crossed rifles

VIETNAM - Early Days (cont.)

SEPT 1968 - OCTOBER 1968

Bunkered firebase SEA Hut construction
Initially 1/61 troops built a Fire Base to the west of Quang Tri City. This was to become the first Red Devil. Engineer units took over construction of the Brigade Headquarters area and the BN set up in and around Camp Carroll. 1/61 units conducted ground operations around the Khe Gio Bridge and into the area west of Cam Lo. After helping rebuild a major bunker complex at C2 and guarding a water point in the Cam Lo River, elements of the BN moved again, this time to A3. Staging out of A4, units of the BN were part of OPERATION KENTUCKY early in September 1968. This short and bloody action quickly proved the BN's ability to mass combat power and inflict heavy losses on enemy forces. The nation's second highest medal for combat action, the Distinguished Service Cross, was awarded to Captain Vernon for his assault of a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) ambush force during this contact.
Michael Raffin, a member of the Society of the 5th Division and web master of CHICAGO VIETNAM WAR MUSEUM (see links page), was a machine gunner assigned to D Company 1st Bn 11th Infantry and on attached duty with C Company 1st Bn 61st Infantry during this period. During breaks in the action he recorded his thoughts in a pocket diary. Extracts from this diary are presented as an appendix to this page. Years later Mike Mullenix (RTO with C/1/61) and Tommy Dorris (Artillery FO with A/1/61) exchanged correspondence and recalled these days. Some of their recollections are also included. Tracks working in the sandTanks ready to fire

LEFT: Tanks and M 113s near Wunder Beach

RIGHT: Tanks in "Overwatch" near DMZ