The Battle of Nui Thanh 1965

On March 8th, 1965 the fist US combat troops arrived in Da Nang and Vung Tau South Vietnam. In Da Nang, it was the 3rd Battalions of the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB). The ground deployment of US combat troops in South Vietnam heralded their direct engagements in the battlefields and their leading role in major military operations. The role of the troops of South Vietnam Republic turned to mostly pacification operations in the countryside.

 One of the most important tasks of the US troops after arrival was to build up and strengthen military installations, bases and logistical system. Given the importance of the coastal region and the strategic location of the Central Highlands, it was necessary for a new airport at Chu Lai in Quang Nam Province now (it was Quang Nam and Quang Tin Provinces during the war).

May 6, 1965 Company K of 3/9 MEB was dispatched to Chu Lai, they worked with units of the 2nd Infantry Division of South Vietnam Republic to prepare for the landing.

May 7, 1965 units of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 4th MEB landed at Chu Lai by helicopter and by boat. The newly arrived forces took up positions as planned. By the end of the day, the 4th MEB had stretched its forces for approximately 10km in an arc shape (west to east) from Route 1 to the Ky Ha Peninsula on the seafront (Tam Quang and Tam Nghia Communes, Nui Thanh District, Quang Nam Province now). These forces protected the military base and going to be airport from the north. The terrain of the northern side included series of low hills and knolls with commanding views of the whole region.

The southern flank was protected by the Recon Battalion of the 3rd MEB.

Mid day May 12, 1965 the landing operation officially completed. The 3rd Battalion of the 3rd MEB from Okinawa replaced the earlier force to take up positions to the south.

After the landing, search and destroy operations and clearing up operations were started for the buildup. And all work was in good progress at Chu Lai in May and June 1965. By this time, US combat forces had been present in most important locations in South Vietnam from Hue to the Mekong Delta. They were not there for protection purposes only but ready for conducting major military operations.

With the shift in strategy by their opponent, North Vietnam and the South Vietnam Liberation Front knew they had to confront the US military forces directly. And how to fight them was a big puzzle for Hanoi and their southern ally. And they agreed that the puzzle would be solved gradually from practical experience in direct battle. The first target chosen was Chu Lai. This would mean one of a series of small battles for North Vietnam and South Vietnam Liberation Front to get to know more of US troops...

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