Republic of Vietnam Marine Division

The Republic of Vietnam Marine Division (RVNMD, Vietnamese: Sư Đoàn Thủy Quân Lục Chiến [TQLC]) was part of the armed forces of South Vietnam. It was established by Ngo Dinh Diem in 1954 when he was Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam, which became the Republic of Vietnam in 1955. The longest-serving commander was Lieutenant General Le Nguyen Khang. In 1969, the VNMC had a strength of 9,300, 15,000 by 1973.,[1] and 20,000 by 1975.[2]

The Marine Division trace their origins to French-trained Commandos Marine divisions recruited and placed under the command of the French Navy but officially incorporated in 1960.[3] From 1970 onwards, the South Vietnamese marines and Airborne Division grew significantly, supplanting the independent, Central Highlands based Vietnamese Rangers as the most popular elite units for volunteers. Along with the Airborne the Marine Division formed the General Reserve with the strategic transformation under Vietnamization, with elite and highly-mobile units meant to be deployed in People's Army of Vietnam attacking points and incursions.[4] By then, the level of training had improved considerably and U.S. General Creighton Abrams who oversaw Vietnamization stated that South Vietnam's Airborne and Marines had no comparable units to match it in the PAVN.[5]

This division had earned a total of 9 U.S. presidential citations, with the 2nd Battalion "Crazy Buffaloes" earning two.[6]

Republic of Vietnam Marine Division
Sư Đoàn Thủy Quân Lục Chiến
Badge of the RVN Marine Division
Disbanded30 April 1975
Country South Vietnam
TypeMarine corps
RoleAmphibious and expeditionary warfare
Part of Republic of Vietnam Navy
Nickname(s)"Sea Tigers"
Motto(s)Mạnh như sóng thần (English: As Strong As A Tsunami)
EngagementsVietnam War
Flag of the Republic of Vietnam Marine Division


The Vietnamese Marine Corps had its origins during French rule of Indochina. The 1949 Franco-Vietnamese Agreement stated that the Vietnamese Armed Forces were to include naval forces whose organization and training would be provided by the French Navy.[7]

Organization of the Republic of Vietnam Marine Division

In March 1952, the Navy of Vietnam was established. In 1953, the French and Vietnamese governments agreed to increase the size of Vietnamese National Army, so an increase in the size of the Vietnamese Navy was also deemed necessary. As they debated whether the Army or Navy would control the river flotillas, French Vice Admiral Philippe Auboyneau proposed for the first time the organisation of a Vietnamese Marine Corps. When the French withdrew from Vietnam in 1954, the Vietnamese Marine Corps was a component of the Vietnamese Navy. The Marine Corps consisted of a headquarters, four river companies, and one battalion landing force. On October 13, 1954, Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem signed a government decree formally creating within the naval establishment a section of infantry, then of brigade strength, later to be designated as the Marine Corps (VNMC).[7]

In late December 1964 in the Battle of Binh Gia the 4th Marine Battalion suffered 60% casualties as it attempted to rescue a trapped Ranger force.[8]:204

On 30 May 1965 in the Battle of Ba Gia the 3rd Marine Battalion was part of a task force with 2nd Battalion, 51st Infantry Regiment, 25th Division, the 39th Ranger Battalion and one squadron of M113 armored personnel carriers to recapture Ba Gia which had been captured the previous day by the VC.[9] The VC first attacked the 2nd Battalion, 51st Infantry and then ambushed the 3rd Marine Battalion as it attempted to support the 2/51st forcing both units to retreat to Phuoc Loc. On the morning of 31 May the VC renewed their attacks capturing Phuoc Loc and attacking the 39th Rangers inflicting heavy casualties.[10] Total South Vietnamese losses were 392 men killed and missing.[8]:51

From 7 to 10 September 1965 the 3rd Marine Battalion participated in Operation Piranha on the Batangan Peninsula with US Marine forces.[8]:84

From 6-22 August 1966 3 Marine Battalions participated in Operation Colorado/Lien Ket 52 with the ARVN 2nd and 4th Battalions, 2nd Division and elements of the US 1st Marine Division against the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) 2nd Division in the Hiệp Đức District.[11]:213-20

From 6-15 January 1967 the 3rd and 4th Marine Battalions participated in Operation Deckhouse Five with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines in Kiến Hòa Province.[12]:151

From 27–31 July 1967 the 3rd Marine Battalion participated in Operation Coronado II with the 44th Ranger Battalion and the US Mobile Riverine Force (MRF) against VC units in the Mekong Delta.[13]:120-5

From 15–19 November 1967 the 5th Marine Battalion participated in Operation Kien Giang 9-1 with the ARVN 7th and 9th Divisions and the MRF against the VC 263rd Battalion's Base Area 470 in western Định Tường Province. The operation rendered the 263rd Battalion combat ineffective.[14]:130-5

On 4 December 1967 while participating in Operation Coronado IX with the MRF, a flotilla of ATCs carrying the 5th Marine Battalion came under fire 12km east of Mỹ Tho from the VC 502nd Local Force Battalion in a fortified base on the west bank of the Rach Ruong Canal. The VC attacked the boats with rockets and automatic weapons and the Marines were landed north of the VC position and proceeded to overrun the position killing over 100 VC and scattering the rest. Shortly afterward the US 3rd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment landed south of the VC. The fighting was intense and the 4/47th Infantry was landed by helicopter west of the VC position. To the south the 3/47th Infantry, encountered resistance from scattered VC bunkers that prevented it from linking with the Marines. There were 266 VC killed in total, mostly by Marines.[13]:139 The Marines lost 40 killed and 107 wounded, while the Americans suffered 9 dead and 89 wounded.[13]:139-40[14]:135-6

During the Tet Offensive attack on Joint General Staff Compound the 2nd Marine Battalion, together with the 6th Airborne Battalion and elements of the 8th Airborne Battalion, fought the VC 2nd Go Mon Battalion attacking the compound.[14]:342-3

MAG-36 Helicopter Drops Off Vietnamese Marines, 23 February 1968 (16426398261)
A CH-46 from MAG-36 drops Vietnamese Marines into Hue on 23 February 1968

On 11 February 1968 during the Battle of Hue the Vietnamese Marines Task Force A comprising the 1st and 5th Battalions, began to be lifted by helicopter into Mang Ca Garrison, headquarters of the 1st Division in the northeast corner of the Citadel of Huế to replace the 1st Airborne Task Force. However due to poor weather this deployment would not be completed until 13 February.[15]:197 On 14 February Marine Task Force A joined the battle. The operational plan was for the Marines to move west from Tây Lộc Airfield and then turn south, however they were soon stopped by strong PAVN defenses; after two days the Marines had only advanced 400 metres.[15]:204 On 17 February the Marines and 3rd Regiment resumed their attacks south, while the 1st Division's Black Panther Company was moved to support the right flank of the US 1st battalion, 5th Marines, over the next 3 days these forces would slowly reduce the PAVN's perimeter.[15]:206 On 22 February after a barrage of 122mm rockets the PAVN counterattacked the Marines who pushed them back with the support of the Black Panther Company. 23 February saw little progress prompting deputy COMUSMACV General Creighton Abrams to suggest that the Vietnamese Marine Corps should be dissolved. On the night of 23 February the PAVN attempted another counterattack but were forced back by artillery fire and the 3rd Regiment launched a night attack along the southern wall of the Citadel, at 05:00 they raised the South Vietnamese flag on the Citadel flag tower and proceeded to secure the southern wall by 10:25. The 2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment and the Black Panther Company recaptured the Imperial City against minimal resistance by late afternoon. The last remaining pocket of PAVN at the southwest corner of the Citadel was eliminated in an attack by the 4th Marine Battalion in the early hours of 25 February.[15]:210–11

From 11 March to 7 April 1968 the Marine Brigade participated in Operation Quyet Thang in Gia Định Province with the Airborne Division and the US 199th Light Infantry Brigade to reestablish South Vietnamese control over the areas immediately around Saigon in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive.[14]:460-1

After midnight on 20 September during the Phase III Offensive, the VC 1st Battalion, 272nd Regiment, attacked a Regional Forces outpost in Phước Tân hamlet, 20km west of Tay Ninh City, losing 35 killed in the brief assault. The 1st Marine Battalion was deployed to Phước Tân later that day to defend against any renewed assault. That evening the 271st Regiment attacked, the assault was repelled with air and artillery support, killing 128 VC with 6 captured. The 8th Airborne Battalion was also deployed to Phước Tân and on the night of 27 September the 272nd Regiment attacked again losing 150 killed.[14]:670

On 15 January 1969 the 1st Marine Battalion joined Operation Goodwood with the 1st Australian Task Force replacing the 2nd Airborne Brigade.[16]:31 On 20 January they were replaced by Headquarters ARVN 52nd Regiment augmented by the ARVN 3/52nd Regiment and the 5th Marine Battalion.[16]:39

Following the departure of U.S. Marine forces, the South Vietnamese marines were assigned responsibility in defending the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone. The most significant urban-battle in the war was experienced by the South Vietnamese marines during the Easter Offensive. A massive armored pushed across the DMZ and nearly destroyed this unit alongside I Corps in the city of Quảng Trị. Two months later this South Vietnamese marines spearheaded the re-taking of Quảng Trị, with 3,658 KIA in the process. This would be the single longest, most intense and bloody battle in the entire war.

Prior to the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, the Marine Division attempted to retake the Cửa Việt Base abandoned by U.S. Marines in 1969 in the Battle of Cửa Việt. The PAVN units widely deployed the experimental 9M14 Malyutka man-portable guided anti-tanks, with the division losing 26 M48 Pattons in the counter-attack.

Learning from the Easter Offensive failure, PAVN tanks rolled across not only across the DMZ, but well-disguised series of armoured attacks across the Central Highlands were launched during the Hue–Da Nang Campaign, completely encircling and destroying most of the I Corps that many Marine Division battalions was assigned to. Remnants of the division, drastically short on supplies, held out and made a final stand near Saigon during the Battle of Xuân Lộc before succumbing to defeat.


Divisional Units [1]

  • Headquarters Battalion
  • Amphibious Support Battalion
  • Signal Battalion
  • Engineer Battalion
  • Medical Battalion
  • Anti-tank Company
  • Military Police Company
  • Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Company

147th Marine Brigade (Brigades were numbered after the battalions they contained) [17]

  • 1st Marine Battalion - "Wild Birds"
  • 4th Marine Battalion - "Killer Sharks"
  • 7th Marine Battalion - "Grey Tigers"
  • 1st Marine Artillery Battalion - "Lightning Fire

258th Marine Brigade

  • 2nd Marine Battalion - "Crazy Buffaloes"
  • 5th Marine Battalion - "Black Dragons"
  • 8th Marine Battalion - "Sea Eagles"
  • 2nd Marine Artillery Battalion - "Divine Arrows"

369th Marine Brigade

  • 3rd Marine Battalion - "Sea Wolves"
  • 6th Marine Battalion - "Divine Hawks"
  • 9th Marine Battalion - "Ferocious Tigers"
  • 3rd Marine Artillery Battalion - "Divine Crossbows"

A 4th brigade, the 468th, was added to the VNMC in December, 1974.[18]

  • 14th Marine Battalion
  • 16th Marine Battalion
  • 18th Marine Battalion
  • 4th Marine Artillery Battalion - "Tan Lap"


  • Major Lê Quang Mỹ (August 1954 - October 1954)
  • Lt. Colonel Lê Quang Trọng (October 1954 - January 1956)
  • Major Phạm Văn Liễu (January 1956 - August 1956)
  • Vice Captain Bùi Phó Chí (August 1956 - October 1956)
  • Major Lê Như Hùng (October 1956 - May 1960)
  • Major Le Nguyen Khang (May 1960 - November 1963)
  • Lt. Colonel Nguyễn Bá Liên (November 1963 - February 1964)
  • Colonel Le Nguyen Khang (February 1964 - May 1972)
  • Colonel Bùi Thế Lân (May 1972 - April 1975)


Generally, the VNMC weapons and personal equipments were mostly (if not all) supplied by the United States Marine Corps during the war. However, certain equipment were also routed from the Army as well. The VNMC rarely had any equipment that was RVN genuine, because the unit was US-advised. However, their tigerstripe camouflage uniform was considered genuine and is still a valuable collector's item.

See also


  1. ^ a b Vietnam Marines 1965-73 (Elite) by Charles Melson (Author), Osprey Publishing (November 26, 1992) ISBN 185532251X
  2. ^ Tran Ngoc Thong, Ho Dac Huan, Le Dinh Thuy (2011). History of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam. ISBN 978-1855322516
  3. ^
  4. ^ Joes, Anthony James (2014-10-16). Why South Vietnam Fell. Lexington Books. pp. 134–139. ISBN 9781498503907.
  5. ^ Asprey, Robert (2002). War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History, Volume 2. Doubleday & Co. pp. 1021–1022.
  6. ^ See List of Non-US Presidential Unit Citations in Vietnam.
  7. ^ a b Brush, Peter (1996). "The Vietnamese Marine Corps". Viet Nam Generation: A Journal of Recent History and Contemporary Issues. Vol. 7 :1-2. pp. 73–77. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  8. ^ a b c Shulimson, Jack (1978). U.S Marines in Vietnam: The Landing and the Buildup 1965. History and Museums Division, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps. ISBN 9781494287559. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  9. ^ Nguyen, Dinh Uoc; Nguyen, Van Minh (1997). History of the War of Resistance Against America (3rd edn). National Politics Publishing. p. 118.
  10. ^ Comrade T.N. (1965). A Diary on the Battle of Ba Gia. Saigon-Gia Dinh. Office of Information, Culture and Education. p. 17.
  11. ^ Shulimson, Jack (1982). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: An Expanding War 1966. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. ISBN 9781494285159. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  12. ^ Telfer, Gary (1984). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: Fighting the North Vietnamese 1967. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. ISBN 978-1494285449. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  13. ^ a b c Fulton, William B. (1985). Riverine Operations 1966–1969. United States Army Center of Military History. ISBN 978-1780392479. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  14. ^ a b c d e Villard, Erik (2017). United States Army in Vietnam Combat Operations Staying the Course October 1967 to September 1968. Center of Military History United States Army. ISBN 9780160942808. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  15. ^ a b c d Shulimson, Jack (1997). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: 1968 The Defining Year. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. ISBN 0-16-049125-8. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  16. ^ a b "AWM 95-1-4-136 Headquarters 1st Australian Task Force Commander's Diary Annexes E-N 1–31 Jan 1969" (pdf). Headquarters 1st Australian Task Force. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  17. ^ Vietnam Marines 1965-73 (Elite), Charles Melson (Author), Paul Hannon (Illustrator), Osprey Publishing, November 26, 1992, ISBN 1-85532-251-X, ISBN 978-1-85532-251-6
  18. ^
47th Infantry Regiment (United States)

The 47th Infantry Regiment is an infantry regiment of the United States Army. Constituted in 1917 at Camp Syracuse, New York, the regiment fought in The Great War, and was later inactivated in 1921. Reactivated in 1940, the regiment fought during World War II in North Africa, Sicily, and Western Europe, then was inactivated in 1946. During the Cold War, the regiment saw multiple activations and inactivations, with service both in the Regular Army and the Army Reserve; it fought in Vietnam. Ultimately it was reactivated as a training regiment, and as of 1999, it has been assigned to Fort Benning.

Army of the Republic of Vietnam

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN; Vietnamese: Lục quân Việt Nam Cộng hòa), were the ground forces of the South Vietnamese military from its inception in 1955 until the Fall of Saigon in April 1975. It is estimated to have suffered 1,394,000 casualties (killed and wounded) during the Vietnam War.The ARVN began as a post-colonial army trained and closely affiliated with the United States and had engaged in conflict since its inception. Several dramatic changes occurred throughout its lifetime, initially from a 'blocking-force' to a more modern conventional force using helicopter deployment in combat. During the U.S. intervention, the role of the ARVN was marginalised to a defensive role with an incomplete modernisation, and transformed again most notably following Vietnamization as it was up-geared, expanded and reconstructed to fulfil the role of the departing U.S. forces. By 1974, it had become much more effective with foremost counterinsurgency expert and Nixon adviser Robert Thompson noting that Regular Forces were very well-trained and second only to U.S. and IDF forces in the free world and with General Creighton Abrams remarking that 70% of units were on par with the U.S. Army. However, the withdrawal of American forces through Vietnamization meant the armed forces could not effectively fulfil all the aims of the program and had become completely dependent on U.S. equipment, given it was meant to fulfill the departing role of the United States.At its peak, an estimated 1 in 9 citizens of South Vietnam were enlisted and it had become the fourth-largest army in the world composed of Regular Forces and more voluntary Regional Militias and Village-level militias.Unique in serving a dual military-civilian administrative purpose in direct competition with the Viet Cong. The ARVN had in addition became a component of political power and notably suffered from continual issues of political loyalty appointments, corruption in leadership, factional in-fighting and occasional open conflict between itself.After the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), the ARVN was dissolved. While some high-ranking officers had fled the country to the United States or elsewhere, thousands of former ARVN officers were sent to reeducation camps by the communist government of the new, unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Five ARVN generals commit suicide to avoid capture by the PAVN/VC.

Battle of Cửa Việt

Battle of Cửa Việt was a battle in the Vietnam War, occurring between 25–31 January 1973 at the Cửa Việt naval base and its vicinity, in northeast Quảng Trị Province. The battle involved a combined task force of South Vietnamese Marine and armored units that tried to gain a foothold at the Cua Viet Port just as the ceasefire was about to take effect on January 28 in accordance with the Paris Peace Accords. The South Vietnamese forces were finally forced to retreat by a North Vietnamese counterattack with considerable losses on both sides.

Hướng Điền

Hướng Điền is a district of Thừa Thiên–Huế province in Vietnam. Here, according to North Vietnamese sources was the site of the Huong Dien massacre in July 1955 by Ngo Dinh Diem troops, killing 92 local villagers.In mid-1972 the Republic of Vietnam Marine Division established its forward command post at Hướng Điền.

List of United States servicemembers and civilians missing in action during the Vietnam War (1966–67)

This article is a list of US MIAs of the Vietnam War in the period 1966–67. In 1973, the United States listed 2,646 Americans as unaccounted for from the entire Vietnam War. By August 2017, 1604 Americans remained unaccounted for, of which 1026 were classified as further pursuit, 488 as no further pursuit and 90 as deferred.

List of flags of Vietnam

The following is a list of flags of Vietnam..

List of military flags

This is a list of flags flown by military powers worldwide. All flags in this list are for specific use for a branch of or the whole national military of a given state.

Non-U.S. recipients of U.S. gallantry awards

This is a list of non-U.S. recipients of U.S. gallantry awards.

Operation Jackstay

Operation Jackstay was a U.S. Marine Corps and Republic of Vietnam Marine Division operation in the Rung Sat Special Zone, South Vietnam that took place from 26 March to 6 April 1966.

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"

Republic of Vietnam Military Forces

The Republic of Vietnam Military Forces (RVNMF; Vietnamese: Quân lực Việt Nam Cộng hòa – QLVNCH), were the official armed defense forces of South Vietnam, a state that existed from 1955 to 1975 in the southern half of what is now Vietnam. The RVNMF was responsible for the defense of South Vietnam since the state's independence from France in October 1955 to its demise in April 1975.

Republic of Vietnam Navy

The Republic of Vietnam Navy (VNN; Vietnamese: Hải quân Việt Nam Cộng hòa; HQVNCH) was the naval branch of the South Vietnamese military, the official armed forces of the former Republic of Vietnam (or South Vietnam) from 1955 to 1975. The early fleet consisted of boats from France. After 1955 and the transfer of the armed forces to Vietnamese control, the fleet was supplied from the United States. With assistance from the U.S., the VNN became the largest Southeast Asian navy, with 42,000 personnel, 672 amphibious ships and craft, 20 mine warfare vessels, 450 patrol craft, 56 service craft, and 242 junks.

Viet Xuan Luong

Viet Xuan Luong (Vietnamese: Lương Xuân Việt) is a United States Army Major General. He is the first American officer promoted to flag rank who was born in Vietnam. Currently, he is the Commanding General for United States Army, Japan/I Corps Forward. He previously served as the Deputy Commanding General (Operations), Eighth Army. His prior assignments included chief of staff of United States Army Central; Director of Joint and Integration, Headquarters Department of the Army, G-8; assistant division commander–maneuver for the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, concurrent with assignment as commander, Train Advise Assist Command – South, Resolute Support Mission Joint Command, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Afghanistan.

ARVN Sub-branches
Air bases
Coup attempts
and mutinies
Ranks and insignia

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