MASSACHUSETTS STRIKER

 

1 MAR – 8 MAY 1969

 

The mission was to conduct combined airmobile operations in the vicinity of the Southern A Shau Valley and astride Highway 614, to locate and destroy enemy forces, caches, and lines of communications. Throughout the operation, several fire bases were constructed; WHIP, FURY, THOR, PIKE, LASH and SHIELD, with the accelerated fire base construction concept extending the Division’s area of influence into the northwest corner of Quang Nam Province. Reconnaissance in force operations in the area of operations yielded several large caches which depleted the enemy’s arsenal and his capability of launching offensive operations in Thua Thien and Quang Nam Provinces.

On 20 Mar 1969, the 2nd Bn, 501st Abn Inf led by Lt Col Joseph C Wilson, Honolulu, Hawaii, was inserted into the Rao Nai Valley, southeast of the A Shau and began a sweep to the Laotian border. They encountered light resistance along the way from small delaying elements of squad or platoon size. The bad weather delays coupled with American activity on the edges of the valley had apparently telegraphed the approach of the Screaming Eagles, and the enemy units withdrew into Laos before they could be overtaken.

Delta Company, 2nd of the 501st, came upon a way-station, hospital complex and drove off what apparently was a caretaker platoon. That night, after the company established its night position in the complex, the enemy platoon returned with satchel charges, RPG fire and small arms. The attack was repelled, three sappers dying inside the perimeter. A few days later, the Drive On troopers, following a high-speed trail, found caches that contained 120,000 AK-47 rounds, and dozens of rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds. They continued to be harrassed by booby traps and snipers and cache security guards.

As the days went on it became obvious that the entire area of the extreme southern A Shau had been abandoned by the NVA, who left the bulk of their equipment and munitions behind in their hasty retreat. The Yellow Brick Road was interdicted and destroyed by the 2nd Brigade, leaving enemy plans for future offensives against Hue and Da Nang extremely hampered, if not impossible.

A total of 175 enemy were killed by May 8 when Striker terminated. Tons of munitions and equipment were destroyed or captured including maybe 600 SKS rifles. The historically valuable supply and infiltration route of the communist forces was denied to them, leaving no alternate route, so hindering their operations for some time to come.

RESULTS: 175 NVA/VC KIA, 2 NVA POWs, 1 HOI CHANH, 857 individual weapons captured, in addition to & 40 crew-served weapons and 30 vehicles captured.

 

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