Ca De Bridge Presentation Emails



Emails following Karl Lippards online video presentation from Sept 30th, 2018.

(Read from Top Down.)

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  From: Herb Blount, LT USS Stoddard
OMG...I was the Gun Boss that night! WOW
LT. Herb Blount - USS Stoddard 64-66

From: Karl Lippard    (Note TAOR is Tactical Area of Responsibility)

I was preparing for the USS Stoddard speech with docs and reviewing 2/3, AND where these Companies WERE during the Ca De River fight. What I found: what was left of H Company had moved inland along with Echo Company to converge together on a town that no longer exists called Hoa My. You have to have an old map to find it. I have it. Inland about 7 miles as the crow flies from the ocean. It is on my estimated line of march prepared map of the 7th VC BN moving north. Then Fox Company was moved to intersect south on the same trail some 4.25 miles south of E & H trying to interdict this VC battalion on the march. That leaves only Golf to cover 4 company positions...So all units out of pocket to react to a bridge crossing...... BUUUUUTTTT, stuck in there on page 186 is the bridge fight. Read it. It says" (Ships) was used on "six suspected VC locations' All targets were located in the extreme NORTH and Northeast portions of the TAOR ABOVE THE CA DE RIVER. (Then notes the number of rounds which are short in actual record to NGF record. Those are just the USS Craig's)

The TAOR ended at the Ca De River. #1 Over it is a violation of orders or authority. #2 All NGF (which firing began on 22 Jul 65 had to be "called by, observed and directed by a FO or Marine"....The NGF says fired for "H/2/3". And H 2/3 was only ones AT the bridge. #3 Extreme North above the TAOR......We cannot BE OUT of our TAOR. PERIOD....So Div DID note the firing on the 28th and 29th (Did not mention it at on in this record of the 28th) but just failed to mention who it was firing FOR. As compared to SITREP to Regiment and firefight to 2nd BN 3rd Mar.....They did not record the full number of rounds and recorded just ONE SHIPS firing....A small minor error. And they did cut the firing timeline down too. USS Craig began firing at 1845h not 2345h. Ended at 0240h for USS Craig which is near correct but ended at 0310h. The USS Stoddard continued until 0357h confirmed by NGF War Journal, deck logs of both ships and my report written in 1982 to the Navy Records Branch. Also they "slipped" the DATE in this division report as well.

So we DO HAVE a division record of the event as vague as it is that conflicts with SITREPS "H/2/3 is in a heavy firefight at AT930840 and Naval Gunfire has been called. SITREP 2/3, 3Mar, and 3d MarDiv" Changed to this suggesting TWO SHIPS were needed to fire on "six suspected VC locations." Of course that is out of Division Orders from 7th Fleet Command and Vietnamese NGF authority. (I have those orders) The ONLY authority for NFG was a NGF team or a Marine had to call it. (I have those orders.) Or in "protection. A Marines self defense of life or death, or being overrun, or called by ARVN being overrun etc." Very tight conditions.

Therefore the NGF record Mayday call a Marine unit being overrun was valid and recorded even being out of TAOR could be ARVN overrun as well. And it was.. The record on page 186 here in Div G-3 report was not authorized action as stated. If not pointing to the threat that existed it was as stated here, unauthorized firing on undisclosed positions, unobserved, at night, over a civilian population......The only come back to this if discovered was the Marine who called it. Find him for debrief. Until then it never happened. Bury the Chinese deep.

That�s your final record Bill. Division buried it in plain sight. Only the NGF War Journal, USS Craig, USS Stoddard, and I know what truly happened. The only ones as a result to instruct others as General Walt is dead. He sent me the ships and air. G-2 and G-3 knew the name of the man calling the fire or would not have sent them. Called it in the rain and darkness on 28/29 Jul 1965. The battle is now fully documented. Hotel Company with USS Craig and USS Stoddard assisting in mass final firing. USS Craig with 102rds at 0212h and another 200 rounds combined at 0232h to 0310h, destroyed the 7th VC Battalion to the man. Of the 600+ more than 300 Chinese died in the attack. On record III Mar Div G-2 confirming the 7th VC BN was staffed by "More than half of Chinese." So under the rug Bill.

Just under the rug. Hidden in plain sight but seen only by those who fought it.

Best regards, Karl Lippard
cc: For ships crews of USS Craig and USS Stoddard cc: Hotel Company 2/3 for record ***************************************************************************************************
From: Karl Lippard

Oh the Lt. sure does!! Are you deaf Lt.? Are your deaf? Damn fine work Lt. Blount!

The report on the 4th Aug was good as well. I was there too of course. Normally we don't read a report on ARVN deaths but division did mention we lost two ARVN at the bridge. Kind of in passing comment. On the south side of the bridge all I recall is the firing of course. No one made it across the bridge....I wonder who called that fire?

Division order was specific the grids to shoot on in the NGF record.......Very unusual that. Hurried and quick....Not very legal. But, the ship covered a larger area than that order. From the order I can see given the 28th scare, division was...well...scared again as there was no protection STILL from the north. Just 20 Marines...This was the 20th VC BN. According to division only 2 companies were formed and they trained up river at a village called? Truong Dinh. A hard target to hit well with NFG. Good cover. Col. Martin took us thru there in June or early July I think. A lot of booby traps. Leaches. We slept there in a shallow ravine near the river on the way up to Nam Yen. Not quite legal but the road on the correct south side was And Nam Yen was legal. But across the Ca De river we were NOT allowed to go and the enemy knew it. They would just over on the other side, make a fire and sleep well. It was a problem for us to be sure.

The shooting was a very nice job on the 4th. Very close to civilians at the ESSO plant to inland. The WP was great. Good effect. But the 29th. The 29th was historic. Enemy in the open. My god. My god.

I also noticed I think on the 6th Aug....Division sent in a EOD team to......Check for "un-exploded Ordnance." I think this as an excuse to SEE how many were dead and where maybe they were buried. They had to distance themselves from the 28/29th, and used this engagement to "inspect for hazardous un-exploded ordnance.... Uuuuh, rightttt. I would like to read that report. Fine job Lt....

Gary, I heard a short round explosion near the ship in my memory. Behind me of course so could be wrong. But it did not come over me. Any memory of that or anyone hurt? I don't know if it was on the USS Craig or the Stoddard?

A salute Navy. I am sorry I did not see your faces at reunion....A salute from Marines, Navy! Don't you ever forget it. According to reports received recently, the USS Craig and USS Stoddard may be the last big battle of NGF support in American history for Lt. Reeder's command 3rd Plt, Hotel /2/3. CMC has given up on NGF support from Navy. I would get your ship roster if you can for this period. I will attach it to formal letter of commendation to SecNav. Both ships. You were the III Marine Division's wall of defense. All we had. Thank you all. Thank- You- All.

Best regards, Sgt. Karl Lippard ************************************************************************************
From John Calder, RD3, USS Stoddard

Dear Sgt. Karl Lippard:

After receiving a link from a former shipmate, I watched your presentation of the battle of the Ca De River Bridge. It�s difficult to describe the awe I experienced during the entire presentation. While informative, it also answered a question that puzzled me since 1965. I�m confident the crew found the entire presentation enlightening; but it was especially riveting to me.

Mr. Lippard, I was a Radarman (RD-3) and the ships Naval Gunfire Support Communicator. As a result, if I understood your presentation correctly, you were the Spotter I communicated with during the entire battle. If this is the case, I am absolutely thrilled to learn of your identity and the story associated with that particular mission. In all the prior or following missions, the Ca De River Bridge battle stands out and I can recall it vividly. It was the only time, after being �adjusted�, I received a request for �4 guns, main armament, high explosive, fuse quick, 250 rounds of continuous fire�, and all hell broke loose (Karl, to be honest, if I remember correctly we fired well in excess of 250 rounds). While my memory may not be the way it once was; I�ll never forget that night.

In numerous conversations with Veterans, I�ve been frequently asked if I ever met a Spotter I communicated with. I always explained it this way; being a Naval Gunfire Support Communicator was much like being a 911 Operator. The minute you established communications with a Spotter an immediate bond was formed; it felt like you were communicating and working together with a close friend on a common goal. And not unlike many 911 Operators, each call was unique and special. When the event concluded, you remained concerned over the whereabouts of your �friend� and his safety. In the future, these encounters frequently crossed your mind and hoped all was well with your �friends�. This is why your presentation was so significant and meaningful to me.

I mentioned earlier, your presentation answered a question that puzzled me since I was discharged in May 1965. During your presentation, you mentioned your research concluded the USS Stoddard was the first naval vessel, as the DaNang Harbor Defense Ship, to conduct a Naval Gunfire Support Mission in the Vietnam War. In 1965,

I was serving the final year of my 4 years enlistment; I was scheduled to conclude my enlistment on January 25, 1966. As I�m sure you remember, in late summer or early fall, President Johnson extended the enlistment of all Marine and Naval personnel by 6 months. This meant my new separation date was late July 1966.

The USS Stoddard was scheduled to complete her deployment and return to San Diego in November 1965. Shortly following President Johnson�s extension, the Executive Officer came to me and said the Captain requested I consider volunteering to be transferred from the ship to another Destroyer. The first thing that came to mind was I must have done something terrible for the Captain to want me off his ship. But the XO explained the Captain thought my role in Naval Gunfire Support had served the Stoddard well and felt I could be an asset to another Destroyer. To be honest, I was completely confused; why me?

Your presentation cleared up that confusion. If we were the first to have conducted Naval Gunfire Support, who could have been more experienced?

The XO mentioned this was completely voluntary and as I thought, I recalled the Spotters I had the privilege to work with; if they weren�t heading back, why should I. Let me say my family and friends back in the States were less than thrilled, but I signed the transfer request.

I�ve gone this far, so I may as well finish the story. During a refueling operation, I was highlined from the USS Stoddard to an oiler (can�t remember her name). I spend a few days aboard the oiler and, during another refueling, was highlined onto the USS Samuel N. Moore (DD-747). I was assigned as their Naval Gunfire Support Communicator and we immediately began shore bombardment missions.

We departed Vietnam in mid May 1966, arriving in San Diego on May 22, 1966, and I was separated on May 23, 1966. But just prior to reaching the States, the crew was assembled on the fantail and I was one of three shipmates to receive a Letter of Commendation from the Captain. When it was my turn, as the Letter was being read Captain Martin mentioned it was being presented to state not only his view, but those of Captain Presgrove as well. I�m attaching a copy, because you and every Spotter, I had the honor of working with, are responsible. This Letter means more to me than any medal they I could have awarded!

Before closing, I would like to mention the USS Stoddard was awarded three Battle Stars and the USS Moore seven Battle Stars for their participation in Vietnam War.

Mr. Lippard, if you�re ever in the area, I would welcome the opportunity to have lunch or dinner with you; of course if you only had time for a drink, that would be fine as well. Generally we are in the Princeton, NJ (West Windsor) between May and September, as well as between Thanksgiving and New Year�s. The other months we spend in Naples, Fl. I must admit, this is ideal for a retiree. In closing, I�d like to thank you for your service and hope we have the opportunity of meeting in the future.

John Calder

From John Calder, RD3, USS Stoddard

First, please accept my apology for taking so long to respond; the frequency I go online seems to be less and less as time goes by. With that said, I feel it necessary to backup just a bit concerning an earlier email. After 53 years, while many events remain clear, being able to assign specific dates becomes much more challenging. During the time span when the Ca De River bridge battle occurred, the Stoddard participated in at least 3 emergency or urgent calls. Each of these calls was in support of a small group of Marines who were significantly outnumbered by enemy forces.

In an earlier email, I mentioned a night where a Marine Spotter requested 250 rounds from our main armament to be fired for effect and all hell broke loose. After additional thought, I�m confident this request was actually made in connection with the Esso Fuel Storage Tank explosion. Following the Spotter�s adjustment of fire and his request to �fire for effect�, his final communication was something along the line of �they�re all around us and we have to leave; continue firing, continue firing!!�

As customary, my communications with a Spotter was piped to the Bridge and possibly other locations within the ship. The day following the Esso tank explosion, a �rumor� rapidly spread throughout the ship that the Spotter actually called for fire on his own position. As you know, unless informed post battle by the Marines, we would never have known the accuracy of this rumor. In all missions, while we knew the targets location, I cannot remember a single one where we knew the actual position of the Spotter.

In your last email, you mentioned the Marines were given orders to remain south of the Ca De River Bridge, and appeared somewhat uncertain over who may have made the request and adjustments from the shore. Karl, up to the point of receiving your email, I always had assumed the request was made by a Marine Spotter.

It may be worth mentioning; around this the time we had a team of UDT�s operating from our ship; again, I�m unable to even estimate exact dates (�around this time� is the best I can do). While their operations were quite secretive, one evening we provided NGFS in support of one of their missions near Da Nang. Now after learning the Marines had orders to remain south of the bridge; possibly, just possibly, the Spotter involved with the Esso Storage Tank battle may have been attached to this UDT unit.

After being transferred from the USS Stoddard to the USS Samuel N. Moore in November 1965, I stayed in contact with a few of my shipmates. I was frequently asked if we were involved in any missions as intense as the ones in late July and early August 1965, which included the Esso storage tank. During one of the communications, I was told a picture of the aftermath, following the Esso Tank battle, was included in the 1965 USS Stoddard Cruise book. Again, I have no way of verifying the accuracy of this information.

During one of your emails, a question was raised how the USS Craig shared her �computer solutions� with the USS Stoddard. While more specific or exact details of the fire control system could be provided by a Fire Controlman (FC), I can provide a general overview from the mission�s perspective.

First, we have to go back to 1965, so some of the terms used back then may have a completely different meaning today; one being �computer�. Even in the press release to the wire services, the Captain used the phrase �computer solutions�. Let�s be clear, in 1965, we did not have the benefit of electronic computers, GPS, or satellite imagery; nor anything even closely resembling �Bluetooth� technology. For the most part, our systems hadn�t even been upgraded to include transistors. The major component of our radar system was a vacuum tube.

With that being said even back then our Fire Control system, coupled with gyroscope technology, resulted in relatively accurate gunfire.

I�ll continue, as you know, once the Spotter �adjusted� our initial rounds and we began to fire for effect; our guns remained �locked� on target.

While never authorized (because of collateral damage concerns), if we were assigned to fire on a specific fixed target, (i.e. warehouses, bridges, ammunition dump, etc.) we could have done so without the input of a Spotter. While maneuvering into position, data reflecting the �X� and �Y� coordinates, along with the ships position, course (if I recall it utilized the actual true bearing), and speed was entered into the ships Fire Control System. Once we were �locked� on target and, with the Captain�s orders, we would begin firing. The likelihood of successfully completing the mission was very high.

On the other hand, when firing on non-fixed targets (i.e. enemy troops, convoys of military equipment, etc.), we relied exclusively on the input from a Spotter. Our effectiveness was almost solely dependent upon the professionalism and accuracy of data provided by the Spotter. This required the following steps:

1. Establish communications and authenticate the Spotter�s identity (this was to avoid communicating with an English speaking enemy and having fire directed on friendly troops).

2. Once step 1 was met, the Spotter would provide the X and Y coordinates, the number of guns for adjustment purposes, the type of armament, explosive, fuse, and end with the Spotter saying �at my command, will adjust�. After recording the data, and as I was repeating the request, word for word, we would calculate the data and enter the results into the Fire Control �Computer� (remember it�s 1965).

3. Once the data had been entered and a solution reached, I�m informed we are ready to fire and tell the Spotter �ready, over�. The Spotter releases us to fire and I confirm receipt of his request and the gun team is notified and fires a round. When I hear the gun mount actually fire, I notify the Spotter the round is in route by saying �Shot�. Now it�s important to mention, the accuracy of this initial round is solely dependent on the Spotter�s ability to identify his position and the position of the target, in relationship to a detailed map.

4. Once our round reaches the area, the Spotter makes the necessary adjustment (i.e., left 100 up 75).Upon receipt of the adjustment, we recalculate the data and enter the adjusted results into the �fire control computer� and repeat Paragraph 3.

5. In most cases, a single adjustment was sufficient and we were released by the Spotter to �fire for effect�.

Karl, it was necessary to describe the above scenarios to understand how one ship could share or use the firing solutions of another; basically it�s a combination of both.

So during the night of the Ca De River battle, as we got underway from DaNang Harbor, we established communications with the USS Craig and authenticated its identity. Well before we arrived on station, the USS Craig provided their firing solution (I believe via a classified radio message). This provided a clear description of the entire Fire Control equation, from the coordinates of the target through the solution of their FC system. As a result, before we arrived on station, we took this detailed data, and after adjusting it to meet our needs, entered it into our Fire Control System. As this was being done, the crew was called to General Quarters, our guns loaded, and we were prepared to fire. We entered the area (consistent with all NGFS mission), under a condition known as �darkened ship�, which is why you didn�t see us until we began firing. By using the firing solution from the Craig, when we arrived on station, we immediately began firing for effect (straight to paragraph 5 above). In addition, when you made adjustments to coincide with enemy movements, both ships simultaneously incorporated the revised data into their Fire Control systems and began firing on the new coordinates.

As I mentioned earlier, the above is more from an operational perspective. If you�re more interested in how this was technically accomplished, Dan may be able to put you in contact with one or more Fire Controlmen.

Karl, I�ll end here; hopefully I haven�t put you to sleep. I hope all is well and please let me know when you�re in my area.

John Calder ******************************************************************************************************* From: From Karl Lippard:

As for the Stoddard it had been firing earlier. Moved to maintain guns etc. then called back to aid the USS Craig. Probably due to it being low on ammo and heavily pressed to complete the mission. Stoddard came in to help finish the job with mass fire on the grids called and noted. A check fire was called after that saturation. Stoddard further lit up the battlefield to see who if anyone remained standing. 74 rounds NGF confirms illumination shot after the Craig departs 0305h. 174 rounds before 0400h. A lot of WP. 39 rds there of that. (War record) that's a memory match.... If not enough on target, I would have continued firing until nothing but sand remained.

Some questions as to where ships were rearmed with munitions? at sea? In harbor? I am a little unclear as to how many rounds the ship carried total. 400 rounds total or 400 (about) per gun? Per Mount? I can read a lot of firing over a few days here. Question is, if no resupply was done, Craig was on air and Stoddard in short supply on the 29th as well. My shoot really drained the Craig and the Stoddard was needed to finish the job or provide counter attack protection. The saturation of grid broke their back. No one came thru that. No one.

Inland about 600 yards (to memory) there is a pretty wide stream running parallel to the beach. This put the enemy in a corridor of approach and retreat. Then north that stream turns north west. Another corridor back to the final grid with village huts on the north scattered along the route. So the enemy never left the corridor. Always remained in the open sand with rice paddies on their north flank. So they were trapped in that corridor. The only chance they had was to cross that bridge. I think the Craig with first firing must have taken out the command staff.

Marines would have pressed and crossed that bridge. Personally I believed at least some, had. But the leading elements received heavy HE VT. Heavy. It is wishful thinking under that fire that communication existed to charge an unknown force ahead and a strong desire to get out of that fire. Those that moved to the beach were terminated. Those who remained in column were hit so fast with massive fire just died in place before they could react. They never got out of the kill box. Evidence and battlefield map shows the box clearly and ARVN cannot be discounted as pressing and denying a northerly retreat across their front. It is an unpleasant statement but the 7th VC were slaughtered. I am sorry. I am sorry today. But not sorry if a single Marine was lost on the bridge. Afterward I expected all Marines WERE lost and I was going to have to answer for it. In the end they were all fine. I don't think a single man even knew what was going on over that bridge.

At your reunion will try to avoid all that part combat. Just an overview of your ship and its performance in the days prior and afterward. Its critical contribution to the division in its time of need. The event details are disturbing to me in reflection. Analytically for the purpose intended I think we are good. Hide if we can the rest. No importance. No importance except that part which requires acknowledgement of performance and duty: Two ships responded to Marines in dire need. The USS Craig and USS Stoddard. Someone needs to stand for you. For the Marine Corps I will and proud to.

In fact for Navy I should record an after action report. I have all the supporting documents now that you have recovered the deck logs. At some point someone is going to look at this NFG support. The combined fire effort. It is educational for future Captains. We cannot duplicate this support today and thus must be studied. This application of force. While rare for Vietnam, General Walt had a similar problem on Guadalcanal. We must have this support today. Must have it. I will not rest until we do.

Best regards, Karl Lippard


From: Garry Stone

I stated small arms fire but I failed to mention that I do recall a Mortar landing just approx. 35 feet short of midship. Mortar and small arm fire was the reason for the emergency back down maneuver the Stoddard made.


From: Karl Lippard

I don't know of the ESSO. I was there. There was some question which one I called. The history suggests it to be the 28th for a host of reasons. So unlikely on the 4th of August. But then who called that? None of us did unless me. No American's over that bridge to the north. When you read the NGF record some very unusual recording is there. Division ordered the fire missions for the ship in route. Which could have been given me. Then it says to be adjusted from shore. But by who?

The number of rounds are about the same. But when you read my book written in 1982 I list the grid coordinates. Those match as you see in attachment and supported by documentation shown. The ESSO plant matches to some degree but in others not. The memory of Lt Blount in Plot shooting for a Marine surrounded is correct where the ESSO plant was on attack on that.

But I only called one to my memory? No one else in my unit would have for sure.

The key to the 28th was the USS Craig responded to a Mayday call. I don't think that term has ever been used in NGF support Vietnam. Very hard to forget. When I said that word they knew it was me who called it. Plus the manner of the ship approach, location, time, volume of fire, and coordinates. From records and deck log I find where the Stoddard was. She had put down for the night and division ordered her to light boilers and come quick speed to support the USS Craig. Then they fired together. I was unaware two ships were there but was asking the Navy to look for a Cruiser because of all the guns. The Craig had four. Just did not seem right. When firing for effect, some 300 rounds, NGF records, I could see more guns than 4. So if not a Cruiser it had to BE two ships with 8 guns. And it was. But it has been many years. All I can say is I recall both fights.

As to first firing, NGF record shows the first record: NGF-1. It is recorded to be "No Mission." The USS Galveston fired 8 July for the 4th Marines Chu Lai NGF-2. (Naval Gun Fire record 2) 12 rds of 6". Okay, NGF-2 was 6 rounds at a suspected bunker and fired on the wrong co ordinance. And another 6 rounds for ground prep in the dirt. So nothing.

BUT, authorization to fire in 'support" was not given until 15 July and not issued until 17 July 1965. I will pull that up. Yes Naval Support Activity was established on 17th. So the first authorized firing was the USS Stoddard. In "I Corps" for sure. I can check all of Vietnam but it may take some time. Checking now I find no one in my list of ships who fired earlier. One pretender 6 July but no record of that ship as support of 2/7 in II Corps at all. The Mullany DD-528.

The Stoddard record NGF-3, fired 18 July for 2/9. 5" but does not say what. I can check. Oh it says illumination on various areas. It shows she had 117 Illumination round on board. So the first DD to fire is correct for Vietnam.

The first Naval Gunfire support of anyone under attack was 28 July NGF-101 at 1845h. A mission from Mayday call at Ca De River bridge by the USS Craig followed by the USS Stoddard at 29 July at 0211h NGF-110. Called by Cpl Karl C. Lippard who was engaged in fire by a large force when the USS Craig arrived on station. Witnessed and heard from the ship as she came.

Both ships by record fired for 2/3. But Division, Regiment and Battalion report correctly fired for H/2/3 at the bridge and called. "Heavy firefight, Naval Gunfire Called." So while they covered up carefully the record, this record remains to say what it says. And the final coordinates called are right there to read. Hidden from history unless you called it from the ground or fired it from the ships. Too many witnesses now. To many men alive that remember like you, members of the Stoddard, and USS Craig.

I have all documented and can provide. Free to add to your ships record. Both ships are responsible for holding the III Marine Division incursion from destruction on the 29th of July 1965. Well done is NOT the proper word.

Best regards, Karl Lippard

From: Karl Lippard

Yes. I hope to think most Marines with skill would. For when all is lost we will call continued fire and if possible a break in that fire for enemy to cover our ground before repeating fire to destroy them.

I had plotted fire on my position and called it within 100 yards killing by hand those closer. Fortunately the first fuse quick was devastating and I was largely protected in sand from it. Their unity of attack remained disciplined. A VC unit are not so regimented and would have swarmed me fairly fast. Kind of hard to forget. The enemy was professional. We just caught them in the open, made a few good moves, and got lucky.

But Marines are predictable. You kill him or he will kill you. And when all are dead, look to your life for he is not through. I would have never have left my station. Most Marines know that. Certainly mine. Not until I killed them all. It is what we do. It IS what this General, my former Company Commander and BN XO at 3/9, is saying in attachment to me.

What more remains unsaid between warriors but acknowledgement of your deeds? It is why I acknowledge your crew. The crew of both ships. We cleared this battlefield. Cleared it. Carry that battle of the Ca De River bridge now with honor. The Navy may never see such a challenge again. Sincerely, Karl Lippard

From: Karl Lippard

Yes. I was pushed to the ocean. We had to reduce a VC Battalion from the flank trying to cross the bridge moving south. I was in a bad way until the USS Craig arrived. Until I was able to move and reduce the main column.

Once in withdrawal following overland and with fire we were successfully able to destroy them.

I see on the connection now. The last 200 rounds of fire for effect I followed with 75 rounds to observe any remaining enemy movement. The NGF War Record records that pretty well. And now as with you memory is not as exact.

Fortunately I wrote the Navy and have those records in 1982 and put down in a limited way the call for Mayday and following support not knowing if it would be read or not. That and photo after action aids in memory. Back then I could not support a battle that was not recorded nor confirm. Actual rounds and their number as well. Now we have that and they match my memory recorded in book from 1983. I looked all these years to access data that confirms the data and ships for the historical record.

Also beneficial was the detailed diary record of the USS Craig by EM3 Hank Lehtola. He withheld that until my recollections tendered matched his ships record exactly. The good Lord knows his business. And of course the system worked in our favor.

Best regards, Karl Lippard

From: Herb Blount,

Hi Karl. So good to hear from you, jarhead. lol To answer the coordination question between the Craig and Stoddard, there has to be coordination between the spotter, the ship firing high explosives (HE) and the ship firing starbursts. It is a loop. The spotter calls in the coordinates to the Starburst ship. Spotter observes troop movements and calls the HE ship with coordinates for firing. After firing the starburst ship then fires starbursts so the spotter can observe its effectiveness and makes further adjustments.

Hope this helps. Are you that spotter that called for fire ON YOUR OWN POSITION because you were surrounded?


From: Karl Lippard  (Photos mentioned here are not included - Dan)

Herb; and Officers and men of the USS Stoddard and USS Craig:

Thanks for your offer to send the roster Lt.. That will be priceless. I have been out of town and just got back in to a real computer to type on!!

A question for you Herb. The Stoddard fired in sync with the USS Craig. Can you explain how that was done? Professional curiosity. Like to know how that was done. Today my ships design fire from GPS and a control center to fire multiple ships at once at full speed on a single target. That is pretty simple. During the Vietnam period firing together was a major advantage that must be understood and read about. Share what you can on that it would be appreciated.

These are some photos of my marines in our environment in early 1965. The pup tents are read, condition of clothes was worse. The landing photos are of two areas of Red Beach 2. The area of Red Beach I was rejected for sand bars which was just south of Ca De River. RB 2 was centered about 1/2 to 1 mile south of the other eye marked by the High rock off the beach called Namo Village. The Ca De River bridge is often called the Namo Bridge. Unless you were sitting ON IT.

While many Marines were saved by the USS Craig and USS Stoddard those 9th MEB shown here most certainly were. These are the commanders and staff of the three battalions on station. Not pictured is the command staff of the III Marine Division (Which replaced the 9th MEB in name and structure) and the 4th Marines who were newly arrived at Chu Lai. Time at this period of insertion was delicate at best. Pup tents and digging positions require protection to establish a beach head. Therefore Navy was very important. Fortunately we had Marines on the ground and commanders who knew their business and well prepared to endure the hardships that confronted them. We ate from the can, lived off the land, stripped clothes from the dead and willingly confronted an enemy that did much the same. The key difference was Naval Gunfire and Air support. Artillery we had of course but could cover limited areas and located in the most strategic locations of use. From south west of Da Nang north, there was nothing. Just the ships at sea. Therefore a strike from the north could be fatal. It nearly was. The enemy was just not bold enough. We had a Navy prepared to respond to trouble. Killed them as we were trained to do. As trained; to do from the top down.

Rare here is a photo of the officers of H/2/3 and H/2/4 the day prior to Operation Starlite (Dragonfly) 17 Aug 1965. 2dLt Reeder 3rd plt in sunglasses (Ca De River Bridge), O'Connor 1st Plt, McCarthy CO and Williams 2d plt of H/2/3. Moran, XO Clancy and Cooney of H/2/4. While a lot of Naval gunfire was used, it was used for ground prep for artillery landing zones, future patrol and after the main battle of Starlite.

USS Galveston, USS Orleck, USS Prichett

The sand in the background of photo is the raised sand positions of H/2/4. No cover. The same for the Chu Lai airfield as well. No cover. No fortifications. Completely surrounded by enemy save the beach for the airfield.

Therefore 360 degree raised positions for the west companies. H/2/3 was H/2/4 unit reserve. Protection from rear attack during operation Starlite. There were some 9,000 enemy to the west of them. It could have been festive for H/2/3 alone in that position. Only the Galveston could reach them this far inland. I am afraid it would have been bad if hit.

So to say the battle of the Ca De River bridge was important would be an understatement. It was tactically critical. We could have lost the 9th MEB/ III Mar Div landing force with the blow of the bugle.

All of it I think. With battle knowledge and position of Marines known, conditions today would be described as dire and tenuous at best. Colorful bravado is what was recorded. As a combat Marine I deal with reality. For we know who dies today. My Marines stood with me knowing that many times. They were happy to do so then and today. A bond that cannot be broken. It is the same bond I share with the two ships.

We stood on the line, faced impossible odds and came out the other side together. Fused forever in time we few demonstrated the best America had. And won. As Hank Lehtola of the USS Craig said, "It isn't important what the world knows Karl; we remember.." Something like that. And he's right. It's just important for me to recognize you all for what you did. To insure you all know how proud I am of your service. Particularly on this critical day, the battle for the Ca De River bridge. For my Marine Corps I thank you all. Hope to see you down range; Again. All hands. All hands on deck. Pass the word.
Sincerely, Sgt. Karl Lippard   

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