On Friday (May 5) United States Marines occupied Hill 881 North the last the three peaks overlooking a Marine base camp and air strip at Khe sanh in the northwest corner of South Viet Nam.
On Friday (May 5) United States Marines occupied Hill 881 North the last the three peaks overlooking a Marine base camp and air strip at Khe sanh in the northwest corner of South Viet Nam. The final assault met with no resistance. It marked the end of 12 days of bloody fighting for the three hills.
The Marines had already taken most of Hill 881 North leading up the summit, but were bogged down by a fierce counter-attack by North Vietnamese troops. So the United States forces pulled back while air and artillery bombardment pounded the North Vietnamese positions.
Hardly a shot was fired in the final assault. The same company that the took the heaviest casualties in the earlier counter-attack -- Company E, Second Battalion, Third Marines -- was the first to the summit.
The Marines had taken Hills 861 and 881 South in the earlier fighting. Although there is now a lull in the fighting, none of the United States commanders believes the struggle for the strategic north west corner of South Viet Nam is over. With United States forcer in command of the strategic high ground, they are in a better position to observe North Vietnamese infiltration through the Demilitarized Zone and neighboring Laos. They are also better able to defend the Marine base and air strip at Khe Sanh, which lies in a valley just to the south of the three peaks. Marine officers say North Vietnamese guns were already trained on Khe Sanh when the battle began 12 days ago, an by occupying the hills they avoided a defeat such as the French suffer at Dien Bien Phu.