Assault on Hill 25

Location and Enemy Plan

"Mike" Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines was located on the farthest western edge of the 7th Marine Regiments tactical area of operations. The Company was located in the middle of "Charlie Country" with no Marine unit west of the Command post on Hill 52. No Marine Corps combat units were based west of "Mike's" location, just a small Special Forces detachment at Thuong Duc. The closest Marine unit of company size east of Hill 52, was based on Hill 65, at least 7 miles away and accessible only by helicopter or narrow dirt road. Mike Company was actually divided as a unit, and located on two hills. Hill 52 the was the Company CP, occupied by First and Third Platoon. On Hill 25, which was approximately the midway point between the Company Command Post and the Marines on Hill 65, the Second Platoon was dug in defensive positions.

These two "Mike" Company combat bases were located between two notorious strongholds of the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong, to the south lay the the "Arizona Territory" and to the north was Charlie Ridge", and area of heavy enemy activity. To the West lay the Annamite Mountains and the "Ho Chi Minh" Trail in neighbouring Laos. This positioning of Marine Combat Forces were to deny unrestricted access to the enemy and at the same time provide some support to the Friendly Forces in Thuong Duc to the west.

"Mike" Company and the rest of the 7th Marines had become a problem for the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong by their aggressive patroling in the area, cutting the enemies freedom of movement and supply lines which crossed between "Charlie Ridge" and the "Arizona". Inevitably the enemy determined the destruction of the Marines of Mike Company was necessary. The agressor forces knew that the Marines were vulnerable to attack, being severely understrength the Marines with 75 men on Hill 52 and a single platoon of 28 Marines based on Hill 25 would be no match to the enemy who planned to overwhelm them.

Thus, the Viet Cong formed a planned attack on Hill 25, the weakest Marine strong point whose sole immediate reinforcement could only come from the Marines on Hill 52. By closing all the approaches to Hill 25 the VC planned to ambush the reaction force, and at the same time the enemy would also attack the remaining Marines on Hill 52. Should the assault develop according to plan, the Marines would be isolated from any friendly units and destroyed by a numerically superior force.

The Battle

At approximatly 02:00H on November 2, 1967, a Viet Cong force composed of 100 to 150 men launched their attack on the Marines based on Hill 25. Under a mortar barrage, and greatly outnumbering the defenders, the aggressors immediately breached the defenses and surged over the top of the hill. Fighting quickly developed into hand to hand combat between the Viet Cong and Marines at close quarters, and the sounds of automatic gun fire resonated in the darkness of the night. On Hill 52, the sight of tracers and sounds of the battle could both be seen and heard, Marines quickly put on their fighting gear, loaded down on ammunition, and prepared to rescue their brothers under attack. Red and green tracers were seen criss- crossing the sky, sounds of gunfire, and explosions from the direction of Hill 25 caused all major concern for the Marines who were in for the fight of their lives, everone was impatient to reach their comrades and reinforce them, but an order came for everyone to get into their fighting holes and prepare for an attack. There would be no rescue tonight.

Despite the planning and the overwhelming strength of numbers, the enemy underestimated the leadership and resolve of the Marine defenders on this little patch of high ground in Quang Nam Province. With the situation desperate on Hill 25, SSgt Bolton, the NCO in charge of his small force of Marines realized that his position was perilous, and that the defenders would be overwhelmed in a very short period of time. He decided to act, and call in support that could provide death to all who remained on the hill, or save his outnumbered men, he radioed for Marine artillery which would ultimately break the attack and save his beleagured Marines.

Bolton radioed in for a 105 variable time-fuse airburst to be fired over his position on Hill 25, the artillery officer was stunned, and said his request was suicidal. With no time to lose, Bolton told him, "If you don't, the VC are going to kill us all anyway. Fire for effect! dammit!". The artillery barrage finally broke the agressors attack and the Marine survivors managed to drive the enemy off the hill.

The Aftermath

The command decision not to reinforce the Marines on Hill 25 proved to be the right one, and probably saved many more casualties. The next morning, when reinforcements arrived on Hill 25, the Marines discovered that all the avenues of approach to the hill were mined. Fortified positions with automatic weapon fields of fire were uncovered, and there was ample evidence of a large Viet Cong force had been waiting to ambush any rescue attempt by Marines that previous night. Enemy dead littered the area, and not much remained of the Marine defensive positions. Of the 28 Marines that were on Hill 25 the previous night 10 were dead, and the rest were wounded. This was the last battle fought on Hill 25, it was decided to abandon the hill that the Marines defended the previous night.

Mike Company, 2nd Platoon Marines killed in defense of Hill 25 on November 2, 1967. Cpl Willet Rankin Amendola, L/Cpl Glen Douglas Bates, L/Cpl Patrick John Dearborn, PFC James Gard Edinger, Pvt Stephan James Fiducioso, L/Cpl Davis Allen Jones, L/Cpl Gerald Kropidlowski, PFC Robert Everett Moore, L/Cpl Dana Allen Pitts, and Sgt David Howard Shoemaker.

Hill 25 was also known as "Dineen" Hill, named for 2ndLt. Thomas Gerald Dineen of "Mike" Company, 3rd Bn 7th Marines who was KIA on 10 August 1967.

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