Chronology of Significant Events

 

l Jan-TE 79.3.3.6 at Da Nang was designated Marine Unit, Vietnam (MUV), TU 79.3.5, by direction of CG FMFPac. The organization and its operations remained essentially as before.

7 Feb-Communist guerrillas attacked a United States compound at Pleiku, and U.S. aircraft retaliated by striking targets in North Vietnam, initiating a new phase of the war. U.S. forces in South Vietnam totaled 23,000. U.S. dependents were ordered evacuated from RVN.

8 Feb-Battery A, 1st LAAM Battalion arrived at Da Nang via C-130; it was operational the next day.

10 Feb-The Viet Cong blew up a U.S. military billet at the coastal city of Qui Nhon killing 23 soldiers.

13 Feb-More elements of the 1st LAAM Battalion (-), commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Bertram E. Cook, Jr., arrived at Da Nang by sea and air. Two full batteries and supporting elements were 100 percent operational five days later. .

17 Feb-Company C of the USMC 7th Engineer Battalion began arriving at Da Nang by LST. HMM-163, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Norman G. Ewers, relieved Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Koler, Jr.'s HMM-365 as the operating squadron of TU 79.3.5.

28 Feb-USMC tactical unit strength in RVN was 1,248, broken down as follows:

HMM-163. .................................. .230

Sub-Unit l .................................. ..203

Security Company (D/l/3) ......... ............ .260

Total MUV ....................................693

1st LAAM Bn(-) ................. .............405

CO C, 7th Engr Bn ............................. 150

Total, New Elements .............. ............. 555

Total, USMC (Tactical) ........................ 1,248

These figures do not include USMC advisors. Embassy Marines, MACV staff personnel, and various other categories of Marines assigned outside the Da Nang area.

8 Mar-The 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) commanded by Brigadier General Frederick J. Karch, landed at Da Nang. The MEB included two Marine Battalion Landing Teams (BLTs) - 3/9 (Lieutenant Colonel Charles E. McPartlin, Jr.) which landed over Red Beach 2, and 1/3 (Lieutenant Colonel Herbert J. Bain) which arrived by air from Okinawa. The 9th MEB mission was to defend the Da Nang Airbase. This was the first U.S. ground combat unit to land in RVN.

9 Mar-The MUV (TU 79.3.5) was placed under operational control of the 9th MEB and designated MAG-16, com

manded by Colonel John H. King, Jr. HMM-163 remained in direct support of ARVN I Corps; other elements of the expanding MAG (Sub-Unit 2, MABS-16) were in direct support of the 9th MEB. The 1st LAAM Battalion was placed under operational control of MAG-16 with a mission to defend Da Nang Airbase from air attack.

9 Mar-Lieutenant Colonel Oliver W. Curtiss' HMM-162 arrived at Da Nang.

14 Mar-Sub-Unit 2 was redesignated MABS-16; H&MS-16 was activated at Da Nang under the operational control of

MAG-16 (-). 23 Mar-Current composition of 9th MEB is as follows:

9th MEB. ...................................... .4,612

HqCo .......................................... 145

BLT 1/3 ......................................1,124

BLT 3/9 ......................................1,115

Brigade Logistic Support Group ..................... 583

Brigade Engineer Group ........................... 224

Brigade Artillery Group ........................... 235

MAG-16C-) H&MS-16(-) ...................................88

MABS-16(-) ................................ ..208

HMM-162.................................... 233

HMM-163. ................................. ..246

1st LAAM...................................'.411

2 Apr-The United States announced the intention of sending

several thousand more troops to Vietnam. 10 Apr-Lieutenant Colonel David A. Clement's BLT 2/3 landed at Da Nang. Task Force Alpha of the BLT was helilifted to the Phu Bai airstrip, 45 miles north of Da Nang near Hue, to assume the defense of that area. Lieutenant Colonel William C. McGraw, Jr.'s F-4B squadron, VMFA-531, arrived at Da Nang.

12 Apr-The RLT-3 commander, Colonel Edwin B. Wheeler, and his headquarters arrived; he assumed command of all BLTs ashore.

13 Apr-An HMM-162 detachment of 10 UH-34D helicopters was established at Phu Bai. VMFA-531 flew its first combat mission in RVN.

14 Apr-Lieutenant Colonel Donald R. Jones' BLT 3/4 arrived in Vietnam and moved to Phu Bai where it relieved Task Force Alpha.

16 Apr-MASS-2 (Lieutenant Colonel Paul L. Hitchcock) arrived Da Nang and established the DASC west of the runway. Lieutenant Colonel Otis W. Gorman's VMCJ-1 arrived at Da Nang, coming under operational control of MAG-16 but remaining under administrative control of MAG-12, which was still located at Iwakuni, Japan.

19 Apr- RLT-3 reorganized as 3d Marines (Rein); a larger Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR) was established at Da Nang and a TAOR was established at Phu Bai for 3/4.

20 Apr-ComUSMACV authorized a change in General Karch's mission for ground forces to include (l) aggressive combat patrolling within TAORs and (2) preparation for conducting offensive operations as a mobile reaction force. High-level Honolulu conference recommended to President Johnson the deployment of III MEF to Da Nang and the landing of a MEB at Chu Lai.

20 Apr-The landing of additional Marine Corps units at Da Nang resulted in the following organization:

9 MEB HqCo ........................................240

3d Marines (-)(Rein) ........................... 3751

HqCo......................................(286)

IstBn, 3d Marines ......................... .(1099)

2dBn, 3d Marines .......................... .(1267)

3dBn, 9th Marines ......................... .(1099)

Brigade Artillery Group ......................... 548

HqBtry(-), 12thMarines. ..................... .(26)

BtryA, IstBn, 12thMarines.................. .(120)

BtryB, IstBn, 12thMarines .................. .(119)

Btry F, 2dBn, 12th Marines. .............. .....(120)

Btry L, 4thBn, 12th Marines ................... (112)

lst8"HowBtry ............................. .(51)

Brigade Engineer Group ......................... 299

Brigade Logistics Support Group .................. 656

MAG-16 ................................... .1613

H&MS-16(-) ...............................(111)

MABS-16 (-)... ............................ .(232)

VMFA-531 (-) ..............................(300)

HMM-162 .................................(126)

HMM-163 ................................ .(233)

IstLAAM Bn .............................. .(413)

MASS-2 ...................................(100)

VMCJ-1 ....................................(98)

BLT 3/4 & DetHMM 162 ...................... 1500

Total 9th MEB ................................8607

All units were located at Da Nang, except for BLT 3/4 and a detachment of 10 UH-34 helicopters from HMM-162, located at Phu Bai.

21 Apr-VMCJ-1 flew its first electronic countermeasures (ECM) missions from Da Nang Airfield and MASS-2 became fully operational.

22 Apr-The first real Marine ground action with the Viet Cong occurred-a reconnaissance company on patrol was fired on by an estimated 10 to 150 Viet Cong; VMFA-531 provided air support; one enemy was killed, one Marine was slightly wounded.

28 Apr-Companies E and F of the 2d Battalion, 3d Marines participated in the first coordinated ground operation with ARVN forces in R VN.

3 May-The advance party of the III MEF, including its commander. Major General William R. Collins, arrived at Da Nang.

5 May-ComUSMACV promulgated a Letter of Instruction giving the mission of III MEF: "In general render combat support to RVNAF (Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces).

In coordination with CG, I Corps, participate in or provide for the defense of Hue-Phu Bai, Da Nang, and Chu Lai airfields and ancillary facilities. Maintain the capability to conduct, on order, deep patrolling and offensive operations and reserve reaction operations in coordination with CG, I Corps. Be prepared to execute U. S. contingency plans as directed by ComUSMACV."

6 May-The III MEF headquarters was established at Da Nang Airbase, commanded by Major General Collins, who was also designated the Naval Component Commander (NCC) for ComUSMACV. The 9th MEB was deactivated as an operating unit and the 3d Marine Division (Forward), also commanded by Major General Collins, was established and assumed command of its assigned units in RVN. With the Chu Lai landings on 7 May, seven of the 3d Division infantry battalions were committed in RVN, supported by most of the 12th Marines and substantial portions of all other elements of the division.

7 May-Ill MEF was redesignated III MAF. 3d MAB, commanded by Brigadier General Marion E. Carl, consisting of RLT-4 (Colonel Edward P. Dupras, Jr.), the advance elements of MAG-12 (Colonel John D. Noble), and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 10 (Commander John M. Bannister, USN) landed at Chu Lai with the mission of occupying the terrain necessary to construct an expeditionary airfield there. The 173d Airborne Brigade, the U.S. Army's first ground combat unit, arrived in RVN on this date.

10 May-The first radar-controlled bomb drops in combat were made by VMFA-531, controlled by MASS-2; 24 MK-81 (260 pound) bombs were expended in "Happy Valley" and the target was reported completely covered.

11 May-2d Battalion, 3d Marines cleared the village of Le My, liberating it from over two years of Viet Cong control. The village became a model of the Marine Corps civic action program. The 1st MAW (Adv), commanded by Major General Paul J. Fontana, was established at Da Nang.

12 May-Lieutenant Colonel William D. Hall's BLT 3/3 landed at Chu Lai. Brigadier General Carl was designated III MAF deputy commander. RLT-4 was redesignated 4th Marines as the Chu Lai amphibious operation terminated.

15 May-HMM-365, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Koler, Jr., relieved Lieutenant Colonel Curtiss' HMM-162 at Da Nang.

24 May-Brigadier General Keith B. McCutcheon arrived and relieved Major General Fontana as CG 1st MAW (Adv).

31 May-USMC strengths by area:

Da Nang ................................... .9,224

Chu Lai.....................................6,599

Hue-Phu Bai ............................... .1,614

TAD in-country ............................... 121

Total. .....................................17,558

l Jun-Eight A-4 Skyhawk jet attack aircraft from VMA-225 (Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Baker) and VMA-311 (Lieutenant Colonel Bernard J. Stender) landed at the Chu Lai expeditionary airfield. The first aircraft, piloted by Colonel Noble, the MAG-12 commander, touched down at 0801 to signify the opening of the airfield. (Construction

had started after the 3d MEB landed on 7 May, 24 days earlier). Only 3,600 feet of the runway was complete on l June-therefore, the A-4s used jet-assisted takeoff (JATO) for launching and mobile arresting gear (MOREST) for landing. Four Skyhawks led by Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Baker, VMA-225, launched the first Chu Lai-based strike at 1329, flying sorties seven miles southwest of the Chu Lai TAOR in support of ARVN forces.

4 Jun-Major General Lewis W. Walt assumed command of III MAF and the 3d MarDiv (Fwd) at 0900, relieving Major General Collins in a formal indoor ceremony.

5 Jun-Brigadier General Keith B. McCutcheon relieved Major General Fontana as CG 1st MAW at Iwakuni, Japan. He returned to Da Nang on7 June.

13 Jun-ComUSMACV directed HI MAF to prepare an emergency contingency plan for the movement of two infantry battalions to Pleiku in II Corps area. The plan was completed and forwarded to ComUSMACV on 14 June.

15 Jun-At Da Nang VMFA-513, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Walter C. Stewart, Jr., relieved VMFA-531, which chopped to 1st MAW (Rear) marking the first in-country relief of a USMC jet squadron.

17 Jun-Lieutenant Colonel Verle E. Ludwig's 1st Battalion, 9th Marines relieved the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines at Da Nang and assumed the responsibility formerly held by 3/9 in the defense of the airbase; 3/9 was the first Marine battalion to be rotated from RVN.

18 Jun-Brigadier General Karch returned to Da Nang and assumed duties as Assistant Division Commander (ADC), 3d MarDiv (Fwd).

19 Jun-Approximately 350 inhabitants of Pho Nam Thuong

and Nam Yen villages moved into the Le My area. 21 Jun-Lieutenant Mervin B. Porter's HMM-261 relieved Lieutenant Colonel Ewer's HMM-163 at Da Nang;

HMM-163 became the SLF helicopter squadron. 27 Jun-Lieutenant Colonel Clement's 2d Battalion, 3d Marines received 12,000 pounds of clothing and food for distribution to the refugees at Le My. Three days later the 4th Marines at Chu Lai distributed over 800 pounds of clothing to local residents who had been relocated to clear real estate for the airfield.

30 Jun-III MAP strength in RVN not including Seabees was as follows:

Da Nang. ........................... ....... .9,618

Chu Lai............................ .........6,771

PhuBai.....................................1,652

Other ........................................115

Total......................................18,156

Total arrived by area during June:

Da Nang ....................................1,496

Chu Lai.....................................2,002

PhuBai ..................................... .204

Total.......................................3,702

l Jul-Viet Cong forces conducted a mortar/infantry attack on the Da Nang Airbase under cover of darkness, providing cover for demolition teams that broached the tactical wire surrounding the field and severely damaged six USAF aircraft. The one Viet Cong captured in the attack reported that he was from the 3d Battalion, 18th Regiment, 325th People's Army of Vietnam (PA VN) Division and that the attack force trained and rehearsed for 30 days before executing its mission. The SLF, composed of the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines (Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Bodley) and HMM-163 (Lieutenant Colonel Norman G. Ewers), landed at Qui Nhon to protect an enclave at the seaward end of Route 19, the main highway from Pleiku.

3 Jul-The Chu Lai SATS runway (8,000 feet) and taxiway were completed.

6 Jul-RLT-9 (Colonel Frank E. Garretson) with BLT 2/9 (Lieutenant Colonel George R. Scharnberg) landed at Da Nang.

8 Jul-Lieutenant Colonel Leon N. Utter's BLT 2/7 relieved the SLF battalion, Bodley's BLT 3/7, which then re-embarked in ARG shipping.

10 Jul-Lieutenant Colonel Richard A. Savage's F-4B squadron, VMFA-542, arrived at Da Nang and commenced operations.

14 Jul-MAG-11 (Colonel Robert F. Conley) assumed operational control of VMFA-542 and VMFA-513 at Da Nang.

21 Jul-Written confirmation was received for expansion of the Da Nang TAOR and for the establishment of a reconnaissance zone for the Chu Lai TAOR.

29 Jul-Official sources announced plans to increase the U.S. active duty military force by about 300,000 men. The 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division arrived in RVN on this date.

31 Jul-III MAP strengths in RVN not including Seabees were as follows:

Da Nang ................................... 15,204

Chu Lai.....................................6,949

PhuBai.....................................2,052

Qui Nhon ................................... 1,644

Other ........................................115

Total............................. .........25,964

Total arrived by area during July:

DaNang ................................... .5,743

Chu Lai. ................................... ..-.395

PhuBai ..............................."...... .178

Qui Nhon.. ................................ .1,651

Total.......................................7,967

2 Aug-Operation BLAST OUT, a coordinated USMC/ ARVN operation involving 1/3 and elements of the 4th ARVN Regiment, was conducted 10 miles southwest of DaNang.

3 Aug-Company D, 1/9 conducted a one day operation in the vicinity of Cam Ne, south of Da Nang. A CBS television crew, accompanying the company, filmed a Marine setting fire to a Vietnamese hut. This film, which was shown on the evening news, led to a debate in the press about U.S. tactics in Vietnamese villages.

5 Aug-The Viet Cong attacked the Esso POL storage terminal at Lien Chieu, destroying two JP-4 storage tanks and inflicting extensive damage on three more. Operational control of 2/7 (at Qui Nhon in the II Corps area) passed to U.S. Army Task Force ALFA, the Army field command in R VN.

7 Aug-The CG III MAF was designated as the Senior Adviser (SA) for I Corps and assumed operational control of the I Corps Advisory Group.

11 Aug-The first tactical delivery of the cluster bomb unit (CBU) by USMC aircraft took place. The addition of this

weapon to the aviation ordnance arsenal broadened the air support capabilities of the 1st MAW.

12 Aug-The first all-Marine night helicopter assault took place starting at 2400.

14 Aug-The Navy announced four-month involuntary extensions of duty for Navy and Marine Corps enlisted personnel. Coordinating headquarters were established at Chu Lai under the 3d MarDiv ADC, Brigadier General Karch.

15 Aug-The Headquarters of the 7th RLT and 1/7 came ashore at Chu Lai. Colonel Oscar F. Peatross commanded the regiment. At Da Nang, elements of 5/9 came ashore making it the first battalion to be re-introduced into RVN (See 8 March and 17 June 1965 entries).

16 Aug-3/9 relieved 1/9 as the Base Defense Battalion at Da Nang.

17 Aug-2/4 and 3/3 were assigned to the 7th Marines for Operation STARLITE.

18-24 Aug-Operation STARLITE. Three Marine battalions-1/7, 2/4, and 3/3-attached to the 7th Marines, and supported by air, artillery, and naval gunfire, conducted an amphibious-heliborne search and destroy operation in the Van Tuong village complex south of Chu Lai. The purpose of the attack was to eliminate an enemy force-the 1st VC Regiment, reportedly 2,000 strong-which had built up for an attack on Chu Lai. Strong resistance was encountered, requiring the support of BLT 3/7 from the SLF. The USMC units advanced through the objective area in two days, and then were joined for mopping up operations by Vietnamese forces. Casualties were as follows:

KIA DOW WIA USMC 45 6 203 VC 614 9

The Viet Cong dead were confirmed by body count. It was estimated that the actual enemy KIA total ran much higher because of the large number of caves and tunnels that were sealed or destroyed. (On 9 September an agent source reported that the VC had suffered 1,430 KIA, in Operation STARLITE).

26 Aug-In response to a CG III MAF request made in June, 11 sentry dogs and handlers arrived as the initial element of the 1st Provisional Dog Platoon, which was planned to consist ultimately of two squads, a sentry dog squad and a patrol dog squad.

28 Aug- l /1 arrived at Da Nang to relieve l / 3. 31 Aug-President Johnson called for "a new and mighty people-to-people program to bring American aid to victims of the war in RVN." The total III MAF strength in RVN not including Seabees was broken down as follows:

DaNang...................................18,063

Chu Lai.................................... 10,277

Phu Bai. ....................................2,114

Qui Nhon ...................................1,616

Other .........................................92

Total......................................32,162

Total arrived by area during August:

DaNang ................................. ...4,725

Chu Lai.....................................2,684

Total arrived................................. 7,409

Total departed by area during August:

DaNang. ...................... . 1,029 (1/3 departed)

Phu Bai ....................................... 68

Qui Nhon...................................... 35

Total departed ............................... 1,132

Net Gain, August ........................... .6,277

I Sep-1/3 departed RVN for Okinawa, where it was relieved by BLT 3/5, and then returned to CONUS. A total of 10,919 personnel of FMFPac remained in Okinawa and Japan.

7-10 Sep-Operation PIRANHA. Following the decisive Marine Corps victory over the 1st Viet Cong Regiment in Operation STARLITE (18-24 August), intelligence information disclosed that other VC forces were building up on the Batangan Peninsula, still farther south of Chu Lai. Operation PIRANHA, another regimental-level amphibious-heliborne attack, was executed to clear the area. It exacted at least 163 Viet Cong killed and served notice once again upon the VC of the hazards of concentrating their forces. Subsequently they reverted to small unit operations in I Corps area.

II Sep-BLT 2/1, which arrived on Okinawa 27 August from CONUS and subsequently embarked as the SLF, assumed a position within six-hours reaction time of Qui Nhon, prepared to land and provide security, if required, for debarkation of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

18 Sep-The first elements of the Army's 1st Cavalry (Airmobile) Division landed at Qui Nhon.

23 Sep-The Defense Department said that General Westmoreland had the authority to permit use of tear gas.

28 Sep-The total III MAF strength in RVN not including Seabees by area was as follows:

DaNang...................................18,641

Chu Lai..................... ...............13,601

PhuBai..... ............................ ..,,2,172

Qui Nhon .........................,..,.,,.'. .1,773

Total................................... ...36,187

Total arrived by area during September:

Da Nang.................................... 3,222

Chu Lai.....................................3,384

Qui Nhon. ....................................327

Total.......................................6,933

Total departed by area during September

Phu Bai ....................................... 26

Net Change ................................. 6,907

14 Oct-The CG, I Corps approved extension of the Chu Lai TAOR. A USMC sniper team was formed in the Hue-Phu Bai TAOR. The team used Winchester Model 70 rifles with 8-Unertl telescopic sights and killed two Viet Cong at a range of more than 700 yards in the first exercise of the new tactic. Later, M-1D rifles with telescopic sights were utilized.

18 Oct-Operation TRAIL BLAZER, a six-day deep patrol and series of ambushes by the 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, began from a patrol base about 15 miles southwest of Da Nang. The purpose of the operation was to determine the extent of VC concentration in the main valleys leading from the mountains into the Da Nang TAOR and to determine the probability of enemy attack from that area.

Two VC were killed in the operation, and five enemy complexes of training camps, workshops, and bivouac areas were destroyed. Accumulated intelligence was used in developing an aerial target list. Two companies from 3/3 launched Operation TRIPLE PLAY, a two-day search and destroy effort conducted 12 miles north of Chu Lai. The results: 16 VC KIA, 6 VCC, and 18 VCS, with only two Marines wounded.

26 Oct-Operation DRUM HEAD, a coordinated two-day sweep effort involving 3/7 and an ARVN platoon, began southwest of Chu Lai. Results: one VC killed and 26 suspects captured; one USMC killed and two wounded.

27 Oct-Operation GOLDEN FLEECE (begun 8 Sep 65) was terminated. This operation by the 9th Marines was an effort to deny as much rice as possible to the VC during the Summer/Fall 1965 rice harvest. USMC units provided protection for Vietnamese farmers in their fields while the rice crop was harvested. It is estimated that 512,400 Ibs. of threshed rice were denied the VC as a result.

28 Oct-On the night of 28 October, Viet Cong suicide squads launched simultaneous and coordinated attacks on Marine installations at Marble Mountain near Da Nang and at Chu Lai. Even though most of the attackers were killed, the few who got through used satchel charges to blow up

19 helicopters and damage the hospital at Marble Mountain, while at Chu Lai they destroyed two fixed-wing attack aircraft. Ground actions during the night indicated that other planned attacks were thwarted by Marine patrols.

3 Nov-BLACK FERRET, a three-day combined USMC/ ARVN search and destroy operation of regimental scope, began in an area 10 miles south of the Chu Lai airstrip, on the north side of the Song Tra Bong. Participating were:

two companies from 1/7; two companies from 3/7; 3/11;

two platoons from the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion; and two battalions from the 4th Regiment of the 2d ARVN Division. VC forces avoided contact, limiting their resistance to sporadic small arms fire and booby traps. In one instance, a booby-trapped 81mm mortar round wounded six Marines and killed Miss Dickie Chapelle, the war correspondent, who was accompanying USMC units on the maneuver. Numerous fortifications and tunnels were destroyed by attacking forces, and Marine strike aircraft wiped out a number of boats and structures along the Song Tra Bong. Results: 2 VC killed, 20 captured (5 WIA), and 64 suspects apprehended. Eight Marines and one Navy corpsman were wounded. Helicopters returned the Marines to Chu Lai upon conclusion of the operation on 5 November.

7 Nov-BLT 2/7 was withdrawn from Qui Nhon (see 10-12 November entry below); HMM-161 remained at Qui Nhon in support of II Corps forces.

10-12 Nov-Operation BLUE MARLIN, a combined USMC/VNMC operation between Chu Lai and Tarn Ky,

20 miles to the north, took place. On 7 November, BLT 2/7 was lifted in amphibious shipping from its former TAOR at Qui Nhon to Chu Lai, where it was joined by the 600-man 3d Battalion, Vietnamese Marine Corps. The two units conducted a combined amphibious assault on 10 November across beaches just north of Tarn Ky. Four companies of BLT 2/7 in one LVT wave and two LCM waves landed unopposed, followed by the remainder of the BLT and the 3d Battalion, VNMC, in on-call boat serials and helicopters. Surf at the beach was very high, and the anchor chains of the APA Paul Revere and the LST Windham County parted. After sweeping inland to Route l, the landing force pivoted southward astride the highway and executed a search and destroy operation to the Chu Lai TAOR. Resistance was light, and casualties were few. A Vietnamese civilian reported that the VC had withdrawn from the objective area two days previously. At the conclusion of the operation, the RVN Marines were returned by helicopter to their base area south of Quang Ngai. 2/7 rejoined its parent regiment at Chu Lai, replacing 3/3, which embarked for Phase II of BLUE MARLIN (see 16-18 November entry) and subsequent operations at Da Nang.

16-18 Nov-BLUE MARLIN (Phase II), similar in scope and concept to Phase I (10-12 November), was conducted. At Chu Lai, 3/3 embarked in the same amphibious shipping used in Phase I and landed on 16 November over beaches south of Hoi An, about 22 miles south of Da Nang. The landing was accomplished smoothly, with one wave of LVTs and two of LCMs, followed by artillery and Ontos in on-call serials. Ashore, the landing force was joined by two RVN Ranger battalions and two RVN special companies in a coordinated search and destroy operation north to the Song Cua Dai. Activity was characterized by scattered but sharp contacts as the VC again avoided confrontation with the landing force. Fortifications, tunnels, and man-traps were destroyed in quantity. Combined results were: 25 VC killed, 15 captured, 79 suspects apprehended, and 9 weapons seized. Two ARVN soldiers were KIA, one ARVN was wounded, and three USMC were wounded. At the conclusion of the operation, 3/3 was lifted to the Da Nang area by amphibious shipping and helicopter.

17-18 Nov-Marine air elements from III MAF were instrumental in preventing a Viet Cong victory at Hiep Due, about 25 miles west of Tarn Ky. On the 17th, 30 UH-34D helicopters, supported by fixed-wing attack aircraft, lifted 788 ARVN troops to the relief of an invested ARVN garrison at Hiep Due. In this initial lift, 20 of the 30 transport helicopters were hit by ground fire as they approached the landing zone. Despite marginal flying weather, accompanying attack aircraft and armed helicopters dropped some 14 tons of high explosive bombs and fired 512 rockets, as well as 1,532 rounds of 20mm cannon projectiles, into VC positions near the landing areas. VC losses during the period were a comfirmed 38 KIA, with many more probables. The following day, 22 UH-34Ds lifted 463 more ARVN troops to Hiep Due, making the total lift for two days 1,251. The helilifted troops were successful in defeating the assault on Hiep Due, but were unable to clear the VC from the critical areas to the northwest. At the request of CG I Corps, 3/7 was alerted to reinforce the ARVN units. Extremely bad weather prevented the helilift of 3/7 into Hiep Due. While awaiting improved weather, the battalion was diverted to assist an ARVN Ranger battalion under siege at Thach Tru, south of Quang Ngai (see 22-24 November entry).

22-24 Nov-On the late afternoon of 22 November, at the request of CG, I Corps, 3/7 began reinforcing an ARVN Ranger battalion which had come under attack by an estimated VC regiment about 20 miles south of Quang Ngai. At the same time, the Seventh Fleet SLF moved to a position off Quang Ngai, ready to land on two hours notice. Before the Marines arrived, 71 ARVN had been killed, 74 wounded, and 2 were missing. VC losses were 175 KIA by U.S. body count and 225 by ARVN estimate, not including those killed by air or naval gunfire beyond the immediate battle area. Three VC were captured, in addition to 5 recoilless rifles, 9 machine guns, 2 submachine guns, and 114 rifles. Six enemy 60mm mortars were destroyed. An undetermined number of enemy dead were credited to Marine strike aircraft, which flew 39 sorties in marginal weather against the initial assaults. When the Marines landed, they secured the landing zones, occupied night defensive positions, and early the next morning cleared the critical terrain, capturing 17 Viet Cong, killing 3, and seizing 2 rifles and 5 carbines. On the morning of the 24th the situation was stabilized and 3/7 returned to Chu Lai by helicopter. Marine losses in the encounter were two killed and one wounded.

23 Nov-By this date there were approximately 20 scout/sniper teams of four men each positioned throughout the III MAF area. On 23 November a team at Phu Bai killed two VC and wounded one at a range of 1,000 meters.

30 Nov-1 Dec-Operation DAGGER THRUST IV. On 30 November the SLF (BLT 2/1 and HMM-261) executed an amphibious raid at Lang Ke Ga, on the coast 17 miles southwest of Phan Thiet and about 70 miles east of Saigon. Immediately prior to the landing, leaflets were dropped along the routes of advance, giving brief warning to the villagers. Contact was negligible. Nov III MAF summary:

Patrols. .....................................3,488

Ambushes .................................. 2,576

Sniper posts ................................... 175

Total offensive ground operations. ...............6,242

Enemy contacts ................................ 226

Enemy KIA ................................... 126

Enemy WIA ...................................33

Enemy captured................................. 22

Fixed-wing strike sorties ....................... 2,551

Helicopter sorties............................ 23,629

Rainfall ......................... more than 30 inches

Most rain in one day....................... 7.8 inches

30 Nov- The III MAF strength in RVN not including Seabees

and Naval Support Activity was as follows:

DaNang ...................................21,948

Chu Lai ...................................14,452

Phu Bai................... ..................2,328

Qui Nhon.....................................254

Other .........................................89

Total.....................................39,071

Personnel strengths fluctuated by area during November due to reassignment between enclaves, replacement, attrition, and movement of battalions. Net strength change for November .................... 422

8-20 Dec-Operation HARVEST MOON was conducted approximately 25 miles northwest of Chu Lai. Units involved were Task Force DELTA, 2/7, 3/3, 2/1 (from SLF), and 3 ARVN battalions. These units were supported by USMC aircraft and artillery and by four B-52 strikes.

KIAWIAMIA USMC 51 256 l

KIA VCC VCS RALLIERS VC 407 33 231 3 22 Dec-The U.S. military command in Vietnam ordered a 30-hour Christmas cease-fire. A military spokesman said that similar instructions had been issued by South Vietnamese Government military leaders. No action would be taken by allied or RVNAF forces except in self-defense. 31 Dec-USMACV released the following figures to news media in Saigon:

U.S. Military Strength in RVN.......... lJan65 23,000

U.S. Military Strength in RVN ........ 31Dec65 181,000

RVNAF Total Strength ............... lJan65 559,500

RVNAF Total Strength .............. 31Dec65 679,000

Enemy Military Strength in RVN ....... lJan65 103,000

Enemy Military Strength in RVN...... 31Dec65 230,000

U.S. losses during the year ..................... 1,300

RVNAF losses during the year ................. 11,000

Enemy losses during the year(KIA) ............. 34,000

Enemv losses during the year(captured)........... 6,000

III MAF total arrived during December:

Da Nang................................... 188

Chu Lai. ...................................138

Phu Bai ....................................81

Total. .....................................407

III MAF total departed during December

Chu Lai. ...................................452

Qui Nhon...................................25

Total......................................477

Net Change ................................... -70

31 Dec-III MAF strength in RVN not including Seabees and Naval Support Activity was as follows:

Da Nang ................................... 22,464

Chu Lai....................................13,995

Phu Bai..................................... 2,354

Qui Nhon..................................... 226

1st Anglico .................................... 53

Total......................................39,092

31 Dec-III MAF ground operations for the week ending 31 December were as follows:

Patrols. .....................................1,169

Ambushes .................................... 633

Platoon Operations .............................. 40

Company Operations ............................. 6

Battalion Operations.............................. 3

VC KIA.......................................81

VC Captured ................................... .6

31 Dec-Results of III MAF Operations since 8 March 1965:

KIA and DOW WIA MIA USMC 342 2,047 18

KIA WIA POW VCS

VC 2,627 314 535 2,827

31 Dec-A total of 14,528 FMFPac personnel remained in Okinawa and Japan.

Medal of Honor Citations, 1965

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to

FIRST LIEUTENANT FRANK S. REASONER UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Commanding Officer, Company A, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, 3d Marine Division in action against hostile Viet Cong forces near Da Nang, Vietnam on 12 July 1965. The reconnaissance patrol led by Lieutenant Reasoner had deeply penetrated heavily controlled enemy territory when it came under extremely heavy fire from an estimated 50 to 100 Viet Cong insurgents. Accompanying the advance party and the point that consisted of five men, he immediately deployed his men for an assault after the Viet Cong had opened fire from numerous concealed positions. The slashing fury of the Viet Cong machine gun and automatic weapons fire made it impossible for the main body to move forward. Repeatedly exposing himself to the devastating attack he skillfully provided covering fire, killing at least two Viet Cong and effectively silencing an automatic weapons position in a valiant attempt to effect evacuation of a wounded man. As casualties began to mount his radio operator was wounded and Lieutenant Reasoner immediately moved to his side and tended his wounds. When the radio operator was hit a second time while attempting to reach a covered position, Lieutenant Reasoner, courageously running to his aid through the grazing machine gun fire, fell mortally wounded. His indomitable fighting spirit, valiant leadership and unflinching devotion to duty provided the inspiration that was to enable the patrol to complete its mission without further casualties. In the face of almost certain death he gallantly gave his life in the service of his country. His action upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service

MEDAL OF HONOR WINNERS

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to

CORPORAL ROBERT E. O'MALLEY UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the communist (Viet Cong) forces at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Squad Leader in Company "I", Third Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division (Reinforced), near An Cu'ong 2, South Vietnam, on 18 August 1965. While leading his squad in the assault against a strongly entrenched enemy force, his unit came under intense small arms fire. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Corporal O'Malley raced across an open rice paddy to a trench line where the enemy forces were located. Jumping into the trench, he attacked the Viet Cong with his rifle and grenades, and singly killed eight of the enemy. He then led his squad to the assistance of an adjacent Marine unit which was suffering heavy casualties. Continuing to press forward, he reloaded his weapon and fired with telling effect into the enemy emplacement. He personally assisted in the evacuation of several wounded Marines, and again regrouping the remnants of his squad, he returned to the point of the heaviest fighting. Ordered to an evacuation point by an officer. Corporal O'Malley gathered his besieged and badly wounded squad and boldly led them under fire to a helicopter for withdrawal. Although three times wounded in this encounter, and facing imminent death from a fanatic and determined enemy, he steadfastly refused evacuation and continued to cover his squad's boarding of the helicopters while, from an exposed position, he delivered fire against the enemy until his wounded men were evacuated. Only then, with his last mission accomplished, did he permit himself to be removed from the battlefield. By his valor, leadership, and courageous efforts in behalf of his comrades, he served as an inspiration to all who observed him, and reflected the highest credit upon the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to

LANCE CORPORAL JOE C. PAUL UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

for service as set forth in the following Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Fire Team Leader with Company H, Second Battalion, Fourth Marines, during Operation STARLITE near Chu Lai in the Republic of Vietnam on 18 August 1965. In violent battle. Corporal Paul's platoon sustained five casualties as it was temporarily pinned down by devastating mortar, recoilless rifle, automatic weapons, and rifle fire delivered by insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces in well-trenched positions. The wounded Marines were unable to move from their perilously exposed positions forward of the remainder of their platoon, and were suddenly subjected to a barrage of white phosphorous rifle grenades. Corporal Paul, fully aware that his tactics would almost certainly result in serious injury or death to himself, chose to disregard his own safety and boldly dashed across the fire-swept rice paddies, placed himself between his wounded comrades and the enemy, and delivered effective suppressive fire with his automatic weapon in order to divert the attack long enough to allow the casualties to be evacuated. Although critically wounded during the course of the battle, he resolutely remained in his exposed position and continued to fire his rifle until he collapsed and was evacuated. By his fortitude and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death, he saved the lives of several of his fellow Marines. His heroic action served to inspire all who observed him and reflect the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the cause of freedom

 

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to

FIRST LIEUTENANT HARVEY C. BARNUM, JR. UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Forward Observer for Artillery, while attached to Company H, Second Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against communist forces at Ky Phu in Quang Tin Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 18 December 1965. When the company was suddenly pinned down by a hail of extremely accurate enemy fire and was quickly separated from the remainder of the battalion by over five hundred meters of open and fire-swept ground, and casualties mounted rapidly, Lieutenant Bamum quickly made a hazardous reconnaissance of the area seeking targets for his artillery. Finding the rifle company commander mortally wounded and radio operator killed, he, with complete disregard for his own safety, gave aid to the dying commander, then removed the radio from the dead operator and strapped it to himself. He immediately assumed command of the rifle company, and moving at once into the midst of the heavy fire, rallying and giving encouragement to all units, reorganized them to replace the loss of key personnel and led their attack on enemy positions from which deadly fire continued to come. His sound and swift decisions and his obvious calm served to stabilize the badly decimated units and his gallant example as he stood exposed repeatedly to point out targets served as an inspiration to all. Provided with two armed helicopters, he moved fearlessly through enemy fire to control the air attack against the firmly entrenched enemy while skillfully directing one platoon in a successful counter-attack on the key enemy positions. Having thus cleared a small area, he requested and directed the landing of two transport helicopters for the evacuation of the dead and wounded. He then assisted in the mopping up and final seizure of the battalion's objective. His gallant initiative and heroic conduct reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.