United States Marine Corps

OPERATION STARLITE CHRONOLOGY

AUGUST 18, 1965

Last Updated: May 17,2005. This is the All New Operation Starlite Chronology. This version of Operation Starlite begins with the political developments in the years preceding the battle, but unlike the first version, I have deferred to the exact After Action Reports of the units involved. These reports alone tell an incredible story. But, standing alone they remain the official record, void the emotion, pain, violence and heroism of battle. Once all of these AARs are inserted various segments will then be hypertexted to allow the visitor an opportunity to read the more personal aspect of involvement in the battle. These are recollections of Marines who after the passing of over thirty years, recall in great detail the most horrific days of their lives. They have volunteered their memories for this record so that all visitors will know and learn from these few days in August 1965, days most of them would rather forget. The chronology is never finished and Marine recollections will always be very welcome. email me at mmwnj2@verizon.net

This Chronology "Operation Starlite Data Feed" was initiated January 1, 2003. Commercial use of the database is strictly prohibited without express permission from the publishers cited, the database administrator and the web masters of the Third Marine Websites associated with the project. 3rd Marines, Third Marines In Vietnam Seventh Marines and a compilation site,duprel.com. Communication regarding Operations Starlite Datafeed may be directed to the database administrator,M.Malsbaryat mmwnj2@verizon.net.
DATE 0000 ed-mtm
This database is provided as an educational overview of events that led to Operation Starlite. The project was initiated December 2002 as a selective collection device from the great volume of relavant published and non-published information that exists on the Operation, the first combat operation conducted by the U.S.Military in the Vietnam War. For the most part, all of the various published documents on the Operation lack the input of individual Marines who conducted or participated in the Operation. The unique nature of the database allows for the chronological insertion of events. Computing from 1965 the current average age of staff officers and NCOs of the era is about 68-80.The average age of enlistees, Private E-1 to Sergeant E-5 is around 55-65. Time is ever fleeting. So the last call for data is out to all Operation Starlite Marines, Naval Personnel, or U.S. Army attachments for relevant information. All comments are significant. The accuracy of the final picture will depend on us, former and retired Marines, Naval and Army personnel, still keepers of the faith. Statements from former Front Soldiers or Viet Cong are welcome. Email your information to, mmwnj2@verizon.net. Updates to this chronology will be entered into the database periodically. The final picture here is in table form. I am grateful to families of the deceased who have contributed; to Ed Nicholls a retired Marine and Army professional who continued gathering scraps of information on Operations Starlite in the lonely years after the war when it seemed no one cared; to Web Masters Doc Hoppy, Bob Neener. Vic Villinois for their continued interest and especially the many others who emailed their recollections. Semper Fi! DATE 0000 ed-mtm
All quoted public domain documents and published works cited in the chronology are referrenced. Some quotes were edited and so noted (by ed or mtm) to fit the chronology. Demeaning racial references in source material if ever used will be edited. Any segment may be removed or edited by a simple email request to the database administrator at mmwnj2@verizon.net This work is intended to delineate an accurate account of the events that occurred on the Trung Phan Peninsula RVN on August 18, 1965 otherwise referred to as Operation Starlite, the Marine Corps amphibious operation initiating the War in Vietnam. DATE 0000 ed-mtm

THE CHRONOLOGY

Event Date Time Source
President Dwight D.Eisenhower delivers his farewell addressto the nation on January 17, 1961. The speech takes less than 10 minutes. The message is cautionary and eternal. (ed-mtm note: this national archive document will take a moment to load but it is an essential beginning in the context of this chronology) January 17, 1961 0000 National Archive
(Early-1963) Edward R Murrow, heading up Kennedy's U.S. Information Agency in Saigon offered to do a poll of his Vietnamese workers. Kennedy and McNamara expanded on the idea by sending Marine General Victor Krulak and Far East expert Joseph A. Mendenhall to survey the attitudes of S. Vietnamese citizens.(ed pros and cons of U.S.Military intervention) "...They returned on Monday night. Briefing the President the next morning, Krulak was so certain of military victory, Mendenhall so certain the place was falling apart, Kennedy looked at them wrily and asked, "The two of you did visit the same country, didn't you?..." (my notes- segments out of quotes-mtm) 1963 0000 William Prochnau, " Once Upon A Distant War", Random House, New York, 1995
(Late-1963) "...A coup led by ARVN Generals...unseated Diem on 1 November and the next day a couple of junior officers murdered Diem and his brother. A few days later President Kennedy, too was assassinated, and 1963 ended. President Lyndon Baines Johnson inherited the shambles of the United States Policy toward Vietnam...November(8) a few days later...Henry Cabot Lodge: "The picture is bad...if Vietnam is to be saved, you, Mr. President are going to have to do it..." LBJ: I am not going to loose Vietnam. I am not going to be the President who saw South East Asia go the way China went..." November 1963 0000 Phillip B.Davidson, Lt.Gen.USA Ret., Vietnam At War: The History 1946-1975, Presidio Press, Novato, CA; 1988
"In 1960...there were only two China language experts in the Foreign Service with pre Second-World-War experience in their field who still had anything to do with China...but in the fifteen years that had elapsed since V-J Day- and the eleven years since Mao Tse-tung had displaced Chiang in China- the rest of the Old China Hands of the Foreign Service had been eased out, or thrown out, of any consequential participation in Chinese affairs, on the grounds that they had a hand in "losing" China." 1960-1963 0000 E.J.Kahn, Jr, The China Hands The Viking Press, New York, 1972
"As the effectiveness of the Viet Cong increased, the chill winds of growing disintegration blew over South Vietnam. On 20 January 1964, the government of "Big Minh," (ed-Dong van Minh) who succeeded the murdered Diem, was itself overthrown by a coup led by General Nguyen Khanh. Here was another blow to the shaky American program to help South Vietnam." January 1964 0000 Phillip B.Davidson, Lt.Gen.USA Ret., Vietnam At War: The History 1946-1975, Presidio Press, Novato, CA; 1988
"The vehicle for this high level reappraisal was another memo from Secretary McNamara to the president dated 16 March. reporting on a visit which he and Geneal Taylor, then the chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff had made to Vietnam. McNamara told the president bluntly,""The situation as been growing worse, at least since September 1963: 1. In terms of government control of the countryside, about 40 percent of the territory is under Viet Cong control or predominent influence. In twenty-two of the forty three provinces the Viet Cong control 50 percent or more of the land area. 2. Large groups of the population are now showing signs of apathy. 3. In the last ninety days the weakening of the government has been particularly noticable."" 16 March 1964 0000 Phillip B.Davidson, Lt.Gen.USA Ret., Vietnam At War: The History 1946-1975, Presidio Press, Novato, CA; 1988
"On the night of 30-31 July 1964, the South Vietnamese commando forces from OPLAND 34A raided two small North Vietnamese islands off Vihn. At this time the U.S.S. Maddox was 120 to 130 miles away from the islands. It was well in international waters, on its way to carry out a DE SOTO mission, on which it embarked the follwing morning nite (31 July)" July 1964 0000 Phillip B.Davidson, Lt.Gen.USA Ret., Vietnam At War: The History 1946-1975, Presidio Press, Novato, CA; 1988
"...the President's (Johnson's -ed) announcement and McNamara's press conference late in the evening of August 4 (1964 -ed), informed the American public that that the North Vietnamese, for the second time in two days, had attacked U.S. warships on "routine patrol in international waters"; that this was clearly a "deliberate" pattern of "naked aggression" ; that the evidence for the second attack, like the first , was unequivocal" ; that the attack had been "unprovoked"; and that the United States, by responding in order to deter any repetition, intended no wider war." " By midnight on the fourth, or within a day or two, I knew that each one of these assurances was false..." (quotes-Ellsberg-in the Defense Dept.) August 1964 0000 Daniel Ellsberg, "Secrets" Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.) New York, 2002
"...Moreover I learned, these were entirely U.S. operations, code-named 34A ops. The anti-infiltration operations by South Vietnamese junks that McNamara described in some detail to Congress were entirely separate and different, as he knew. For the raids against North Vietnam, of which Hanoi had publicly complained, the United States owned the fast patrol boats known as "Nastys" (which the CIA had purchased from Norway), hired the crews, and controlled every aspect of the operations...." August 1964 0000 Daniel Ellsberg, "Secrets" Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.) New York, 1965
"Congress approved the Tonkin Gulf resolution, which reads: "Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression...The United States is prepared, as the President determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom." August 10,1965 0000 Daniel Ellsberg, "Secrets" Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.) New York, 2002
"...Officials just below the president were waiting for something to retaliate to and increasingly ready to provoke an excuse for attack if necessary... John McNauton's September 3 plan "to provoke a military DRV response and to be in a good position to seize on that response...to commence a crescendo of GVN-U.S. military actions against the DRV,..." September 1964 0000 Daniel Ellsberg, "Secrets" Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.) New York, 2002
On or about 15 August 1964, then, Ho, Giap and the others analyzed the various factors which in the end, caused them to commit NVA Main Force units into South Vietnam. First, there was the estimate of the situation in South Vietnam. Diem, the glue which held that fragmented South together-however tenuously- was gone. His successors by coup and counter coup were worse. The military situation in Vietnam was desperate, and one hard push would topple the South Vietnamese Generals and their rootless government. August 1964 0000 Phillip B.Davidson, Lt.Gen.USA Ret., Vietnam At War: The History 1946-1975, Presidio Press, Novato, CA; 1988
At this time, late 1964, only (enter data) American Military personnel were serving the South Vietnam Government (RVN)-mostly in an advisory capacity. U.S. Marine Corps rotation cycles in the Pacific (FMF PAC) maintained a well administered unit rotation cycle. Units training in the States, at, Camp Pendleton, and Twenty Nine Palms were fixed in thirteen month rotations in Okinawa Ryukuan Islands, Japan primarily a cold weather training function based at Camp Fuji located at the base of Mt.Fuji,Japan, and numerous seabourn amphibius war game operations, Taiwan and the Philippines for example. The core of the infantry training occurred in the Northern Training Area, Okinawa. As the deployment of units into SVN became more imminent, around March of 1965, units of the 2nd Battalion 4th Marines in Hawaii and units of the 3rd Marine Division then in Okinawa began intensive deployment exercises to ready for sea transport to RVN. Units in Camp Pendleton similarly stepped up training and deployment exercises commonly known as mount out. January-March 1965 0000 Statement to clarify the nature of unit readiness, training and generally peace time garrison life practiced by the Marine Corps just prior to deployment in RVN.
"Before the Vietnam War began, infantry Marines generally spent one year out of each five or six on an unaccompanied tour in Okinawa. They would join an infantry battalion at Camp Pendleton, California, and "lock-on" to a period of about fifteen months." prior to 1965 0000 Otto Lehrack, No Shinning Armor, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence Kansas, 1992
"Upon completion of the lock-on period, the Marines said good-bye to their families and embarked for the western Pacific. The battalions left California as members of a 1st Marine Division regiment, the 1st, 5th, or 7th Marines. When the arrived in Okinawa, they were re-designated to become part of either the 3rd, or 9th Marines, which were regiments of the 3rd Marine Division." prior to 1965 0000 Otto Lehrack, No Shinning Armor, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence Kansas, 1992
1965 was a pivotal year in the chronology of the Vietnam War. It was the official beginning. After the JFK assassination in Dallas, the new president Lyndon Johnson continued the incremental shaping of U.S. Southeast Asia aid policy. By the end of 1964, President Ngo Diem had been assassinated in a coup leaving General Khanh the dictatorial leader of SVN. U.S. relationships with the increasingly factional SVN Government was stagnant. Canadian envoy Blair Seaborn's visits with Pham Van Dong in Hanoi, North Vietnam ended with ominous and explosive rhetoric. In Washington the Defense Department pursued a laundry list of Viet Cong atrocities seeking a solid case for launching reprisal action, eventually giving way to Rolling Thunder a B-52 bombing of the outskirts of Hanoi. The stream of meetings and top secret memos searched for the optimal point between withdrawal, more money, equipment, training and advisory aid, and the ultimate, U.S. ground troop deployment "in-country:" a euphemistic phrase used by military staffers and enlistees alike to mean South Vietnam. 1965 0000 General overview to represent the situation around January 1965- mtm
"...On January 27, though I didn't know it at the time, McNamara and McGeorge Bundy argued forcefully to the president (Johnson-ed) that the time had come "to use our military power in the Far East and to force a change in Communist Policy" January 1965 0000 Daniel Ellsberg, "Secrets" Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.) New York, 2002
"Jan 28...DeSoto patrols, with the mission of provoking an attack, were ordered back into the Tonkin Gulf for the first time in five months....The American public, in the dark about the administrations objectives and sense of commitment in Vietnam, still needed to be given a plausible reason for dropping bombs on North Vietnam. But it shouldn't take long now for one to come around. Bundy recalled later that it was like waiting for a streetcar....." January 1965 0000 Daniel Ellsberg, "Secrets" Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.) New York, 2002
January 27-Operation "Rolling Thunder" an arial bombing campaign commences on the outer peripheries of Hanoi, Hipong and Phuc Yen N.Vietnam referred to in top secret Washington communications as "The Donut". (my notes not quoted- mtm) January 1965 0000 Daniel Ellsberg, "Secrets" Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.) New York, 2002
"The spark which ignited this major United States reversal of policy (" to gradual escalation"-ed-mtm) occurred on 7 February 1965, when the Viet Cong attacked the United States air base at Pleiku in the Western Highlands, inflicting heavy material destruction and some American casualties." February 7, 1965 0000 Phillip B.Davidson, Lt.Gen.USA Ret., Vietnam At War: The History 1946-1975, Presidio Press, Novato, CA; 1988
"...On February 7 a U.S. Helicopter base and barracks in Pleiku in the Central Highlands was attacked. Eight Americans were killed, and 126 wounded; ten planes were destroyed, and many others damaged..." February 7 0000 Daniel Ellsberg, "Secrets" Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.) New York, 2002
"...On the night of February 10 there was a second VC attack on Americans, this time on an American advisory compound in Qui Nhon, also in the Central Highlands. Again Americans had been killed...." February 10 0000 Daniel Ellsberg, "Secrets" Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.) New York, 2002

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"On February 1965, President Johnson approved the dispach of two marine battalions to Da Nang. Everyone, from the president on down to Ambassador Taylor and Admiral Sharp, saw these two marine battalions as purely security troops and ""as an isolated phenomenon rather than as part of a sequence.""(Gravel, Pentagon Papers,III: 278) February 28, 1965 0000 Phillip B.Davidson, Lt.Gen.USA Ret., Vietnam At War: The History 1946-1975, Presidio Press, Novato, CA; 1988

see also: "A Rumor Of War" Philip Caputo. New York : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, c1977.

"Six days after the first Rolling Thunder raid, two battalions of marines arrived at Da Nang, one by air and one over the beach, to provide base security for the airfield there. Ambassador Taylor and Secretary McNamara the two top advisers who strongly opposed sending U.S. ground combat forces to Vietnam, were very reluctant to approve this deployment. However they couldn't ignore warnings after the Ben Hoa attack that the ARVN simply could not be relied on to provide adequate security for our air operations out of the base...I remember the morning of March 2, the record shows-when I heard John (McNaughton-ed)cry out as he looked at the last minute orders, "Oh my God! We'resending in the marines!" March 2 0000 Daniel Ellsberg, "Secrets" Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.) New York, 2002
1st Marine Brigade (Brig. Gen.Marion E. Carl) of Kaneohe Hawaii. Exercise Silver Lance in California canceled- General Carl re-directed to Okinawa. Brigade comprised of 4th Marines(Col.E.P. Dupras, Jr) including MAG 13(Col.R.H.Spanjer) and the 1st Marine Air Wing. March 10, 1965 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC
(Civic situ) Vietnam civic-municipal order in order of size, Provinces (largest) District, Village (similar to a township) and Hamlet. Province chiefs were usually military officers of the rank of Lt. Col.. District chiefs were also military and usually the rank of Captain or sometimes lieutenant. The district outpost often centered on aging French forts equipped with 105 mm Howitzers, controlling only close perimeter surroundings, a military and political frontier lay beyond. April 1965 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC
"I was already consulting with the generals when Taylor returned from his meeting in Honolulu. On April 24 the ambassador presented Dr. Quat with the consensus reached in Hawaii. Quat understood completely the gravity of what was about to happen; for some weeks he had been anxious over just this development. Quat told Taylor that he needed time to consider the military and political implications of such a dramatic increase. Immediately after Taylor left, Quat rushed me into my office, visibly shocked, and practically shouted at me. ""What's happening on the battlefield that we don't know about? Are we on the verge of collapsing?"" April 24 0000 In The Jaws Of History, David Chanoff, Ambassador Bui Diem, Houghton Miffin, Boston, 1987
The Regiment departs from Camp Las Pulgas, MCB Pendleton, CA to Long Beach and embarks aboard the USS Valley Forge outbound for for West Pacific. April 1965 0000 mtm- dates on letters home after putting to sea, linked photos, personal archive
..."(Air Wing-ed)VMFA-531 under Lt.Col. W.C. McGraw,Jr arrives in DaNang, to include F-4B McDonald Phantom IIs(ed-jet fighters)(ed-The airport at Da Nang was already a viable commercial airfield accommodating both commercial and military jet aircraft) April 10 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC
"DOCUMENT 11. National Security Action Memorandum Number 328 April 6,1965, signed by McGeorge Bundy and addressed to the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency....On Thursday, April 1, The President approved an 18-20,000 man increase in U S military support forces to fill out existing units and supply needed logistic personnel....The President approved the deployment of two additional Marine Battalions and one Marine Air Squadron and associated headquarters and support elements....The President approved a change of mission for all Marine Battalions deployed to Vietnam to permit their more active use under conditions to be established and approved by the Secretary of Defense in consultations with the Secretary of State......" http://vassun.vassar.edu/~robrigha/ April 6. 1965 0000 Sheehan and others (eds.),

Pentagon Papers, pp 442-443. http://vassun.vassar.edu/~robrigha/

9th MEB(Lt.Co.David Clement) arrives at DaNang from counterinsurgency training named "Jungle Drum" in Thailand, bringing Marine Corps troop strength up to 5000 men. April 11 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC
2nd Bat. 3rd Mar, a company from the 9th MEB sent up to Phu Bai to provide security for an Airport 7 miles Southeast of Hue' as well as an important communications van. April 12 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC (linked photo, mtm personal archive
BLT 3/4 arrives in DaNang from Hawaii under command of Lt.Col.Donald Jones. Marines move into Hue/Phu Bai in strength. April 14 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC
"If Taylor needed guidance, so did all of the other principal United States actors, and that guidance was produced at a high-leval conference held in Honolulu on 20 April 1965. McNamara, McNaughton, William Bundy, Taylor, Westmorland, Gen."Bus" Wheeler, the chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff, and Admiral Sharp, CINCPAC, attended. The strategy which eventuated from this high level conference was that proposed by Ambassador Taylor, the so-called "enclave" strategy." (Marine Gen. Krulak also attended. mtm) April 20 1965 0000 Phillip B.Davidson, Lt.Gen.USA Ret., Vietnam At War: The History 1946-1975, Presidio Press, Novato, CA; 1988
(Army Of The Republic of Vietnam)I Corp comprised 30,000 troops of which 25,000 troops were present for duty. Regional forces comprised 18,500 troops of which 12,000 were present for duty, were lightly armed and formed no unit greater than a company. May 01 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC
Enter segment by Ellsberg documenting the avoidance of combat missions and false AARs a matter of routine in the ARVN (South Vietnamese Army, common knowldege among military, political as well as press in-country at the time May 01 0000 Daniel Ellsberg, "Secrets" Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.) New York, 2002
Forty Two year old, General Thi commanded I Corps as well as occupied the post of military governor of the Region. Gen.Thi had fought for the French in WWII and suffered capture by the Japanese. Under Ngo Dinh Diem he commanded the Airborne Brigade. He was the ring leader in the 1960 coup against Diem, resulting in Diem's assassination. Post coup, Gen.Khanh became primer, appointing Gen. Thi. Gen Thi became became Corps commander and later forced Gen.Khanh out of the government. Gen.Thi's chain of command extended into two branches one military and one political. May 02 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC
Entry Date Time Source
Gen.Collins CG 3rd Mar Div arrives in DaNang with Advance Party. Changes 9th MEF to III MEF to include 3rd Marine Div under Col. E.B. Wheeler, MAG-16 (airwing) under Col.J.H.King Jr. May 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC
3rd Marine Expeditionary force was changed to 3rd Marine Amphibious Force (MAF) due to sensitivity the Vietnamese might have to the term "Expeditionary". The French Expeditionary Corps marked the period previous having a disasterous outcome. (my notes, not quoted) May 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC
(III MAF-Marine Amphibious Force)Orders restricted Marines from any offensive action. (ed-"Do not fire unless fired upon.") Despite repeated plea to extend aggressive patrolling, General Thi denied permission for the Marines to go outside a narrowly defined defensive perimeter." May 0000 "The rise and fall of an American army : U.S. ground forces in Vietnam, 1965-1973" Stanton, Shelby L.- Novato, CA : Presidio, c1985
3rd MEB made unopposed landing at Chu Lai. Units going ashore were RLT 4 with BLTs 1/4 and 2/4 as well as HMM-161 (UH-34 helicopter unit) (Col.G.W.Morrison) 1st and 2nd Battalion commanders (Lt Col.Fredricks and Lt.Col Fisher respectively. May 7,1965 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC
1st Marine Brigade arrives Okinawa , 3rd MEB(Gen.Carl) activated May 9, 1965 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietman 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC (linked photos, mtm personal archive)
Seabee construction of the "Chu Lai airbase" began with deadline of June 1- The airfield officially opened June 1 at 8:00 AM with 8 A4Ds Sky Hawks landing. At 1329 hours the same A-4s were launched in support of ARNV units 7 miles SW of Chu Lai. A third attack squadran arrived later that day. May 9 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC (linked photo, mtm personal archive)
(ed.note: In concert with the Seabee units that constructed Chu Lai, RMK, an American firm on contract also entered the picture.) Otto Lehrack notes in No Shinning Armor "By late 1965 (RMK) had become RMK-BRJ, for Raymond, Morrison, Knudsen-Brown, Root and Jones. They signed a contract with the U.S. government to construct facilities at the rate of $40 million per month for a year." late-1965 0000 Otto Lehrack, No Shinning Armor, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence Kansas, 1992
"Chu Lai is not a Vietnamese name. Marine Lieutenant General Victor Krulak, the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific (the parent command for all combat Marine Corp forces from the Mississippi River to India), had visited the site sevral times too look for an appropriate locaton for the airfield. An old China hand from before World War II, Krulak had learned the Chinese characters for his name. "Chu lai" was how the Vietnamese pronounced these characters." May or earlier 1965 0000 Otto Lehrack, No Shinning Armor, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence Kansas, 1992
BLT 3/3 (Lt.Col.W.D.Hall) came ashore "Chu Lai" Upon BLT 3/3s arrival, the third MAB was included in the III MAF. May 12 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC (linked photo, mtm personal archive)
Gen.Thi is defeated by Viet Cong units at approx.5 battalions in strength. Siagon refused reinforcements but the General got Marine Helolifts and support from VMFA-531 air support. May 30 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC
President Johnson, in televised news conference stated that troop stength in RVN would go from 75,000 to 125,000 immediately. (ed-mtm-1st Air.Cav. was then loading up on the U.S. Gulf Coast)- draft would be doubled from 17,000 to 35,000 men per month. June 7 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC

See also "We were soldiers once -and young : Ia Drang, the battle that changed the war in Vietnam." Moore, Harold G.- New York : Random House, c1992.

Seventh Fleet's Special Landing Force, (SLF) BLT-3/7 (Lt.Col. Charles Bodley) w/HMM-163 aboard the LPH Iwo Jima went ashore at Qui Nhon as relief for Army units providing security there.ed- (1st Air Cav.) July 1 ) 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC (linked photos, mtm personal archive)
"1-8 July: operations ashore at Qui Nhon, RVN" July 8-BLT-3/7 back aboard SLF- (ed-from Qui Nhon deployment) (The above link is a recollection of this deployment titled Vietnam:Day One.)- mtm July 4 0000 Command Diary for BLT-3/7- Lt.Col. C.H. Bodley, USMC-Unclassified-(linked photos, mtm personal archive)
7th Marine Regiment (Col.Oscar Peatross) and BLT 1/7(Col.J.P. Kelly) come ashore at Chu Lai. August 14 0000 Marine Corps Operations in Vietnam 1965-1966- E.H.Simmons,Brig.General.USMC
"....Major John Radcliff was the executive officer of the 1st Squadron-9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division and member of the site selection team that scoured the country side around Bin Dihn to find the ideal location for the 1st Air Cav. Div. base camp. With (his) unit still in route by sea, Major John Wright, Jr.(apparently with Maj.Radcliff-ed.mtm) traveled across the Central highlands, including many remote Special Forces outposts. When it was learned that 7th Marines was planning a major strike against the enemy, Major Radcliff volunteered a mission in support of Marine troop lifts...". August about the 14th 0000 Unknown author-internet document found at www.dupril.com Ed.Note: The 9th Cavalry would later in November engage in the battle now known as LZ-XRAY

For the story of this battle which occurred in November of 1965 see: "We were soldiers once -and young : Ia Drang, the battle that changed the war in Vietnam." Moore, Harold G.- New York : Random House, c1992.

...when Col. Peatross , CO of the 7th Marines arrived it was discovered that he was senior of the COs of the 4th Marines. So the 7th marines got the job.(of Operation Starlite) (The plans were already drawn up?-ed.) (see Maj.Comer entries) They used the 4ths operations plan striking out all the "fours" and writing in "Sevens".The memorable quote that came from all this was, "I know how a lady of the street must feel when she has performed a service and has not been paid." R. Treveno S-3 4th Marines August 1965 August 14 0000 Hugh Davis- davis1@hot.rr.com fwd Ed Nichols 5-19-2000
Marines at IIIMAF received information from SVN General Thi of a major build up of an enemy main force 12 miles S. Chu Lai at Van Tuong Village complex. The main force plan included a suprise attack on Chu Lai to produce a psychological victory over the isolated Marines. Avoiding interem communication channels, Gen.Thi commuicated the information directly to Gen. Louis Walt August 15 0000 www.vwam.com/vets/stralite.html ref Ralph (ChiefEasy@aol.com)-author- unknown member of 3/7

OPERATION STARLITE BEGINS

August 15, 1965 0000
Unit Synopsis:
Gen.Louis Walt-Commanding General-3rd Marine Divison
Col.O.F.Peatross-CO-3rd Marine Division
Lt.Col. J.E.Muir-CO 3/3-origin Chu Lai
Maj. Andrew Comer- Exec.Officer 3/3
Capt. Bruce D. Webb- CO I Company
Capt. J.A. Daub- CO K Company
Capt. J.E. McDavid-CO L Company
Capt. C.M. Morris-CO M Company
H&S Company
Lt.Col.J.R.Fisher-CO 2/4 origin Chu Lai
G Company
H Company
K Company
L Company
Lt.Col.Bodley-CO 3/7/3 SLF-USS Iwo Jima/LPH-from Subic Bay

I Company
K Company
L Company
M Company
H&S Company
Lt.Col.Kelly-CO 1/7/3-origin Chu Lai .

1st Plt, Co B, 3rd AT Bn....3rd Plt.Co.C 1st AT Bn...Det, 3rd Plt (Rein), Co A, 1st AmtracBn...Det, Btry G, 3d Bn 11th Mar...Hq Btry, 1st Bn,12th Mar...1st Plt Co.C 1st Engr.Bn...Det 3rd ITT...Det.ARVN (Interpreters)...Dog Teams...1st Plt, Co C, 1st Engr. Bn. MAG-11, MAG-12,MAG-16, HMM 161-(Chu Lai), SLF-HMM-163 Iwo Jima

3rd 155 Gun Battery, FMF Chu Lai, RVN

August 18 0000 Division AAR
(RLT-7) aboard LPH Iwo Jima (at Subic Bay) ordered to vicinity Van Tuong, RVN- RLT-Regimental Landing Team August 16 0000 Col.Bodley-3/7/3 Unit Diary
"...At about 1330 on 16 August, 1965 I was summoned to the 4th Marines Command post then located at Chu Lai, South Vietnam, by Lt.Colonel Joseph E. Muir, then Commanding Officer 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Div. I was informed that the Amphibius Assault upon the Trung Phan Peninsula, which we had frequently discussed and partially planned for, was to be executed and that 3/3 was to make the amphibius landing while Lt. Col. J.R. Fischer's 2/4 would would land inland by helicopter. August 16 1330 Maj.Andrew G. Comer, USMC Ret. in document transcribed by Ed. Nicholls - titled "Personal Statement"-
"...later that day just prior to dusk the two battalion commanders, Captain David A. Ramsey, the Battalion S-3, and I made a hurried helicopter reconaissance flight over the objective area in Maj. General Walt's personal HU1E helicopter. During this flight we selected a landing beach and Lieutenant Col. Fisher 2/4 selected his helicopter landing zones. I distinctly remember seeing unidentified Vietnamese peeking up at us from some of the remote wooded areas. The flight was hurriedly and circuitous so as to be less obvious. August 16 16:00 Maj. Andrew G. Comer, USMC Ret.in document transcribed by Ed Nicholls- titled "Personal Statement"
I never knew if all of the 7th Regiment was aboard the Iwo Jima (RLT-7). (ed-BLT7 1/7 had landed at Chu Lai) We had finished the Qui Nhon deployment and took R&R in Hong Kong We came back to Subic for survival training and spent a week on this exercise-mostly in the rain, and were pulling some sweet liberty in Eulongapo. I remember buying lots of wood carvings at the stands there, eating monkey meat and drinking beer with buddies in the bars along the main strip. Then comes the Duty NCOs rounding everyone up to go back aboard the Iwo Jima. We were to be at sea by early morning. 3/7/3 August 16 18:00 Recollection & letters home -M.Malsbary MMWNJ@cs.com
"...upon returning to the 4th Marines CP, we all assembled in a briefing tent and reviewed the flight and what we saw. I discussed the beach areas at some length with Lt. Col. Muir 1/4. I remember Lt. Col Fisher 2/4 thrusting his large thumbs at the map as he stated boldly, "I'll land here, here and here.!" The two battalion commanders then departed for the 4th Marines command tent to meet with Col. Peatross and staff, and I returned to the 3/3 CP to commence preparations. August 16 18:00 Maj. Andrew G. Comer, USMC Ret.in document transcribed by Ed Nicholls- titled "Personal Statement"
Significant Terrain Landmarks. In the works is one TacMap image that will, on mouseover, a lightup each significant coordinate noted in the AARs. Each coord reference in the AARs will be marked with a color coded bullet to allow the viewer to locate the action. August 16 0000
"....Planning was expedited for 3/3, as we already had a similar operation on paper, but inspite of that advantage, it was only with maximum effort that we were able to commence loading on the 17th over the Chu Lai beach and causway....." August 16 20:00 Maj. Andrew G. Comer, USMC Ret.in document transcribed by Ed Nicholls- titled "Personal Statement"
AAR 3rd Bn 3rd Marines View Report August 1965 Command Chronolgy Excerpts
AAR M Company 3rd Bn 3rd Marines View Report August 1965 Command Chronology Excerpts
AAR 2nd Bn 4th Marines View Report August 1965 Command Chronolgy Excerpts
AAR L Co. 3rd Bn 3rd Marines View Report August 1965 Command Chronology Excerpts
AAR I Co. 3rd Bn 3rd Marines View Report August 1965 Command Chronology Excerpts
AAR K Co. 3rd Bn 3rd Marines View Report August 1965 Command Chronology Excerpts
AAR 3rd Bn 7th Marines View Report August 1965 Command Chronology Excerpts
AAR 1st Bn 7th Marines View Report August 1965 Command Chronology Excerpts
AAR CO 3rd Marines Division View Report August 1965 Command Chronology Excerpts

Special appreciation to Mr. Gary Hammett and University Press of Kansas for their permissions to excerpt Otto Lerhacks's No Shining Armor. This book may be purchased from University Press of Kansas, search word "University Press".It may be of interest to the visitor that Mr. Lerhack's new book The First Battle is now available from Casemate Publishers and Book Distributors- search word "Casemate publications" The First Battle is a well researched work about this operation, OPERATION STARLITE. Mr Lehrack has left no stone unturned in his reconstruction of this event.

My manuscripts and photographs on this site to include the developing chronologies are not related or affiliated with either of these publishers or publications nor with the United States Marine Corps. Tao:MVPmanuscripts and tables are an ongoing personal writing and research endeavor. Communications regarding the site and contents are welcome and may be sent to me at mmwnj2@verizon.net For other versions of this chronology go to the index page, click USMC on the picture and access the Operation Starlite Chronology link on the right. Passwords are provided.

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