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.


Following the conclusion of Operation Double Eagle, the ARVN 2nd Division received intelligence that the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) 21st Regiment had moved into the area northwest of Quảng Ngãi.[1]:109 The plan was for the ARVN 1st Airborne Battalion to secure a landing zone at Chau Nhai, 15 km northwest of Quảng Ngãi and the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines would then deploy into the landing zone and then both Battalions would move southeast along Route 527 with the ARVN patrolling north and the Marines patrolling south of Route 527.[1]


4 March

On the morning of 4 March Marine A-4s and F-4s and U.S. Air Force B-57s carried out airstrikes on the landing zone before the helicopter landings commenced at 09:00, however the incoming helicopters of Marine Aircraft Group 36 were met with intense anti-aircraft fire and one UH-1E gunship of VMO-6 and an F-4 from VMFA-531 were shot down.[1] Despite the persistent anti-aircraft fire by 10:30 the ARVN Airborne had been deployed to the landing zone and encountered little resistance on the ground.[1]:110

The landing of the Marines which commenced at approximately 10:40 was again met with heavy anti-aircraft fire and one UH-34 was shot down. By 13:00 the entire Battalion had been landed.[1]:110

As the ARVN moved out of the landing zone they encountered strong opposition around Chau Nhai and Hill 50 (15°13′12″N 108°43′01″E / 15.22°N 108.717°E) and by 13:30 they had called for support from the Marines, who turned and moved to support the ARVN.[2] As the Marines advanced on Hill 50 they came under intense fire from an estimated force of 2 PAVN Battalions, the lines were so close that the Marines were unable to call in air and artillery support.[1]:112 A gap developed between the Marines left flank and the ARVN as the ARVN refused to moved forward and the PAVN exploited this gap cutting off two platoons of Company F for several hours until supported by Company H.[1]:112–3

As darkness approached the Marines withdrew under the cover of air and artillery strikes to night-defensive positions. The PAVN probed the Marine positions at night and helicopter resupply missions were met with anti-aircraft fire. The Marines launched a night assault on an anti-aircraft position killing at least 20 PAVN and continuous air support and artillery fire was directed against PAVN positions and trails leading into the area.[1]:114

Realising that the PAVN planned to stand and fight, commanding general of Task Force Delta, Brigadier general Jonas M. Platt, ordered the deployment of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines north of 2/7 Marines and their deployment was completed by 18:00. In addition the next morning the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines was to be inserted 2.5 km south of 2/7 Marines, while the ARVN 37th Ranger Battalion supported by M113s would establish blocking positions to the east and the 5th Airborne Battalion would be landed in the original landing zone.[1]:114–5

5 March

At 05:00 the PAVN launched an attack on the ARVN 1st Airborne position near Hill 50 and the Marine artillery responded with more than 1900 rounds on the perimeter over two hours. At 07:30 3/1 Marines was ordered to move south to support the ARVN.[1]:115 As the 3/1 Marines approached the ARVN position at 10:30 they came under heavy fire from entrenched PAVN forces on and around Hill 50. After more than 3 hours fighting the Company L 3/1 Marines and ARVN 1st Airborne captured Hill 50. Company M 3/1 Marines and ARVN 5th Airborne attempted to outflank PAVN positions east of Hill 50 but were unable to do so by nightfall and withdrew to night defensive positions. 3/1 Marines had lost 32 killed and 90 wounded during the day's fighting.[1]:117

At 08:30 2/4 Marines began landing and were met with intense anti-aircraft fire causing 2 UH-34s to crash-land in the landing zone. One Company stayed to provide security for the downed helicopters while the other two Companies moved north to the site of the previous day's engagement where they established night positions.[1]:115–7

At 23:00 Company B from the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines which had been moved into a blocking position northeast of the battle area was hit by intense PAVN mortar and small arms fire. Running short of ammunition the Marines called for an emergency resupply mission and despite heavy anti-aircraft fire two helicopters succeeded in dropping munitions to the Marines. At 01:30 the PAVN attacked the Marine perimeter but were forced back by small arms and artillery fire.[1]:118

6 March

On the morning of 6 March the Marines and ARVN withdrew with minimal opposition from their night positions to allow for an air and artillery bombardment of the PAVN positions lasting more than 2 hours. When the bombardment concluded the Marines and ARVN advanced, but it became clear that most of the PAVN had slipped away the previous night. The Marines found more than 100 PAVN bodies on Hill 50 and an extensive tunnel and bunker complex inside the hill which had served as the PAVN Regimental command post.[1]:118–9


Operation Utah concluded on 7 March, the Marines had suffered 98 dead and 278 wounded, the ARVN 30 killed and 120 wounded and the PAVN 600 killed and 5 captured.[1]:119


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

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Shulimson, Jack (1982). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: An Expanding War 1966. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. ISBN 978-1494285159. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ Kelley, Michael (2002). Where we were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press. p. 5–224. ISBN 978-1555716257.
1st Division (South Vietnam)

The 1st Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN)—the army of the nation state of South Vietnam that existed from 1955 to 1975—was part of the I Corps that oversaw the northernmost region of South Vietnam, the centre of Vietnam.

The 1st Division was based in Huế, the old imperial city and one of two major cities in the region, which was also the corps headquarters. This division was also tasked with the defence of Quảng Trị, the closest town to the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and among the first to be hit by the Tet Offensive.

Battle of Khe Sanh

The Battle of Khe Sanh (21 January – 9 July 1968) was conducted in the Khe Sanh area of northwestern Quảng Trị Province, Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), during the Vietnam War. The main US forces defending Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB) were two regiments of the United States Marines Corps supported by elements from the United States Army and the United States Air Force (USAF), as well as a small number of Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) troops. These were pitted against two to three divisional-size elements of the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN).

The US command in Saigon initially believed that combat operations around KSCB during 1967 were part of a series of minor PAVN offensives in the border regions. That appraisal was later altered when the PAVN was found to be moving major forces into the area. In response, US forces were built up before the PAVN isolated the Marine base. Once the base came under siege, a series of actions was fought over a period of five months. During this time, KSCB and the hilltop outposts around it were subjected to constant PAVN artillery, mortar, and rocket attacks, and several infantry assaults. To support the Marine base, a massive aerial bombardment campaign (Operation Niagara) was launched by the USAF. Over 100,000 tons of bombs were dropped by US aircraft and over 158,000 artillery rounds were fired in defense of the base. Throughout the campaign, US forces used the latest technology to locate PAVN forces for targeting. Additionally, the logistical effort required to support the base once it was isolated demanded the implementation of other tactical innovations to keep the Marines supplied.

In March 1968, an overland relief expedition (Operation Pegasus) was launched by a combined Marine–Army/ARVN task force that eventually broke through to the Marines at Khe Sanh. American commanders considered the defense of Khe Sanh a success, but shortly after the siege was lifted, the decision was made to dismantle the base rather than risk similar battles in the future. On 19 June 1968, the evacuation and destruction of KSCB began. Amid heavy shelling, the Marines attempted to salvage what they could before destroying what remained as they were evacuated. Minor attacks continued before the base was officially closed on 5 July. Marines remained around Hill 689, though, and fighting in the vicinity continued until 11 July until they were finally withdrawn, bringing the battle to a close.

In the aftermath, the North Vietnamese proclaimed a victory at Khe Sanh, while US forces claimed that they had withdrawn, as the base was no longer required. Historians have observed that the Battle of Khe Sanh may have distracted American and South Vietnamese attention from the buildup of Viet Cong (VC) forces in the south before the early 1968 Tet Offensive. Nevertheless, the US commander during the battle, General William Westmoreland, maintained that the true intention of Tet was to distract forces from Khe Sanh.

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.

George W. Smith (USMC)

George William Smith (July 8, 1925 - September 30, 2014) was a highly decorated officer in the United States Marine Corps with the rank of Major General. He began his 34 years long career as Enlisted Reservist during World War II, later was integrated to the regular Marine Corps and distinguished himself as Commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines during Vietnam War. His last assignment was Commanding general, 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa, Japan.Both of his sons followed his footsteps and entered the Marine Corps Service. The older son, George W. Smith Jr., currently serves as Lieutenant general and Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense and younger Andrew H. Smith currently serves as Colonel and Chief of Staff, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

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.

Kennecott Utah Copper

Kennecott Utah Copper LLC (KUC), a division of Rio Tinto Group, is a mining, smelting, and refining company. Its corporate headquarters are located in South Jordan, Utah, USA. Kennecott operates the Bingham Canyon Mine, one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world in Bingham Canyon, Salt Lake County, Utah. The company was first formed in 1898 as the Boston Consolidated Mining Company. The current corporation was formed in 1989. The mine and associated smelter produce 1% of the world's copper.

List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (1966)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War in 1966, 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 (1969)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War in 1969, 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 (G–L)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States and their assorted allies. This is not a complete list. Operations are currently listed alphabetically, but are being progressively reorganised as a chronology.

List of allied military operations of the Vietnam War (T–Z and others)

This article is a list of known military operations of the Vietnam War, a war fought by America to try to stop communism in Southeast Asia, conducted by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, the United States and their assorted allies. This is not a complete list.

Military history of France during World War II

The military history of France during World War II covers three periods. From 1939 until 1940, which witnessed a war against Germany by the French Third Republic. The period from 1940 until 1945, which saw competition between Vichy France and the Free French Forces under General Charles de Gaulle for control of the overseas empire. And 1944, witnessing the landings of the Allies in France (Normandy, Provence), expelling the German Army and putting an end to the Vichy Regime.

France and Britain declared war on Germany when they invaded Poland in September 1939. After the Phoney War from 1939 to 1940, within seven weeks, the Germans invaded and defeated France and forced the British off the continent. France formally surrendered to Germany.

In August 1943, the de Gaulle and Giraud forces merged in a single chain of command subordinated to Anglo-American leadership, meanwhile opposing French forces on the Eastern Front were subordinated to Soviet or German leaderships. This in-exile French force together with the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) played a variable-scale role in the eventual liberation of France by the Western Allies and the defeat of Vichy France, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and the Japanese empire. Vichy France fought for control over the French overseas empire with the Free French forces, which were aided by Britain and the U.S. By 1943, all of the colonies, except for Indochina, had joined the Free French cause.The number of Free French troops grew with Allied success in North Africa and subsequent rallying of the Army of Africa which pursued the fight against the Axis fighting in many campaigns and eventually invading Italy, occupied France and Germany from 1944 to 1945 by demanding unconditional surrender to the Axis Powers in the Casablanca Conference. On October 23, 1944, Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union officially recognized de Gaulle's regime as the Provisional Government of the French Republic (GPRF) which replaced the in-exile Vichy French State (its government having fled to Sigmaringen in western Germany) and preceded the Fourth Republic (1946).

Recruitment in liberated France led to enlargements of the French armies. By the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, France had 1,250,000 troops, 10 divisions of which were fighting in Germany. An expeditionary corps was created to liberate French Indochina then occupied by the Japanese. During the course of the war, French military losses totaled 212,000 dead, of which 92,000 were killed through the end of the campaign of 1940, 58,000 from 1940 to 1945 in other campaigns, 24,000 lost while serving in the French resistance, and a further 38,000 lost while serving with the German Army (including 32,000 "malgré-nous").

Operation Keystone Eagle

Operation Keystone Eagle was the withdrawal of the initial units of the 3rd Marine Division from South Vietnam and their redeployment to Okinawa, taking place from 29 June to 30 August 1969.

Operation Texas (Vietnam)

Operation Texas was a US Marine Corps and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) operation that took place northwest of Quảng Ngãi, lasting from 20–25 March 1966.

Operation Utah Mesa

Operation Utah Mesa was a United States Marine Corps, United States Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) operation in northwest Quảng Trị Province, South Vietnam from 12 June to 6 July 1969.

Oscar F. Peatross

Oscar Franklin Peatross (March 2, 1916 – May 26, 1993) was a highly decorated officer of the United States Marine Corps with the rank of major general who served as Marine Raider in World War II and was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism on August 17–18, 1942. He also served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.In 1993, the parade deck at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island was named for Peatross.

Quảng Ngãi Airfield

Quảng Ngãi Airfield was a military and civilian airfield, and army base located approximately 4 km west of Quảng Ngãi.

Republic of Vietnam Airborne Division

The Vietnamese Airborne Division was one of the earliest components of the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces (Vietnamese: Quân lực Việt Nam Cộng hòa – QLVNCH). The Vietnamese Airborne Division began as companies organised in 1948, prior to any agreement over armed forces in Vietnam. After the partition of Vietnam, it became a part of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. This division had its distinct origins in French-trained paratrooper battalions, with predecessor battalions participating in major battles including Dien Bien Phu and retained distinct uniforms and regalia . With the formation of an independent republic, the colonial paratroopers were dissolved, however regalia and aesthetics alongside the nickname "Bawouans" would be retained.

The Airborne Division, alongside the Vietnamese Rangers and the Marine Division were often regarded as among the most effective units, with former airborne advisor General Barry McCaffrey noting that "those of us privileged to serve with them were awe-struck by their courage and tactical aggressiveness. The senior officers and non-commissioned officers were extremely competent and battle hardened." Eight of nine battalions and three headquarters had earned US Presidential Unit Citation (United States) of which eight of these were earned by the Airborne between 1967-1968 which included the Tet Offensive period. Airborne commanders were often highly rated, with Airborne Commander Ngô Quang Trưởng once described by former Airborne-adviser and Gulf War commanding General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. "as the most brilliant tactical commander I have ever known"

Vietnamese Rangers

The Vietnamese Rangers, properly known in Vietnamese as the Biệt Động Quân and commonly known as the ARVN Rangers, were the light infantry of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Trained and assisted by American Special Forces and Ranger advisers, the Vietnamese Rangers infiltrated beyond enemy lines in daring search and destroy missions. Initially trained as a counter-insurgency light infantry force by removing the fourth company each of the existing infantry battalions, they later expanded into a swing force capable of conventional as well as counter-insurgency operations, and were relied on to retake captured regions. Later during Vietnamization the Civilian Irregular Defense Group program was transferred from MACV and integrated as Border Battalions responsible for manning remote outposts in the Central Highlands.Rangers were often regarded as among the most effective units in the war, the most well-led ARVN unit and formed part of the highly-mobile response units operating in key areas. Part of this was due to the specialized role of these units, given that they had their origins in French-raised Commando Units, the GCMA which were drawn from Viet Minh defectors and Tai-Kadai groups, operating in interdiction and counter-intelligence roles, and were trained specifically for counter-insurgency and rough-terrain warfare in the region. Ranger Units often had a US Military Adviser attached to these units although operated independently. The foremost counterinsurgency expert Sir Robert Thompson remarked in 1974 that the ARVN as a whole were the third-best trained army in the free-world and second only to the Israelis in counter-insurgency, with the Rangers, ARVN Airborne and Marine Division forming the vanguard. With improvements in the ARVN from 1969 onward and the growing prestige of the Airborne and Marine Division, depredation had caused the Central Highlands-based Rangers to become manned by deserters, released convicts and Montagnards nevertheless the unit continued to perform critical roles in the Easter Offensive and frontier skirmishes in 1973 and 1974.

A total of 11 U.S Presidential Unit Citation (United States) were issued to the 22 original Ranger Battalions, including one unit whom earned three total citations from two different presidents. See List of Non-US Presidential Unit Citations in Vietnam.

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