King Kong and Khe Sanh, 50 years ago
Michael B. Taft, an ironworker and dairy farmer, was an infantryman in A Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines from 1966 to 1967. He spent some time in a place called Khe Sanh. He tells his story in a gripping account at the NY Times entitled “A Patrol Called King Kong”
Astride the old French colonial Route 9 and just six miles east of Laos, the Khe Sanh Special Forces base sat on a plateau in a valley, deep within the Annamite Mountains. Immediately north of the plateau and hundreds of feet below, the spectacular, fast-moving Quang Tri River had cut a deep gorge on its way to the South China Sea at Dong Ha. To the west sat a mass of 3,000-foot hills, both an extraordinary spectacular beauty and a forbidding terrain of dense, triple-canopy forest growing in laterite soil. It would also soon be the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the war.