Operation Double Eagle was a US Marine Corps and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) operation that took place in southern Quảng Ngãi Province, lasting from 28 January to 17 February 1966, during the Vietnam War. The operation was mounted in conjunction with Operation Masher in northern Bình Định Province. The operation was inconclusive as the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the Vietcong (VC) had largely slipped away.
On 7 December 1965 COMUSMACV General William Westmoreland instructed III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) and I Field Force, Vietnam to prepare plans for operations in the I Corps/II Corps border area to commence in late January. On 6 January III MAF commander LG Lewis W. Walt instructed BG Jonas M. Platt to reestablish Task Force Delta and commence planning the operation in coordination with ARVN 2nd Division commander General Hoàng Xuân Lãm.
It was believed that the PAVN 18th and 95th Regiments and the VC 2nd Regiment were operating in Quảng Ngai Province, but that their base areas were located further south in the coastal areas of Bình Định Province. The Marines and ARVN would attempt to engage the PAVN/VC while the 1st Cavalry Division in the complementary Operation Masher would attack the base areas.:21-2
The Marines' operation plan would consist of 3 phases: first Marine reconnaissance units and an artillery battery would be landed at Ba Tơ Special Forces Camp and a company from 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines with units from the ARVN 2nd Division would reconnoiter the landing beach (named Red Beach) ( ) 3.5 miles (5.6 km) northeast of Đức Phổ. On 27 January another company from 2/4 Marines and a company from the ARVN 4th Regiment would secure Hill 163 ( ) south of Red Beach. On 28 January Battalion Landing Teams (BLTs) 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines and 2/4 Marines would make an amphibious landing on Red Beach and secure the area. Two days later following B-52 strikes further inland, the Marines would move by helicopter to cut off any PAVN/VC attempting to retreat west. Meanwhile the ARVN 2nd Division would operate to the south along the Quảng Ngai/Bình Định provincial border blocking any retreat in that direction.:22-4
On 10 January 2 platoons from 1st Force Reconnaissance Company and 4 105mm howitzers of Battery H, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines were landed by helicopter at Ba Tơ Special Forces Camp and the reconnaissance Marines began patrols from the base. On the afternoon of 21 January a 14 man patrol was attacked by PAVN/VC at the base of Hill 829 ( ) 4km northwest of Ba Tơ with the artillery forward observer going missing. The next day the Marines were again attacked by PAVN/VC and scattered into bush where they were later rescued by helicopters covered by helicopter gunships, losing another Marine missing.:24
On 13 January the company from 2/4 Marines and the ARVN Reconnaissance Company, 2nd Division completed their reconnaissance of Red Beach.:24
On 24 January the 1st Cavalry Division began Operation Masher.:24
On 26 January HMM-261 helicopters landed Company E, 2/4 Marines at the ARVN Nui Dau base 8 miles (13 km) south of Red Beach and after midnight on 27 January Company E and the ARVN 2nd Company, 3rd Battalion began a night march to Hill 163 arriving at 13:00 on 27 January.:25
D-Day 28 January was rainy with low clouds however the landings proceeded smoothly with BLT 3/1 Marines on Red Beach by 07:00. The landing was supported by naval gunfire support from USS Oklahoma City and USS Barry and air support from Marine Aircraft Group 11 and Marine Aircraft Group 12, however opposition was minimal. BLT 2/4 Marines and Battery H 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines landed by midday but worsening weather in the afternoon delayed further amphibious landings and buildup of forces ashore.:25-7
The bad weather continued into 29 January. Company E 2/4 Marines left Hill 163 and rejoined the rest of their battalion. BLT 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines was landed by HMM-362 helicopters on Nui Xuong Giong ( ), a hill northwest of Red Beach, in the afternoon. Also on 29 January the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines was flown into Quảng Ngãi Airfield to exploit the results of the B-52 strikes scheduled for the next day.:27-8
On 30 January, despite efforts by III MAF to postpone the B-52 strikes due to the bad weather, the B-52s hit targets in the Song Ve Valley (Marine Aircraft Group 36 established a helicopter forward operating base called "Johnson City" 400m inland from Red Beach.:28-9), but the Marines were unable to immediately follow up the strikes due to bad weather. That afternoon helicopters moved BLT 2/3 Marines further inland, completing their landing by 17:30. That same afternoon
On 31 January the weather began to improve and the Marines began their westward sweep. Helicopters deployed Battery H, 3/11 Marines to BLT 2/3 Marines' position to provide fire support for the advance and that afternoon Company B, 2/4 Marines was landed on Hill 508 (:29) a further 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of BLT 2/3 Marines and the rest of 2/4 Marines was landed 2km further west in the Song Ve Valley itself.
On 1 February the 2/9 Marines command group and 2 companies were landed by helicopters 7km northwest of 2/4 Marines and the 2 battalions began sweeping the valley. Meanwhile BLT 2/3 Marines searched to the west of Nui Xuong Giong. The Marines encountered only small groups of PAVN/VC who engaged in hit and run tactics, the only sizable encounter being two skirmishes by 3/1 Marines north of Red Beach killing 31 PAVN/VC.:29-30
On 3 February BG Platt ordered his forces to move south in an attempt to press the PAVN/VC against the 1st Cavalry and ARVN in Bình Định Province.:30
On 11 February, after minimal results in their southern sweep, BG Platt ordered his forces to move back towards Red Beach/Johnson City.:33
On 12 February a 4-man team from Company B, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion operating 11km northwest of Ba Tơ Camp observed a 31-man PAVN/VC force and called in artillery fire killing 10 of them, a further group of more than 80 PAVN/VC then arrived and the team requested helicopter extraction following which airstrikes were called in on the PAVN/VC.:33
The limited results of the operation indicated that the PAVN/VC were not in the operational area in force and this was confirmed by prisoner interrogations that revealed that the units had left the area several days before D-Day.:33
Operation Double Eagle concluded on 17 February, the Marines had suffered 24 dead and had a body count of 312 PAVN/VC killed and 19 captured.:34 A total of 18 individual weapons and 868 rounds of ammunition were recovered.
On 19 February after receiving intelligence that the VC 1st Regiment was operating in the Quế Sơn Valley 50 miles (80 km) to the north, BG Platt launched Operation Double Eagle II. BLT 2/3 Marines, 2/9 Marines and 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines were landed at landing zones in the Quế Sơn Valley while 3/1 Marines took up blocking positions west of Tam Kỳ. Over the next 10 days the Marines claimed to have killed 125 VC and captured 10 for the loss of 6 Marines killed. On the early morning of 28 February, VC disguised as ARVN soldiers attempted an attack on BG Platt's command post, the VC were identified at the last minute with 2 killed and 1 captured for the loss of 1 Marine killed. Operation Double Eagle II ended on 1 March.:34-5
BG Platt regarded the operation as a success because it had inflicted severe damage to local VC forces, however Fleet Marine Force, Pacific commander LG Victor Krulak disagreed, believing that details of the operation had been leaked to the PAVN/VC who were able to withdraw their forces intact and that Vietnamese civilians saw that the Marines "would come in, comb the area and disappear; whereupon the VC would resurface and resume control.":35-6
2nd Battalion, 4th Marines (2/4) is an infantry battalion of the United States Marine Corps. The battalion, nicknamed the Magnificent Bastards, is based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California and is a part of the 4th Marine Regiment and 1st Marine Division.3rd Battalion, 9th Marines
The 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines (3/9) is an infantry battalion of the United States Marine Corps. Formed during World War I it served until the early 1990s when it was redesignated as 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines (3/4) during a realignment and renumbering of the Marine Corps' infantry battalions, following the deactivation of the 9th Marine Regiment. The 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines was initially a subordinate unit of the 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, but was later operationally transferred to the 1st Marine Division as a subordinate unit of the 7th Marine Regiment where it remained until its redesignation as 3/4.
3/9 was reactivated under the 2nd Marine Division in May 2008 as the Marines expanded as a result of the continuing War on Terror.9th Marine Regiment
The 9th Marine Regiment was an infantry regiment of the United States Marine Corps. Formed during World War II, it served until 1994, when it was deactivated during the post Cold War drawdown. Battalions of the Ninth Marine Regiment, but not the regiment itself, were reactivated from 2007 to 2014 as part of the Marine Corps' growth during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The battalions have subsequently been deactivated again.Chu Lai Base Area
Chu Lai Base Area (also known as Chu Lai Combat Base, Kỳ Hà Air Facility, or simply Chu Lai or Kỳ Hà) is a former U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base in Chu Lai in central Vietnam.John Bahnsen
John C. "Doc" Bahnsen, Jr. (born November 8, 1934) is a retired United States Army Brigadier General and decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.Jonas M. Platt
Jonas Mansfield Platt (September 21, 1919 - July 28, 2000) was highly decorated officer in the United States Marine Corps with the rank of Major General. A veteran of three wars, Platt is most noted for his service during Vietnam War as Assistant Division Commander, 3rd Marine Division and Commander of Task Force Delta. He was also a member of so-called "Chowder Society", special Marine Corps Board, which was tasked to conduct research and prepare material relative to postwar legislation concerning the role of the Marine Corps in national defense.Operation Masher
Operation Masher (24 January—6 March 1966) was in early 1966 the largest search and destroy mission that had been carried out in the Vietnam War up until that time. It was a combined mission of the United States Army, Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), and Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) in Binh Dinh province on the central coast of South Vietnam. The 3rd Division of the communist People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), made up of two regiments of North Vietnamese regulars and one regiment of main force Viet Cong (VC) guerrillas, controlled much of the land and many of the people of Binh Dinh province, which had a total population of about 800,000. A CIA report in 1965 said that Binh Dinh was "just about lost" to the communists.The name "Operation Masher" was changed to "Operation White Wing", because President Lyndon Johnson wanted the name changed to one that sounded more benign. Adjacent to the operational area of Masher/White Wing in Quang Ngai province the U.S. and South Vietnamese Marine Corps carried out a complementary mission called Operation Double Eagle.The 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) was the principal U.S. ground force involved in Operation Masher and that operation was marked as a success by its commanders. Claims are made that the PAVN 3rd Division had been dealt a hard blow, but intelligence reports indicated that a week after the withdrawal of the 1st Cavalry PAVN soldiers were returning to take control of the area where Operation Masher had taken place. Most of the PAVN/VC had slipped away prior to or during the operation, and discrepancy between weapons recovered and body count led to criticisms of the operation.Allegations that there were a reported six civilian casualties for every reported PAVN/VC casualty during the Fulbright Hearings prompted growing criticism of US conduct of the war and contributed to greater public dissension at home. During Operation Masher, the ROK Capital Division were alleged to have committed the Bình An/Tây Vinh massacre on 26 February 1966. The operation would create almost 125,000 homeless people in this province, and the PAVN/VC forces would reappear just months after the US had conducted the largest search and destroy in the war up to that point.Operation Pony Express
The Pony Express was the covert transportation of, and the provision of aerial support for, indigenous soldiers and material operating across the Laotian and North Vietnamese borders during the Vietnam War. It was provided by Sikorsky CH-3C helicopters of the US 20th Helicopter Squadron, the only USAF combat helicopter squadron in Vietnam, which had been transferred there in 1965 and was known as the "Pony Express".Operation Utah
Operation Utah was a US Marine Corps and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) operation that took place northwest of Quảng Ngãi, lasting from 4–7 March 1966, during the Vietnam War.Quảng Ngãi Airfield
Quảng Ngãi Airfield was a military and civilian airfield, and army base located approximately 4 km west of Quảng Ngãi.USS Barry (DD-933)
USS Barry (DD-933) was one of eighteen Forrest Sherman–class destroyers of the United States Navy, and was the third US destroyer to be named for Commodore John Barry. Commissioned in 1954, she spent most of her career in the Caribbean, Atlantic, and Mediterranean, but also served in the Vietnam War, for which she earned two battle stars. Another notable aspect of her service was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Decommissioned in 1982, she became the "Display Ship Barry" (DS Barry), a museum ship at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., in 1984.
Renovation of DS Barry to allow her to continue as a museum ship has been deemed too expensive, and the planned construction of a fixed-span bridge to replace the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, a swing bridge, would trap her at the Washington Navy Yard. An official departure ceremony for the ship took place on 17 October 2015, and she was towed away on 7 May 2016 to be scrapped in Philadelphia.USS Monticello (LSD-35)
USS Monticello (LSD-35) was a Thomaston-class dock landing ship, the third ship of the United States Navy to be named for Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Virginia.
Monticello was laid down on 6 June 1955 by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, Mississippi; launched on 10 August 1956; sponsored by Mrs. Harry R. Sheppard, wife of Congressman Harry R. Sheppard of California; and commissioned on 29 March 1957, Capt. James T. Hodgson, Jr., in command.USS Navarro (APA-215)
USS Navarro (APA/LPA-215) was a Haskell-class attack transport of the US Navy. She was of the VC2-S-AP5 Victory ship design type that saw service in World War II and the Vietnam War.
Navarro was named after Navarro County, Texas.USS O'Brien (DD-725)
USS O'Brien (DD-725), an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named after Captain Jeremiah O'Brien and his five brothers, Gideon, John, William, Dennis and Joseph, who captured HMS Margaretta on 12 June 1775 during the American Revolution.
The fourth O'Brien (DD-725) was laid down by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, 12 July 1943 and launched on 8 December 1943; sponsored by Miss Josephine O'Brien Campbell greatgreat-great granddaughter of Gideon O'Brien. The ship was commissioned at Boston Naval Shipyard, Commander P. F. Heerbrandt in command on 25 February 1944.USS Paul Revere (APA-248)
USS Paul Revere (APA/LPA-248) was the lead ship of the Paul Revere class of attack transport in the United States Navy. She was named for the early patriot, Paul Revere (1735–1818). She later served in the Spanish Navy as Castillia (L-21).
The ship was originally laid down as Maritime Administration Hull 27 on 15 May 1952 by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, New Jersey, and was launched on 11 April 1953 as the SS Diamond Mariner, sponsored by Mrs. Franklin Ewers. The ship was delivered to MARAD on 22 December 1953, and was operated by the Prudential Steamship Corp. for MARAD until placed in the Maritime Reserve Fleet on 24 July 1954. She was acquired by the US Navy on 14 September 1956, classified APA-248 and named Paul Revere on 4 June 1957, converted by Todd Shipyards, Los Angeles Division, San Pedro, California, and commissioned at Long Beach, California on 3 September 1958, Capt. Robert Erly in command.USS Perch (SS-313)
USS Perch (SS/SSP/ASSP/APSS/LPSS/IXSS-313), a Balao-class submarine, was the second submarine of the United States Navy to be named for the perch, a rather small European fresh-water spiny-finned fish.
The second Perch (SS–313) was laid down 5 January 1943 by the Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn.; launched 12 September 1943; sponsored by Mrs. David A. Hart; and commissioned 7 January 1944, Lt. Comdr. Blish C. Hills in command.
After shakedown she departed 19 February 1944 for Key West, Fla., where she gave services to the Fleet Sound School. She then sailed for Pearl Harbor, arriving 3 April.USS Skagit (AKA-105)
USS Skagit (AKA-105/LKA-105) was a Tolland-class attack cargo ship named after Skagit County, Washington. She served as a commissioned ship for 22 years and 11 months.
Skagit (AKA-105) was laid down as a Type C2-S-AJ3 ship MC hull 1696 on 21 September 1944 by North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington, North Carolina; launched on 18 November 1944; sponsored by Miss Heloise Pike; acquired by the Navy on 28 November 1944; converted by the Bethlehem Steel Co., Brooklyn, N.Y., into an attack cargo ship; and commissioned on 2 May 1945, Capt. Harold R. Parker, in command.USS Tioga County (LST-1158)
USS Tioga County (LST-1158), previously USS LST-1158, was a United States Navy landing ship tank (LST) in commission from 1953 to 1970, and which then saw non-commissioned Military Sealift Command service as USNS Tioga County (T-LST-1158) from 1972 to 1973.VP-42
VP-42 was a Patrol Squadron of the U.S. Navy. The squadron was established as Patrol Squadron 22 (VP-22) on 7 April 1944, redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron 22 (VPB-22) on 1 October 1944, redesignated Patrol Squadron 22 (VP-22) on 15 May 1946, redesignated Medium Patrol Squadron (Seaplane) 2 (VP-MS-2) on 15 November 1946, redesignated Patrol Squadron 42 (VP-42) on 1 September 1948 and disestablished on 26 September 1969.
Easter Offensive (1972)
Post-Paris Peace Accords (1973–1974)