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POSTED ON 12.5.2014
POSTED BY: Bob Ahles, Vietnam Vet, St. Cloud, MN

"Bastard's Bridge"

In the second week of October 1967 the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, relieved BLT 2/3 as the defense force for the recently built bridge north of Strongpoint C-2. The construction of the bridge had permitted the reopening of the vital road to Con Thien washed out by the heavy September rains. The battalion defended the bridge because the 3rd Marine Division was concerned that if the enemy destroyed the bridge they would cut the only supply line to Con Thien.
The defense of the bridge was no easy task for Lieutenant Colonel Hammond's battalion. Since its move north from Camp Evans on 11 September, constant combat around Con Thien had worn the battalion down from a "foxhole strength" of 952 to about 462. The 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines had great difficulty in manning all the defensive positions prepared by the departed full-strength BLT-2/3.
The defensive position around the bridge was divided into quadrants by virtue of the road, which ran roughly north and south, and the stream, which ran east and west. Golf Company had the northwest quadrant; Hotel Company was on the same side of the road but across the stream in the southwest quadrant. Fox Company was in the northeast; Echo Company in the southeast. The battalion command group set up beside the stream in Golf Company's area and near the center of the position.
At 0125 on 14 October, 25 artillery rounds, rockets, and 135-150 mortar rounds hit Hotel Company. An ambush squad posted in front of the company reported an enemy force moving toward it, and immediately took the advancing enemy under fire. The Marine squad leader notified his company that he had three casualties and that the enemy seriously outnumbered his squad. The company commander, Captain Arthur P. Brill, Jr., ordered the squad to pull back and, at the same time, called for night defensive fires to block the avenues of approach to his position. The battalion requested flare ships to illuminate the area. Using starlight scopes, sniper teams watched the enemy as they massed only 50 meters in front of the company. The snipers and two tanks attached to the company opened fire, forcing the North Vietnamese to start their assault prematurely. The rest of the Hotel Company held fire until the NVA troops reached a clearing 20 meters from the wire. Of the entire attacking unit, only two NVA soldiers reached the wire and Marines killed both as they tried to breach that obstacle.
The enemy withdrew, leaving bodies behind, but they were far from finished. At 0230, enemy mortars shelled Golf Company. Direct hits by RPGs destroyed a machine gun emplacement and several backup positions on the primary avenue of approach into the company position. The NVA force attacked through this break, overran the company command post, and killed the company commander, Captain Jack W. Phillips, and his forward observer. Three platoon leaders, two of whom had just arrived in Vietnam that morning, also died. The battalion sent its S-3A, Captain James W. McCarter, Jr., to replace Phillips, but enemy fire killed him before he reached Golf Company. During the confused, hand-to-hand combat some of the North Vietnamese fought their way within grenade range of the battalion command post in the center of the position.
In the command post, although wounded by a grenade, Sergeant Paul H. Foster, a member of the fire support coordination center, continued to direct mortar and artillery fire upon the enemy. Another grenade landed among a group of six Marines. Sergeant Foster threw his flak jacket over the grenade and jumped on top of the jacket. The grenade blast mortally wounded him, but this action saved his fellow Marines. Before the melee ended, the North Vietnamese killed or wounded the entire forward air control team. The enemy also killed the battalion medical chief, and wounded the fire support coordinator, headquarters commandant, and battalion sergeant major.
Lieutenant Colonel Hammond moved what was left of his command group to a better location within Hotel Company's position. He ordered Fox Company to move to Golf Company's right flank and counterattack to push the NVA forces out of the perimeter. Illumination and automatic weapons fire from "Puff," the AC-47 requested at the beginning of the fight and which arrived about 0330, aided the counterattack. By 0430, the enemy began retreating out of the position, pursued by Echo Company.
The next morning the 2nd Battalion reconsolidated and evacuated casualties. There were twenty-one dead (18 from 2/4 Marines) and two dozen or more wounded. The NVA lost at least 24 killed. That afternoon, Lieutenant General Cushman and Major General Hochmuthvisited the bridge site. They granted a request from Lieutenant Colonel Hammond that the new bridge be named "Bastard's Bridge" to honor the 18 Marines of the 2nd Battalion who gave their lives in its defense. At 1400, Hammond's battalion turned over the bridge to Lieutenant Colonel Needham's 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines and then moved to Dong Ha where it assumed the mission of regimental reserve after 42 days of close combat.
The men killed in action at Bastard's Bridge were
• H Btry, 3rd Bn, 12th Marines
o 1stLt William F. Mullins, Short Hills, NJ
o Sgt Paul H. Foster, San Francisco, CA (Medal of Honor)
o Pfc Robert J. Araujo, New York, NY

• G Co, 2nd Bn, 4th Marines
o Capt Jack W. Phillips, Mission, KS (Silver Star)
o 1stLt Charles Yaghoobian, Pawtucket, RI
o 2ndLt Eric C. Egge, Hopkins, MN
o LCpl John P. Avery, Elizabethton, TN
o LCpl Duane J. Foss, Hastings, MN
o LCpl Frank Foster, Meridian, MS
o LCpl Phillip S. France, Baltimore, MD (Silver Star)
o LCpl Donald A. Gehling, Grand Meadow, MN
o LCpl Morris J. Sensat, Egan, LA
o Pfc Robert D. Buchanan, Bristol, VA
o Pfc Gary C. Griswold, Bethel, CT
o Pfc David A. Hamilton, Springfield, OH (Silver Star)
o Pfc William I. White, North Vandergrift, PA
o Pfc Stephen R. Worley, West Monroe, LA

• H&S Co, 2nd Bn, 4th Marines
o Capt James W. McCarter, New Orleans, LA (Silver Star)
o HM2 Robert E. Bardach, Arlington Heights, IL
o HN John I. Higgins, Chula Vista, CA
o HN Doyle G. King, Vinemont, AL (Bronze Star "V")
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POSTED ON 7.19.2014

Served with Duane

I was with Duane the night he was killed. I was the last one he spoke to that night. I'll never forget that night! I think of him often, along with other friends that lost their lives. I spent 13 months in the hospital from wounds received that night. I contacted his family by phone and spoke to them. I figured they would want to know the truth, not what the records told. Rest in peace Duane. Seller Fi!
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POSTED ON 4.18.2014
POSTED BY: Bob Ahles, Vietnam Vet, St. Cloud, Minnesota

Peace with Honor

You were one of the brave that answered the call. You honored us by your service and sacrifice. We now honor you each time we stand and sing the words “THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE”. Rest in Peace and Honor Duane.
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POSTED ON 10.14.2013
POSTED BY: A Marine, Quang Tri, Vietnam

Semper Fi

Semper Fi, Marine.
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POSTED ON 10.12.2013
POSTED BY: Curt Carter

Remembering An American Hero

Dear LCPL Duane John Foss, sir

As an American, I would like to thank you for your service and for your sacrifice made on behalf of our wonderful country. The youth of today could gain much by learning of heroes such as yourself, men and women whose courage and heart can never be questioned.

May God allow you to read this, and may He allow me to someday shake your hand when I get to Heaven to personally thank you. May he also allow my father to find you and shake your hand now to say thank you; for America, and for those who love you.

With respect, and the best salute a civilian can muster for you, Sir

Curt Carter
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