Ballistic Arch/Kentucky V/Osceola
24/27 Nov 29/30 Dec Continuing 1968
Eight days after leaving Cam Lo, SLF Alpha land ed again. While at sea, BLT 1 / 3's commanders changed, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas turned over his command to recently promoted Lieutenant Colonel Richard W. Goodale. The 24 November landing, Ballistic Arch, was a helicopter and surface assault of Viet Cong-dominated villages on the northern coast of Quang Tn Province, only seven kilometers south of the southern DMZ boundary.
Ballistic Arch aimed at Communist sympathizers reported in and around the hamlet of Mai Xa Thi. The operation was a "walk through" for most of the battalion, but the opening minutes were tense for the crews of the LVTP- Ss of the 4th Platoon, Company A, 5th Amphibian Tractor Battalion and the embarked Marines of the BLT's Company A.
Poor information on surf conditions presented the amphibian tractors with a serious problem. As they approached the beach, they started to take on more sea water than their pumps could handle; at times it was knee deep in the tractors. Two Marines, riding on top of a tractor washed overboard, but fortunate ly others rescued them. At last the vehicles grounded and climbed the dunes of the Quang Tn coast. There were no losses.
The expected contact did not materialize. The battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Goodale summarized the apparently poor intelligence which triggered Ballistic Arch, saying, "no fighting holes, bunkers, or fortifications of any kind were uncovered during the operation . . . The area appeared to be quite pacified and the indigenous personnel were very friendly."25 Ballistic Arch ended at noon on 27 November, and BLT 1 / 3 immediately came under the 9th Marines' operational control.
The BLT again phased back into the continuing Kentucky Operation. Its only active participation, however, was a sweep during the period 28-30 November. On 2 December the battalion moved back to the A- 3 Strongpoint to provide security and engineer support for its construction. The Marines made a concerted effort to complete construction. By the time of the departure of BLT 1 / 3 on 29 December, the Marines had completed the defensive wire and minefield and almost finished the bunker complex.
Enemy contact during the stay at A-3 was very' light. The battalion experienced small enemy probes until 11 December when supporting arms broke up a platoon-size Communist attack. Enemy ground action dropped off appreciably afterward. Enemy artillery, mortar, and rocket fire were the main deterrent to the Marines' engineering effort at A-3. From 2 December until the 29th, 578 rounds landed on the position. Phase V of Kentucky concluded on 29 December. BLT 1 / 3 made a combined tactical foot ~and motor march back to Quang Tn Airfield complex. The last two days of December passed as the BLT prepared to relieve the 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, then involved in Operation Osceola. The end of the year brought no slowing of the planned tempo of SLF operations.
THE ABOVE OPERATIONS ARE CREDITED
TO 1/3 COMBAT HISTORY FILE AND THE BOOK, "SEMPER FI VIETNAM"