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Page 34(The Advisory & Combat Assistance Era: 1954-1964)  


The Vietnamese Marine battalions and elements of the ARVN airborne brigade (also garrisoned near Saigon) were ordered into action against the Viet Cong with increasing frequency after being designated the RVNAF general reserve. Usually, the Marine battalions, like their airborne counterparts, were assigned to operate in a particular province for a specified time period. In such assignments the battalion commander was directly responsible to the province chief who, in most cases, was a military officer. The province chiefs sometimes utilized the Marines in conjunction with their Civil Guard units. It was not uncommon for the Vietnamese Marines to find themselves conducting operations in the most rugged and inaccessible regions of the province to which they were assigned. In such deployments the Marine battalions often bore the brunt of hostile action or suffered the physical hardships associated with living and fighting in the most adverse swamps and jungles.

In connection with their continuing campaign to transform the Vietnamese Marine Corps into a truly elite fighting organization, the U.S. Marine Advisors encouraged the Vietnamese Leathernecks to take pride in the difficult and dangerous missions now being assigned. In a related effort intended to generate esprit de corps throughout the service, Lieutenant Colonel Wilkinson proposed that the Marine Corps adopt an official emblem and a distinctive uniform. These suggestions produced results when a board of Vietnamese officers selected an emblem design similar to that of the U.S. Marines. Shortly thereafter the VNMC adopted a light weight, black and green 'tiger stripe' camouflaged utility uniform similar to that for-

Vietnamese Marine riflemen traverse mosquito-infested swamps of the Ca Mau Peninsula on August 1961 operation. (Photo courtesy of Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Gott, USMC').

 

 



Page 34(The Advisory & Combat Assistance Era: 1954-1964)