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A Marine HAWK missile launcher is in position at the DaNang Airfield. The HAWKS are designed to defend against low-flying enemy aircraft. On 31 January, both BLTs 1/9 and 3/9 departed for Subic Bay with the latter on 72-hour reaction time for landing in Vietnam. Once more events in Vietnam were to alter training and deployment plans.

On 7 February 1965, the Viet Cong (VC) attacked the U.S. compound at Pleiku in the Central Highlands, a provocation that altered the entire course of the war. In the early morning of the 7th, the Viet Cong attacking force laid down a mortar barrage on the advisors' quarters and airfield, killing 9 Americans, wounding 128 others, and damaging or destroying 122 aircraft. At the urging of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and with the concurrence of Ambassador Taylor, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnam. Addressing the nation later that day, the President announced the withdrawal of U.S. dependents from Vietnam and warned that the United States might take further actions. He declared: 'I have ordered the deployment to South Vietnam of a HAWK air defense battalion. Other reinforcements, in units and individuals, may follow.3

Late on the evening of 7 February, Lieutenant Colonel Bertram E. Cook, Jr., the commanding officer of the 1st LAAM Battalion, which had arrived on Okinawa in December from the U. S., received orders to move one battery to Da Nang. The battalion had originally been slated to deploy to Vietnam

*The acronym HAWK stands for Homing-All-the-Way-Killer. The HAWK air defense is a mobile, surface-to-air guided missile system designed to defend against enemy low-flying aircraft. It also has a capability to defend against short-range missiles/rockets. In the Marine Corps, this system is found in the light antiaircraft missile (LAAM) battalions.

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