The Hải Lăng Forest was the location of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) Base Area 101 which supported the PAVN 5th and 6th Regiments. Due to a lack of available forces in I Corps the base had not been targeted by the Marines and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN).
The operation began with a helicopter assault by the 1st Battalion 1st Marines and the 2nd Battalion 1st Marines directly into the forest at Landing Zone Dove ( ) and then a northeast sweep while the 1st Battalion 3rd Marines acted as a blocking force.
On the morning of 11 October Company C 1/3 Marines was hit by PAVN mortar and small arms fire and then a ground assault, which was repulsed.
On the afternoon of 12 October Company C 1/1 Marines engaged PAVN soldiers in thick jungle, several Marines were wounded and so Company C fell back and formed a perimeter to allow medevac helicopters to evacuate the wounded. Shortly after the evacuation was completed Company C was attacked on two sides by a force estimated at 3 PAVN Companies. Company D was sent to reinforce Company C and together they succeeded in driving off the attack. The following morning the bodies of 40 PAVN dead were found around the perimeter, Marines losses were 8 dead and 39 wounded. CPL William T. Perkins, Jr. would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle.:139–141
The Marines continued their sweep finding a number of recently evacuated PAVN camps, but the PAVN avoided any further engagements with the Marines. Further north, 2 Battalions of the ARVN Airborne Division mounted Operation Lam Son 138 and on the morning of 20 October they engaged the PAVN 416th Battalion, part of the 5th Regiment, killing 197 PAVN.:142
The operation was indecisive. The PAVN were not driven out of the Hải Lăng Forest, but their operations were severely disrupted. Marine losses were 34 dead and 143 wounded, while the PAVN lost 53 killed and 3 captured and 26 weapons were recovered.
In the 1972 documentary Winter Soldier a Marine Sergeant testified that "on Operation Medina 200 of us went out and 47 made it back and they just ambushed us and wiped the hell out of us and I didn't see any gooks, man. They were sitting in the trees dropping grenades on us and they had machine-guns on the front and the side and the newspapers said we had all these kills, you know. I didn't know what the hell they were talking about. I never saw any kills. But they just didn't want to, like, to admit that all those men got killed for nothing."
- Telfer, Gary (1984). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: Fighting the North Vietnamese 1967. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. p. 139. ISBN 978-1494285449.