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men were rotated from Khe Sanh at two week intervals, weather permitting. Advisory Team One operated in the extreme northwestern corner of the republic without incident until the second week of July. Then a severe storm struck its mountaintop base, blowing away tents and antennae, collapsing fighting positions, and generally disrupting operations. Several nights later, on the 17th, a Viet Cong force of undetermined size probed the Marine sector of the perimeter. An intense exchange of small arms and automatic weapons fire ensued for nearly two hours. Although the Marines suffered no casualties and could find no dead or wounded Viet Cong the next day, it was apparent that their location had been compromised.


Amid reports of increasing Communist activity throughout the area, MACV authorities in Saigon promptly ordered Major Gray to withdraw his force from Tiger Tooth Mountain. Fortunately good weather permitted Marine helicopters from Da Nang to helilift the men and their equipment from the mountain to Khe Sanh the day after the firefight. On the 22d, Air Force C-123 transports airiifted the entire Marine detachment to Da Nang. There Gray and his Marines crowded into the old French compound occupied by the helicopter task element. Although cramped, the SHUFLY facilities provided welcome relief for the men who had endured the rigors of Tiger Tooth Mountain and Khe Sanh for nearly two months.


While at Da Nang, Major Gray detached a small group of radiomen to Monkey Mountain, a rocky, jungle-covered peninsula that jutted into the South China Sea just northeast of the city. There in relative comfort and safety, the technicians conducted equipment tests for two weeks. Several changes in the leadership and composition of the advisory team took place during this interval. Captain Raymond A. Becker, a communications officer from the 1st Radio Company, FMFPac, relieved Major Gray as the commander of the unit on 13 August. Soon thereafter a reinforced infantry company. Company K, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, commanded by Captain William R. Irwin, replaced Lieutenant Otiowski and the Company G Marines as the advisory team's security element.


Under Captain Becker's command, Advisory Team One redeployed, this time to Dong Bach Ma, a 3,500-foot mountain located roughly 25 miles west-northwest of Da Nang. An abandoned French resort, still untouched by the war, sprawled across the higher elevations of Bach Ma and a hard surface road curved up its steep northern face from Route 1. Using this road ARVN trucks moved Captain Irwin and the infantry element to the newly selected site in advance of the radio personnel. Once atop the mountain, Irwin had his men establish a perimeter around an abandoned monastery. This accomplished. Marines cleared a small helicopter landing zone near the old but well-preserved religious building which was to serve as their base of operations. On 19 August Marine helicopters lifted Captain Becker, his communicators, and some 4,000 pounds of equipment to the site from Da Nang.


Advisory Team One, relying heavily on Marine helicopters for logistical support, operated without incident from the quaint old monastery until the second week of September. The composite unit completed its operations at Bach Ma on the 10th . whereupon it returned to Da Nang. Within days the detachment was disbanded without fanfare. The radio experts returned to their parent commands in Hawaii and Washington while Company K was airiifted to Okinawa where it rejoined the 3d Battalion, 3d Marines. The quite dissolution of the Marine Detachment, Advisory Team One, ended the first brief and little publicized chapter of Marine ground unit operations in the Republic of Vietnam.


In October an element of the 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, 3d Marine Division, operating from ships of the Seventh Fleet, conducted an extensive survey of Cam Ranh Bay in southern II Corps. The purpose of its survey was to determine the feasibility of establishing a naval facility. Marine counterintelligence teams from FMFPac also were temporarily assigned to MACV for 30-day periods throughout the year. These officers and noncommissioned officers normally augmented the U.S. Army 704th Counterintelligence Unit during their stay in Vietnam. Another group of Marines to employ their skills in the counterinsurgcncy environment was a small Special Operations Group of six officers and 21 enlisted men. These Marines conducted operations under the auspices of MACV.





Page 141 (The Advisory & Combat Assistance Era: 1954-1964)