As President Nixon ordered limited air and artillery strikes against North Vietnam on Thursday, South Vietnamese troops were mustering to stand and fight the Communist invasion at Dong Ha.
GV PAN Tanks along road (2 shots)
LV ZOOM IN troops in tank
GV Tank firing
CU Tank Commander with binoculars
CU Soldier covers ears with fingers
SV Tank firing
LV South Vietnamese troops run to house
BV Troops watching
LV Troops moving around houses
SV Radio operator & troops resting
SV Soldiers with map PAN TO radio operator
LV Group of US advisors with Viet troops
CU American advisers on field telephones (2 shots)
GV Trucks leaded with troops along Highway One
GV Cobra helicopter flying escort
SV Viet Rangers in truck
SV Aircraft taxiing
CU Batman signalling
SV & CU Troops towards building with weapons (3 shots)
GV Tanks ready for battle
GV Troops on tank
South Vietnamese tanks firing from Dong Ha; troops sweeping homes; officers studying maps; US military advisers with Vietnamese troops; troops moving in lorries up Highway One; Cobra helicopter gunship escorting convoys; US aircraft landing troops at Hue airstrip.
TRANSCRIPT: COMMENTARY ON FILM: "This is where the South Vietnamese have chosen to stand and fight after retreating for nearly 15 miles from the DMZ. They call it the "Dong Ha Line." The Marines have stretched their tanks and artillery along this line on the south bank of the Dong He (Cua Viet) river. This is the gateway to Quang Tri, the provincial capital six miles south on Route One. The South Vietnamese must hold this line, and say they can. There are reports some North Vietnamese units have sneaked across the river and are fighting in these houses on the north side of town. There is no return fire, but the South Vietnamese Marines are taking no chance. The commander of this unit say's he sure the North Vietnamese cannot come across the river and hit his main force here. The enemy artillery has been silent for hours He. fears the enemy is regrouping and may outflank him from the west. The American advisors here - there are about half a dozen - say they would like to conduct a sweep, along the river to the west. But the South Vietnamese command is reluctant. They want to wait for reinforcements. It should not be a long wait - the reinforcements are moving up along Highway One. They're accompanied by American-flown Cobra gunships, flown from as far south as Saigon. The South Vietnamese Rangers have been tracked from several bases along the Central Coast. Marina reinforcements have been flown in from Saigon. They land at the military airport at Hue. All airfields further north have been closed. The South Vietnamese commanders want as many troops as they can muster. An estimated 10,000 are on the way. They will be here shortly, but the airpower will have to wait for better weather. Whatever the need, it's their war now. For the South Vietnamese, there's 15 miles of their country in enemy hands, which they'll have to fight for to get back."(Reported film Laurin, NBC).
In South Vietnam, government troops make their stand against the North Vietnamese invasion. Their stronghold: Dong Ha - ghost town from which the inhabitants have fled. The South Vietnamese are fighting alone, with 15 miles of their country in Communist hands, and the strategic provincial capital. Quang Tri, only six miles to the south.
By choosing Dong Ha, the South Vietnamese established their defence line along a natural barrier - the south bank of the Cua Viet River. While tanks and artillery exchanged fire with Communist guns on the northern side, Marines made a sweep through homes closest to the river in search of infiltrators, but there was no return fire. Their commander told newsmen he was sure the North Vietnamese could not cross the river and hit his main forces.
The South Vietnamese reported killing as least 88 Communis troops in battles northeast and southwest of the town. Their own casualties wee put at six killed and 23 wounded. They were being urged to take bigger initiative - six American military advisors directing air and artillery support wanted them to sweep the river bank to the northwest But their commanders said they would not move until reinforcements arrived.
An estimated 10,000 Marines and Rangers were being rushed by road from the south to strengthen Dong Ha.Cobra helicopter gunships escorted the troop convoys along Highway One from Hue.In Hue itself - the scene of fierce fighting in the Communist Tot offensive four years ago - American transport planes flew troops in from Saigon. Dong Ha and the defence line along the Cua Viet River were considered vital to the defence of Quang Tri.At least 12 other bases forming a protective ring around the provincial capital had already been abandoned. On Thursday, as Americans resumed limited bombing and shelling of North Vietnam, Dong Ha itself was holding out. But the same day, the North Vietnamese were reported to have crossed the river to the east of the town after a fierce tank battle.
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Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: As President Nixon ordered limited air and artillery strikes against North Vietnam on Thursday, South Vietnamese troops were mustering to stand and fight the Communist invasion at Dong Ha. Their defence perimeter, called the "Dong Ha Line," ran along a natural barrier - the south bank of the strategic Cua Viet River. An estimated 10,000 Marines and Rangers were being rushed from the south to reinforce it. But while the town itself was holding out, North Vietnamese troops were reported to have crossed the river to the east after a fierce tank battle.
Film has spoken commentary by reporter in Vietnam. An alternative commentary is provided overage.