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Page 12(1965: The Landing and the Buildup)  



In the transport area, swells reached 8 to 10 feet, playing havoc with the debarkation. It was almost impossible to hold the nets for the troops to debark; several of the lines mooring landing craft to their mother ships snapped under the strain. At 0730 it became impossible to load small boats alongside; Admiral Wulzen postponed H-hour until 0900. At the same time, General Karch left the Mount McKinley for the airbase by helicopter. An hour later, the first planes arrived from Okinawa with additional shore party personnel to aid in clearing the beach.

Photo courtsey of Associated Press and Wide World Photos

Brigadier General Frederick J. Karch, the Commanding General, 9th MEB, watches the landing bedecked with flowers presented to him by South Vietnamese schoolgirls. This picture received wide distribution in the U.S. press.

At 0830 the task force commander confirmed the 0900 H-hour. A high surf plan was put into effect which directed that the loads for the smaller landing craft (LCVPs) be rescheduled for larger and heavier landing craft (LCMs). The first wave of assault troops in 11 Marine amphibian tractors (LVTPs) touched down at RED Beach 2 just three minutes late and the fourth and final assault wave of 3/9 landed at 0918. *

On the beach, the commander of I Corps Tactical Zone (I CTZ), General Thi, and the Mayor of Da Nang welcomed General Karch while a group of Vietnamese university students led by a vanguard of pretty girls holding leis of flowers greeted the Marines.** Vietnamese troops secured the beachhead and the route to the airfield. The first echelons of Company L moved out from the beachhead at 0945. Banners in both Vietnamese and English were strung along the route of march welcoming the troops; Vietnamese children lined both sides of the road, waving and shyly smiling at the Marines. The lead company was followed by Company I, artillery attachments, and Company K, which formed the rear guard of the motor march to the southern portion of the airbase. Company M remained behind as beach security for general unloading.

Simultaneously with the preparations for the landing of the BLT across the beach, the Marines had


* The landing craft, mechanized (LCM) is a steel-hulled boat. Two versions exist, the LCM-6 (weight of 29 tons empty which carries 80 troops or 24 tons of cargo), and the LCM-8 (weighs 61 tons empty and carries 200 troops or 60 tons of cargo). The personnel and vehicle landing craft (LCVP) is a wooden-hulled landing craft weighing nine tons and capable of carrying 36 troops or four tons of cargo. The landing vehicle tracked, personnel (LVTP-5) is a steel amphibian tracked vehicle weighing 45 tons and capable of carrying 34 troops or six tons of cargo. The LCM and LCVP are landing craft organic to the Navy while the LVTP-5 is a Marine Corps vehicle.

**The picture shown at upper right appeared in many American newspapers depicting a dour General Karch with a garland of flowers around his neck. Karch later remarked:

'That picture has been the source of a lot of trouble for me. People say, 'Why couldn't you have been smiling?' But you know, if I had it to do over, that picture would be the same. When you have a son in Vietnam and he gets killed, you don't want a smiling general with flowers around his neck as the leader at that point.'' Karch Intvw.





Page 12(1965: The Landing and the Buildup)