Three more battalions of United States Marines pushed into the demilitarized zone that separates the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam (commonly called North Viet Nam) from the South Viet Nam Saturday (20 May.
Three more battalions of United States Marines pushed into the demilitarized zone that separates the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam (commonly called North Viet Nam) from the South Viet Nam Saturday (20 May. They followed the U.S. Third Marine Division that moved into operation against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops in the zone on Thursday (18 May). A spokesman for the Third Marine Division said that as of Saturday 55 Marines had been killed and 415 wounded, while Viet Cong and North Vietnamese combined losses were put at 543.
Part of the Marine offensive into the DMZ was called "Operation Hickory" which occurred in the western portion of the DMZ just north of the Community of Con Thien.
The Third Marine Division troops had battled the VC at a village near Con Thien and then began moving into the DMZ in an attempt to attack the VC base of operations.
The Marines flew in helicopters over the Ben Hai river and into the DMZ itself, where they dug in against fire from VC elements. Air strikes were called in by the U.S. troops against the VC and then the Marines moved out again, toward other VC emplacements deeper into the DMZ.
An old woman was shot and killed in one VC bunker and reporters accompanying this phase of the operation said she was the first civilian casualty of a non-combatant. As the marines moved through villages in the DMZ they rounded up the people and began to make provisions to evacuate them to safer areas.
The total number of United States and South Vietnamese troops in the DMZ now is estimated at 10,000.
In the overall battle plan, two of the three U.S. marine battalion that moved into the DMZ Saturday went over the line behind tanks from a Marine mountain outpost of Con Thien. The marines linked up with another battalion that was airlifted Thursday into a landing area on the banks of the Ben Hai river that forms the boundary between the two Viet Nams.
The Third marine battalion, on amphibious landing team, was flown by helicopters from the carrier Princeton and the assault ship Ogden in the Gulf of Tonkin to a rice paddy near the village of Hoicu in the DMZ, about 250 yards south of the Ben Hai river.
Five Marine battalions have now been committed to the operation which is the first allied sweep through the demilitarized zone.
Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, of South Viet Nam said the troops would "not at the present time" cross from the six mile wide DMZ into North Vietnamese territory and he added that he did not expect any large conterthrust from North Vietnamese forces.