Operation Prairie III

Operation Prairie III was a U.S. Marine Corps operation in Quảng Trị Province, South Vietnam that sought to eliminate People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that took place from 19 March to 19 April 1967.

Background

Operation Prairie III was essentially a continuation of the just-concluded Operation Prairie II in the same tactical area of operations (TAOR). 3rd Marine Division had 5 infantry battalions and 4 artillery battalions in the TAOR.[1]:16

Operation

On 20 March the PAVN hit Firebase Gio Linh with mortars, rockets and artillery fire and they continued to hit Gio Linh and Con Thien almost daily for the next 2 weeks. On 21 March the PAVN ambushed a supply convoy 300m south of Gio Linh destroying 6 trucks but they were driven off by the convoy's security escort and Company I, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines which was providing base security at Gio Linh. That same day 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines and 1st Battalion, 9th Marines completed a 7 day sweep 6km north of Camp Carroll finding 125 rockets and numerous rocket and mortar sites.[1]:17

From 20–28 March BLT 1st Battalion, 4th Marines conducted Operation Beacon Hill around Firebase Gio Linh, killing 334 PAVN for the loss of 29 Marines killed.[1]:17

On 22 March 3/3 Marines and 1/9 Marines began a patrol from Đông Hà Combat Base north towards Con Thien. On 24 March the 1/9 Marines engaged an entrenched PAVN force southeast of Con Thien and after 2 hours of fighting the PAVN withdrew leaving 33 dead. Meanwhile 3/3 Marines engaged an entrenched PAVN company forcing them to withdraw leaving 28 dead. The 2 Marine battalions pursued the retreating PAVN losing contact with them on 26 March as they crossed the DMZ.[1]:18

On 28 March the 3/3 Marines and 1/9 Marines were replaced by the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines which conducted patrols and night ambushes north of Cam Lộ Combat Base. On 30 March Company I, 3/9 Marines had established ambush positions 9.5km northwest of Cam Lộ when the company command post and the 2nd platoon's position was attacked by the PAVN. The PAVN walked mortar fire across the position twice before launching a ground assault which was repulsed by artillery fire, attempts by the other platoons to provide support were driven back by machine gun fire. The PAVN then attacked the position again overrunning it, killing 16 Marines. The PAVN were then forced to retreat by helicopter gunship fire, leaving 67 dead and 2 captured.[1]:18–9

Aftermath

Operation Prairie III concluded on 19 April, the Marines had lost 56 killed and claiming that the PAVN suffered 252 killed and 4 captured.[1]:19

Notes

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

  1. ^ a b c d e f Telfer, Gary (1984). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: Fighting the North Vietnamese 1967 (Marine Corps Vietnam Operational Historical Series). History & Museums Division, United States Marine Corps. ISBN 9781787200845. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
341st Division (Vietnam)

The 341st Infantry Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam, first formed in the 1960s.

3rd Battalion, 4th Marines

3rd Battalion, 4th Marines (3/4) is an infantry battalion of the United States Marine Corps. Nicknamed "Thundering Third". The most recent leader Lt. Col. Birchfield III, J. W. radio callsign is "Darkside". They are based at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, and consist of approximately 1,000 Marines. The unit currently falls under the command of the 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, but — along with its two sister battalions — is hosted by the 3rd Marine Division, at Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan, when training in jungle warfare. The 3rd falls under the 4th Marine Regiment at such times.

3rd Marine Division

The 3rd Marine Division is an infantry division of the United States Marine Corps based at Camp Courtney, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler and Okinawa, Japan. It is one of three active duty divisions in the Marine Corps and together with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (1stMAW) and the 3rd Marine Logistics Group (3rd MLG) forms the III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF). The division was first formed during World War II and saw four years of continuous combat in the Vietnam War.

Con Thien

Con Thien (Vietnamese: Cồn Tiên, meaning the "Hill of Angels") was a United States Marine Corps combat base located near the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) about 3 km from North Vietnam in Gio Linh District, Quảng Trị Province. It was the site of fierce fighting from February 1967 through February 1968.

John P. Bobo

For the former Arkansas State University football coach, see John Bobo.John Paul Bobo (February 14, 1943 – March 30, 1967) was a United States Marine Corps second lieutenant who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Vietnam War on March 30, 1967.

Leatherneck Square

Leatherneck Square was an area just south of the Vietnamese DMZ.

The corners of the square were Con Thien and Firebase Gio Linh in the north, Đông Hà Combat Base and Cam Lộ, in the south, making it about 6 miles (9.7 km) wide (east to west) and about 9 miles deep north to south).

Some of the heaviest fighting of the Vietnam War was fought in this 54+ square mile area. The official figures on losses in all operations in this area from Operation Prairie III/IV, through Hickory, Cimarron, Buffalo, Kingfisher and Kentucky--i.e., from March 1967 to February, 1969--are 1,419 Marines and Navy Corpsmen killed in action and 9,265 Marines and Corpsmen wounded in action.

North Vietnamese Army losses were put at 7,563 killed, wounded unknown.

List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (1967)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War in 1967, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States and their allies.

List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (M–S)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War, a war fought by the United States to try to stop communism in Southeast Asia, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States and allies consisting of Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea, and the Philippines. This is not a complete list. Operations are currently listed alphabetically, but are being progressively reorganised as a chronology.

Operation Prairie

Operation Prairie was a U.S. military operation in Quảng Trị Province, South Vietnam that sought to eliminate People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Over the course of late 1965 and early 1966 the Viet Cong (VC) and the PAVN intensified their military threat along the DMZ. The tactical goal of these incursions was to draw United States military forces away from cities and towns. Operation Hastings, a series of actions in defense of the DMZ, lasted from 15 July to 3 August 1966. It was considered a strategic success. Operation Prairie was conceived as a larger, longer mission covering the same areas along the DMZ.

It commenced on 3 August 1966 and lasted for six months. The majority of the activities were conducted by the 3rd Marine Division in the Con Thien and Gio Linh regions with the main objective of stopping the PAVN 324B Division from crossing the demilitarized zone and invading Quang Tri Province.

Various units engaged in fiercely fought actions during the operation, usually supported by a mixture of artillery, air and helicopter gunship support, sometimes including B52 strategic bombers. By November the 324B Division had been withdrawn after heavy losses. It was replaced by other PAVN units, but these remained inactive.

The operation was considered highly successful by the Americans. They had lost 226 Marines killed against estimated PAVN of over 1,700 dead or captured and suppressed PAVN activity. However, the PAVN strategy had tied down large numbers of US troops in the area south of the DMZ, leaving population centers under-protected.

Operation Prairie II

Operation Prairie II was a U.S. military operation in Quảng Trị Province, South Vietnam that sought to eliminate People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that took place from 1 February to 18 March 1967.

Walter K. Singleton

Walter Keith Singleton (December 7, 1944– March 24, 1967) was a United States Marine Corps sergeant who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously by President Lyndon B. Johnson, for his actions above and beyond the call of duty in Vietnam on March 24, 1967, during the Vietnam War.

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