalions were ready. (I have read various accounts of how aspects of the Vietnam War were micromanaged by politicians in Washington, D.C. Maybe this was the second time D.C. was to affect us up close and personal; the first time was at Khe Sanh.)
The retrograde movement started in earnest. Several of the units were back in a couple of hours and started digging in around the perimeter. Golf Company had the longest distance to go and had NVA in pursuit. I remember the major briefing the company commanders, “Start digging without a break …….52’s will strike very close.”