Operation Virginia Ridge
In early May 1969, U.S. reconnaissance detected that 2 People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) Regiments, the 27th and 36th were infiltrating through the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) into the central section of Quảng Trị Province. The 3rd Marine Regiment was given the mission of engaging both Regiments, preventing any threat to Route 9 and protecting the rice harvest.
The operation began on 2 May 1969 with the 1st Battalion 3rd Marines landed by helicopter at Landing Zone Sparrow (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.), 8 km northwest of Cam Lộ Combat Base meeting light resistance. The 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines secured Firebase Fuller and Firebase Pete north of Elliot Combat Base and then swept towards the DMZ. The 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines secured Con Thien and the surrounding area. By 6 May 1/3 Marines had swept 3 km west of Landing Zone Sparrow along Mutter's Ridge. On the early morning of 10 May an estimated PAVN Platoon attacked Company D 1/4 Marines night defensive position killing 8 Marines and wounding 10 in just 10 minutes.:73
On 16 May Company M encountered a small entrenched PAVN force killing 4 and capturing 1. For the remainder of May the 1/3 and 3/3 Marines swept east towards the A-4 Strongpoint meeting limited resistance. On 20 May an estimated force of 20 PAVN attacked Company C's night defensive position losing 15 killed for the loss of 3 Marine dead and 8 wounded. On 22 May Company B ambushed a 30-man PAVN force killing 19 and capturing 2.:74
On 6–7 June several B-52 Arclight strikes were made against Mutter's Ridge, Foxtrot Ridge and Helicopter Valley with 2/3 Marines deployed soon after by helicopter to conduct bomb damage assessment. The Marines found numerous destroyed bunkers but few enemy dead.:74
In mid-June the 3rd Marines received intelligence that a PAVN force was infiltrating from the DMZ near Gio Linh District. On 16 June the 3/3 Marines loaded onto trucks and were driven up Route 1 towards the DMZ at night, as they did so they encountered the PAVN 27th Regiment and 33rd Sapper Battalion moving south along the roadside. The Marines engaged the PAVN force, pushing them into the defenses at the Charlie 1 position, where 56 PAVN dead were found the following morning. 3/3 Marines swept south from Gio Linh towards Con Thien killing 20 PAVN in 2 separate engagements before midday on 17 June.:74–5 At 14:00 an estimated PAVN Company attacked the 3/3 Marines' command position but were forced back with the loss of 37 dead and 3 captured. Company L moving to support the command grouup engaged an entrenched PAVN position killing 8. Aerial observers called in artillery and airstrikes against PAVN focrces throughout the day with the final tally being 193 PAVN killed and 9 captured for the loss of 19 Marines killed and 28 wounded.:75
Operation Virginia Ridge concluded on 16 July.:75
- Smith, Charles (1988). U.S. Marines In Vietnam: High Mobility And Standdown, 1969. History and Museums Division, Headquarters US Marine Corps. p. 73. ISBN 9781494287627.
- Kelley, Michael (2002). Where we were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press. pp. 5–479. ISBN 978-1555716257.