Meade River 1968
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  1. #1
    yellowwing
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    Meade River 1968

    Operation Meade River: Marine Search-and-Destroy Cordon of the Vietnam War
    Operation Meade River in 'Dodge City' was the largest and most successful Marine search-and-destroy cordon of the Vietnam War.
    By George A. Hill, Historynet.com

    Called "Dodge City" by the troops because of its shoot-em-up characteristics, the area 10 miles south of Da Nang was familiar ground for the Marines. It was about five miles wide and three miles long. "It was low ground," says the official Marine Corps history, "criss-crossed with rivers and streams, honeycombed with caves and tunnels; each hamlet, with its bamboo and thorn hedges and its drainage ditches indistinguishable from fighting trenches, was a potential fortified position."...

    ...Intelligence had determined that remaining elements of the decimated VC Doc Lap Battalion, which had operated in the area against the Marines for more than three years, along with other understrength VC units and several hundred NVA (North Vietnamese Army) troops, were again massing in the area. Going northward through Dodge City were two major enemy infiltration routes used by the NVA to supply and assist the VC in the rocket belt, whose main objective had been, and continued to be, the destruction of the Da Nang airstrip. Intelligence also had information that an all-out attack against strategically located Hill 55, the 1st Marine Division headquarters on Hill 327, or the airstrip itself was imminent with this many enemy soldiers staging rapidly in the area.

    On November 20, 1968, at 4 a.m., Operation Meade River commenced. The monsoons for this part of Vietnam had started in October. Temperatures were dropping, and the Marines often found the nights cold. The conditions were miserable, and the rains, averaging one inch daily, added to the misery.

    The entire helicopter assets of the 1st Marine Air Wing were required to support the operation. Colonel Robert G. Lauffer, commanding officer of the 1st Marines, was designated Meade River commander. He personally supervised elements of seven Marine battalions the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines (1/1), the 2nd and 3rd battalions, 5th Marines (2/5 and 3/5), the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines (3/26), and battalion landing teams (BLTs) from the 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines (2/26), and 1st and 2nd battalions, 7th Marines (1/7 and 2/7). The Marines surrounded an area 24,000 meters in circumference, with fire teams no more than 15 meters apart. This initial movement of 5,000 infantrymen into a tightly established cordon would be the key to the successful completion of Meade River. Twenty-eight hundred of the 5,000 troops were helilifted; approximately 2,200 more were moved by truck and on foot from Hill 55 and other company and battalion areas from along the north bank of the La Tho River, Liberty Road (Ambush Row), Highway 1 and Route 4. With the troops in place by 8:25 a.m., the cordon snapped shut.

    Just prior to landing within the cordons boundary, a Boeing-Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight carrying one of the last elements arriving, a unit from the 3/5, was hit by enemy fire; it crashed and burned, resulting in six killed and nine wounded. In addition, as a truck convoy was moving toward the cordon, a command-detonated mine exploded halfway down the line of vehicles, destroying a 5-ton truck and wounding 19 men. Immediately, prepositioned dump trucks unloaded gravel and matting. The large hole was filled, the damaged truck removed, and the remainder of the convoy continued on into the area with little delay.

    At 4:30 p.m. on the 20th, a recon team was inserted 1,000 meters south of the La Tho from the base on Hill 55 and immediately west of the cordon near Liberty Road to look for fleeing bands of the enemy. The team soon encountered enemy troops and opened fire, killing eight NVA and capturing an 82mm mortar from the enemy soldiers trying to escape the cordon. The recon team, with one wounded, was extracted back to Hill 55.

    Later, it was learned from captured VC that news of the impending cordon and search operation had been received the previous day, November 19. The VC who reported this information were apprehended when villagers throughout the cordon were screened and sent to the refugee relocation center at the base of Hill 55. Fortunately, few enemy knew in advance of the cordon because of a breakdown in communication between the VC political arm and the Communist military units, a mistake that cost the enemy many lives.

    The Marines were fortunate to have trapped many more of the enemy than anticipated. Found in the objective area was a sizable, well-organized and well-trained enemy force that chose to fight, utilizing solid fortifications throughout the area of operations.

    Many NVA and VC would try to break the cordon along the northern boundary of the operation area and slip into the La Tho River, which ran along the base of Hill 55. The sniper platoon based at Hill 55 and expert riflemen from numerous combat and support units field artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, supply and engineers maintained firing positions day and night. These marksmen operated mostly from various sites that reached down to the river. Besides using Starlight scopes, the FLC sent two searchlight teams to the hill, which aided the American snipers. The searchlights would scan the river and the riverbanks, leaving little escape area for panicky enemy forces. The snipers kept a number of the enemy from escaping.

    [article continues]

    *************

    Operation Meade River looks like a text book operation where every element of the Marine Team contributed to its success! Intel, Ops, Grunts, Recon, Scout Snipers, Arty, Engineeers, Air, all did their jobs.


  2. #2
    Marine Free Member FistFu68's Avatar
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    THE BATTLE OF MEADE RIVER-WAS THE LARGEST HELICOPTER ASSULT;BY THE USMC~OF THE INTIRE VIETNAM WAR!THE USS.NEW JERSEY PUMPED~151 RND'S INTO THE AWAITING NVA-VC-REGT.MY S/SGT.KARL G.TAYLOR SR. WHO WAS K.I.A.ON THE 8TH.OF DEC.~EARNED THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR~HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR HIS COUNTRY,AND HIS FELLOW MARINES OF INDIA CO.3d.BN.26TH.MARINES!AFTER 19 DAY'S OF HEAVY FIGHTING~H2H~INDIA PLANTED OLD GLORY!!!


  3. #3
    yellowwing
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    "Operation Meade River looks like a text book operation where every element of the Marine Team contributed to its success! Intel, Ops, Grunts, Recon, Scout Snipers, Arty, Engineeers, Air, all did their jobs." -
    Oops can't forget Motor-T!


  4. #4
    Marine Free Member FistFu68's Avatar
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    YOU MISSED A HELL'UVA PARTY MARINE~THE LEAP FROM THAT SEA STALLION;IN A HOT LZ~IN 28FT.OF ELEPHANT GRASS~WAS A PUCKER FACTOR~SON~(LOL) GUNG-HO-OOHRAH!!!


  5. #5
    Yeah Fist. I missed Meade River but can definitely relate to the pucker factor going out of a 46 into a hot LZ.

    SF

    Dave



  6. #6
    After I Finished With B,1/7. I Went To The Bas,on Hill 37,on Dec 8,68,me And 2 Other Doc's Went Out To A Co,1/7.replaced 3 Doc's That Were Wounded, Meade River.after We Linked Up With 1st Plt.. We Loaded All The Kia's Onto An Arvn Apc.at First The Arvn Sgt. Wouldn't Let Us Load The Bodies,but This One Sgt,opened Up The Back Hatch And Threw The Arvn Out The Top Hatch.then We Loaded All The Kia's Into The Track.
    I Will Never Forget This,but I Never Knew The Sgt's Name.

    Semper Fi!
    Doc Kirkpatrick


  7. #7
    It would be an honor to hear from any Marine who was there with my brother Bill. Cpl. William C. "Bo Bad" Wirick - KIA Dec 8, 1968 Ops Meade River - Navy Cross - Also Mortarman Hill 881 Khe Sahn. We miss him so ... Thank You All, I feel you are my brothers too Semper Fi !!!


  8. #8
    Marine Free Member Wyoming's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FISTFU68
    YOU MISSED A HELL'UVA PARTY MARINE~THE LEAP FROM THAT SEA STALLION;IN A HOT LZ~IN 28FT.OF ELEPHANT GRASS~WAS A PUCKER FACTOR~SON~(LOL) GUNG-HO-OOHRAH!!!
    Jack, those were CH-46's, which I proudly flew over the beautiful skies over SE Dump, er, Asia.

    Semper Fidelis MY Brother, and I know you are tired of hearing this - Welcome Home!!!


    Jeez, those were 2 words we DID NOT hear, at ****ing all!!


  9. #9
    Aint that the sad freakin' truth. I heard it for the first time from another Nam Vet about 4 years ago. Brother I don't get tired of hearing it or saying it.
    WELCOME HOME MY BROTHERS and SEMPER FIDELIS

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by bigalholmes165
    Jack, those were CH-46's, which I proudly flew over the beautiful skies over SE Dump, er, Asia.

    Semper Fidelis MY Brother, and I know you are tired of hearing this - Welcome Home!!!


    Jeez, those were 2 words we DID NOT hear, at ****ing all!!



  10. #10
    Marine Free Member FistFu68's Avatar
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    LIKE DAVE ONLY HEARD IT A COUPLE TIMES IN MY LIFE,BUT WHEVER I MEET ANY YOUNGER VETERAN ALL THE WAY BACK;TO DESERT STORM OR A CPL.OF THE MARINES FROM BERUIT I MET.I GIVE THEM A WELCOME HOME,ESPECIALLY THE ONES COMING HOME NOW.THANK YOU DAVE AND BIG AL,WELCOME HOME MARINE


  11. #11
    Jim,

    I knew your brother Bo "I'm so Bad I don't even want to talk about it cause I might scare myself" Wirick.

    Miss him still. Would like to share stories with you. Things I think you'd like to know.
    Please contact me through site or 310 699 3463.

    Richard Tannenbaum

    Last edited by unsung songs; 07-02-10 at 02:34 AM. Reason: add name to clarify

  12. #12
    Mongoose
    Guest Free Member
    From the time I hooked up with 3/26. We went from one operation into another. With only short periods of time in our rear area ( Rock Crusher) I will say that of all the operations we were part of, Meade River was the biggest memeory maker. None of it good. It was like a bad dream you couldnt wake up from.


  13. #13
    "criss-crossed with rivers and streams, honeycombed with caves and tunnels; each hamlet, with its bamboo and thorn hedges and its drainage ditches indistinguishable from fighting trenches, was a potential fortified position."..."


    This Operation was after my time but the area is one we worked a lot.

    I am pretty sure this is where our Company got its first MOH awardee. Real close for sure.

    Like much of ICorps a tough area.


  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by billy collins View Post
    From the time I hooked up with 3/26. We went from one operation into another. With only short periods of time in our rear area ( Rock Crusher) I will say that of all the operations we were part of, Meade River was the biggest memeory maker. None of it good. It was like a bad dream you couldnt wake up from.
    I agree with you Billy about the memories, beautiful down town Dodge City. I was there with the 3/5. We got a lot of fng's after that one.


  15. #15
    Mongoose
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    I couldnt beleive nva had that many bunkers in one area. One bunker covering another bunker. Had to have close air support constantly. We had to fall back and regroup several times. Those mutha fvckers wouldnt quit. Fought to the death. Fistfu will tell you. We paid for every square inch in blood. Text book operation makes it sound like a plain ho-hum job. Tell that to all our brother Marines that spilled thier blood there.


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