2nd Plt., H Co., 2nd Bn., 4th Regt., 3rd Marine Div//
July 1968 to June 1969//2nd Lt.//Platoon Commander
2nd Battalion 4th Marines
5 Jan 1969
10 December 1968
Company E continued to search and destroy the area of its encounter (grid) 0364). Company G secured Objective 8 (YD 038633), prepared to receive the command group and to move on order to Objective 9 (YD 046634), all of which was accomplished by 1500. Company H relieved Company F at YD 019648 and Company F moved out for Objective B (018658), the approximate location from which the enemy mortar fire the night before had originated. Air strikes on the high ground at YD 018658 and on a mortar position at 021658 forced Company F to stop short of the high ground. They held up for the night at YD 018654. The three air strikes destroyed four hundred meters of trail, five bunkers, one .50 caliber position, damaged five bunkers, and set off four secondary fires. Night acts consisted of four squad ambushes and eleven LP's.
11 December 1968
Plans for 11 December were as follows: Company E was to continue its intensive search and destroy operations in grid 0364 and the ground and stream to the east. Company G was to conduct similar activities in the area north and south of YD 046635. Particular attention was to be paid to any further indications of routes used by the NVA when vacating the area where Company E made contact two days earlier. Company H was to heavily patrol the ridge and surrounding areas at YD 028652. Company F was ordered to seize the highground at YD 024660 and YD 026664, called Objective B for this Operation. Action in the vicinity changed the above plans.
At 0825 Fox 1 took 60mm mortar and small arms fire. 81mm support was called in and an AO came on station and reported having enemy in sight. Pressing forward toward YD 024660 the lead elements came under small arms and automatic weapons fire. The enemy were well entrenched and the dense vegetation made it difficult to spot the sources of enemy fire. As it was later discovered, Company F had fought its way into the middle of a large, well laid out bunker complex. Havbing fought their way in, the company found it extremely difficult to maneuver its way out, due both to the fires of the enemy and the problem of carrying their wounded.
Air strikes were called and four flights were flown, after which mortars and artillery continued to work the area over.
Shortly after the contact was initiated Company H was dispatched forward to reinforce Company F. Reaching the area of contact around noon, Hotel was opconned to Company F and shortly thereafter was committed to take the pressure off pinned-down Company F units.
Once Company H was in position its concentrated fire power assisted greatly in forcing the enemy to withdraw. Artillery, 81's and air continued to work over the enemy positions and possible routes of egress, artillery being responsible for at least one secondary explosion.
By 1620 the field quieted. Company H stood by to interdict enemy escape to the north. While Fox began the task of reorganizing and consolidating Golf was positioned to reinforce F and H. Darkness was rapidly approaching and drawing the curtain on this, the battalion's first major combat effort in almost five months. At the end of the day the companies in contact had recovered their wounded. Marine units reported definitely killing at least seven enemy, but no search of the battlefield was yet possible.
The three companies formed a united, well placed perimeter on the western portion of Objective B, with Company E and the battalion command group on the ridge across the valley to the south at YD 019648. Battalion night acts consisted of three squad ambushes, and regular LP's.
Friendly casualties on this day were thirteen Marines KIA () and thirty-one WIA. Enemy losses were unknown at the close of the day, except for seven bodies found in addition to the seven reported killed by Marines in the course of the action.
12 December 1968
Early this morning the battalion command group received one dud artillery round and two other rounds in their positions. Fortunately no casualties resulted.
The battle plan for the day called for Company G to envelop into the complex from the southwest on a small spit of land not shown on the map. It was hoped that this route would put the company on the right or southern fringes of the complex. Company H was to move back out onto the finger to the north which they had occupied the previous day and to act as a base of fire for Company G if the latter were to encounter resistance. Either company was to be ready to support the other if one route of approach was seen to be more favorable than the other.
Following air strikes, artillery preps and an 81mm mission, and fires to zero in the 60mm mortars, Company G moved out. The enemy had fled, however, and no contact was made. One NVA soldier was found alive and unharmed in a bunker. He was relieved of his loaded light machine gun mand helilifted to higher headquarters.
Companies F and H recovered their BNR's. A careful and thorough search of all bunkers turned up a vast array of material of all kinds. Besides the live POW the units found: three AK-47's, one SKA, one light machine gun and drum, one M-14, one M-16, 24 RPG rounds, 62 82mm mortar rounds, 300 60 mm mortar rounds, 37 chicom grenades, 10 anti-personnel mines, 49 chicom claymore mines, 1600 rounds of small arms ammunition, 1600 rounds of light machine gun ammunition, medical supplies, documents, assorted clothing and 782 gear, on 82mm mortar base plate, and 600 pounds of rice. Five NVA bodies were found this day.
One item of worthy note was that intelligence sources reported that the Battalion, in its attack on Objective B on 11 December, had killed the Battalion Commander of the 1st Battalion, 27th NVA Regiment, and had virtually decimated his staff.
3. Enemy Contact and Activity
(2) On 11 December, Company F made contact with an unknown number of NVA in a well developed bunker system in the vicinity of YD 022659. After several hours of fighting, Company F, heavily engaged with a large, well-entrenched enemy force, was joined by Company H (-), and their combined firepower succeeded in driving the enemy off the northern slope of Objective B. Air strikes and artillery were called in on likely avenues of escape. The bunker complex was found to contain 178 bunkers.
9. Enemy Disposition
a. Enemy disposition and strength in the Scotland II area of operation was reported to be as follows during the month of December 1968.
(1) 27th NVA Regiment, strength 1065, location YD 1369
(2) 2nd Battalion, 27th NVA Regiment, strength 250, location YD 1268.
(3) 3rd Battalion, 27th NVA Regiment, strength 250, location YD 1469.
b. Operations of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines indicate that the First Battalion, 27th NVA Regiment, strength about 250, was located at YD 0266 (Objective B).
Subsequent reports state that the assault on 11 December at "Foxtrot Ridge" (YD 0266) annhialated the Battalion Commander and staff of the 1st Battalion, 27th NVA Regiment.
VFW ARTICLE: Oct, 2002
When the North Vietnamese infantry company opened fire with automatic weapons and grenade launchers, 2nd Lt. Bob Mueller instantly took command.
"Let's go, squad leaders! Defensive perimeter! Bring up that M-60, on the double. Come on, guys--move it!"
It happened in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, on Dec. 11, 1968.
On that morning 34 years ago, Robert Swan Mueller, III, was leading a U.S. Marine Corps infantry unit on a Vietnam War combat patrol.
Suddenly, Mueller's hard-charging platoon of gung-ho "grunts" found itself confronting more than 200 battle-hardened North Vietnamese regulars.
Within 15 minutes, Mueller's outfit had taken several casualties.
But the lieutenant didn't hesitate. After several months of grueling preparation at Quantico--headquarters for Marine Corps officer training--he was ready to assume command. During the next few hours, he would lead his courageous platoon of "jarheads" through a brutal firefight marked by heavy casualties on both sides.
He also would earn the Bronze Star for valor and the Purple Heart as commander of 2nd Plt., H Co., 2nd Bn., 4th Regt., 3rd Marine Div., during his tour in Vietnam between July 1968 and June 1969.
According to the .U.S. Marine Corps archives, here's what happened next on that long-ago morning in Quang Tri.
"Quickly establishing a defensive perimeter, 2nd Lt. Mueller fearlessly moved from one position to another, directing the accurate counterfire of his men and shouting words of encouragement to them.
"With complete disregard for his own safety, he then skillfully supervised the evacuation of casualties from the hazardous area and, on one occasion, personally led a fire team across the fire-swept terrain to recover a mortally wounded Marine who had fallen in a position forward of the friendly lines.
"2nd Lt. Mueller's courage, aggressive initiative and unwavering devotion to duty at great personal risk were instrumental in the defeat of the enemy force and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service."