The new M-16 rifles of some of the United States marines taking part in "Operation Shawnee", in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, are reported to have jammed during Province, South Vietnam, are reported to have jammed during a recent skirmish with the Viet Cong.
Marines with casualties; planes bombing Viet Cong on hill; hovering helicopter takes off dead and wounded; soldiers suffering heat exhaustion, one in convulsions; defective M-16 rifle; Viet Cong prisoner.
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Background: The new M-16 rifles of some of the United States marines taking part in "Operation Shawnee", in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, are reported to have jammed during Province, South Vietnam, are reported to have jammed during a recent skirmish with the Viet Cong. The Americans lost five men killed and seven wounded, and an American sergeant is reported to have said two men were killed when their rifles jammed and they couldn't return the fire.
The marines of Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, were patrolling just south of Quang Tri City when their leading platoon was cut down by a burst of machinegun fire from the top of a hill. The marines called in strike aircraft to drive off the Viet Cong while they evacuated the dead and wounded.
A landing zone had to be hacked out of the steep hillside, and even then only one helicopter was able to partly land, the pilot having to keep the front wheel in the air. The wounded were loaded into the helicopter with the dead to be flow out of the battle area. Meanwhile,the terrible heat affected about 20 of the marines badly, and one man and convulsions.
The helicopter also lifted out of the battle area a member of the Viet Cong who had been captured while setting a "booby trap". He was later interrogated, and papers and a diary he carried indicated that the Viet Cong who ambushed the marines that day had also taken part in the attack on Quang Tri City last month, and were planning to attack it again this month.
Survivors of the Viet Cong ambush reported having trouble with their new M-16 rifles, saying they jammed and were too fragile. One marine sergeant, almost in tears with rage and sorrow, said two of his men were killed when their rifles would not fire.