Battle for the Ca De River Bridge

 

 


July 28/29, 1965 - The Battle for the Ca De River Bridge

 Researched and Recorded by

Sgt. Karl Lippard, USMC Ret Colorado Springs, CO

This report was compiled from various documents provided by Karl Lippard and assembled by Dan Withers.

This is a write up that will include all Stoddard sailors aboard the Stoddard the night of July 28 and morning of July 29. In my personal diary I had it recorded as providing NGFS (night gun fire support) somewhere in DaNang Harbor. I'm waiting to receive copies of the Stoddard Deck Logs to add to this discussion.
 
Text Box: July 28 - Holiday routine. GQ called at 00:30. Listened to President Johnson's speech about the Vietnam situation on the 1MC. Shot high explosive salvos all night. I slept through it.
 
 
 
Mr. Lippard is completing research on these called the Naval Battles for the Ca De River Bridge. The first with the USS Craig and the USS Stoddard.
 

The VC Attack Plan route and locations of Marine units in Vietnam July 1965

On the photo "Attack Plan NGF". This shows the enemy route from the south on 27 July 1965. Subsequently on 4 August as well.  A likely approach this area I patrolled myself and know it well with Hotel Company 3rd Platoon. The enemy proceeded north and crossed the Ca De River at a village complex known as Nam Yen.

 

 

The 3rd Marine Division at DaNang knew the enemy was moving north and tried to interdict by shelling the areas with red dots. Hard areas to hit due to the mountains.

 

The USS Stoddard fired 68 mixed rounds into that area called H&I or "Harassment & Interdiction."  The USS Craig fired 368 mixed rounds into these red dot areas on the 27th July in 24 hours. The enemy no doubt stayed on the reverse slope from shelling and proceeded on the 28th up the valley and down the other side into the battle plane arriving about 1800h or (hours. 8pm) and formed up into two formations of 2 companies each.

 

July 28/29 1965 Battle for the Ca De River Bridge. 1982 written record in: "The Warriors the United States Marines" page 127 compared to war records obtained 2017 in Ref.

= 1982 Lippard record NGF called.
=Naval Gunfire Support recorded grid.
= G-2 recorded grid
= MAW Airstrikes
= USS Craig DD-885.
= USS Stoddard DD-566
= Lippard location movement north
= 2/3 Sitrep: "Crowd" reports heavy firefight.
= ARVN location.
= "Crowd" (Rgmt) records 4 VC companies moving from two grids.
   

Figure 2- Ca De Battle Map

The Ca De Battle Map above shows those locations reported by Division in Green. The Blue is  my report of locations recalled in 1982. "X" is where NGF or Naval Gunfire was called. The dark Orange is where air strikes was dropped on co-ordinance given on radio. Some firing took place perhaps a diversion toward the ESSO Plant on the shore off the starboard beam of Stoddard. Down on the bridge the enemy hit my observation post on the north side of the bridge. Marines TAOR or "Tactical Area of Responsibility" is a zone limit. Outside of which no authority given legally to continue. That TAOR limit was the south bank of the Ca De River. But 20 men (About) to hold a bridge from a force trying to cross would be very difficult at best. So I was ordered to stand on the north side and give warning. (Illegal but prudent)

 

So letís stop a second for USS Stoddard crew. A point of knowledge. A private was not sent by himself on the North side of this bridge. A Corporal was. (In Marine Corps Jesus was a Marine Corporal. God was a Sergeant. No humor intended) I had been to Map and Aerial Photo School thus well trained. Best in class. I directed artillery and air strikes as range officer on Okinawa. I would say platoon commander Lt. Reeder made a good choice having been advised that day by Regimental Commander to "Not lose this bridge." I was sent there to warn if trouble came. Expected to handle it.

 

An enemy radio operator was discovered and dispatched. Platoon communication was broken. The bridge was heavily covered with Claymore mines. But my orders were to "hold and let no one pass." My Vietnamese Ranger and I came under fire. We moved in darkness to the beach to call fire on the bridge approaches. There we were thus engaged in firefight. Division responded to my Mayday call and ordered air strikes. The enemy battalion hit ARVN or "Army of Vietnam" (Actually the 2nd Regional force. A part time militia. Maybe 100 militia with wives) who were about 1/2 mile north. However  we were engaged on the bridge too. (Maybe a couple of ARVN bridge guards there? Unknown but likely they ran.)

 

The USS Craig arrived and put fire on co-ordinances. I could see with illumination the size of the force. It was large, and well formed. I shelled as they retired north and I moved up the beach. Enemy fire intensified as I came up on ARVN under heavy fire, "danger close." I moved forward as the enemy retired. The USS Stoddard joined the USS Craig about 2 am and began to fire with her. The blanks you see in the fire record indicates we were firing rapid. About 300 rounds are recorded to these periods by Navy. Where it says "Main Body" that is enemy main force and their grid location. The main body is shown at beginning and end of engagement.

 

The USS Craig expended half of its ammo the previous day. By near 3 am she was likely or nearly out. She steamed away at 3 am. Her deck covered with empty shell cases. The USS Stoddard remained on location firing a lot of WP or White Phosphorous rounds to burn vegetation if any enemy who was able to retreat. When I called "check fire" or cease fire, is recorded battle end. The record here shows 26 rounds USS Stoddard and 348 USS Craig. However you see the open fire missions blank with no record. USS Stoddard were firing I just don't know how many rounds and not recorded. Other records show, as do your records, in excess of 100 rounds. When the complete engagement was over however, it shows 348 rounds fired by the USS Craig and 148 rounds by the USS Stoddard in the Navy Gunfire report.

Figure 3 - NGFS Report chart 

In this example above, Figure 3, on the left column, the Navy identifies the unit ships were firing for. H/2/3 means Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, and 3rd Marine Regiment. 2/3 means 2nd Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment for short.

 

Next for my reference is the time 1845h is 1800 hours on a 24 hour clock. Then the date. And I made notes where I could of target numbers rather than grid coordinates. I will say these may have been expedient as a battle is very fluid. Therefore rounds fired are sometimes shown as blank. That's your clue when someone is busy and operating fast. But we know from other documents exactly where the enemy was as a cross reference on the map.

 

NGF-101 means Naval Gunfire record number 101. Vietnam began with record NGF-01 2 July 1965. The USS Stoddard was one, if not the first, authorized to fire Naval Gunfire in Vietnam. Most certainly I Corp. (Vietnam was divided into areas called Corp's. A politically correct term for Vietnamese.)

 

Approved firing record began on 2 July 1965. Ships had restrictions and could not fire on their own and obviously not at night. At that time we had few FO's or Forward Observers. A Marine qualified to call could call anything the Marine Corps had including Navy. (Theoretically anyway) But that would be rare to call Navy. And this was  exceedingly rare.

 

Next it says "ILL." It means Illumination; "WP" is White Phosphorous which explodes in the air, burns and cannot be put out until it burns out. Also used to observe distance for me at night. "HE" means High Explosive. "VT" means Vertical Timed. It can be read 4 August as "Fuse Quick."This means it explodes in the air above the target for maximum effect. Sometimes HE is used for ground impact but these targets were on sand. Not very effective. Fire therefore called was for air bursting shells.

 

Next in illustration shows some notes as to target location. Nam Yen is a town complex of villages shown previously with red dots about it. AT9186 is a map notation. It means the name of the map is AT or "All Tourane". Then the grid co-ordinance. A square identified of 91 degrees longitude Vertical, and 86 degrees latitude horizontally. (AT9186) A block thus is formed or grid of .6 miles square. When two more numbers are added it is called a "Six Digit co-ordinance," it is more exact and ads more precision. I called six digits co-ordinances.

 

In illustration too are my notes of enemy force relative to location. In some cases a village name is marked that matches a report more precisely. The map used here is newer. Most of these villages did not exist at this time. Villages and civilians are the Observers  responsibility. Sometimes decisions are difficult as to where to fire. As is firing on oneself if necessary to accomplish a mission. The totals further right are some tabulations of total recorded rounds noted from record or added from the left columns

 

I will say; I have witnessed a lot of firing. WWII films etc. and they were heavy. But I have never heard of this many rounds ever being fired in support of a unit. Ever. Not by Naval guns. Not by anything in my memory. My job was to destroy our enemy. He had the strength to counter attack if we did not press for destruction. I am gratified these ships had enough ammunition to carry the day. Looking at the numbers the USS Craig, unless resupplied, would likely be out by the battles end. We needed all guns to win this battle. All ammunition available. Combined you had more 5'/38's than the "Giant Killer", USS Galveston. A Cruiser. She was in support 18 Aug 65 at Chu Lai a few weeks later.

 

On the "Attack Map" also see in notation 3 battalions of Marines were in Vietnam at this time. Called the MEB or "Marine Expeditionary Brigade." These battalions were: 1/3, 2/3 and 2/9. Each company has four companies basically of 150 men each. Each Company has a four platoons of about 43 men each. Our 2nd battalion 3rd Marine battalion, Companies were named Echo, Fox, Golf, and Hotel and thus displayed. They were spread apart with some on mountain tops. One platoon in each company has a weapons platoon made up of Rockets and Machine guns. I was a Machine gun Squad Leader. He had two machinegun teams of three men each.

Machine guns are the firepower of any platoon regardless of size. Normally a Platoon had two machine guns. A "re-enforced Squad" that was on the bridge, means less than a platoon of men but reinforced with "Weapons." Seven men of Machineguns were likely there. A rifle squad of 12 riflemen, a Rocket team of 3, an officer, platoon sergeant, and radio. Possibly as many as 26 men. More likely 20 -23 Marines in all.

 

The enemy 7th battalion would number the same as our four companies. About 600 men. Possibly more. When it is recorded formations of two Companies each, speaks volumes. And when intelligence says half were Chinese, they meant business. It explains the formations were intended to attack in force. So Navy and Marines faced a professional  line of enemy troops. Make no mistake. THAT is what had to be destroyed.

 

There are a couple of things going on with this report.

 

 

First I am soliciting a citation for these two ships.

Second I am certifying in text to a BGen of Marines as to a definitive battle in which the Navy played a decisive role in winning a battle of significance were the outcome without NGF support would have resulted in complete loss of Marines ashore and possibly hundreds if not thousands of others subsequently if enemy had not been reduced.

 

I am looking to get a message to the USS Stoddard and crew who served here on 28/29 July 1965. Also on 4/5 August 1965 as well. Any knowledge or testimony as to instructions to steam to location, communication with shore spotter, anything to add to the written record.

 

 The technical brief for the 28/29 July 1965 can be read below, written to  BGen Pat Garvey, USMC (ret.)
 

 

A Note to the Crew of the USS Stoddard

While noted in this brief, on Stoddard website and Wikipedia the seriousness of these battles appears unknown. This study will help you certify the valor of this ship's crew.

 

I provide attachment letters from the Navy. The USS Stoddard was not named as being in the area back in 1982. However records in possession today, including NGF records, show Naval records at that time to be in error. I will attach those and the USS Craig record of that fire support as well.

 

If possible this year I will be at the USS Craig reunion. For the USS Stoddard I would enjoy invitation as well USS Stoddard crew present during this battle, be present. I will recite what is listed here and the extreme contribution the USS Stoddard made in support of a Marine unit that could have been wiped out. Further it prevented a direct attack on the command center at DaNang.

 

The subject has come up today in the Navy/Marine Corps that without the capability of DD's (Destroyer Gunships) as demonstrated in these battles all our command could have been seriously wounded or wiped out. We do not have this capability today. Please send this message or post it where all USS Stoddard crew can be recognized by me personally. Every man. 600 enemy against 30 Marines is a little tough to deal with  so understand me well. We put them all down to the MAN. And I want to see the Navy crew who helped me do that! Do you copy? 

Lippard report to BGen Pat Garvey

General Garvey, 7th VC Battalion. Tactical observation:  
All VC battalions that operated in the DaNang area were concentrated SW of DaNang about 5-10 miles into Happy Valley. S-2 Chronology report from 2/9 Aug 1965. In this S-2 record (Battalion Intelligence) we have a report of the 7th VC BN down there in the 2/9 TAOR. So what was this battalion suddenly reported 5 miles to the North of DaNang? Reported by C-2 (Combat Action Platoon Intelligence) and Division G-2? (3rd Marine Division Intelligence)  Did VC send a battalion on an envelopment of Marine TAOR just to attack a couple of under strength ARVN platoons on the north of the Ca De River bridge? Did it require a VC Battalion to take a Marine Reinforced Squad guarding the bridge? Or was it a planned  attack on the Division Command Center on the DaNang airfield located there? Well we can look back today and see this very clearly from records in hand.
 1.  C-2 located in Happy Valley to the south west monitored VC unit activity throughout  the TAOR. This included Nam Yen/An Thuong too, 7 miles northwest and upstream about 4 miles on the Ca De River bridge. Also monitored activity to Hai Van Pass, a  mountain pass just north of the bridge some 3 miles further distant.
2.  2 reports to G-2 this 7th VC battalion moved from Happy Valley and was now in the villages of Nam Yen/An Thuong on the day of 28 July. C-2 reports 7th VC Bn moving toward the valley of the ESSO plant north of the bridge on the 28th Jul  65.
3.  G-2 confirms in their response this must be the battalion noted on the 28th and it moving on the valley above the bridge
 4.  G-2 confirms locations of 4 companies by grid in the valley above the Ca De River Bridge late on the 28th. Too late to form anything against it.
 5.    The question would be again why was a battalion of this strength there? I believed at the time (not knowing the strength) that the ESSO fuel plant was the target. When initially enemy fire at the bridge may be a blocking force? But that would have put the enemy force between the bridge and what I believed was an ARVN battalion about 3/4 mile north?  (Records show today it was two under strength platoons of ARVN according to Division)
6.  What I now believe true is formed from composite evidence. Compelling evidence the VC battalion was going to attack Division CP from the North. Attack Marines at DaNang Airfield in strength from a lightly defended northern route.
7.  We see here in documents Third Division knew the movements of this 7th VC BN ahead of confrontation at the Ca De River. Called Navy to fire on routes of approach the day before.
8.  We see (Est'd) 28th July Col Wheeler, the 3rd Marine Regiment CO arrive at the bridge and tell 2nd Lt Reeder "If you lose this bridge you and I are gone!" So that former Raider knew something we didn't. Either he was very concerned or Gen Walt sent him as a warning. That's a historical fact confirmed by Lt. Reeder to me.
 9.  So late on the 28th G-2 knew we had the 7th VC BN on the plane at Lien Chieu above the Ca De River Bridge in formations of 2 companies each; separated and extending westward. There are no Marines that could reach the bridge in time to save it if it was the VC battalion target. The General knew no Marines but 2ndBN/9thMar on the south side of the airfield could engage this force if it crossed the bridge. The General would have to fight them where he stood. On the airfield and streets of DaNang. Not a pretty picture.
10. With no communication with the bridge (Hotel Company 3rd Platoon) I can imagine what was going thru the General's head. And then it comes over his radio: "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday; any station this net this is Hotel 3, do you copy!! Hotel 3 was engaged on the North side of the bridge. The Marine transmitting was identified but would not give his location. He did however give all enemy positions in a rapid communication string which matches NFG, MAW, G-2, C-2 and 3rd Marines records today.
11. And what did Gen Walt do. He sent 3 Air Strikes in the rain at about 2000H on co-ordinances given; immediately. He immediately ordered USS Craig to drag anchor and proceed double quick. He ordered the USS Stoddard somewhere near or at Chu Lai to respond where it took 3 1/2 hours to arrive. And; I believe G-2 sweated on their radio and heard every fire mission request from 3rd platoon to the USS Craig until dawn. Not standing down until Lippard declared a cease fire having fired 200 rounds of combined ships on his last target.
12. 348 rounds were fired by the USS Craig confirmed. 102 rounds USS Stoddard firing with the USS Craig. Confirmed. The USS Stoddard using the USS Craig's firing solutions firing together.
13. Lippard confirming enemy destroyed, the USS Craig retired about 0300hr. TheUSS Stoddard remained largely firing illumination missions until dawn.

 

Of more interest. Lippard reports:

 

1.   Upon receiving USS Craig illumination that the enemy was attacking him tactically in teams of 3's.

2.      Illumination revealed mass formations of enemy just north of his position. Many hundred.

3.      And then today an overlooked piece of information concerning the 7th VC BN we find in the 2/9 S-2 Chronology. "People stated (Vietnamese Villagers) that more than half of 7th VC battalion were Chinese."

 

 

What in summery can be seen? We have a skilled and tactical VC Battalion of which half reported to be Chinese, massed in formations near the Ca De River Bridge.

 


 

Figure 4 - Cpl Lovelace observations 2/9 

I would give an objective opinion, General. A diversion was made on the ESSO plant.

To pass thus to the Bridge it had to suppress or destroy ARVN just north of it. It engaged it with overwhelming force. And, if massed and led by Chinese or not, they were going to cross that bridge as intelligence of 3rd Marines CO and the CG feared. Just too many enemy massed to be anything else.

 

Quick action by the CG saved the bridge. Navy 5"/38's swept enemy from it. The attack collapsed upon itself near ARVN. Retiring with heavy losses, without cover at night, the enemy were destroyed by Navy as they retired. The otherwise "battle for the Ca De River Bridge" remains a memory with division commander, the USS Craig, and the Marine who called it.

 

Whether luck or Marine Corps doing fine work is for others to decide. What we do know is the end result. The Navy of course today takes the matter very seriously. So do I on behalf of the Marine Corps and ARVN. For what went down on that ground no one can ever understand. What concussion of all those rounds that close was like. Seeing that many enemy massed on first illumination. And all that followed.

 

If you could, one would surely understand my years with the Navy seeking to correctly identify the ship that fired these missions. Confirmed, I will now stand them all up and thank them personally. Now also to recognize the USS Stoddard contribution as well. I am viciously proud of their performance. Of all hands. And now having reunited with my old company, somehow need to quietly break this unknown connection with the Navy to our otherwise uninformed Platoon or Company? A challenge how to minimize the connection? Maybe ask my Platoon Commander Lt Woodard to help me with that? It's a problem......

 

Except for Navy I really don't want to go there. It is not to be discussed. It should be forgotten. But the Navy; the Navy is unfinished business. The Marine Corps, must stand for them. And I AM the strongest voice for it. I will shake them to their boots. Remove smiles from bystanders. And excuse women from the room. This is the most not funny business I ever hope to witness. I am glad I am the only one to carry this burden. This is private business surely. But a Marine must thank them personally for what can be seen here. This was a most significant Naval event for the Marine history books. If Gen Walt was alive I am sure he would agree, and support me for doing so. And if not me; who? It must be done. It must be done by me.

 

Best regards, Karl Lippard

 

 

The Battle for the Cade Song Bridge - July 28th and 29th, 1965

 

The Ca De (Song) River enters the Bay of DaNang (Vung DaNang) Vietnam from the west. Just off shore the river is spanned by the "Nam O" Bridge, a five span steel structure where "Highway One" and the railroad converge to make the crossing. This is the main route from DaNang to places north such as Phu Bai and Hue.

On the date in question the security of holding the bridge was tasked to 3"' Platoon, "H" Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rdMarines. They were dug in on the south side of the bridge with orders, "Hold the bridge and let no one pass." An ARVN, 2nd Regional Force unit was dug in about a half mile north of the bridge, backs to the sea. Both units came under heavy attack by the Viet Cong 23 Battalion and Cpl. Karl Lippard of 3rd Platoon, who was stationed on the north side of the bridge to give warning, was cut off from his platoon. In danger of having his position overrun Cpl Lippard called for artillery or air support. No artillery could reach the area. Marine Air responded, making three bombing runs on the coordinates he gave and then left. Still under heavy attack, Lippard put out a call for additional support, "any station this net, mayday, mayday, this is "Hotel Three, do you copy."

 

Cpl. Lippard: You slipped in on me in the dark just after the air strikes, calling me on my frequency, "Hotel Three, this is "Assassin" give me your coordinates.  "Assassin" was the radio call sign for the USS John R. Craig DD-885. On the radio was Harry Rodgers RD2 whose Job was to maintain radio contact with the target spotter and receive and plot his target coordinates. The information was then passed to the Gunnery Officer who fed them into the fire control computer and fired the guns. The spotter would call in adjustments and they would be made accordingly.

 

NGFS tactics at the time were to get in as close to shore as possible, drop anchor and maneuver bringing guns to bear while swinging on the anchor chain. Cpl. Lippard had conducted a "beach survey" when his unit first arrived in the area. When he saw where the Craig was, broad side to the beach, firing from both fore and aft gun mounts he worried that the ship might ground.

 

According to the "Ship's Log" they were anchored in 25' of water. Fully loaded the ship draws about 18' of water. Crew members said the propellers were turning up bottom mud.

 

DD-885 Ships Deck Log 28 July. 1800-2000 (watch). 1837 Underway maneuvering to anchor in the northern part of DaNang Harbor. 1902 Anchored with stbd. anchor with 30 fathoms of chain at the water's edge. L.H. Neeley Ltjg. USNR.

 

Personal log of H. Lehtola EM3. Anchored - DaNang. It's 2230 we're preparing to open fire. The VC must have been raising hell earlier. You could hear small arms fire on the beach and see the tracers flying. Flares and star shells lit up the whole sky.

DD-885 Deck Log. 2000-2400. Anchored as before. 2230 Set General Quarters, 2308 commenced tiring. J.M. Jourdan Ens. USNR. 

USMC War Journal 28 July 2316. USS Craig commenced firing on designated targets. 340, 5" rounds expended, 57 Illumination, 22 white phosphorous, and 261 high explosive. At 0146 Craig joined by USS Stoddard DD- 566 in support.

 

DD- 885 Deck Log 29 July 0000-0400. Anchored off the coast of Vietnam In DaNang Harbor, 25 feet of water, mud bottom, 30 fathoms of chain to the starboard anchor. Operating in accordance with ComServ7th Flt. Op-order 307-

65. Condition of readiness IV and material condition Yolk set. The ship is darkened. The ship is conducting a night firing mission firing from Mt#51 and Mt#52. SOPA is commanding officer USS Navaro (APA-215), CTU is John R. Craig, 0205 cease firing. 0250 secured from General Quarters, set the anchor detail. 0300 anchor aweigh. Steering various courses at various speeds while maneuvering and standing out of DaNang Harbor. 0356 clear of DaNang Harbor.

J.M. Boorda Lt. USN. 

Personal Log of H. Lehtola EM3 July 29th. Anchored. We dumped another 348 rounds last night on the same VC positions that we shot up last Monday.

Anchored in DaNang until PM and then responded to another gunfire support mission.


Figure 5 - EM3 H. Lehtola, USN witness Diary report of Battle of Ca De River Bridge 1965

Cpl Lippard: I don't think you know how tight your fire was, a lot at night and some in the rain. I heard later that the 2nd Regional Force were digging to China, pinned to the sea, you had them bottled up and afraid to move. They had no idea who was calling in the fire or where it was coming from.

 

Cpl. Lippard: Air power struck the rear of the VC columns. The Craig came in firing to the right of the air strikes immediately across my front, giving me relief.

 

My Viet Ranger and I were backed to the water about 75 yards up the beach from the bridge. You illuminated the enemy for me catching them in the open and we took out all that made it to us within 15 yards. It was close, very, very close. I was down to my pistol and plotted the last rounds on me. The damage to the impact zone was substantial. The Craig took out most of them, maybe 150 or so. The USS Stoddard came from where, I don't know, the Craig would have been blocking my view. In behind you some 300 meters firing right over you by my eye, but slightly forward and clear I'm sure. I had no idea there were two of you shooting. The Stoddard record said, "The heavy stuff was fired by the Craig". The Craig as its log says, ceased fire around 0310 and proceeded off station. This left the Stoddard remaining in position at dawn which matches my memory of a ship still there.

 

Sgt. Karl Lippard H/2/3: I am happy to praise the men of the USS Craig. Perfectly executed Navy close ground support worthy of commendation. The USS Craig steamed in at night during a squall and delivered accurate fire under adverse conditions in support of Marine unit ashore and ARVN units just north. To all hands, please accept my salute on behalf of the Marine Corps for your service. We could have all been easily lost onshore, I am truly thankful. I remember you, remember you well.

 

The USS John R. Craig DD-885 was the first designated Command Ship of Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) in the DaNang area under the command of Commander James Kenneth "Ken" Jobe, with LCDR. Thomas W. Glickman as XO and LT. Jeremy Michael "Mike" Boorda as Weapons Officer. Commanding Officer USS Stoddard DD- 566. CDR. Charles K. Presgrove.

Officers of H/2/3 Raider Company Vietnam: Lt. Col. Robert Martin Company Commander; Capt. David O'Conner, 1st Platoon; Maj. Del Williams 2nd Platoon; Lt. Robert Woodard Weapons Platoon. Command at the bridge, Lt. Jim Reeder and SGM Frank Dempsey, Platoon Sgt. Ca De River Bridge. Cpl. Karl Lippard (Standing) and his machinegunner Arturo Nunez.


       

 

Figure  6 - Ca De River Bridge      

  

Figure 7 - Cpl. Karl Lippard (Standing) with Nunez

Ca De River Bridge After Action Photo


Figure 8- Ca De River Bridge

 

I have not located a further view to the left, but this is the after action visual result believed to be taken * on the 29th of July 1965. The first concentration can be seen clearly on the mountain next to the ESSO plant. Nice job. The bridge is very long, 1/4


mile or so for sure. I had to get height on it to get the after action photo in case needed of or the G shop (Division). But at the right of the bridge you see a bunker. That is where I had to move from, over to the far right on the beach to get out from under the guns. This allowed to call close on the bridge. The VC believing we were there at the bunker (via VC radio operator) engaged it. We flanked them from the beach, so that was the initial shooting you heard. Looking over the bunker to where the mountains meet, that valley apex was the last combined firing. It is burned off there but a cloud shadow makes it hard to see unless you blow it up. Anyway, down from the mountain, that is the Stoddard in daylight, mopping up the tree line and then back north. I did not call after daylight.

 

So at least you can share this photo with the crew of after action damage. Nice job USS Craig. I think should be clear, no one lived thru that. In front of the ARVN and toward the bridge the road was pretty messed up. They were pretty happy and did not take me to task for it. Besides, I would have blamed it on you.

 


Figure 9 - The best Marines are the best friends. Weapons Platoon Raider Company H/2/3


Figure 10 - Ca De River Bridge down 11 April 1967

 Authority to call for support: III MEF Combat Chronology July 1965:

 

Order: "Ready strike aircraft will be assigned for a 24 hour period each day."   Annex: Operational Procedure for Marine Aircraft in South Vietnam: d.) Marine Aircraft may conduct strikes in close support of Marine combat forces on the ground under the control of Tactical Air Control Party on the ground, or a Marine, or U.S. Air Force controller in the air. In the absence of a TACP or Airborne FAC, U.S. airborne observer may mark a target.

 

No Vietnamese observer is necessary with an airborne FAC on a close support mission although the presence of such an observer is desirable. 3.) In accordance with the recently published ARVN directive on air support system operated by the VNAF and in accordance with the operating procedures, the Marine ground elements may call directly on I ASCO for air support whether it be by a Marine, U.S. Air Force or VNAF fighter aircraft." Command Relations: b.) As a matter of policy, US Forces will not be placed under command of allied commanders nor is the CVN prepared to accept the operational control of US commanders... MajGen Lewis Walt, Commanding.


 

 

Ref:

1)      INSTUM #83 Division RPT Jul 1965 pg 5 (5) (Enemy movement 29 July 1965)

 

2)      Third Marine Division SITREP Jul 1965 pg 8/8 Re: Late Entry: Naval Gunfire- (USS Craig credits 7 missions)

 

3)      FSCC Permanent War Journal 1-31 Jul 1965, pgs 51-52 NGF 101-113 (USS Craig DD-885 & USS Stoddard DD-566

 

4)      COMMAND DIARY [2D BN 3D MARINES] Jul 65 pgs 55-56 Crowd (3rd Rgt) from Shove (3rd Div) 28th 2050H, 2215H and 29 Jul 1235H (Crowd rpt NGF Ca De River and firefight)

5)      Command Chronology 3rd Marine Division, Jul 1965. 28 Jul pg22 (Authority to call support)

 

6)      III Div G-3 Journal Jul 65, pg 13 2050H. (H/2/3 reporting fire fight to G-2)

 

7)      INSTUM #80 3rd MarDiv RPT Jul 1965 pg 167 B. (2) (G-2/C3 Enemy movement 28 July 1965 to attack)

 

8)      Diary EM3 H. Lehtola, USN 28/29 July 1965 and this Naval report for ships history

 

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

 

The Figure 2 map compares called Air and Naval Gun Fire recorded on page 127 of the book "The Warriors -  The United States Marines" from author's memory in 1982.

Overlay: Is of records recovered from the USS Craig and other military records from 2016-17 platted for comparison. These include Naval Gunfire Support; Division G-2; G3 (Shove); 3rd Marine Regiment (Crowd); C-2 Combat Action Platoon; 2nd BN 3rd Marines SITREP; and ARVN.

 

What can be seen is a full attack by 7th VC Battalion. A tactical strength of more than 600. In defense was the 2nd Regional Force of two under strength companies and Ca De River Bridge with one Marine Platoon. The end result of the battle was total destruction of the 7th VC battalion by US Marines in defense of the Bridge complex.

The Marine Corps reacted; acted with speed and force, brought Marine Air Wing strikes and moved ships quickly into position to provide full support within minutes of call. 348 rounds were fired by the USS Craig and up to 102 rounds by the USS Stoddard!

 

It is believed to be one the finest examples of combined assets of a Marine combat force, demonstrated on a small unit level, during the Vietnam war. MajGen Lewis Walt commanding the III Marine Division personally responded. Lt. Jim Reeder 3rd platoon, Hotel Company, 2nd Bn, 3rd Marines was commanding, the Ca De River Bridge. Cpl


Karl C. Lippard command and control, Marine air and Naval Gunfire support for Marines and ARVN 2nd Regional Force, during the battle.

 

The enemy began their attack from 914868. At least one platoon engaged the refinery to the northeast. The main body continued and hit the bridge and ARVN in force.

However NGF was called. Under heavy shelling from the USS Craig enemy retreated under continuous bombardment back to 914868. 200rds of concentrated fire was then called from two ships on 914868 grid killing all remaining force. No surrender was observed. No enemy wounded reported. No Marine or ARVN losses.

 

Agent Orange considerations for the DDís

 Second for all hands which served in this engagement as I noted on email to your ship about Agent Orange. My machine gunner has been diagnosed with Agent Orange. I have had more than 50 cancers removed myself. 47% of my unit have Agent Orange.....Point being, you were 300 yards from me on 29 Jul 1965. These document proved where you were precisely. Us that document as official record as supporting documents from Navy NGF record who recorded the rounds Stoddard fired.

 


 The Navy without DDs.

The subject has come up today in the Navy/Marine Corps that without the capability of DD's as demonstrated in this battle if happened today, all our command could have been seriously wounded or wiped out. Please send this or post it where all USS Stoddard crew can be recognized by me personally. Every man. 600 enemy against 30 Marines is a little tough so understand me well. We put them all down to the MAN. And I want to see the Navy who helped me do that! Do you copy?

 

Answering the Call

 It is important for a ship answering a May Day call from Marines on a beach to know their efforts were successful. Most never hear nor know often why they were called. It is important that the crews know how serious this matter was. To get it from the man who called it. To give what history has forgotten. Thanks from the Marines lives who were saved and the thousands of lives that were at risk.

 

So for a Marine who has been wounded seven times in combat, one who is known in my branch of the service, I am not considered funny. I will be heard. I will be satisfied. This matter is closed when the right thing is done. When respect is given. Given to these two fine ships and their crews.

 

These details are found on page 127 of "The Warriors the United States Marines." I was unable to identify the USS Stoddard until 2016.

 

For the Navy then if not Marine Corps, all the history from order to steam and from who, from where the ship steamed from, and any communication once on station. Names of any or all participants involved. That would include a cook. This is Naval history and it must be put down for future Navy to read and study. This support cannot be repeated today. We must use the USS Craig and USS Stoddard as example of what is needed again. Better ships sure. But not better men.


 Yes it is. Itís all about ships.

 

The extrapolation certainly has merit but not really what it may seem. The USA does not have DD Class ships with guns. GUNS. So when we look at this example it is all Navy. The volume of fire demonstrated in H&I alone, the single auto repeating cannon on our so called new destroyers would not support a beach landing today. In fact a fortified beach would have to rely entirely on air. So when we examine this battle and review the rounds fired and the TYPE of rounds fired is very telling. Not an accident. It can be used thus to prove a point; and proved a serious need in our Navy today.

Here we have a problem saying as Marines to Navy: Fight this battle for the Ca De River bridge.....We are waiting; fight it. We demonstrate a strategic battle with a critical need. Immediate need. A Marine picks up the phone to command; command sends some air, but it is at night and in the rain. Further it is danger close. Within 150 yards at times. So what smart bomb you going to drop? How many bombs do you have for this enemy battalion? My view; you are dead. Option Navy.

 

Navy arrives with what? A couple of DD Destroyers firing 5"/38's. Oh we know that bursting radius. DD depth of ammo too. We want Illumination now. Follow with HE VT. I want some WP enemy can't walk over. I want to keep our battlefield lit up. What does the chart say? Yes they gave all that. If in the rain or stops no difference. Enemy retires, we need to SEE distance. Check our depth of field to adjust. Give us WP. We have it.

Keep the HE VT a coming. Then we put a volume on them to destroy. We've got it. Then we burn the mountains with WP to deny egress. Have that and in volume...... RIGHT!

 

With the modern ship 5"/54's they are single guns with a 20 round Carousal of pre- loaded ammo. What's in that self-loading carousal is what you get. AA is not going to cut it and our enemy is danger close. Where are the rounds we need? Where? Where is the volume of ammo? Where is it?

 

These Marines we "down" on the beach. It was Navy or nothing. These ships delivered. And they delivered almost every day in Vietnam, 24/7. I said every damn day up and down the coast where needed. Our artillery can't shoot and cover all mountainous terrain. A TAOR without some assistance. The need Navy, MAW, artillery, down to hand mortars. It's a package. As Marines we must have that package! AND WE DON'T!!

 

So the challenge to Navy today is to answer the call of Marines who may again BE in this spot. We demand these type gunships to get the job done. An offer of how to pay for those is now on the table. 50 ships for Marines. And the kind of ship we need must be able to fight this type of engagement when the chips are down. Quick, maximum effort, to the end.

 

Many of course know about this engagement. Some are being brought up to speed who were on shore. The Navy of course and men on those ships in copy know names now. The man of H Company 3rd platoon they were saving. We also know the Navy who shot for 5 hours straight to cover these Marines in distress. We are one unit of brothers that are dependent on one another. Professionals. It is up to us to remember how this system works, and demand the ships we need. I want to SEE the USS Craig and USS Stoddard colors back on one of these new ships to continue to show us how it is done. And as Marine Raiders; Hotel Company 2/3, we still lead the way.

 

Best regards,

Karl Lippard

 

 
 
Closing

 

Now that IS GREAT. This little report on the technical side coupled with the USS Craig will help I'm sure. I was very, very busy Dan on this mission. I didn't see the Stoddard come in. By the gun mounts firing I thought I had a Cruiser. But I needed all she had.

 

That having been said let's look at another engagement I just found that also matches my record if not better. Let me enter a note here.

 

* I recalled this Naval battle in my book, "The Warriors The United States Marines. I contacted the Navy to see what ship fired for me using a Vietnamese decoration award date as a guide. A decoration for actions in that battle. As you read we got a negative ship identification on that date from Navy.

Last year in contact with the USS Craig, a shipmate recalled the fight as herein is described but had another date that matched pretty well. Document records are not often exact in battle recorded by someone in the rear.  Memory after so many years slips away too. But two days ago having found the source of many of these records for the first time I researched the NGF Journal of 4th August 1965. There I found USS Stoddard WAS on station on the date that I show on that decoration. In the Navy War Journal records it also records Artillery and Air Support missions. The air strike described in my book is recorded in NGF record there.

Second, the Mayday calls I made were picked up by Third Marine Division G-2. The Navy record says the USS Stoddard was given an "emergency order" (Read in NGF record below) to proceed quickly to my station and to fire immediately 300 rounds of "HE fuse quick." And it gave those co-ordinances that could only have come from me. All the rounds fired by the USS Stoddard match my book recollection on 4 Aug 1965.

 

Let's review this attached Chart Figure 11 below. Here as related we find something really unusual. First we see MAW (Marine Air Wing) is ordered by Division G-3 to strike two positions with Six Digit grid co-ordinances.....at night over populations...very very dangerous to do as the targets cannot be observed from air.

Third Marine Division also sends an emergency call for Naval Gunfire to USS Stoddard giving  two co-ordinances. Six Digit co-ordinances. Recall I said you do not do this. It is against orders of Naval Gunfire. It is also at night over populations. And, it requires a spotter.....Further, Division according to Navy record calls for "300 rounds of HE set "Fuse Quick!!" Not on your life is an order issued like that unless they had received these co-ordinances from someone ashore that had identified enemy in mass, and the need was critical. "Ship Adjust" means to adjust fire from shore instruction. If not, the ship to fire as the order instructs. The observer may be dead and position overrun.

 

Stoddard 4 Aug 65.TIF

Chart Figure 11, 4 August 1965 USS Stoddard Emergency Fire Mission (MSN)

 

Therefore we have two battles of which the USS Stoddard was involved a week apart. Which one was orchestrated by me is a matter of some interpretation. And not important really. What is important is the Navy does not have this capability today. These two battles clearly demonstrate the need for DD Class Gunships.  

Itís all about ships email:

 

The extrapolation certainly has merit but not really what it may seem. The USA does not have DD Class ships with guns. GUNS. So when we look at this example it is all Navy. The volume of fire demonstrated in H&I alone, the single auto repeating cannon on our so called new destroyers could not support a beach landing today. In fact a fortified beach would have to rely entirely on air. So when we examine this battle, review the number of rounds fired and the TYPE, is very telling. Not an accident. It can be used thus to prove a point; a serious need for these ships is needed in our Navy today. Marines say to Navy: Fight this battle for the Ca De River bridge..... Show us how Navy would fight it today. In this demonstration we give a strategic battle with a critical need. An immediate need for Naval firepower. Enemy within 150 yards at times. What smart bomb you going to drop? How many bombs do you have to kill this enemy battalion close to Marine lines? My view today; the Navy cannot. That means all future Marines are dead on the beach if so attacked.

 

With the modern Destroyer, the ship carries just one 5"/54 cal Mount.  Single guns with a 20 round Carousal of pre- loaded ammo. What's in that self-loading carousal is what you get. "AA" (Anti-Aircraft) rounds are not going to cut it on an enemy danger close. Where are the rounds we need now? Where? Where is the volume of ammo to win? Where is it? A modern ship does not have it.

 

Here Marines were "heads down" on the beach. Shooting from the knee in the open with no cover. It was Navy or nothing. These ships delivered. And they continued to deliver almost every day in Vietnam. 24/7. Every damn day up and down the coast where needed. Our artillery can't shoot and cover all mountainous terrain. We need Navy, MAW, artillery, mortars, everything, it's a package. Marines must have that package! AND WE DON'T!!

 

So the challenge to Navy today is to answer the call of Marines who may be again in this position. We demand these type gunships to get the job done. A proposal of how to pay for those is now on the table. 50 ships for Marines. The kind of ship we need able to fight this type of engagement when the chips are down. Quick, maximum effort delivery, to the end of battle.

 

Many of course know about this engagement. Some are being brought up to speed now on shore. The Navy of course and men on those ships know it was H Company 3rd platoon they were saving. And WE Marines know the Navy who shot for 5 hours straight to cover us. We are one unit of brothers that are dependent on one another. It is good that the USS Craig and USS Stoddard know how valuable their service was to all of us. I have given testimony here in honor of your service.

 

Thank you. Thank you on behalf of my Marine Corps.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Signature.jpg

 

Karl C. Lippard, Sergeant of Marines.

 

The following pages are supplimental info related to this battle for review.

 


 














 


 

Scan2.TIF


 

Scan20001.TIF

 

Yes it is. Its all about ships.

​And of course Lt Reeders squad of 3rd Platoon, Hotel Company Raiders of 2/3/3. 

Oh, and no sir, as you note 1/12 location. 155's and 105's could not shoot due to mountain position and dangerous anyway that distance. 8" could have shot but that would have been max range I think, over and in domestic populations. I have their concentrations which were in front 1/3 and 2/3 cp's indicated inland. Those are plotted on my original map page 87 in my Warriors book. I took those from 3rd Recon upon arrival in Vietnam awaiting my unit to arrive who were coming in from Thailand to land on Red Beach. All Arty was located at 8" area at that time in April but the business was pretty heavy south. Moved to close distance to this newer plotted location. The batteries I know their exact locations but not important unless you have an interest. Also of note the Combat Action Platoon was located at the road south west of the 1/12 plotted location. A junction there. A bad sniper area in and around our units there in 1966. Not pretty. It was festive over there in 1965!  

Best regards,

Karl Lippard

 

More Info Added after Jan 20, 2018.

. It is uncertain which battle I called. My gut is 4 Aug..... USS Craig believes 28 July.... Because of the G-3 orders to Stoddard recorded on the 4th,  the G-3 ordered air strikes record coupled with my Vietnamese decoration date, the 300 rd Fuse Quick order HE VT, the VC companies are identified in the fire mission, six digit grid co-ordinances, a spotter named to be onshore, (accepted call to Division) the length of battle; I am 99% convinced I called for the USS Stoddard on 4 Aug 65. As the two battles are almost identical  I will not argue the point. My movements were the same. Both ships are deserving of commendation by the Navy and I will see it done. Gratitude for saving our lives twice, the 3rd Platoon is humbled. But beyond all this is the battles themselves. It proves the need for Naval Gunships. It proves Marine training can win under extreme circumstances if given the tools to accomplish our mission. And it proves Navy can produce under adverse conditions to protect Marines on the beach if given the ships.  

At beginning you note 408 rounds expended on 4 Aug. NGF record shows 410. However I asked for "Continuous illumination." You can read that in NGF MSN orders. You fired a lot more than ten indicated. They seemed to burn about a minute. I was shooting often two grids and kept myself lit up for retiring enemy and his counter attack. So Navy record is short on that number of the first 10 called. According to my count you would have been out of Illumination over the period. What's that 110 to 120 possible? But if you want to stay with 408 rounds fired Navy does record a couple of more confirmed as noted. But I know how long I kept the battlefield lit. I need to see enemy in the open. Their movements. Pretty hard for me to forget. And the WP is not even recorded. In my minds eye I can count those now. Tell you where they fell. Tell you who was under it. Tell who was under; it all. Best to stay clinical. Keep the Lords business to one's self. Print the record. Hide the rest.  

I am certain had we not made it that day at the Ca De River, that the USS Stoddard would have carried out her orders to fire those first 300 rounds, fuse quick, HE VT. The crew should be proud to know I would have been smiling on that.  The only thing important to a Marine, is accomplishing his mission. 410 rounds on target says we did that. To live to tell it, is a blessing indeed.  

Well done USS Stoddard. Well done. 

SF,

Best regards,

Karl Lippard

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Copy from Karl's book

Dan, 

Attached some copy out of my book written in 1982. You can see the date I stated this occurred is written. And it was not the Craig, she was not there. You can also read the air strike delivery and the ship coming in to fire. 

The chapter was not about me. It was to show how training received applied in combat. Toned down in content, except for perhaps one line that called out the lives saved. A small clue something else happened. Also remember that back then the engagement itself could not even be proven. Navy said no ship was there. Then said it probably was the USS Craig. But if one believes the Vietnamese decoration date is correct. That division picked up my call, that air strikes were sent as Naval record confirms, that a ship was sent and on station, that she fired thru the night a high volume of rounds, then this call was on the Stoddard. See what I mean? My book is a match. 

The question is, is there someone that was on the ship then who remembers the firing.


Best regards,

Karl Lippard

View book pages HERE as pdf.
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Comments added 1-23-2018

So there is some clarity in the fight for the Ca De River Bridge. These are the NFG records of Operation Starlite in support of the 7th Marines beach landing and attack a few days later. All rounds of NGF Starlite battle over two days. The NGF records I sent you show USS Stoddard fired 410 rounds in less than 5 hours for me. (With all WP and Illum not recorded) I want everyone to remember this well. Look down.  Now you know how important the USS Stoddard fire missions were from 2200H to 0415H on 4/5 August. 

 

 

Support of

Hour

Date

Coord

Ship

 

5"  ILL

5" WP

  5" HE

 6" HE

 

7th Marines

18-0600H

18/19 Aug

Starlite

USS Galveston

11

21

440

264

736

 nineteen missions

Sailed 21-0800H

7th Marines

19-1830H

18/19 Aug

Starlite

USS Orleck

51

54

124

229

 for both days

 

​These are the Marines these two gunships supported. Just so you understand what I am saying.​  

         Unit Key for Operation Starlite

Commanding General Lewis Walt USMC

​Karl Lippard study 2018. All division records​

CG Vietnamese MajGen Lam

FMFPAC Chu Lai Study 15 Jun 65

3rd Mar Div RVN OOB 20 Jul 65

3/9 RLT-4... 01 Aug 65 source notes LtCol Tunnell

1

 Unit Description

Map Key

PLOT

Notes

2

H 2/3

H/2/3 to reserve positions of H/2/4

Reserve at H/2/4 positions from 17 Aug 65

3

L 3/4

L/3/4 to reserve positions of G/2/4

Reserve at

​ ​

G/2/4 positions from 17 Aug 66

4

1st Force Recon

Landed in daylite by sea

L/Cpl Bra Le Fluer. 3 KIA

5

BLT 3/3  Bn

3/3 Headquarters & Service Company Command Post 

LtCol Muir

 215 total VC KIA (CO I had 125)

6

3/3 H&S

3/3 Headquarters & Service Company

7

BLT 3/3 Supply

BLT 3/3 Battalion Supply Point

8

NGF Tm 3/12

Naval Gun Fire Support Liaison Team 3d Bn 12th Marines 

(62 Arty Pc's) Killed 90 NVA for Echo CO

9

Art. Lia Tm 1/12

Artillery Liaison Tm 1st Bn 12th Marines

10

"B" 3rd Engr Bn

3d Plt (-) Co B, 3d Engr Bn

11

ITT

Det. Interrogation/Translator Team (USMC)

12

FAC Team

Forward Air Control (Team)

13

India 3/3

Company "India" (Rein) 3/3 Capt. Bruce Webb KIA

Capt Webb KIA

BS700928

14 KIA, 52 WIA  at An Coung- VC 125 KIA

14

FO Tm

FO Tm 81mm Mortar Platoon

15

FO Tm 

Btry C 1/12

16

Engr

3rd Plt Co B 3rd Engr Bn

17

FAC Team

FAC Team

18

Kilo 3/3

Company "Kilo" (Rein) 3/3 Capt Jay Doub WIA

Capt Doub

19

FO Tm

FO Tm 81mm Mortar Platoon

20

FO Tm 

Btry C 1/12

21

Engr

3rd Plt Co B 3rd Engr Bn

22

NGF Spot TM 

NGF Spot TM 

23

Lima 3/3

Company "Lima" (Rein) 3/3

Capt McDavid

24

FO Tm

FO Tm 81mm Mortar Platoon

25

FO Tm 

Btry C 1/12

26

Mike 3/3

Company "Mike" (Rein) 3/3

Capt Morris

BS 683971

27

FO Tm

FO Tm 81mm Mortar Platoon

28

FO Tm 

Btry C 1/12

29

Engr

3rd Plt Co B 3rd Engr Bn

30

Amtrac

See LVT-5

31

BLT 2/4 BN CP

BLT 2/4, 3d Bn (Rein) 3rd Marines Command Post Col Bull Fisher

342 VC KIA (156 attributed to Co H), 2 VC WIA

32

Echo 2/4

Company "Echo" (Rein) 2/4 S-1 GySgt Ed Garr

33

Fox 2/4

Company "Fox" (Rein) 2/4

34

Golf 2/4

Company "Golf" (Rein) 2/4

BS 683971

VC 156 KIA

35

Hotel 2/4

Company "Hotel" (Rein) 2/4 Lt. Homer K. ďMikeĒ Jenkins

BS698390

16 KIA, 30+ WIA Landed in the middle of 60th VC Battalion

36

L/3/4

L/3/4 held positions of G/2/4 during Starlite

Capt Slater

From Phu Bai

37

81 Mortars

4th Section Mortar Platoon

38

BLT 3/7 Bn CP/H&S

BLT 3/7 H&S Co 3d Bn (Rein) 3rd Marines Command Post

Major Coleman

BS 704927

60 VC KIA (confirmed),

39

India 3/7

Company "India" (Rein) 3/7

40

Kilo 3/7

Company "Kilo" (Rein) 3/7

41

Lima 3/7

Company "Lima" (Rein) 3/7

BS 700978

42

Mike 3/7

Company "Mike" (Rein) 3/7

43

81mm Mtr

81mm Motar Platoon

Lt Gibson

44

Iwo Jima

USS Iwo Jima LPH 2 (Landing Platform-Helicopter

Crew 720. Also took medical aboard ship with C Med overloaded

45

Galveston

USS Galveston CG-3 (Cruiser) Support within 100 yds

7th Mar Attack

Nha No Bay

Crew 1255 - 1,562 rds of combined ship fire support *

46

Cabildo

USS Cabildo LSD 16 (Landing Ship-Dock)

Crew 290 and *

47

Veron County

USS Veron County LST 1161 (Landing Ship-Tank)

Crew 395

48

Point Defiance

USS Point Defiance LSD 31 (Landing Ship Dock)

Crew 304

49

Orleck

USS Orleck DD-886 (Destroyer) Support within 100 yards

7th Mar Attack

Crew 336

50

Prichett

USS Prichett DD-561 (Destroyer)

Crew 273

51

Bayfield

USS Bayfield APA-33 (Attack Transport)

Crew 575

52

Talladega

USS Talladega APA-208

Crew 536

53

LCU (s)

Landing Craft Utility

Wave 4, 6

54

LCM (s) 

Landing Craft Mechanized LCM-8

Wave 2, 3, 5, 7

55

Tank B #33 Flame

B Co 1st Tank M-67 #F33 (Flame)

Crew 5. LCM 1

56

Tank B #53 Flame

B Co 1st Tank M-67 #F53 (Flame)

Crew 5

57

Tank B #55 Flame

B Co 1st Tank M-67 #F55 (Flame)

Crew 5

58

Tank B #51 M48 Gun

B Co 1st Tank M-67 #F51 (Gun)

59

VTR M-51

B Co 1st Tank M-51  (Tank Retriever)

Wave 4

60

Tank #A31 (Gun)

3d Plt A Co 3rd Tanks #A31 M-48 (Gun)

Lt. Thompson

Wave 4

61

Tank #A32 (Gun)

3d Plt A Co 3rd Tanks #A32 M-48 (Gun)

Cpl. Bill Laidlaw KIA

Cpl. Milo Plank Jr., Driver and PFC Tony Pinnetti, Gunner WIA

62

Tank #A33 (Gun)

3d Plt A Co 3rd Tanks #A33 M-48 (Gun)

Milo was seen shooting at some VC with his .45 from the driverís hatch

63

Tank #A34 (Gun)

3d Plt A Co 3rd Tanks #A34 M-48 (Gun)

LCM 1

64

Tank #A35 (Gun)

3d Plt A Co 3rd Tanks #A35 M-48 (Gun)

65

Tank #C22

2nd Plt B Co 3rd Tanks #C22 M-48 (Gun)

66

Tank #C24

3rd Plt B Co 3rd Tanks #C24 M-48 (Gun)

67

Tank ID?

Anti Tank ID (#) = Number of tanks involved

68

2plt, B Co 3d Anti Tk

H/2/4

69

ONTOS M-50 H&S 3/7

Anti Tank Plt. H&S Co 3/7

70

ONTOS M-50 B Co. 3rd

ONTOS M-50 "M" Co 3rd Anti Tank Bn (Plt)

Lt McCoy

L/Cpl Ed Nicholls KIA Wave 5. LCM 1 & 2

71

M-109 SP 155mm

Arty. Btry. K 4th Bn 12th Marines M-109 Self Prop. 155mm

180615H Opens fire concealed North of Tra Bong River

72

Arty Bty K 4/12

Arty. Btry. K 4th Bn 12th Marines M-109 Self Prop. 155mm

Impacting Red/White/Blue

73

Arty Bty 3/12

1st Plt 107mm, 1 Plt 155 Gun Btry

74

Howtar 107mm

Howtar 107mm (4.2) Mortar M-98 "Whiskey Battery"

BS 683973

75

LVTP-5 

Landing Vehicle Tracked Personnel Co A 3rd AT Bn

Lt Bannon

Capacity-25 men (in water)

76

LVT (3A 01) Amtrac

Command Tractor Crew Chief

Cpl Regis DeArza

I/3/3 Tracs 1 thru 5 Wave One

77

Co A 

Co Cmdr

Maj Paul M. Heisher

78

Co B

Co Cmdr

Maj Hollis T. Dunn

79

80

81

LVT  Amtrac

About 30 used in the landing

K/3/3 Tracs 6 thru 11  Wave One

82

VMO -2 UH-1E

Mag-16 VMO-2 Marine Observation Squadron UH-1E Gunship

BS 700928

Gen. Victor H. Krulak's UH-1 shot down. "I" Co guard w/10 men

Gas tanks leaking badly

OK

83

VMO -6 UH-1E

All Helo from DaNang- Four UH 7th Aviation Plt

84

Helo UH 34D (s)

UH 34D Sikorsky

2/4 choppered in to LZ Blue. 5 lost.

85

Huey UH-1E

Helicopter Huey UH-1E

BS700928

2 Downed. One behind I/3/3 full of holes

86

Huey Gunship UH-1B

US Army UH-1B Gunships 7th Airlift Platoon

6739 IV

BT 518041

Firing on Hill 43 to secure Landing Zone (3) 5 total engaged

87

Army UH-1 Gunship

1st Squadron, 9th Cav, 1st Calvary Division Maj Radcliff

Maj Radcliff KIA during hovering low was killed H/2/4

88

SLF HMM 361 & 261

24 Birds by 1300H only 7 remain flyable

89

SLF HMM-361 (34's)

Special Landing Force (SLF) HMM-361 HU-34D Helo's (15A/C)

LtCol Childers

1300H

Transported 2/4 UH-34D  8 dwn,3 plts WIA, 5 lost on 18 Aug 1965)

Exhausted

NGF Hist

90

SLF HMM-361 (34's)

12 A/C hit. Heavy on Med Evacuation

BS 712966

1stLt Dick Hooton forced landed on the USS Iwo Jima

Reg HMM-161 ASAP

91

SLF HMM-361 (34's)

Shot up at Amtrac's MedEvac. Crew chief Jimmy WIA

Captain Bronson

Bronze Star crashed on beach Lost. #2 Shot up to Iwo Jima

92

SLF HMM-261 (34's)

Special Landing Force (SLF) HMM-261 HU-34D Helo's (8 hit)

Transported 2/4 UH-34D Back from Danang

93

A-4E Skyhawk(s)

MAG-11 Marine Air Group 11

94

F-4 Phatom(s)

MAG-12 Marine Air Group 12

95

F-8 Crusader

F-8 Crusader

96

MAG-13

MAG-13 Marine Air Group 13  F4B Phantom

Colonel Ralph H. ďSmokeĒ Spanjer

97

MAG-12

MAG-12 A-4 Shyhawks Fixed Wing

20mm strafing runs Beach Green 6000 rds

98

VMFA-314

VMFA-314 F-4 Phantom Chu Lai/DaNang

VMFA-314 F-4 Phantom number ? 65 tons of bombs

99

VMFA-513

VMFA-513 F-4B Phantom (Starlite-7th Marines)

VMFA-513 F-4B Phantom number ? 4 tons of Napalm

100

VMFA-542

VMFA-542 F-4B Phantom (Starlite-7th Marines)

VMFA-542 F-4B Phantom number ? 533 2.75 rockets

101

VMFA-311

VMA-311 A4E Skyhawk (Starlite-7th Marines)

VMA-311 A4E Skyhawk number ? Chu Lai

102

HMM-161

Called from Phu Bai with all flyable aircraft for relief, Hit

Phu Bai flight

977681

All Marine available aircraft were called to assist Medevac 

103

C130 (2)

Req for 50 WIA for Cmed 171320H. 97 wnd to DaNang 18th

NGF record

104

C123

Flare Drop

105

C117

On standby for B Med. C Med advised

At DaNang 

1335H

Blood, Med supplies. Made emergcy run to Chu Lai w/blood 18th

106

C54

Transported surgical team from Phu Bai to DaNang

At DaNang 

107

C Med 

Requests surgical team from Phu Bai

Phu Bai flight

1410H

108

Company B Med 

Chu Lai with over loand sent to the Iwo Jima and DaNang

Chu Lai

109

F/O C Co. 1/12

F/O  Tm Btry "C" 1/12

110

3rd Engr

Det. 3d Plt Co "B" 3d Engr Bn

111

81mm Motars

81mm Mortar Plt

Cpl. Jake Germeraad

Supporting I Co, An Coung (2)

112

A Co 3rd Tank BN

3d Plt (Rein) Co "A" 3d Tank Bn

BS700928

113

B Co 3rd AT Bn

3rd Plt Co "B" 3d AT Bn

114

A Co. 1st Amtrac BN

3d Plt. (Rein) A Co. 1st Amtrac BN

115

RLT-7 CP

Regimental Landing Team 7

116

BLT 1/7 BN CP

BLT 1/7 1st Bn (Rein) 7th Marines Command Post

117

LZ Red

Landing Zone Red

G/2/4

BS 672592

118

LZ White

Landing Zone White 

E/2/4

BS 675933

119

LZ Blue

Landing Zone Blue

H/2/4

BS 095108

127

L/Cpl Ed Nicholls

 ONTO's

I/3/3-H/2/4 area

128

Sgt. Blank KIA 

AT 714938

AT 714938

129

Sgt Rbt O'Malley WIA 

 Medal of Honor

I/3/3

130

L/Cpl Joe C. Paul KIA

 Medal of Honor

H/2/4

131

Cpl Ernie W. Wallace 

 Navy Cross

H/2/4

132

Pvt. Samuel J. Badnick WIA 

 Navy Cross

H/2/4

133

LtCol Muir KIA 

 Navy Cross

3rd Marines CO

134

Sgt James E. Mulloy, Jr

Navy Cross

Service Co 3/3 AmTracs

135

LCpl Eddie L. Landry

Silver Star

H/2/4

136

LCpl Kenneth D. Stankiewicz

Silver Star

H/2/4

137

 Pfc Harry L. Kaus, KIA

Silver Star

H/2/4

138

7.62

M-14

Kill ratio 1/6. Death ratio 1/13

139

140

After action report Starlite

Body Count

​564 

VC KIA, 25 VC WIA, VC Captured 9 

141

VC Forces ( ) Number Noted if mentioned

38th, 40th, 45th, 52nd 60th,70th, 80th, 94th, 104th, 400th Hvy Wpns unit, 1st VC rgmt,  

142

10 Battalions.

143

VC Prisoner(s)

VC POW  25

 

I think the importance of the USS Stoddard should be clear now. We were just 24 Marines. All we had was a strike from Marine Air and the USS Stoddard. 21 rds of .45 acp; 80 rds of 7.62 and 15 rds of .30 cal carbine on the North side of that bridge. You out shot a Cruiser, and took down a battalion. So when I say "On behalf of my Marine Corps I give commendation," this is why. We all stand for you. Every Marine.

Best regards,

Karl Lippard

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Ca De River Bridge supporting documents. (added 08-1-2018)

 

2nd Bn 3rd Marines. LtCol David A. Clement - Call Sign Squire

1.       SITREPS #56-86 [3D MARDIV] Item Number: 1201025021 1 Jul 65 (G-3) pg 1, (B) 2/3 Alert  take up possible deployment AT974770 and AT996799 in Defense of DaNang Airfield to protect from NW attack. Note: Companies extended and unable to react to any threat from North.

2.       COMMAND DIARY [2D BN 3D MARINES] Jul 65 pgs 55-56 Crowd (3rd Regiment

3.       call sign) from Shove (3rd Div call sign) 28th 2050H, 2215H and 29 Jul 1235H (Crowd rpt NGF Ca De River and firefight) AT920850. No ground support sent when notified.

4.       3D MARDIV - SITREPS #118-147, 9 Sep 65 pg2, DaNang TAOR, item B. H/2/3 one squad to cover the Ca De River (Nam-O) bridge

5.       Sgt Karl C. Lippard after action report 2018. MAW and NGF support

 

3rd Marine Regiment. Col Edwin B. Wheeler - Call Sign Crowd

 

1)       COMMAND DIARY [2D BN 3D MARINES] Jul 65 pgs 55-56 Crowd rpts to 2/3 (3rd Rgt) from             Shove (3rd Div) 28th 2050H, 2215H and 29-Jul-1235H (Crowd rpts to 2/3 Command NGF Ca De   River and firefight) AT920850

2)       CO Wheeler visits the Ca De River Bridge to give warning to 2dLt. Jim Reeder's reinforce squad on the bridge about 28 Jul 65. Testimony Jim Reeder 2017.

3)       3D MARDIV - SITREPS #56-86, 29-Jul-1965 pg 1 1628h. H Company and E was located some 8-9 miles on      3 day patrols some 8-9 miles from the Ca De Bridge looking to interdict 7th VC BN which had formed for       attack that day at the Bridge. Company F was at My Son about 7 miles from battle and 15 miles by road.     see Naval Gunfire report here as H&I as well.

III MAF  (3rd Marine Division) MajGen Lewis Walt - Call Sign Shove

1)       INSTUM #80 3rd MarDiv RPT Jul 1965 pg 167 B. Enemy (2) (G-2/C3 Enemy 28 July 1965 to attack) AT885886 to attack AT9286

2)       INSTUM #83 Division RPT Jul 1965 pg 5 (5) (Enemy movement 28 July 1965) 7th VC BN (G-2 comment) AT9287

3)       COMMAND DIARY [2D BN 3D MARINES] Jul 65 pgs 55-56 Crowd (3rd Rgt) from Shove (3rd Div) 28th 2050H, 2215H and 29-Jul-1235H (Crowd rpts NGF Ca De River and firefight) AT920850

4)       III Div G-3 Journal Jul 65, pg 13 2050H. (H/2/3 reporting fire fight to G-2) items J-44/45... AT920850

5)       3D MARDIV - SITREPS #56-86, 1-Jul-1965 Airfield was attacked with mortars.

6)       3D MARDIV - SITREPS #56-86, 29-Jul-1965 pg 185-86 (d): USS John R. Craig DD-885 and USS Stoddard DD-566 report of firings.   Six locations between 28-2345H and 29-0240H. 260HE, 78 Illum, 23 WP of 5"/38 cal fired.

7)       Command Chronology 3rd Marine Division  Jul 1965. 28-Jul- pg22 (Authority to call for support)

8)       3D MARDIV - SITREPS #56-86, 29-Jul-1965 Intentions:pg 10 shows 2/3 companies support fragmented 7 miles from the Ca De River Bridge trying to interdict the enemy approach. Could not support the bridge attack.

9)       3D MARDIV - SITREPS #87-117 Covering 4-Aug-65 Document No. 1201025027 pg 2 item D). Second firing of the ships or reflecting back to the 28/29 July? See NGF 4 Aug Excel record. Harassing Fire for either day is false recording. No harassment is 400 rds.

10)   3D MARDIV - SITREPS #118-147, 4 Sept 65 pg 5: 2. Plans Summary:-A,(2)2., Protection Platoon 2/3 rehearsal for protection of the Nam-O (Ca De River) Bridge.

11)   3D MARDIV - SITREPS #118-147, 9 Sep 65 pg2, DaNang TAOR, item B. H/2/3 one squad to cover the Ca De River (Nam-O) bridge.

12) 3D MARDIV - SITREPS #56-86, 29-Jul-1965 pg 1 1628h. H Company and E was located some 8-9 miles on 3 day patrols some 8-9 miles from the Ca De Bridge looking to interdict 7th VC BN which had formed for attack that day at the Bridge. Company F was at My Son about 7 miles from battle and 15 miles by road. see Naval Gunfire report here as H&I as well. The ploy here of disinformation is to explain away firing and that any VC unit killed was done by accident and not intent. Same disinformation can be seen the day of battle and preceding of Starlite on 17 Aug 65. Operation name not used and profuse misinformation to units of Golf and Hotel 2/4 are recorded in Battalion records and company orders. Operation in orders was called Dragon Fly. Total misinformation indicating enemy compromise of communications was present. No mention of pending Division size operation. Kept records prior to battle are all fake except for H/2/3 (coming in from DaNang) to occupy H/2/4 positions while "on patrol." And L/3/4 (coming in from Phu Bai) to fill E/2/4 positions while they were off "on patrol." Great read of misinformation.  

US Navy

1)       FSCC Permanent War Journal 1-31 Jul 1965, pgs 51-52 NGF 101-113 Ca De River engagement. (USS Craig DD-885 & USS Stoddard DD-566) Naval Gunfire war record. See excel NGF record compiled.

2)       Diary of firing EM3 H. Lehtola, USN 28/29 July 1965 and his Naval report for ships history.

3)       Sgt Karl C. Lippard after action report 1983 book The Warriors United States Marines pgs 127-128. MAW and NGF support. After action report 2018. A match of Naval War Journal coordinates of gunfire delivery with a memory source recorded in 1983.

4)       3D MARDIV - SITREPS #56-8627-Jul-1965 USS Craig fired 290 rds HE and 52 rds Illumination up Elephant Valley (inland upstream Ca De River) observed from Dong Den Mtn Recon.

5)       3D MARDIV - SITREPS #56-86, 29-Jul-1965 pg 2 (D) The ploy here of disinformation is to explain away firing and that any VC unit killed was done by accident and not intent. 460 HE 23 Wp and 75 Illum recorded here. NGF record shows 445 rounds. Lippard record shows 449 rounds in actual battle. 568 total including after action follow up by rounds fired by type.

6)        United States Navy written communications with Sgt. Lippard 1980 on file.

USMC CMC Gen. Wallace M. Greene, Jr. relocations to Sgt. Lippard


 

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