Story of LZ Argonne - Hill 1154
20 March to 4 April 1969
During the early morning hours of 20 March 1969 the Battalion,
One Four minus Bravo-3 which was OPCON to 3rd Battalion 4th Marines on Dong Ha
Mountain, was alerted to commence the assault on Fire Support Base Argonne at
1000 hours. Prior to the assault an extensive artillery and air
preparation of the objective was completed. Prior to L-Hour a
reconnaissance team was inserted to insure a secure LZ. Two helicopters
were assigned to insert the team. Only one aircraft landed. It
received a heavy volume of fire which killed both pilots and wounded all the
reconnaissance team members. The order to land the assault element was
given and Delta Co. commenced the helicopter assault landing on the lower LZ at
Fire Support Base Argonne due to the upper zone being fouled by the downed
reconnaissance helicopter. Delta Co. met with stiff resistance from
bunkers. The assault continued throughout the afternoon and by night fall
the hill was secured with scattered sniper fire. Delta Co. and the Alpha
Command Group maintained a continuous vigil throughout the night prepared to
repel any counter attack.
At 0800 on 21 March Mike Co. of 3rd Battalion 4th Marines was
chopped OPCON to One Four and assumed responsibility for security of Fire
Support Base Alpine from Charlie Co. At 0820 the first round of an enemy
82 mm mortar attack instantly killed Lt/Col George T. Sargent, the Commanding
Officer and 2nd Lt. Carl R. Wilson Jr., the Battalion S-2 Officer. The same round wounded
many other Command Group personnel.
Major H. E. Pierpan, Battalion S-3 Officer, assumed command of the Alpha Command Group and
operations at Fire Support Base Argonne. Major J. E. Green, the Battalion
XO, monitored the situation with follow up elements on Fire Support Base
Alpine. Lt/Col C. E. Wilcox assumed command upon his arrival at Fire
Support Base Alpine about 1400 hours on 21 March 1969. Accurate enemy 82mm
mortar and sniper fire hampered helicopter operations at Fire Support Base
Argonne. Counter mortar fire against suspected enemy positions continued
throughout the day and into the night.
On the afternoon of 21 March Alpha and Charlie Companies were
landed south of the Fire Base Argonne and commenced movement north to relieve
the pressure on Argonne. A flare ship provided continuous illumination
during the night. Additionally an aerial support ship (Spooky) assisted in
suppressing enemy mortar fire and deterred a night counter attack.
At 1430 hours 22 March the partially constituted Bravo Command
Group from Fire Base Alpine and the Commanding Officer Lt/Col Wilcox arrived at
Fire Base Argonne.
On 23 March patrols from Delta Co. were in frequent contact with
the enemy less than 200 meters outside the north perimeter. Charlie Co.
arrived at Fire Base Argone and was resupplied and dispatched to search and
clear the area to the direct north. Helicopter flights into Fire Base
Argonne continued to be endangered by the sporadic mortar attacks coinciding
with the arrival of the helicopters at Fire Base Argonne. Bravo Co. was
deployed to activate Fire Base Green at Grid XD 758610.
At 0815 hours on 24 March Charlie Co. at Grid XD 677577 searched
and cleared the seven bunker complex in the same area that contact had been made
on 23 March. Five NVA bodies previously undiscovered were found at this
position. The bunkers were destroyed and air strikes were called to assist
in the total destruction of those well prepared emplacements. At 0900
hours Mike Co., attached from 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, searching the suspected
area made contact with an unknown size enemy unit and received one friendly KIA
and inflicted three enemy KIA's. Two AK-47 rifles, six Chicom grenades,
twenty rounds of 82mm mortar and three helmets were captured.
At 0930 hours on 25 March, Alpha Co. received sniper fire and
called in air strikes resulting in four enemy KIA. At 1100 hours while
resupply helicopters were landing supplies at Fire Base Argonne, nine enemy 82mm
mortar rounds landed in the vicinity of the upper landing zone and Battalion
Command Post. Alpha Co. was ordered to close on the suspected position and
destroy it. At 1310 hours Alpha Co. assaulted a bunker complex killing
seven enemy. There was an extensive air and artillery preparation just in
advance of Alpha Co.'s sweep of this area.
Alpha, Charlie and Delta Co.'s continued to search and clear the
area in the immediate vicinity of LZ Argonne on 26 March. There were no
additional fire incidents.
Throughout the daylight hours of 27 March, several attempts were
made to resupply Fire Base Argonne. All attempts failed due to incoming
82mm mortar fire in the landing zone. The Commanding Officer and XO both
received minor shrapnel wounds and remained on Fire Base Argonne.
During early morning hours on 28 March, Alpha Co. was probed by
an estimated squad of NVA. That night an aerial support ship (Spooky) was
requested and inflicted one enemy KIA and three probable. Later the same
day Alpha Co. found an NVA mortar position and several 82mm mortar rounds, fuses
and increments. Also found were a bipod for a .50 cal. and a 12.7mm gun
At 1705 hours on 29 March, Alpha Co. found at Grid XD 666574 an
enemy company size position. There were nine NVA bodies, forty to fifty
bunkers, four AK-47 rifles, sixteen hundred AK-47 rounds, twenty eight E-tools,
five 60mm mortar rounds, fourteen RPG rounds, thirty-three Chicom grenades,
sixteen AK-47 magazines, fifty pounds of rice and numerous articles of clothing
and personal field equipment.
As the month ended the three companies of the battalion remained
heavily engaged with a determined NVA force, who were deadly accurate with 82mm
mortar fire. Bravo Co. continued its construction of Fire Base Green at
Grid XD 758610. Mike Co. continued its defense of Fire Base Alpine with
regular sweeps in a radius of three to four kilometers.
April began with the battalion heavily engaged with a stubborn
NVA force in the area surrounding Fire Base Argonne in the Purple Martin
AO. One company continued clearing for and construction of Fire Base Green at Grid XD
758610. Delta Co. was assigned security for Fire Base
Argonne while Alpha and Charlie Co.'s searched the surrounding area for NVA and
hostile mortar positions. On the first of April, Fire Base Argonne
received enemy 82mm mortar fire on four different occasions. Alpha Co.
moved immediately to surround the suspected area of the origin of the mortar fire
in the vicinity of Grid XD 662578.
On 2 April a platoon size patrol from Alpha Co. made contact
with an NVA force in a bunker complex vicinity of Grid XD 666569 resulting in one
NVA KIA. Early in the afternoon the Alpha Command Group on Fire Base
Argonne received thirty rounds of enemy 82mm mortar fire. That same day a
platoon patrol from Bravo Co. in the vicinity of Fire Base Green spotted three
NVA in the open. Artillery fire was called with unknown results.
On 3 April the Alpha Command Group and Charlie Co. commenced a
helilift from Fire Base Argonne to Fire Base Green under constant harassment
from enemy 82mm mortar rounds. The lift was completed with negative
casualties and officially Fire Support Base Argonne was closed although Delta
remained overnight and moved off at first light on 4 April.
The next morning, 4 April 1969, found Delta Co. moving off of Fire Base Argonne
in a northeasterly direction and Alpha Co. continuing its movement to the south
sweeping in the valley leading east to Fire Base Alpine.