Third Battalion, Fifth Marines
By Cpl. Earl Gerheim
CAMP HOCMUTH, Vietnam, May 29 -- A Marine Company stumbled onto a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) base camp and held it for five days as they repulsed an enemy battalion south of Phu Bai, May 8-13.
Leathernecks of "M" Co., 3rd Bn., Fifth Marine Regiment killed 20 of the enemy in the contact.
The Marines found the base camp after a two day trek in mountainous terrain. They were proceeding down a mountainside when the enemy ambushed their rear elements.
"We hit the back door of the camp," said Capt. Frank Pacello, 27, (101 W.28th, Wilmington, Del.) the company commander.
The company fought off the enemy ambush, killing four NVA who were occupying two camouflaged huts.
For the next five days, the company withstood enemy attempts to overrun them. With close air support impossible due to the sloping terrain, the Marines relied heavily on artillery and fierce small arms combat to maintain their positions.
The enemy would attack, be fought off and then break contact with the Marines, only to hit the ebattered outfit again later.
Finally, with the help of a relief column from 2nd Bn., Fifth Marine Regiment, the beleagured company drove off the enemy and returned to their combat base.
While in the communist camp, the Marines found six messhalls, each with a capacity of seating 100 men. The structures had benches, tables and a plumbing system made from bamboo pipes connected to a mountain stream.
The Marines found and destroyed eight tons of rice, 180 B-40 rockets, 300 Chicom grenades, 4500 blasting caps, 300 pounds of plastic explosives and 300 uniforms.