Gilbert MendozaPrivate First Class
BRAVO BTRY, 1ST BN, 12TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
22 January 1944 - 19 April 1968
El Monte, California
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The database page for Gilbert Mendoza
Duke, Your friends from Bravo Battery still miss you even after all these years. Your loss had a profound affect on our lives and we are better for having known you.
Rest in peace
From a friend and USMC veteran,
A Note from The Virtual WallIn mid-April 1968 the 3rd Bn, 1st Marines was relocated to the Ca Lu combat base and assigned responsibility for securing the middle portion of Highway 9 running from Khe Sanh to the coast. Golf 2/9 was placed under 3/1 command in order to provide the battalion an additional rifle company. Security elements were placed at each bridge; one such element was a squad from 3rd Plt, Golf 2/9, at Bridge 28.
On the morning of 19 April the Bridge 28 security element reported enemy contact from the north. The 2nd Plt, Golf 2/9, accompanied by two tanks, moved out from Ca Lu to reinforce the security element and exploit the contact. When they arrived on scene, they found the NVA were in well-concealed bunkers in and along the sides of a heavily-vegetated ravine which ran north from the bridge. While the NVA had a fair field of fire against the bridge and both approaches to it, the Marines could bring only glancing fires against the bunkers.
At 1025 a five truck convoy arrived from Khe Sanh and attempted to run the gauntlet across Bridge 28. The convoy didn't make it; all five trucks were hit by antitank weapons and another group of Marines - artillerymen from B Btry, 1/12 - found themselves stranded and engaged by fire from the ravine. The Golf 2/9 platoon commander called for assistance and regrouped his Marines to extract the artillerymen. The remainder of Golf 2/9 was dispatched in response to the request.
It was obvious that a direct assault up the ravine would put the Marines into the face of the enemy's fire, but the sides of the ravine and the slopes facing Highway 9 were too steep to be climbed while under fire. A decision was thus taken to airlift Mike 3/1 onto the high ground north of the enemy positions and assault down the ravine rather than up it from the south.
This plan was put into effect on the morning of 20 April. Golf 2/9 maneuvered to the south and east of the ravine while Mike 3/1 was lifted into place and began its movement to contact. By nightfall Mike 3/1 was on the northern edge of the bunker area. On the morning of 21 April Mike 3/1 swept through the bunkers, destroying the enemy positions in detail. By nightfall the enemy fire had been reduced to a negligible level, and on the morning of 22 April Golf 2/9 and Mike 3/1 finished cleansing the area. Highway 9 was declared open to traffic at noon on the 22nd.
A reinforced company of North Vietnamese troops had been destroyed to a man, but at high cost: 25 Marines were dead as well. The Marines killed during the three day fight at Bridge 28 were
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 15 Feb 2007
Last updated 08/10/2009