Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A Synopsis of Sept. 21, 1967

This is for those who know very little or nothing about the events of September 21, 1967. If what you do know is from websites or books, then much of what you have read is in error.

First, most reports list 16 KIA with 15 left behind. I now have the names of 34 KIA and the KIA list from Echo company is incomplete. So we don't know at this time the total of KIA, but 16 is definitely wrong. There were 118 reported wounded in action, but I don't know if this number is correct.

Many reports give the impression that we were ambushed, and the attack on us was so fierce that we had to withdraw immediately, leaving 15 behind. The fact is we were on a battalion sweep of an area when Fox company walked into an ambush. Echo was ordered to go to their aid. Echo also engaged an NVA battalion which was in a fortified position, and Golf company was ordered to perform a flanking movement in support of Echo while Hotel company was held in reserve in a defensive position to our rear. So the real situation was companies E, F & G attacked the NVA in a fortified position, and fought them all day long.

Most reports say we advanced to within 30 meters of the enemy and were stopped. This is true to a point, but several charges were made into the fortified position and at least one charge by parts of Golf company was successful. We were not forced to withdraw but were called back so artillery could be called in on the NVA. The NVA had the advantage because they outnumbered us, were dug in, and we were in the open. They also had the area zeroed in with artillery, rockets, and mortars. They hit us with everything they had but we still fought them to a draw and chose to withdraw as darkness approached.

The location of the battle has been reported in error as being west of Khe Sanh near the border with Laos. In fact we were approximately 1800 meters east of Con Thien.

With all the mis-information about the battle, including being classified for 25 years, the need for the truth to be told becomes apparent.

5 comments:

Bob Bliss said...

Another aspect of this battle was the fact that we were fighting with a defective weapon. The M-16, at this time in 1967, would often jam after firing only a few rounds. We were told by our officers we were not keeping our rifles clean. Keeping the M-16 clean in Vietnam was difficult at best. This was due to the environment and the weather. But this was not the problem. There were real problems with the M-16, and many Marines were killed because of the weapons malfunctions.
I personally went through three
M-16s during the September 21st fight, serving with Golf Company until I was wounded.
It was like fighting with one arm tied behind our backs. We were outnumbered, using a weapon that jammed, but we still fought like Marines have always fought. And we gave as good as we got.

Semper Fi,
Bob Bliss Golf-2/4 1967

Archie said...

My name is Archie Haase. I was with Echo 2/4 on this day. The fighting was so intense.

This day and other 2/4 combat days memories will be with me until I die.

The people who put model of M 16 into our hands in my opinion are guilty of murder, at the least should feel guilty for their lives. Do I forgive them? No.

Archie said...

My name is Archie Haase. I was with Echo 2/4 on this day. The fighting was so intense.

This day and other 2/4 combat days memories will be with me until I die.

The people who put model of M 16 into our hands in my opinion are guilty of murder, at the least should feel guilty for their lives. Do I forgive them? No.

Anonymous said...

Allan Sutherland 0311 from Eastport, Maine...was with Hotel. I remember a 34 going down and the two large piles of dead man's gear in the rear that day. I also remember going back to get the dead.
USMC 1966/1970 SGT
US Army Nat.Guard 1980/1985 SGT
USNR Seabees 1991/2006 UTCS(SCW)

Jeff Fisher said...

I am Jeff Fisher and I was the First Lieutenant / Executive Officer of Golf Company on the day in question. I have carried with me the many confused memories of that day for more than 40 years now, and I still unsure where to begin to accurately describe the events. I do, however, know several things for certain (almost certain). Specifically:
1. We had no useful intelligence about what we were about to walk into when we left our positions outside the wire on that bright sunshine morning. We were simply patrolling.
2. Many of the junior officers felt that the Battalion Commander was in Vietnam to get his "ticket punched" and we did not have confidence in him as a combat leader.
3. Golf's initial line of march was due south. We turned to the east when Echo became engaged, and ultimately turned back to the north to flank the NVA positions engaging those two companies.
4. The NVA flank turned out to be a line of bunkers in a tree line at least 200 meters long, maybe longer, and for a long time I believed / I still believe that Echo had hit the NVA flank and Golf had walked into the front of the enemy’s defenses.
5. Nevertheless, Golf was ultimately able to cross the open field in front of the enemy positions and, despite heavy casualties, engage the NVA. In that process we destroyed several heavy machine guns and held a tenuous foothold among the bunkers.
6. I lost two radiomen that day. Both to a single shot in the leg which led to bleeding, followed by shock and death because we couldn't get them out on a timely basis.
7. We were then ordered to pull back; a decision I disagreed with because we had paid a huge price to get there, but we did as ordered.
8. I took a make shift team and went back into the open field / bunker area to recover all of our wounded and dead. I am proud of the fact that Golf, despite suffering many casualties, did not leave any of our men in the field that day.
In summary, I have read a number of accounts of the events surrounding 2nd Battalion/4th Marines on September 21st, and I have never agreed with all that I have read. Nor do I expect you to fully agree with my account. The “Fog of War” is a very real thing. When I bullets fly…