Berry Law

Captain Berry (right) receiving his Bronze Star at II Field Force.

Before he founded Berry Law Firm, John Berry Sr. served three tours in Vietnam, where he earned the Bronze Star.

During his service, John transferred from Infantry to the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps and worked as chief defense counsel for Vietnam’s largest general court martial jurisdiction.

John’s role took him throughout Vietnam, protecting the rights of GIs. His journeys included successfully defending members of the 5th Special Forces against murder charges.

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NVA Plan Thwarted

The US thwarted the plans of the NVA to invade and take Quang Tri Province in what has been called The May Offensive.

NVA Plans Thwarted

On May 5, 1968 while serving as Intelligence Officer on the staff of Commander Task Force Clearwater I went upriver (Cua Viet River) with an Explosive Ordnance Demolition team to investigate the area near the mouth of a creek near Dai Do Village where one of our PBRs had engaged a group of men in a firefight several nights earlier. We discovered five large anti-ship mines in the reedy shallows a few yards up the creek. The mines were approximately 6 feet in length and 24 inches in diameter. The Explosive Ordnance Team determined that they were Russian HAT-2 mines. These mines were designed to sink large ships.  

Since these mines had never been seen nor captured there were numerous requests from various agencies for one of the mines. Unable to prioritize those requests it was decided to send them all to Commander Naval Forces Vietnam in Saigon.

In addition to the five complete mines, we found parts of a sixth. We concluded that the explosion occurred during the firefight several nights previously with our PBR. We also discovered rubber flotation devices designed specifically to support and move the mines into position in the river.  

Late on May 5, I received word that the Marines had captured a North Vietnamese sailor that I might be interested in. I traveled to Dong Ha and interrogated the man. He revealed that he had been a member of a North Vietnam Navy special forces team sent across the DMZ to emplace mines in the Cua Viet River.  

The following day I returned to Dong Ha to further interview the man. I took him to the area on the river where the incident had occurred for an on-the-spot identification and explanation. He described what the team had done and planned to do.

Based on the precursor incidents, the battle of Dai Do Village, and the interrogation of the North Vietnamese sailor, as well as the recovery of the HAT-2 anti-ship mines I pieced together the following.

North Vietnam intended to invade and capture the northern half of Quang Tri Province as part of what came to be called the May Offensive. The plan called for a North Vietnam Navy special forces team to plant mines in the Cua Viet River just east of Dong Ha near Dai Do Village. The mines were intended to sink a large supply craft as it transited a narrow channel at a bend in the river. This was to occur on or about 1 May.   

Simultaneously, an NVA regiment was to swoop down and occupy both sides of the river at the site of the sunken boat. They intended to hold the area and prevent supply boats from taking arms and supplies to the Marines and ARVN in Dong Ha. Our PBR force prevented their placing the mines, thus thwarting their plan to sink a boat to block the river.  

When the Marine platoon went to the area where I had reported the activity on the north bank of the river, they encountered the NVA regiment. Because of the lack of communication between the NVA regiment and their navy special forces mining team, the NVA did not know that the mining of the river had not occurred as planned. Therefore, they marched across the DMZ and met our Marines at Dai Do Village.  

The resulting Battle of Dai Do Village had interrupted the NVA plans.

See for further information on the Battle of Dai Do

CAPTAIN Herman W. Hughes, US Navy, Retired 

Vietnam 1968-69