Attack on FSR Ross


In early January FSB Ross had a compliment of 560 Marines, which included the CP of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, H&S Company, Company A and B. Battery K, 4th Battalion, 13th Marines, elements of Battery G, 11th Marines and small detachment of support troops. Six fifty-foot-tall observation towers had been erected with the perimeter surronded with concertina, tanglefoot, razor wire and claymore mines. This Base, if not a safe haven, was a fortified camp offering a degree of safety more so than the harsher rigors of the field.

American and South Vietnamse intelligence sources had been tracking the 409th Local Force VC Battalion and there were good indications that the enemy unit was moving northward from their usual area of operations in Quang Tin Province. The Marines at FSB Ross were warned that an attack may be imminent, and plans where made to forestall the enemy's anticipated blow. On the 5th of January, two platoons of Company B were called in from the field, and the Marine Company reinforced with two platoons of PF's from Que Son District, were to attack southward, meet and destroy the enemy.

The Battle

The enemy struck first. At 01:30 undercover of night and a monsoon rain which cut the visiblity the VC announced their attack with a 200 round mortar barrage and sappers opening fire with RPG's and small arms fire around the perimeter. . The first shells caught many of the Marines asleep in their quarters, but with explosions all around them they immediatly scrambled for their fighting holes. Several infiltrators had breeched the wire and were inside the perimeter causing havoc with satchel charges and grenades. The defenders rallied quickly and after cleaning out their living area's from the enemy they deployed around the perimeter to block any further onslaught.

The attack had come when the Battalion CO., LtCol. Frank A. Clark was away from his command, a rare occurance for the Commanding Officer to be away from his Marines. The defense of the FSB was organized by the S-3 Officer Maj. Theer with Capt. Edward T. Clark III of H&S Company directing his troops in support of the two infantry Companies. Within minutes of the first enemy mortar burst, Marine supporting arms joined in on the action from Ross, Baldy, and FSB Ryder. Artillery and mortar rounds rained down on the ememy on pre-cleared and pre-selected countermortar and other defensive targets. Preemptive fires prevented the VC to follow up on the initial penetration of the Marine defenses *. By 03:30 the attack failed and the fighting diminished although Marines fired on movement that they spotted throughout the night.

The Aftermath

Around 0:700, 7 January two platoons of Company B swept the outer perimeter finding 38 dead VC and capturing three prisoners. A sizable amout of enemy weapons was also recovered by the Marines, including 11 AK-47's, 5 RPG launchers and 6 rockets. 30 satchel charges and over 200 grenades which mostly were homemade, and 4 bangalore torpedoes. Marine losses were considerable from the enemy attack, 13 killed and 63 were wounded, 40 of which needed to be evacuated. Material losses weren't as grave as they could have been due to the poor quality of the enemys ordance which failed to explode, and the confusion of the attackers during the initial penetration.

* Note:

Prisoners interrogated after the action, stated they weren't told that a mortar barrage was planned during the attack subsequently they were surprised and confused. Several of the VC were also killed by their own mortars.

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