Page 146

Page 146(1965: The Landing and the Buildup)  

was to protect the PATs. The government force suffered heavy casualties. During the next week, the VC systematically continued their campaign against local defense forces. The Marines could do little to prevent it. The PFs were to provide continuous security in the hamlets, but events had proved conclusively that they were incapable of carrying out their mission. Instead of strengthening their security forces the Vietnamese authorities changed leaders. The Ngu Hanh Son Program was allowed to drift until March 1966.

As early as September, 1965 General Krulak observed that ''the Marines have never felt that the war stands to be won by the grand maneuvers of large forces, by brilliant marshalship in the Tannenberg or Chancellorsville image,'' but rather in the villages.32 The problem, was to provide security in the hamlets, and, in this, the Marines were not always successful. On the night of 25 October, a VC terrorist squad threw a grenade and fired a submachine gun into the house of Chief Trinh of Hoa Hai Village, the village chief who had cooperated with Lieutenant Colonel Ludwig's battalion in GOLDEN FLEECE. The chief and four of his family were wounded.* General Walt took the occasion to order all regimental commanders to insure the personal protection of village and district chiefs in their TAORs.33 This was more easily said then done. On 24 December, in the supposedly secure Le My area, Lieutenant Colonel Dickey reported that the Viet Cong tortured and buried alive the assistant chief of Hoa Hiep.34**

USMC Photo A800917

A South Vietnamese interpreter with a Marine patrol talks with a South Vietnamese boy, The boy's father had been killed by the Viet Cong.

The following excerpt from the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines command chronology at Chu Lai graphically depicts the Marines' frustrations:

12 December: Marines from 3/7 were invited to attend the celebration . . . After the religious ceremony the Marines participated at the banquet with the hamlet chief and elders in the local village of Tri Binh (l).

13 December: A flag raising ceremony was conducted in the local village of Tri Binh(l). The hamlet chief invited Captain Long, the District Chief, and representatives from 3/7.

24 December: 3/7 Civil Affairs teams conducted a Christmas party in the local villages of Tri Binh(l) ....

25 December: The CO 3/7 invited the children of the local villages of An Thien and Tri Binh(l) to attend the Christmas celebration at the Battalion CP.

31 December: Hamlet chief of Tri Binh(l) was shot and killed by an unknown assassin. . . .35

The best that could be said for the III MAF pacification effort by the end of 1965 was that the Marines had realized the problems and had started to challenge the VC control of the countryside. There was still much to learn and do.


* Lieutenant Colonel Ludwig later commented: 'we moved Trinh and his family into a special tent complex in our battalion CP. The family remained safe, and Trinh 'went to work' each day in the village. But his intelligence was never as good after that.' Col Verle E. Ludwig, Comments on draft MS, dtd 80ct76 (Vietnam Comment File).

**Colonel Clement, who had commanded the 2d Batttalion, 3d Marines in the Le My area, commented: 'It was security that failed. In the absence of firm security, there will be a VC intrusion every time.' Col David A. Clement, Comments on draft MS, dtd 50ct76 (Vietnam Comment File).

Page 146(1965: The Landing and the Buildup)