Captain Michael J. Gott, infantry advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps, discusses tactical plans with Vietnamese officers. (Photo courtesy of Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Gott, USMC).
Michael J. Gott and James S. G. Turner, two U.S. Marine advisors, embarked on board two World War II vintage Vietnamese Navy LCIs (landing craft, infantry) at Saigon with the 1st and 3d Battalions respectively.
A series of problems arose on the morning of the operation to delay the landing for several hours. When the Marines finally came ashore late in the morning they failed to locate any enemy forces. Captain Gott, who accompanied the 1st Battalion for the duration of the operations ashore, later recounted the difficulties. He noted, for instance, that no U.S. Navy advisors were embarked on board the Vietnamese ships. As a result, the relatively inexperienced Vietnamese sailors encountered technical difficulties with their navigational aids, and the ships arrived at the objective area late. Inexperience on the pare of the Vietnamese Marines and sailors in debarkation techniques compounded the delay. Once ashore, outdated French maps and dense mangrove jungle combined to retard the Marines' progress inland, thus allowing the Viet Cong ample time to melt away. Gott concluded that some of the difficulties encountered after the landing phase of the operation might have been offset by the presence of observation aircraft. As it was, the Marines' visibility was restricted throughout the operation by thick mangrove vegetation. Thus a combination of unforeseen factors had rendered this particular operation ineffective.13 A similar landing was repeated in the same area the following month. Again the participating Marine units failed to engage Viet Cong forces. Vietnamese Navy and Marine officers complained that there were no enemy troops in the area and that the government's intelligence was inaccurate. Whatever the reason, the results of these two unsuccessful offensives typified the problems which plagued most South Vietnamese ground forces throughout the country during the 1960-1961 period. The Communist guerrillas, aided by