US Marines vs Vietcong in Vietnam “Contact (Ambush)” 1966 USMC 13min04:33

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Published on November 28, 2017

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United States Marine Corps film MH-10278-F

NEW VERSION with improved video & sound:

Public domain film from the National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).

also see: “The Battle”

…In January 1965, the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California deployed for a tour on Okinawa, Japan, where they were redesignated the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines. At the time the Marines of 3rd Battalion expected a typical 13-month deployment followed by a quick return to the States. However the battalion found itself caught up in the initial deployment of Marine units to Vietnam, and landed on May 12 along the coast south of Danang at an airfield called Chu Lai. The battalion’s first major operation in the Vietnam War was Operation Starlite where they teamed up with units of the 7th Marines. Operation Starlite was aimed at destroying the 1st Viet Cong (VC) Regiment, which was preparing to attack Chu Lai from the Van Tuong peninsula. The fighting began on August 18 when the battalion conducted an amphibious landing just east of the VC positions. At first the attack was slowed by effective VC delaying tactics. However, 3rd Battalion eventually advanced to the outskirts of the village of An Cuong 2. While attempting to clear the village, India Company came under intense fire from VC defending the village. When one squad under Corporal Robert E. O’Malley was ambushed, O’Malley jumped into a VC trench and personally killed eight Viet Cong. Wounded three times, O’Malley refused to be evacuated until all his men were safe and was later awarded the Medal of Honor. India Company then had to fight its way back to the rest of the battalion through other Viet Cong units still operating in the area. Around 1200, an H&S Company supply convoy bound for India Company was ambushed and a force sent to relieve them was also pinned down. The ordeal was covered by journalist Peter Arnett in his article “The Death of Supply Column 21”. During the afternoon the situation was stabilized and the Viet Cong retreated that night, resulting in a tactical American victory. The United States had 52 Marines killed in Starlite. India Company lost 14 dead, including the company commander, and 53 wounded out of a force of 177 Marines. Three Navy Crosses were awarded to Marines from the battalion for actions during Starlite, including the battalion commander LtCol Joseph Muir.

Search and Destroy Near Da Nang (1965–1966)

Following Starlite 3rd Battalion continued to conduct regular sweeps and low-level (i.e. small unit) combat operations against the Viet Cong (usually the 1st VC Regiment) in the greater Da Nang area. In November they participated in an amphibious operation similar to Starlite called Blue Marlin (II), which was carried out near Hoi An. Contact was irregular as the VC attempted to avoid a drawn-out engagement and the battalion only had three Marines wounded. Then in December the battalion moved to the Que Son Valley for Operation Harvest Moon, preventing the VC from capturing the town. Among the casualties suffered during this period was LtCol Muir, who was killed when he stepped on an IED. In March 1966, 3rd Battalion participated in Operation Kings, officially a search and destroy mission in the An Hoa region, but really an attempt to create a long-term occupation in a historical Viet Cong stronghold. However, any progress gained in Kings was immediately negated by the Buddhist Uprising just one week later in Da Nang. In July, the battalion acted as a blocking force during Operation Macon but did not see significant action. In August, 3rd Battalion left Vietnam for Okinawa. The battalion would not be gone long though, and in early October was stationed offshore as BLT 3/3 near the northern portion of I Corps to combat a possible North Vietnamese invasion. The threat never materialized and BLT 3/3 returned to Vietnam later that month…

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