Khe Sanh Hill Fights of ‘67
Compiled by Ray Stubbe
All Rights Reserved by the Author
HILL 861 TAKEN 28 April 1967
Plans for 28 April were to attack the area commanded by three key terrain features: Objective #I was Hill 861 (XD 803443), Objective #2 was Hill 881-South (XD 778438), and Objective #3 was Hill 881 -North (XD 775458). Battalion 2/3 south of Hill 861 was to seize Objective #1 after supporting arms had blasted it on 28 April Battalion 3/3 was to follow in the trace of 2/3 and then wheel to the west in an arcing movement, securing the key terrain between Objectives # I and #2 and attack and seize Objective #2 from a northeasterly direction. After Objective # I was secured by 2/3 and thoroughly searched for enemy documents, weapons, and equipment, and after Objective #2 had been secured, 2/3 was to attack and seize Objective #3 from the east. Duration of the operation was contingent on enemy resistance encountered.
On 28 April, 2/3 assaulted Objective #1, Hill 861 (XD 803443) with two companies abreast (Co's E and G) and secured it at 281630H encountering no enemy.
Between 1910H and 1840H, E/2/3 received sporadic mortar fire for a total of 19 incoming 60mm mortars, but suffered no casualties. 2/3 set in for the night with the two assaulting companies remaining in the vicinity of the objective and the command group and the remaining company to the south.
3/3, composed of a command group and three companies (M/3/3, K/3/9, and M/3/9), moved overland from KSCB to occupy night positions on the southwestern flank of 2/3, with the command group and a company at XD 803427 and the remaining two companies deployed to the west.
During the 28th, air dropped 382,700 pounds of ordnance, including 74,250 pounds of ordnance and twelve 2,000-pound bombs (DELTA-4, M-84), while artillery fired 968 rounds in observed missions and 107 rounds as H&Is. In addition two Arc Light strikes were conducted, centered at XD 955455 and XD 780530.
The Battle of the Hills had little to do with the local situation at Khe Sanh; it was as though two enemy forces entered a virgin area and fought it out, without regard to the local inhabitants.
Col Corson relates that some distance from all the action, several local populace [he calls "Vietnamese" but were probably Bru tribesmen] were standing beside a Marine radio jeep watching the fire-power rained upon Hill 861. The day was finally clear; the action was clearly visible. One of the locals asked a Marine Major in the jeep why the assault forces continued to attack up a hill in the face of enemy fire, and the Major, annoyed and yet intrigued by a primitive person speaking English, sarcastically responded that that is where the enemy was! Then the local citizen asked why the Marines did not use the tunnel running through the mountain, attacking the enemy from the rear. The Major now became interested! But Hill 861 was already taken, and the Major angrily looked at the local man and asked why he didn't mention the tunnel earlier. The man responded that he had not been asked. He walked away. The real reason was that the local leader, Mr. Anya, had attempted to speak with the Marines for 5 days, but the Marines, preoccupied with the tactical situation, did not wish to speak with him. Hill 861 contained, in fact, five natural caves.