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  Page 49 (The Advisory & Combat Assistance Era: 1954-1964)    

 

spent much of this time at the Marine base camps, inspecting troops and equipment and making preparations for the battalion's next combat assignment. Among others, Lieutenant Colonels Brown and Moody viewed this continuous association with the Vietnamese Marines as the single most essential ingredient to a successful advisory program.

The Vietnamese Marine Corps, 1962

For the Vietnamese Marine Corps 1962 was characterized by expansion, redesignation, and continued combat operations against the Viet Cong. On 1 January the former Vietnamese Marine Group was redesignated the Vietnamese Marine Brigade and was enlarged to 5,483 officers and men. Under its new table of organization, the number of infantry battalions remained at four but two new battalions were added. One battery of eight 105mm howitzers, two batteries of eight 75mm pack howitzers, and a headquarters and service battery comprised an artillery battalion which was created to provide artillery fire support to the infantry units. An amphibious support battalion of 1,038 officers and men was also formed. This unit contained the personnel necessary to provide the entire Marine brigade with reconnaissance, communications, motor transport, medical, engineer, and training support. Lieutenant Colonel Khang continued in his position as Commandant of the expanded and restructured Vietnamese Marine Corps.

The infantry battalions of the Vietnamese Marine Brigade performed a variety of combat missions ranging from security duty around key government installations to helicopter landings in suspected Viet Cong redoubts during 1962. The four infantry battalions (the 4th Battalion became available for combat assignment at midyear) participated in 23 combat operations which involved 404 days in the field. These operations included 12 amphibious landings and eight heliborne assaults. With the exception of two howitzer batteries which saw some combat, the artillery battalion devoted the year to training. Supervised by Major Alfred J. Croft and Gunnery Sergeant William A. Loyko, their new Marine advisors, the Vietnamese artillerymen learned their skills in a number of field firing exercises conducted on ARVN artillery ranges. In terms of casualties the VNMC battalions fought no major engagements with the Communists during the year. A typical operation was one conducted in An Xuyen, South Vietnam's southernmost province, early in the year. The 2d Battalion, which was assigned to the An Xuyen province chief for the period between 18 February and 26 April, conducted one helicopter landing, provided troop escorts for numerous truck convoys, and fought several minor engagements with the Viet Cong. Although the Vietnamese commander reported 112 enemy killed and another 40 wounded during the two-month assignment, the figures contradicted those of Captain Evan L. Parker, the Marine advisor, which placed the Viet Cong casualties at about 40 dead and 20 wounded. This difference, which was not uncommon, stemmed largely from the fact that the Marine advisors limited their reports to enemy dead and wounded actually sighted. Still, the conflicting reports sometimes led to tensions between the Vietnamese commander and the Marine advisor.

In other instances the Vietnamese Marine battalions were ordered to serve as the reserve force for one of the three corps tactical zones. The 1st Battalion, for example, accompanied by Captain Bradley S. Snell, assumed the mission as II Corps reserve on 16 May and remained in that role until mid-September. Based at Ban Me Thuot deep in the Central Highlands, the battalion provided security for government installations while remaining ready to react to enemy threats. As the corps reserve it conducted one heliborne operation and several search-type missions. In one of these searches the Vietnamese Marines uncovered and destroyed a Viet Cong small arms factory. During its assignment in II Corps, the 1st Battalion accounted for only four Viet Cong dead and one wounded while suffering 16 dead and 28 wounded. These statistics attested both to the grim effectiveness of enemy sniper fire and mines and to the enemy's elusiveness.

The newly activated 4th Battalion, advised by Captain Don R. Chris tensen, entered combat for the first time during an operation in Binh Thuan

 

 

 

Page 49 (The Advisory & Combat Assistance Era: 1954-1964)