Mutter's Ridge was an east-west ridgeline which formed part of the southern boundary of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese paid no more attention to the "Demilitarized" Zone than they did to the internationally guaranteed neutrality of Laos or the sovereignity of eastern Cambodia. The boundary between North and South Vietnam ran along a river valley on the north side of Mutter's Ridge, followed by a higher set of hills that overlapped the northern half of the DMZ and extended into North Vietnam.
International boundary in green.
DMZ boundaries in red.
Because Mutter's Ridge controlled a key infiltration route from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, it was contested ground from the first days of American involvement in the war. While ownership of the ridgeline, and especially of the peaks, changed hands several times, the 3rd Marine Division more or less retained control of the area. During the summer of 1969, that control was severely tested by the North Vietnamese Army's 304th Division. The purpose of this page is to remember the men who died in the fighting on Mutter's Ridge in August and September 1969.
On 10/11 August 1969, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, lost at least 17 men killed in action on Hill 484 against elements of the 304th NVA Division. The following men are known to have died in the fighting:
E CO, 2ND BN, 3RD MARINES
|LCpl Lawrence K Dowd||LCpl Stephen Glowe||PFC Joseph L Hesson|
|PFC Richard A Johnson||PFC Peter F Kristof||PFC Robert T Marmie|
|PFC Ronald R Ozimek||PFC Charles A Poe||SSgt Charles B Seminara|
|PFC Lindsay C Turner||PFC Luther Walker||LCpl Dale S Wilkinson|
|PFC Brian E Wolfe|
H&S CO, 2ND BN, 3RD MARINES (with Echo 2/3)
|PFC William R Dickey||PFC Donald L Elliott||PFC James G Hilliard|
|PFC Michael F Sheridan|
In September, it was Lima 3/3's turn. Finding themselves in deep trouble on 17 September, Lima 3/3 was reinforced by the 3rd Marine Division's quick reaction force, India 3/4 Marines. In heavy fighting on 17 and 18 September the two companies lost 25 men killed in action, with many more wounded.
The Associated Press reported it as follows:
SAIGON (AP) September 18, 1969
Two U.S. Marine regiments to be withdrawn from Vietnam before Christmas today reported 23 of their men killed and 58 wounded in close-range fighting along the demilitarized zone.
Marines from the 3rd and 4th regiments of the 3rd Division were attacked twice Wednesday by North Vietnamese troops near the craggy peak called the Rockpile, four miles south of the DMZ. Some of the fighting was hand-to-hand after the North Vietnamese troops smashed into the night camp of a company of about 150 Marines from the 3rd Regiment.
"During the fighting, an unknown number of soldiers penetrated the perimeter but were killed or repulsed," a communique from U.S. headquarters reported.
The battle began shortly before midnight Tuesday when North Vietnamese troops attacked from the north and east. An hour later mortars slammed in from the east and another assault wave poured in from that direction. American artillery and fighter-bombers helped drive the enemy back after two hours of fighting.
3RD ENG BN (with Lima 3/3)
|LCpl Paul J Lafreniere||PFC Michael B McGinnis|
L CO, 3RD BN, 3RD MARINES
|HN Leslie M Aly||LCpl Jerry E Barker||PFC Dennis W Ferguson|
|LCpl Donald L Kennedy||LCpl James E McGarrity||2ndLt James B McGarry|
|LCpl Ricky L Meeks||HM3 Scott P Smith||PFC Richard W Starkey|
|Pvt Erich L Tidwell||HN Richard M Turner||PFC William H Waidman|
|PFC John W Walker|
I CO, 3RD BN, 4TH MARINES
|LCpl James Betancourt||PFC John L Chesebrough||LCpl Eddie N Corsino|
|PFC Danny C Cravens||PFC Dennis A Denton||LCpl William C Joy|
|PFC Jerry D Rice||PFC James D Slattery||PFC Harvey L Williams|
|PFC Thomas E Young|
The men who died on 17/18 Sep 1969 are remembered by others who survived:
Last updated on 09/21/2003