By clicking along the top of this document you can view a large scale map showing company traces for the operation. By clicking anywhere in the left margin you can view a small scale map of 25 Oct movements.


After reading the radio logs and studying the maps visit a chapter about the battle from a yet to be published book about aerial observers in Vietnam. Many first person quotes and the view from the combat soldiers.

Narrative Description of Events Surrounding Battle of Kinh Mon With 20/20 Hindsight Comments.

1. 22 Oct 1968 - Combat elements of TF 1/61 (B and C companies, B 1/77 and Recon Platoon) assemble at A4. A Company is at A3. All spend part of night in bunkers and pup tents.

2. 0300 23 Oct 1968 - Rifle Companies (B and C), Recon Platoon and Bn Headquarters Group depart A 4 dismounted. A Co departs A3. All advance as per OPLAN/OPORD RICH toward Ben Hai River.

3. Units receive mortar fire and uncover NVA bunkers. TF continues advance toward DMZ. Additional bunkers and large quantities of supplies and weapons are destroyed.

4. All companies close on stream at boundary of DMZ. Due to high waters (heavy rain) fords are flooded. A and C Cos cross using ropes. B Co finds NVA bridge and crosses. TF now in DMZ.

5. 231550 Oct 1968 - TF halts advance while C Co recovers body (KIA) of downed USAF FAC.

6. All companies occupy NDPs general vic YD1476.

        ♦ Comment: Bn is moving in classic pattern. Two up and one back with C Co on left, A Co on right and B Co in reserve. As Bn CO believes principal flank threat is from his north (International Border) B Co in echelon to left side of formation, following C Co. To protect other (right) flank the Bn CO attaches Recon Platoon to B Company with the implied mission of screening right flank.

7. 240600 Oct 1968 - All units continue advance toward Ben Hai River.

8. All units come under increasingly heavy mortar and sniper fire. Large supply and hospital bunkers are found. Heavy small arms fire from north bank of Ben Hai River. Air, Arty and Navy Gunfire are called.

9. 3rd Platoon A/1/61, while providing security for the Bn Cmd Group, discovers two spider holes and captures two soldiers. Field interrogation reveals presence of large NVA force to south vicinity of Kinh Mon.

10. 241745 Oct 1968 - Bn establishes NDP vic YD1576.

        ♦ Comment: Heavy vegetation slows movement. Through coordinated use of USAF airstrikes, Naval guns and supporting artillery TF 1/61 is able to continue to move and locate large amounts of NVA supplies. TF casualties are light. Bn CO reacts to field intelligence and redirects main attack.

11. Bn CO issues frag order for next day's operation. Bn will turn to southeast (right) and advance to contact NVA unit believed to be near Kinh Mon. A Co on left (east), B Co on right (west) with C Co in reserve.

12. 25 Oct 1968 - As Bn moves south all units come under sporadic mortar fire. Artillery is used to attempt to suppress fires.

13. A Co crosses Ben Hai tributary by ford; B Co crosses to the south with ropes.

14. B Co finds large bunker complex. Captured documents indicate this is CP for senior NVA officer.

15. A Co reaches abandoned railroad track and comes under heavy small arms fire and continued mortar fire.

16. A Co masses along railroad embankment and attempts to gain fire superiority. They attack and destroy NVA unit near railroad. Air support is requested. Naval gunfire from the battleship New Jersey is used to block NVA reinforcement routes.

17. Mortar round impacts in A Co CP and severely wounds Company Commander and members of Cmd Gp.

        ♦ Comment:The platoons of A Co spread out to avoid the mortar fire and with no effective company headquarters the company becomes three separate platoons with no central leadership. The platoon leaders loose control of some of their squads and for all intents A Co is no longer an effective fighting force. Bn calls for air support. Overhead are two, and sometimes three, light aircraft during the morning hours. They are USAF Push-Pull 0-2s, BARKEY 14, 16 and 18. One or more either engaged the enemy (the Air Force O-2s carried 7.62mm gun pods and HE rockets in addition to WP smoke rockets) or ran air strikes, one of which may have resulted in friendly casualties. BARKEY is in radio contact with the Bn CO, A Company and one Recon Squad. BARKEY brings in USAF attack craft and is able to direct their drops to relieve pressure on some of A Co troops.
Weather conditions and/or fuel considerations forced the USAF O-2s to return to Quang Tri shortly before 'MAR FAC' (Catkiller 12, mistakenly thought to be a Marine O-1 Bird Dog) arrived and established contact with A Co. Catkiller 12 took out a NVA 12.7 machinegun with a WP smoke rocket, most likely saving the lives of a Recon Squad pinned down in a shell crater. That and subsequent actions provided the cover for the withdrawal of the Recon Platoon and the regrouping of A 1/61. Catkiller 12 was later relieved by Catkiller 19, who attacked NVA positions with M-16 fire and smoke rockets, directed Naval gunfire from the USS New Jersey and, when the weather improved sufficiently, controlled air strikes. Catkiller 13 had arrived with Catkiller 19 and remained over 1/77, providing aerial reconnaissance during their advance to Kinh Mon.

Direct Support Artillery, Naval gunfire, mortars, US Army fixed wing air controllers, USAF FAC, USAF attack aircraft, helicopter gunships, WHO IS IN CHARGE?

18. B Co is order to move to assist A Co.

19. B Co moves to east toward A Co and begins to receive heavy MG and small arms fire.

20. B Co CO orders Recon Platoon to pass through B Co lines and find enemy locations.

21. Recon conducts passage of lines and advances in three columns. Platoon leader and radio operator are killed by small arms fire.

        ♦ Comment: Infantry Recon Platoons by their TOE mission are supposed to find the enemy, report his location and direct long range fire on him. They are not equipped or trained to fight as Infantry. In this case, while the 1/61 Recon Platoon had trained extensively in mounted operations, they were not well prepared for dismounted scout work. One PRC 25 with the platoon leader and two squad radios, one each with each section, did not provide the communication necessary for this task. With the loss of the platoon leader and his radio operator, all contact with B Co and Bn was also lost. The Platoon Sgt. had been pulled out of the platoon a few days earlier to fill a vacant 1st Sgt. position so there was no platoon leadership when the Lt. was killed. Rather than "Sneaking and Peeking" the scout sections joined the fight as Infantry. The individual scouts fought valiantly, destroying one NVA bunker and two machinegun positions. In fact the death of the platoon leader and his radio operator may be attributed to their excessive bravery, in that they exposed themselves to hostile fire as they attempted to better lead the platoon. Recon was not able to continue their advance and immediately began taking heavy casualties. Disorganized and with no hope of gaining fire superiority they fell back, some carrying dead and wounded, through B Co positions. Recon survivors recall a B Co Lt. covering their withdrawal with hand grenades and bravery. I have discussed this operation with another officer whose military knowledge I admire. He makes the point that while knowing they were not properly equipped nor trained for the mission they still went forward and attempted to take the fight to the enemy. This act clearly refutes any questioning of their courage, unit cohesiveness and pride.

22. B Co attacks NVA positions and directs mortar and artillery fires on all know locations. Naval gunfire from USS New Jersey and additional airstrikes, as the weather improves, are controlled by CATKILLER 19.

23. Bn CO orders B/1/77 Armor to move from A4 and join battle as per original OPORD contingency plan.

24. A Co platoons attempt to break contact and move southwest toward B Co.

25. B Co expends most of its ammunition and requests emergency resupply by air. No resupply helicopter assets are available to 1/61.

26. Numerous requests are made for helicopter medical evacuation and helicopter gun ship support. No helicopter gun ships are available and no med evacs will land due to NVA fires.

        ♦ Comment: Mechanized soldiers are never good at ammunition conservation. With their APCs there is always more. When in the dismount role they expend too much ammunition and have no ready resupply. Although 1/61 was part of 1/5 and therefore part of 3rd Marine Division plans should have been made for US Army helicopter support. 1/5 had at least two LOHs and two UH1s. One of these machines should have been pre-tasked for re-supply and sling loads should have been prepared at C2 or A4 for rapid deployment. If requested 24 hours in advance Cobra gun ships were normally available from higher headquarters. They too should have been preplanned for med evac escort.

27. B/1/77 arrives in battle area. Three tanks have been lost to mines but remainder of company attacks. As NVA soldiers flee the oncoming tanks they run directly into B Co 1/61 fire sectors. Tanks and Infantry destroy the NVA unit. Few escape.

        ♦ Comment: The use of B Co 1/77 is a masterstroke. The Bn CO's contingency plan works. The shock action and automatic weapons of the tanks combined with the small arms of the Infantry make short work of a NVA unit in prepared positions.

28. B Co links up with A Co and begins med evacs and reorganization of A Co.

29. A Co and B Co prepare to continue their mission and push south. Bn CO orders night NDP vic of B/1/77. All 1/61 companies move to that location.

30. 26 Oct 1968 - All units police battle area and then return to bases C2 and A4.

KIA (By date)
24 Oct 68:
Larry Eugene Martin, PFC, 11B10, small arms fire. C/1/61
Lonnie Thomas Parker, PFC 91A10, small arms fire. C/1/61

25 Oct 68:
Tom Gayle Casey, PFC, 11B10, small arms fire. B/1/61
Billie Monroe Long, SGT, 31G40, other explosive device (mine). A/7 Eng
David Richard Merrell, 2LT, 1204, small arms fire. Recon/1/61
James Grabriel Soriano, SP4, 70A10, small arms. A /1/61
Thomas Fredrick Ray Jr., PFC, 11D10, small arms fire. Recon/1/61
James Ambler Wright, SGT 11B40, small arms fire. A/1/61

KIA (By unit)
A Company 1/61:
James Grabriel Soriano, SP4, 70A10, small arms.
James Ambler Wright, SGT 11B40, small arms fire.

B Company 1/61:
Tom Gayle Casey, PFC, 11B10, small arms fire.

C Company 1/61:
Larry Eugene Martin, PFC, 11B10, small arms fire.
Lonnie Thomas Parker, PFC 91A10, small arms fire.

Recon Platoon:
David Richard Merrell, 2LT, 1204, small arms fire.
Thomas Fredrick Ray Jr, PFC, 11D10, small arms fire.

A Company 7th Engineers:
Billie Monroe Long, SGT, 31G40, mine.

NVA KIA 303 counted

An incountry newsman reported this battle and his story was carried in the New York Times.
The Los Angles Times also carried brief reports about the fighting during the 25th and 26th of October.