Lions of Medina

Published By: Coleche Press

Book Category: Non-Fiction, History

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Reviewed by Jeff Foster

In the fall of 1967, America was fully embroiled in the conflict in Vietnam. In Quan Tre province–the farthest north in South Vietnam, and the province that bordered the “Demilitarized Zone” or DMZ–US Marines units were conducting active and constant patrols against the indigenous forces (the Viet Cong) and regular North Vietnamese forces (NVA).

Bases of operation were set up and areas of responsibility were designated. One of the tactics of the day that seemed to best work against these enemy forces was known as “hammer and anvil.” It involved the dispatch of two friendly forces, American and/or Army of South Vietnam (ARVN) units to enter an area and sweep forward, driving the enemy into a blocking force, engage it and destroy it.

Operation Medina was launched on October 11th, 1967 by the First Battalion of the First Marines to locate, engage and destroy a known NVA force in the Hai Lang National Forest. The terrain was much different than much of the rest of the province in that it was primarily triple canopy jungle, a terrain that the Marines had not previously encountered and had little experience fighting within.

Five companies of the 1st Battalion were dropped into their landing zones and ordered to proceed to their objective on foot. The Marines were forced to cut their way through the jungle, in order to avoid local trail systems that would give the enemy the advantage and prime locations for ambush.

Pressure from rear echelon commanders and a lagging timetable forced the point company, Charlie Company, to eventually use a trail to get back on the timetable and meet their objective. As predicted, NVA forces used this mistake to their advantage. The resulting ambush quickly left over a dozen US Marines dead and the balance of Charlie Company isolated in the jungle, running out of ammunition, with nearly every one of the one hundred plus Marines wounded.

The history of this battle and how Charlie Company fared are presented in a well-written and extensively researched documentation of one of the fiercest engagements of the Vietnam war.

Armchair Interviews says: If you are a military history lover, this book has to be on your shelf. Your Vietnam history collection is not complete without it.

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