Radcliff, Donald G., MAJ, U.S. Army
CAMP RADCLIFF, "THE GOLF COURSE," An Khe, Binh Dinh Province
Camp Radcliff was the home to the 1st Cavalry Division beginning in August
1965. Major Donald G. Radcliff was the executive officer of the 1st Squadron,
9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, and a member of the site selection team
that scoured the countryside around Binh Dinh Province to find the ideal
location for the 1st Cavalry Division's base camp. While the main force of
the division journeyed from the east coast of the United States by ship with
Vietnam as their destination, the site selection team, under the direction of
Brigadier General John M. Wright, Jr., traveled across the Central Highlands
and visited prospective locations, including remote outposts and Special
When it was learned by the site selection team that the 7th Marines were
planning a major strike against the enemy, Major Radcliff volunteered to fly
a mission in support of Marine troop lifts. Intelligence indicated that the
1st VC Regiment was massing for an attack on the Marine base at Chu Lai in
Quang Tin Province. Rather than prepare defenses and brace for the attack,
the Marines decided to meet the enemy on their own terms and launch a
preemptive attack, code named Operation Starlite. Operation Starlite, the
largest planned U.S. military operation to that time, was to be a combined
amphibious/air assault operation against the Viet Cong regiment twelve miles
south of Chu Lai. The assault included two amphibious landing sites and three
helicopter landing zones named LZ Red, LZ White and LZ Blue.
At dawn 18 August 1965, the quiet shoreline of southern Quang Tin Province
suddenly erupted in a volley of explosions from artillery and offshore guns,
followed by massive aerial bombardment. At 0630 the Marines hit the beaches
while an armada of helicopters swooped in from the west. The Marines
encountered little resistance on the coast and started their march inland.
The troops arriving at Landing Zone Red met almost no resistance and
disembarked without incident. At LZ White the Marines drew fire from a nearby
ridge line but managed to land and clear the area quite readily.
Landing Zone Blue, however, was a different story. Major Radcliff was
piloting a UH-1B helicopter gunship in escort of the LZ Blue airmobile
assault. Unbeknownst to the trooplift, the landing zone was surrounded by the
60th VC Battalion, lying in wait. As the aircraft arrived at the landing
zone, Radcliff realized that the lead troop-carrying aircraft was the target
of heavy automatic weapons fire. He immediately pinpointed the Viet Cong
position and placed accurate, devastating, suppressive fire on the opposing
enemy forces. With his quick reaction, Major Radcliff saved countless lives
and enabled the troop transport to land. As the troops deployed on the
landing zone, Radcliff hovered nearby to insure their safety. Heavy fire was
directed at the major's helicopter, and as bullets tore through his aircraft,
Major Radcliff was mortally wounded. The gallant, thirty-seven year old
officer lost his life at the controls of his gunship during his baptism by
fire in Vietnam.
A message was sent from General Harry W. O. Kinnard, the division commander,
to Lieutenant Colonel John B. Stockton, who was on the USNS Darby with the
main force of the 1st Cav. The message read,
"REGRET TO INFORM YOU MAJOR DONALD RADCLIFF HAS BEEN KILLED 18 AUG 1965."
Although thousands of miles from the combat zone, the men and officers of the
1st Cavalry Division mourned the loss of their first comrade to fall in
battle in memorial services on the deck of the Darby as it passed through the
Panama Canal, 20 August 1965.
In late August a one-thousand-man advanced party of the 1st Cavalry Division
arrived in Vietnam. Some flew into Qui Nhon while others flew into Nha Trang.
Senior NCO's and field grade officers were sent to the newly selected base
camp at Am Khe as 850 men set up supply lines between An Khe and the coast.
General Wright had selected a site in a remote valley in the shadow of Hon
Cong Mountain, surrounded by the hills of the Central Highlands, to
accommodate the 450 helicopters of the 1st Cavalry Division. The location was
ideal because of near perfect climatic conditions for an airmobile unit, and
the strategic location allowed for the defense and control of the Central
Highlands. The general knew that a dirt airstrip would create dust storms
during takeoffs and landings so the underlying grass and brush would have to
stay, but be cut close to the ground. General Wright, not anticipating that
the advanced party would only include 150 personnel of mostly upper ranks,
called a formation shortly after their arrival. "Gentlemen," he began, "you
will all be issued a machete or a grub hook; they both do exactly the same
job. We are going to cut brush until we have a 'golf course' here. You may as
well hang your rank insignia on a tree because until this area is
transformed, we will all avail ourselves to this manual task. When the golf
course is completed, you may then put back your rank insignia."
The "golf course" extended from the center of the helicopter landing area in
all directions, beyond cantonment areas to the defense perimeter known as the
"green line." While everyone from officers and senior NCO's to Privates swung
grub hooks to clear the six-square kilometer area, soldiers on loan from the
1st Brigade, 101st Airborne, guarding the perimeter, looked on. A report
later submitted made strong recommendations that the 8th Engineer Battalion,
a 1st Cav unit, be included in any future division advance party if the
division again had to move to another undeveloped area.
On 1 September 1965, Major Radcliff was posthumously awarded the
Distinguished Flying Cross on U.S. Army Vietnam General Orders Number 372.
The United States ambassador to Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge, flew from Saigon
to officially dedicate the new base as Camp Radcliff in formal ceremonies on
21 February 1966. The nickname "the Golf Course," synonymous with Camp
Radcliff, stood as a tribute to the tenacity and "can do" spirit of the 1st
Cav's Advance Team, many of whom later lost their lives in combat.
Major Donald Gordon Radcliff, US Army, was born 4 January 1928. His home of
record was Louisville, Kentucky. He was killed in action 18 August 1965. His
name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the east wall, panel
2E, line 59.
Bruce E. Webb, CAPT, US Marine Corps
CAMP BRUCE E. WEBB, Chu Lai, Quang Tin Province
Camp Webb was the home of the 3d Battalion, 3d Marine Division. It was named
in honor of Captain Bruce E. Webb commanding officer of India Company who was
killed at Van Toung Village, during Operation Starlite. At a point in the
operation when he witnessed a platoon sergeant shooting already "dead" Viet
Cong, Captain Webb gave the order to stop the practice. Moments later a VC
casualty feigning death threw a grenade at the company command post, killing
Any and all information about Captain Webb and the location named in his
memory is sought.
Captain Bruce E. Webb, US Marine Corps, was born 10 November 1933. His home
of record was Wheaton, Illinois. He was killed in action 18 August 1965. His
name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the east wall, panel
2E, line 63.
Monohan, Edward J. Jr. LCPL, US Marine Corps
CAMP E.J. MONOHAN, Da Nang, Quang Nam Province (ref: "R&R Flight 802)
At 10:10 a.m, 24 August 1965, a C-130 Hercules, with a crew of six took off
from Kaitak Airport, just outside the city of Kowloon, Hong Kong. On board
was US Marine, Lance Corporal Edward Monahan and sixty four other military
passengers, mostly Marines. Just after take-off the Hercules veered left,
lost speed and crashed into Hong Kong Harbor, in twenty to thirty feet deep
"The tail parts of the fuselage were visible above the surface of the water,"
said an observer. "The fuel spilled out of the aircraft and flames rolled
along the surface. Many survivors climbed on the hulk then, seeing the
flames spreading, dove off and swam for shore. Some initially died in the
crash, some drowned and some burnt to death."
Edward Monohan was among those who died. There were only thirteen survivors.
The Marines who died in the crash are one of only a few instances where
servicemen who died outside the combat zone are inscribed on the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
A tribute was paid to Monohan during 1966 Memorial Day ceremonies honoring
fallen Marines at the camp of the 9th Motor Transport Battalion. Major J. F.
Jones bestowed the honors stating "his dedicated service to his nation and
the high esteem in which he was held by those who served with him make it
fitting that the battalion's camp area be dedicated Camp Edward J. Monohan
Ray Bows has interviewed the Monohan family and Eddy's childhood sweetheart,
however any and all other information about Camp Monohan and the man for whom
it was named is sought.
LCPL Edward J. Monohan Jr, US Marine Corps, was born 5 January 1947. His
home of record was New Fairfield, Connecticut. He was killed in action 24
August 1965. His name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the
east wall, panel 3E, line 116.
(c-info "Flight "14802, C-13 tail # 14802" VMGR-152)
Muir, Joseph E., LTC, US Marine
CAMP MUIR, Hill 55, 12 Miles south of Da Nang, Quang Nam Province
Camp Muir was named in honor of the Commander of the 3d Battalion 3d Marine
Regiment, LTC Joseph E. Muir, killed on Hill 55 when he stepped on a
booby-trapped 155mm shell.
Any and all information on LTC Muir and the camp named in his honor is
LTC Joseph Eugene Muir,US Marine Corps, was born 22 May 1928. His home of
record was Meadow Bridge, West Virginia. He was killed in action 11 September
1965. His name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the east
wall, panel 2E, line 81.