Khe Sanh Hill Fights of ‘67
Compiled by Ray Stubbe
All Rights Reserved by the Author
Hill 881-North Captured 05 May 1967
1stLt Adinolfi, acting CO of E/2/3, gathered his platoon commanders to issue the order to attack Hill 881N. The plan was for two companies, Echo, and the relatively unscathed F Co (over 250 strong) to attack two companies abreast, F on the left, E on the right following arty and air prep. F would pass through E's position and move to the designated assault position. E would follow in trace, tie in with the right side of F at the assault position and on order, seize, secure, and defend the right half of the objective. E-2, Lt Jim Cannon's platoon of 17 Marines would be the point.
All went as planned, with arty dropped within 50 meters and moved as the assault continued. Jim Cannon recalls the assault:
"My platoon moved out as rapidly as possible, keeping generally abreast of the platoon on my right. Echo Company was guide company and Foxtrot was to guide on us. Foxtrot company fell behind on my left and was slow maneuvering even though we met minimal resistance. To prevent any decrease in our momentum, Echo Company pushed forward up the ridgeline and over the crest and into a hasty defense. We were already in our hasty defense when Foxtrot company arrived. My platoon set in from 11 to about 2 where we tied in with the 1st or 3rd platoon. As Foxtrot arrived I showed the company commander where to tie in with the most leftward position. 881N was ours."
2ndLt Charles Paul Chritton led the Second Platoon, F/2/3, taking small arms fire as they assaulted. Lt Chritton immediately rushed to where his men were taking fire. The NVA were firing from a series of 10 strongly constructed and mutually supported bunkers. Upon taking several casualties out of 3rd Squad, Lt Chritton maneuvered the platoon back down the slope and called and directed artillery and air strikes.
He then led his men back up the hill in a determined assault, exposing himself numerous times to enemy who were sometimes only 10 meters from him. While riflemen were crawling forward, Lt Chritton ran upright back and forth laterally, giving commands and words of encouragement. He took time to give the wounded some encouraging words. At one point it seemed that he was pinned down, and then a grenade landed at his side. Somehow he managed to spring out of the casualty radius of the grenade, avoid being struck by automatic fire, and move on to where he was needed. The bunkers werre cleared; the position occupied. Results of the contact were 5 Marines wounded and 3 NVA probably killed.
At 1445H, Hill 881-North was secured. Lt Jack Adinolfi, observed the results of the heavy bombardment: "It stunk. The smell of death was everywhere. There is no doubt those 1,000 and 2,000-pound bombs took a terrible toll of them. We found shreds of clothing, bits and pieces, but nothing you could put together."
At 052050H, E/2/3 at XD 7774546 and F/2/3 at XD 773459 received 92 rounds incoming 82mm mortars equally divided between the two companies and also sighted 5 lights approx 800 meters northwest.
Both Battalions used 6 - 9 May to conduct platoon-sized patrols with particular emphasis on covering the area to the west of Hills 881-S and 881-N. Numerous enemy positions were located.