As is typical in the beginning stages of all wars, the opposing forces base their SOP on their last previous war and they run tests on each other to ascertain their opponent’s combat efficiency. Vietnam was no different as the North Vietnamese based their tactics on the French while the Marines used Korea and even set up a main line of resistance (MLR) around Da Nang which they had learned in Pusan during the Korean War.
1/9 began operating forward of the MLR under the watchful eyes of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) as both sides tried to size each other up. When they were ready, the NVA sprang a trap on the legendary US Marines working south of the DMZ and the Army’s new helicopter heavy 1st Air Cavalry Division in the Ia Drang Valley. Operating under faulty intelligence and not knowing their enemy, both US units walked right into a buzz saw where they took heavy casualties and witnessed the NVA’s no rules form of combat where they bayoneted US WIA’s to death in front of their friend’s eyes. It was nothing more than a simple test to see how we would react.
Bravo Company was heavily reinforced from it’s TO strength of 217 to over 300 using battalion and division assets which made it a formidable force using conventional standards known at that time. However, the NVA ambushed them in a ferocious fight where they dictated the actions and cut the company to pieces. The brutality shocked 1/9 as they realized they were up against a foe as determined as the Japanese so they immediately dropped their peacetime SOP and reverted back to the island taking mentality which served the Corps so well in WWII. From that point on 1/9 became just as brutally aggressive as the NVA and dictated the terms of the fighting by taking the war to the NVA before they had a chance to take it to 1/9 again.
When Vietnam became redesigned as a “war of attrition” which meant our job was to induce so many NVA casualties it would take a full generation for them to rebuild it, III MAF utilized 1/9’s extremely aggressive philosophy and placed the battalion in the middle of the hottest areas and heaviest combat operations whenever possible with the resultant effect being high casualty rates. That’s why 1/9 was assigned to hold hills 881 North and South in support of the 26th Marines during the siege of Khe Sahn where the false rumors of it's losing it's colors began.
The critical error the NVA made in choosing their first Marine unit to test was picking one who had previously fought for it’s very survival in another bloodbath known as Iwo Jima where it was used to taking heavy casualties. This critical error cost them dearly during the course of 1/9’s long run of continuous combat operations during it’s highly successful tour in Vietnam. The real truth is there was nothing “hard luck” about the battalion. It was simply 1/9’s aggressive warrior spirit of “kill them all today so we don’t have to face them tomorrow” which made the battalion’s exploits so legendary as it wrote new annals in the pages of Marine Corps history.
As a member of Mike 3/3 we worked closely with 1/9 on many opereations. In May 68 we relieved Alpha 1/9 at Lam Xuan West on the banks of Jones Creek in the Qua Viet area. The little perimeter had dead NVA hanging in the wire like they were swimming. Working parties were pulling bodies out and dragging them away behind a mule. We figured we were going to be hit big time that night and went on 100%. At dawn, after a quiet night, the guy beside me said, "I guess the NVA chased 1/9's choppers all the way to Camp Carroll."
Just for clarification. 1/9 did not hold or occupy any hills around Khe Sanh during the seige. That was assigned to detachments from the 26th Marines. We occupied the rock quarry, Hill 64 just outside the wire and a stretch from the Rock Quarry to the base where we tied in. My bunker was right next to the base.
I don't know about losing our colors, I have never heard that. We did leave the base and take and defend Hill 471, Hill 552 and Hill 689 in early April 1968. We were finally wiped out for all practical purposed on April 16th on a ridgeline adjacent to Hill 689. There were very few left from the men that went to Khe Sanh in January.
C 1/9 67/68
You have many facts right,but Don hit it on the head and all Marine battalions in Viet Nam had major battles...A little known battle " The Battle for Dong Ha" had 1/4&2/4 locked in heavy battle for two months in 1968...1/9 was no different than all the other Marine battalions...U.S.Marines were awesome in Viet Nam
Great heads up Don and Joe. I was hoping Brothers who were actually there would step in and help keep the record straight. Like I said, I wasn't and that was the tale as I heard it. Good looking out.
I totally agree that ALL the Infantry Battalions did their job superbly. Marine Grunts are still Marine Grunts no matter what unit we serve with.
Don, did you know a short Soul Brother by the name of Al Stewert? Career type from before the war. Would have been an E4-5 during Khe Sahn when he took a lot of shrapnel on one of the hills. He was an E6 when I knew him. Outstanding leader.
Joe, did you know a short round named Snetsinger? 3/26 at Khe Sahn? He was on his first enlistement as and went up thru the ranks. He was a E5 when he was with us. Really cool people.
I didn't know him...at the Siege of Khe Sanh Don was at the Rock Quarry,I was on Hill 558,All the battalions were in different places..
1st Battalion 9th Marines
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Active March 1, 1942 — September 9, 1994
(currently has been reactivated as part of the 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
Type Light infantry
Role Locate, close with and destroy the enemy through fire and maneuver
Nickname "The Walking Dead" (moniker from Vietnam action)
* Operation Rice Straw
* Operation Harvest Moon
* Operation Deckhouse Five
* Operation Dewey Canyon
(among numerous others - to be listed later)
The 1st Battalion 9th Marines (1/9) is an infantry battalion of the United States Marine Corps. Formed during World War II, it served until the mid-1990s when it was deactivated to make room for one of three light armor reconnaissance battalions.
During the Vietnam War, 1/9 sustained the highest casualty rate in Marine Corps history.
The battalion was comprised of four infantry companies and one weapons/H&S company:
Weapons/Headquarters & Service Company
* Weapons included 106 recoiless rifle crew served; 81/60mm Mortars; Flame Throwers
World War II
Participated in the following campaigns:
The battalion endured the longest sustained combat and suffered the highest killed in action (KIA)" rate in Marine Corps history, especially during the Battle of July Two. The battalion was engaged in combat for 47 months and 7 days, from June 15, 1965 to October 19, 1966 and December 11, 1966 to July 14, 1969. 1/9 sustained casualties during its entire Vietnam service. Based on a typical battalion strength of 800 Marines and Navy hospital corpmen, 93.63% (747) were Killed In Action (KIA) and 0.25% (2) were Missing In Action (MIA).
The 1980s & 1990s
Deactivated on September 9, 1994 and redesignated 2nd Battalion 1st Marines. The battalion remained inactive from 1994 through 2004
[Global War on Terror
The 1st Battalion 9th Marines was reactivated in October 2005. In April 2006, after only a 30 day work-up cycle, Alpha Company deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and completed a successful six month deployment to Forward Operating Base Grizzly in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. During this time the company conducted security and stabilization operations north of Al Khalis in the Diyala Governorate, working jointly with Military Police, Cavalry and Field Artillery units from the Army National Guard. Alpha company returned in October of 2006 without the loss of any Marines.
Medal of Honor recipients
4 Marines from the 1st Battalion 9th Marines have received the Medal of Honor:
Wesley L. Fox
John H. Leims
Walter K. Singleton
Frank P. Witek
Presidential Unit Citation (Navy) with Two Bronze Stars
Presidential Unit Citation (Army)
Navy Unit Commendation with One Bronze Star
Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer with Two Bronze Stars
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Four Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal with One Bronze Star
Korean Service Medal
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with One Bronze Star
Vietnam Service Medal with Two Silver Stars (10 campaigns)
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Streamer
Vietnam Civil Actions Medal, First Class, with palm Streamer (source: SECNAVINST 1650.1G)This message has been edited. Last edited by: REDWOOD3TIGER,
LZ's and Bases
LOCATION MAP AREA COORDINATES
CAM LO BRIDGE 6442-4-3 CAM LO YD147604
CO ROC MTN (RIDGE LINE) 6342-3-2 W OF KHE SANH XD741317
HILL 51 6442-2-2 CAMP EVANS YD549281
HILL 64 6342-3-1 KHE SANH XD823416
HILL 471 6342-3-1 KHE SANH XD846392
HILL 552 6342-3-1 KHE SANH XD822402
HILL 558 6342-3-1 KHE SANH XD820451
HILL 674 6441-1-4 S OF CAMP EVANS YD516219
HILL 689 6342-3-1 KHE SANH XD803409
HILL 861 6342-3-1 KHE SANH XD803443
HILL 881N 6342-3-1 KHE SANH XD775457
HILL 881S 6342-3-1 KHE SANH XD777438
HILL 950 6342-3-1 KHE SANH XD840450
HILL 1015 (DONG TRI MTN) 6342-3-1 KHE SANH XD854454
KHE SANH COMBAT BASE 6342-3-1 KHE SANH XD848418
PHU AN 6442-4-3 CAM LO YD139674
PK-17 (ARVN ARTY) 6442-2-2 CAMP EVANS YD652280
ROCK QUARRY, THE 6342-3-1 KHE SANH XD830415
ROCK PILE, THE (THON KHE TRI) 6342-1-3 W OF CAM LO XD979558
ROCK PILE CB (CAMP ELLIOTT) 6342-1-3 W OF CAM LO XD985552
1/9 CALL SIGNS VIETNAM
Source: Chronological Reports
Month/Date Call Sign
Jun 65 - Apr 66 Redwood
Jun 66- Aug 67 Ruggles
Aug 67 - Oct 67 Birmingham
Nov 67 - Dec 68 Gulfmaid
Jan 68 - Aug 68 Garden Valley
Aug 68 - Dec 68 Dallas Girl
Jan-69 Sand Boat or Sandbox
Feb 69 - Mar 69 Delmar
Apr 69 - May 69 Seaton Hall
May 69 - Jul 69 Coconut Candy
Oper Eagle Pull (1975) Fancy Dan
Oper Frequent Wind (1975) G I Joe
Operation Date Units Area - Sheet No. & Name Province
* Blastout I Aug 65 1/3, 1/9 Cam Ne, Cau Do, North of Da Nang Quang Nam
* Golden Fleece Sep-Oct 65 1/9, 2/9, 3/9 1/1, 2/3, 2nd Mar Protect Rice harvest near Da nang Quang Nam
* County Fair Sep-Dec 65 1/1, 1/3, 1/9 Villlage surround and search Various
* Rice Straw Oct-Nov 65 9th Mar TAOR Extension to Ky Lam River Quang Nam
* Independence Feb 66 1/9, 2/9 S of Song Vu Gia Quang Nam
* Ky Lam Campaign May 66 1/9, 2/9, 3/9, 2/4 Dai Loc area, 6 mi S of Da Nang Quang Nam
* Liberty Jul 66 1/9, 2/9, 1/1 Dai Loc area, 6 mi S of Da Nang Quang Nam
* Macon Jul-Oct 66 1/9, 2/9, 3/9, 1/3, 2/3 An Hoa Area, S of Da Nang Quang Nam
* Deckhouse V Jan 67 1/9 Mekong Delta, Co Chien, Ham Luong Kien Hoa
* Prairie II Feb-Mar 67 2/3, 3/3, 3/4, 1/9, 2/9 DMZ, North of Cam Lo Quang Tri
* Chinook II Feb-Apr 67 1/9 St w/o Joy , N of Hue YD 5227 Thua Thien
* Beacon Hill Mar-Apr 67 3/3, 1/9, 1/4 DMZ N of Cam Lo, Gio Linh area Quang Tri
* Prairie III Mar-Apr 67 3/4, 2/3, 2/9, 1/9, 3/3 DMZ Quang Tri
* Prairie IV Apr-May 67 1/9, 2/9, 3/9, 2/3, 3/3, 1/4, 3/4 DMZ Quang Tri
* Cimarron Jun-Jul 67 3/3, 1/9, 2/9, 3/9,1/4, 3/4 DMZ N of Cam Lo YD 1258 Quang Tri
* Buffalo Jul 67 1/9, 2/9, 3/9, 1/3, 2/3 NE of Con Thien Quang Tri
* Fremont Jul-Oct 67 1/9, 3/4, 1/4, 1/3, 2/3 Cobi-Thanh Tan N of Hue Thua Thien, (became Neosha)
* Kentucky Nov 67-Feb 69 1/9, 2/9, 3/9, 1/4, 3/3 DMZ Leatherneck Square Quang Tri
* Neosho Nov 67-Jan 68 3/4, 1/9, 1/4, 1/3, 2/3 Cobi-Thanh Tan sector N of Hue Thua Thien
* Scotland Nov 67-Mar 68 26th Mar, 1/9 Khe Sanh Plateau (was Ardmore) Quang Tri
* Checkers Dec 67-Jan 68 USMC & USA Force Realignment Various
* Ballistic Armor Jan 68 2/4, 1/9 N of Hue Thua Thien
* Dai Do Apr-May 68 2/4, 1/3, 1/9 Battle of Dai Do - Cau Viet Quang Tri
* Pegasus/LamSon 207 Apr 68 26th Mar, 1/9, 2/1, 2/3 Khe Sanh Area Quang Tri
* July Action Jul 68 1/9,2/9,3/9,1/3,2/3,3/3 N of Camp Carroll Quang Tri
* Dawson River Nov 68-Jan 69 1/9, 2/9 Ba Long Valley Quang Tri
* Dawson River South Jan 69 1/9, 2/9, 3/9 (reopen Firebases) became Dewey Canyon Quang Tri
* Dawson River West Jan 69 1/9, 2/9, 3/9 W of Khe Sanh - to Laotion Border Quang Tri
* Dewey Canyon Jan-Mar 69 1/9, 2/9, 3/9 Da Krong Valley Base Area 611 Quang Tri
* Apache Snow May-Jun 69 1/9, 2/9, 3/9 Da Krong Valley, Northern Ashua Quang Tri
* Utah Mesa Jun-Jul 69 1/9, 2/9, 3/9 Khe Sanh Plateau Quang Tri
* Cameron Falls JunAug 69 1/9, 2/9, 3/9 Da Krong Valley SW of Vandergift Quang Tri
* Direct Combat Support 19-21May71 31MA, 1/9, HMM164 off SVN Support 3DMAB
* Heroic Action 11-May-72 31MAU, 1/9 off NVN Deception
* Song Thanh 5-72 13-May-72 9MAB, 31MAU1/4, 1/9HMM164 Quang Tri Prov Support VNMCAslt
* Song Thanh 6-72 24-May-72 9MAB, 31MAU1/9, 1/4, HMM164 Quang Tri Prov Support VNMC Aslt
* ReadyOp 27-Jun-72 9MAB 1/9, 1/431MAU, 33MAUHMM164, 165 DMZ Turnaway Landing
* LamSon 72(I) 29-Jun-72 9MAB, 1/9, 1/431MAU 33MAU HMM164, 165 VicintyQuang Tri SupportVNMCAssault
* LamSon 72 (II) 11-Jul-72 9MAB, 33MAU1/9, 1/4HMM164 .165 VicintyQuang Tri SupportVNMC Aslt
* Frequent Wind 20-30Apr75 9MAB SVN Evac Ops
Thats really outstanding work Red. You did your homework well. Many thanks because you vindicate Jimmy's tale about 881 North & South during Khe Sahn where his cousin was killed. I never contradict those who were actually there out of respect for their service.
As for May 71, we were SLF afloat off the coast when they farmed people out. I never knew they formally named it Direct Combat Support although the name is very appropriate for what we did. Battalion callsign was Eagle Eye and the PRC's with comsec KY's were very heavy but the work was well worth it. Semper Fi!
I say again and Don Meyer will support my statement because he was a member of 1/9 during the Siege...during the Siege 1/9 never was on Hill 881S.....
Hey Big Joe. Maybe they had dets or something, I don't know. Jimmy told his tale so I'm respecting what he said and I'm also respecting what Don and you say because you were actually there. Just giving all you Brothers your due because you earned it. Truth and what actually happened are always the first casualties of war. Thanks for all your service. Have a blessed day Brother, via con Dios Amigo.
Dean,Maybe a company from 1/9 was on 881S at some time,but it was not at the Siege...We were moved at over I Corps at different times...This Viet Nam memory that I have had for 40 years can be overpowering at times...I just wish that it never happened...Semper Fi!
Amen to that Big Joe. Mercifully the memory begins to give way and fade over time. I didn't have it anywhere near as bad as you all did and it still bothers me at times too so I feel you Brother.
Hey fellas, we here have a Richard Mendez who was a member of 1/9....hes a Father Mendenz in the Episcopal church now...i'll give him a shout from you guys...
I don't know about losing our colors, I have never heard......
Heard of it in 1979'ish, when 1/9 got to show colors once again. I might have been when 1/9 returned to Oki. While in, I heard stories from my SNCO's about 1/9.
That's all they were brother..Stories and Rumors
do any of you remember hill 812 in quang tri province december 16th 1968 with 1/9 company D marines were attacked by hostile force on that morning comp D was preparing to extract from hill 812?
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