William Russell Beller, Jr
The picture I sent of CPL Joseph Mieczkowski was taken from a Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division (Kilo 3/9/3) platoon photo that I have. I have all my brother marines' photos done the same way. I served in Kilo 3/9/3 with Joe. His name is on the Kilo 3/9 honor Roll and is one of my fallen brothers. I had that picture in my "Kilo folder". We, the brothers of kilo, have been sending them to several sites in memory of our brothers.
-- Robert Chiominto, LCPL, Kilo Co, March 1967 to April 1968, 09/24/2012
Known as the "Hill Fights" or "The First Battle of Khe Sanh", these battles took place at the end of April and early May 1967. April 24 to May 11, 1967 to be exact. The battle between the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN or NVA) and United States Marines took place in the I Corps Tactical Zone, near the village of Khe Sanh. The fights were for Hill 881 North, Hill 881 South, and Hill 861.
Khe Sanh was located near the Laotian border, south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam. As early as 1962, the U.S. Military Command, Vietnam (MACV) established an Army Special Forces camp near the village as the Americans wanted a military presence there to block the infiltration of enemy forces from Laos, to provide a base for launching patrols into Laos to monitor the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and to serve as a western anchor for defense along the DMZ.
In 1966 the Marines built Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB) adjacent to the Army Special Forces camp, and organized their combat activities around named operations. By early 1967, the Marine position was reinforced to regimental strength. On April 20, Operation Prairie IV began, with heavy fighting between the Marines and NVA forces. The next marine operations were named Crockett and Ardmore.
The Marines were monitoring the strategically vital Ho Chi Minh trail as it wound through the jungles in nearby Laos. Dominated by high hills on all sides, the combat base had to be screened on foot by the Marine infantrymen while crack, battle-hardened NVA units roamed at will through the high grass and set up heavy defenses on steep, sun-baked overlooks.
Read a detailed accounting of events and participating units, with a listing of all 45 Marines killed in action, in the Hill Fights here.
Full details of the entire battle for the 3/3 Marines can be found at Ray Stubbe's 3/3 Marines Khe Sanh Hill Fights of '67 web site.
A Marine's Story on Hill 881 South is a story of one man's participation in the battle on the 30th of April 1967. Kenneth Flowers, Vinton, Virginia gives his accounting of events on that day.
The battle for Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines began early on April 30. At 0615H, they moved from their night defensive position to link up with M/3/3. The lead elements of Kilo Company linked up with the rear elements of the formation while the lead elements of M/3/3 started their attack on Hill 881 at 0800H. The battle was to last some 6 hours.
M/3/3, M/3/9, and K/3/9 finally disengaged from the heavy enemy contact and set up for the night. The evacuation of casualties was done by 2155 hours (almost 10 p.m.). Final casualty figures for the 881-South battle of 30 Apr were: 43 Marines killed, 109 wounded (90 were medevaced), 125 NVA confirmed killed (confirmed) and another probable 85.
Most of the casualties were suffered by M/3/3, the initially engaged unit. The dead marines left on Hill 881 were recovered by 2100 hours (9 p.m.) on May 2 by the 3rd Battaion, 3rd Marine Regiment.
K Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines lost 17 men killed in action as they tried to provide security and later relieve Mike Company, 3/3 Marines. They are:
M Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines lost 1 man killed:
-- The Virtual Wall, April 11, 2014
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