Chu Lai Base Area

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Chu Lai Base Area
Helicopters at Chu Lai Airfield, 1966 (16706932455).jpg
Helicopters at Chu Lai, 1966
Coordinates 15°27′18″N 108°41′24″E / 15.455°N 108.69°E / 15.455; 108.69 (Chu Lai Base Area)
Type Marines/Army
Site history
Built 1965
In use 1965–1972
Battles/wars Vietnam Service Medal ribbon.svg
Vietnam War
Operation Starlite
Garrison information
Occupants 3rd Marine Division
1st Marine Division
Task Force Oregon
23rd Americal Division

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.

History[edit]

1965[edit]

The base was located on the Kỳ Hà peninsula north of Highway 1 approximately 60 km southeast of Da Nang.[1]

On 6 May units from the ARVN 2nd Division and 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines secured the Chu Lai area. On 7 May, the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (United States) (3rd MEB), composed of the 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, elements of Marine Aircraft Group 12 (MAG-12) and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 10 landed at Chu Lai to establish a jet-capable airfield and base area.[2]

The Marines provided security for the Seabees as they constructed the airbase. By mid-June the 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines had arrived at Chu Lai to provide artillery support for the 4th Marines and the Marines were authorised to conduct search and destroy operations within a 104 square mile tactical area of operations.[2]:46–8

In August 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines and the 3rd 155mm Gun Battery arrived at Chu Lai.[2]:164 On 14 August the 7th Marines arrived at Chu Lai.[2]:65 On 18 August the Marines launched Operation Starlite to secure the area around Chu Lai, the operation lasted until 24 August and resulted in 45 Marines and 614 Vietcong killed.[2]:80

On 2 September Marine Aircraft Group 36 (MAG-36) was established at Kỳ Hà,[2]:148 comprising:

Also in September the 2nd Light Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion equipped with HAWK missiles was deployed to Chu Lai to defend the air base and base area.[2]:118

In November 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines was moved from Chu Lai to Danang.[2]:96 By the end of 5 December Marine Battalions from the 4th and 7th Marine Regiments were based at Chu Lai.[2]:118

When initially established the air base and base area were supplied by LSTs coming from Danang and landing at an LST ramp built on the sheltered side of the Kỳ Hà Peninsula. A Force Logistic Support Unit was established on the Kỳ Hà Peninsula to control the logistics flow.[2]:185

1966[edit]

Force Logistics Support Group Bravo

On 17 January the 1st Marine Regiment established its headquarters at Chu Lai and later took operational control of the two battalions of the 4th Marines.[4] In late January the Marine infantry and helicopters at Chu Lai participated in Operation Double Eagle[4]:19–36 On 27 February while several Battalions were absent on Operation Double Eagle the Vietcong attacked a 1/4 Marines outpost killing 5 Marines.[4]:36

From 4–7 March the Chu Lai-based Marines and ARVN 2nd Division launched Operation Utah resulting in 98 Marines, 30 ARVN and almost 600 People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) soldiers killed and 5 captured.[4]:109–119 From 20–27 March the 3/7 Marines and ARVN 5th Airborne Battalion launched Operation Texas resulting in 99 Marines and 283 PAVN/Vietcong killed.[4]:120–6 On 28 March the 1/7 Marines launched Operation Indiana to assist the 3rd Battalion, 5th ARVN Regiment resulting in 11 Marines and 169 Vietcong killed.[4]:127–8

On 28 March 4 Marines moved their headquarters from Chu Lai to Phu Bai Combat Base[4]:69 The 3/12 Marines also moved to Phu Bai in March and artillery support was taken over by the 11th Marines.[4]:277

On 29 March the 1st Marine Division established its headquarters at Chu Lai. The 1st Division commander MGEN Lewis Fields created the Chu Lai Defense Command tasked with protecting the air base and the Kỳ Hà Peninsula.[4]:128–9

Also in March the Force Logistics Support Unit became Force Logistics Support Group Bravo and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Four began building permanent facilities at Kỳ Hà.[4]:288–9

In mid-April the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines replaced the 2/4 Marines which moved north to Danang. On 22 May 1st Battalion, 5th Marines replaced the 3/1 Marines which also moved to Danang. On 27 May the 5th Marine Regiment moved its headquarters to Chu Lai. By 1 June Marine Division had over 17,000 men in the expanded 340 square mile tactical area of operations around Chu Lai.[4]:130–1

From 17–22 June 1 Marine Division launched Operation Kansas in the Que Son Valley resulting in 9 Marines and 85 PAVN killed.[4]:131–6 From 6–14 July the Marines 1st Reconnaissance Battalion launched Operation Washington in the Do Xa region west of Chu Lai, resulting in 15 Vietcong killed and 8 captured.[4]:212–3 From 6–22 August the Marines and ARVN launched Operation Colorado/Lien Ket 52 to engage the PAVN 2nd Division in the Que Son Valley.[4]:214–20

On 18 August the Republic of Korea 2nd Marine Brigade was deployed to Chu Lai and assigned an area of operations southeast of Chu lai, including the Batangan Peninsula.[4]:223

On 10 October 1 Marine Division headquarters was moved from Chu Lai to Danang, replacing the 3rd Marine Division rear headquarters which moved from Danang to Đông Hà.[4]:223

In October Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 18th Artillery was deployed to Chu Lai to support the Marine artillery. On 30 November the 1st Field Artillery Group was deployed to Chu Lai to assume control of all artillery from the 11th Marines which had moved north to Danang.[4]:279–80

Units attached to MAG-36 at Kỳ Hà during this period included:

  • HMM-165 (from September)
  • HMM-261 (until April)
  • HMM-262 (from December)
  • HMM-361 (June, August)
  • HMM-362 (April–August)
  • HMM-363 (until July)
  • HMM-364 (until March, July–October)
  • H&MS-16 sub-unit one (January 1966)
  • VMO-6[3]

1967[edit]

From 21 April to 16 May the Marines launched Operation Union near the Que Son Valley resulting in 110 Marines and 865 PAVN/Vietcong killed.[5]

In early April MACV gave instructions to commence the Task Force Oregon plan, which involved the movement of an Army task force to Đức Phổ and Chu Lai area to allow the 1st Marine Division to move north to Danang to support the 3rd Marine Division in northern I Corps.[5]:78[6] Task Force Oregon comprised:

On 9 April the 196th Light Infantry Brigade arrived at Chu Lai, the Task Force headquarters was activated on 12 April, by 17 April the 196th had commenced Operation Lawrence west of the air base and by 26 April the Task Force had assumed control of the Chu Lai tactical area of operations.[5]:79

From August–September Task Force Oregon launched Operation Benton to the west of Chu Lai, resulting in 397 PAVN killed.[5]:119

In September 1967 the 23rd Americal Division was reestablished from elements of Task Force Oregon with its headquarters at Chu Lai and would remain here until November 1971,[6]:79 its subordinate units based at Chu Lai were:

Units attached to MAG-36 at Kỳ Hà during this period included:

  • HMM-165 (until November)
  • HMM-263 (from July–November)
  • HMM-262 (until March)
  • HMM-362 (until June)
  • HMM-363 (January)
  • VMO-6 (until September)[3]

In October MAG-36 began to relocate from Kỳ Hà to Phu Bai and by the end of the month most units had completed the move.[5]:211

The 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division was based at Chu Lai from October 1967 – January 1968, constituent units included:

In late 1967 Force Logistics Group Bravo moved from Chu Lai to Đông Hà, leaving only a reinforced supply company to handle logistics for the remaining Marines at Chu Lai.[5]:229

In 1967 a Naval Support Activity base was established at Chu Lai to provide logistics support for allied operations in southern I Corps.[5]:232

1968–71[edit]

On 31 January 1968 as part of the Tet Offensive Vietcong rockets hit the FLSG Bravo ammunition dump destroying over 600 tons of bombs and bulk explosives.[7]

In September 1968 the 2nd Light Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion returned to the U.S.[7]:414

Current use[edit]

The base has been turned over to housing and farmland, while the port facilities remain in use.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kelley, Michael (2002). Where we were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press. pp. 5–284. ISBN 978-1555716257.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Shulimson, Jack (1978). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: The Landing and the Buildup. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. pp. 29–35. ISBN 978-1494287559.
  3. ^ a b c "Order of Battle". USMC Combat Helicopter Association. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Shulimson, Jack (1982). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: An Expanding War 1966. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. p. 19. ISBN 978-1494285159.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Telfer, Gary (1984). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: Fighting the North Vietnamese 1967. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. pp. 63–8. ISBN 978-1494285449.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Stanton, Shelby (2003). Vietnam Order of Battle. Stackpole Books. p. 85. ISBN 9780811700719.
  7. ^ a b Shulimson, Jack (1997). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: 1968 The Defining Year. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. p. 583. ISBN 0-16-049125-8.

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