Video of Khe Sanh Combat Base
receiving incoming from NVA positions located in the surrounding hills
2003 entrance ticket to the
July - First Special
Forces A-detachment arrives at Khe Sanh
September - SF Detachment A-131 sent to Khe Sanh
September - Vietnamese engineers build first airstrip at Khe Sanh
March - 70 ARVN
paratroopers jump into the French Fort area.
April - Two O-1B
observation planes come under heavy fire in the
valley between Hills 861 and 881.
March - O-1B "Bird dog"
shot down. Pilot, Captain Richard Whitesides
becomes first American KIA at Khe Sanh.
Captain Floyd Thompson is captured and
longest held POW of the Vietnam War.
April - Marine Corps
sends the Signal Engineering Unit (SESU) to Khe
Sanh. Includes Marines from 1st Radio Company,
of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines and a
section of 81mm
mortars. This is the first Marine ground
unit to conduct
independent operations in South Vietnam.
October - Strikers from Khe
Sanh make contact with confirmed NVA
troops just inside Laos. Provides proof
that Hanoi is
sending troops into the South.
Special Forces builds camp next to airstrip. This camp becomes
the site of Khe Sanh Combat Base.
April 17 - Marine Corps
conducts Operation VIRGINIA looking for NVA
May 1 troop concentrations between Hill 558 and Khe Sanh
No significant contact was made.
June - SOG and
reconnaissance patrols report increased activity.
August Sightings of large NVA troop concentrations indicate
attack in the Khe Sanh area.
September - Navy Mobile
Construction Battalion 10 arrives at Khe Sanh to
rebuild airstrip. Special Forces moves to
Lang Vei and 1st
Battalion, 3rd Marines moves to Khe Sanh.
February - 1st Battalion,
3rd Marines replaced by single company,
Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines.
March 15 - Bravo Company,
1st Battalion, 9th Marines replaces E/2/9 as
resident defense company.
April 20 - Combat assets
at KSCB pass to operational control of Col.
Lanigan's 3rd Marines which commences
Operation PRAIRIE IV.
April 24 - B/1/9 patrol
engages large enemy force north of Hill 861 and
prematurely triggers attack on Khe Sanh.
"Hill Fights" begin.
April 25 - 2/3 and 3/3
airlifted to KSCB to counter enemy drive.
April 28 - After heavy
prep fires, Lt. Col. DeLong's 2/3 assaults and seizes
first objective, Hill 861.
May 2 - Lt. Col.
Wilder's 3/3 seizes Hill 881S after 4 days of heavy fighting.
May 3 - 2/3 repulses
strong enemy counterattack south of Hill 881N.
May 5 - 2/3 secures
final objective, Hill 881N.
May 11 - "Hill Fights"
terminate 940 NVA and 155 Marine KIA. 3rd Marines
May 13 shuttled to Dong Ha as 26th Marines (FWD) and 1/26
May 13 - Col. Padley, CO
26th Marines (FWD), relieves Col. Lanigan as Senior
officer present at Khe Sanh. Elements of
1/26 occupy combat base,
Hills 881S, 861, and 950. Operation
June 13 - Due to
increasing enemy contacts, LtCol Hoch's 3/26 airlifted
July 16 - Operation
CROCKETT terminates with 204 NVA and 52
July 17 - Operation
August 12 - Col Lownds
relieves Col Padley as CO, 26th Marines.
August 13 - Due to lack of
significant contact around Khe Sanh, Company K & L,
transferred to 9th Marines and
August 17 - Khe Sanh
airfield closed to normal traffic for repair of runway.
Sept 3 - Remainder
of 3/26 withdrawn to eastern Quang Tri Province.
Oct 27 - Air strip
reopened to C-123 traffic.
Oct 31 - Operation
ARDMORE terminated with 113 NVA and 10 Marines KIA.
Nov 1 - Operation
SCOTLAND I begins
Nov 28 - MajGen Tompkins
assumes command of 3rd Marine Division.
Dec 13 - LtCol Alderman's
3/26 returns to Khe Sanh because of increased
enemy activity in the Khe Sanh TAOR.
Dec 21 - 3/26 conducts 5
day sweep west of base and uncovers evidence
of enemy buildup around KSCB.
Jan 2 - Five NVA
officers killed near western edge of main perimeter. Intelligence
reports indicate influx of two NVA
divisions, and possibly a third, into
the Khe Sanh TAOR.
Jan 16 -17 LtCol Heath's
2/26 transferred to operational control of 26th Marines and
arrives KSCB; 2/26 occupies Hill 558
north of the base. ASRT-B of
MASS-3 displaces from Chu Lai to Khe Sanh
to handle ground
controlled radar bombing missions.
Jan 17 - Team from
"Bravo", 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion ambushed near Hill
Jan 19 - While searching
the recon ambush site, patrol from I/3/26 comes under fire
from an estimated 25 NVA troops and
withdraws under cover of supporting
arms. Two platoons from M/3/26 helilifted
to Hill 881S as reinforcements
for I/3/26 which prepares for sweep
toward Hill 881N the next day.
Jan 20 - Capt Dabney's
I/23/26 attacks and, with the aid of air and artillery, badly
mauls the NVA battalion entrenched on the
southern slopes of Hill 881N;
7 Marines and 103 NVA KIA. On strength of
testimony of captured NVA
lieutenant that enemy attack is imminent,
I/3/26 is withdrawn to Hill 881S
and KSCB is placed on Red Alert. DASC of
MASS-3 moves to Khe
Jan 20-21 Estimated NVA
battalion attacks K/3/26 on Hill 861. After penetrating
southwestern portion of Marines'
perimeter, the enemy is repulsed leaving
47 dead; NVA reserves are hit by heavy
air strikes and artillery fire.
Jan 21 - KSCB comes
under heavy mortar, artillery, and rocket attack which
destroys main ammunition dump. NVA
battalion attacks and partially
overruns Khe Sanh village before CAC and
RF companies drive off enemy.
After second attack, Col Lownds withdraws
defenders to KSCB.
Jan 22 - US MACV
initiates Operation NIAGARA to provide massive air support
for Khe Sanh. LtCol Mitchel's 1/9 arrives
at KSCB and takes up
positions which encompass rock quarry
southwest of combat base. E/2/26
is relocated from Hill 558 to prominent
ridgeline northeast of 861 as
covering force for flank of 2/26; E/2/26
passes to operational control of 3rd
Battalion. New position is called 861
Jan 23-28 Large number of
tribesmen and families are evacuated from Khe Sanh area
to avoid hostile fire.
Jan 27 - 37th ARVN Ranger
Battalion arrives at KSCB and takes up positions in
eastern sector of combat base.
Jan 30 - Communists launch
nation-wide TET Offensive.
Feb 5 - NVA battalion
attacks E/2/26 on Hill 861A in concert with heavy shelling
of KSCB. Enemy gains foothold in northern
sector of Company E perimeter
but is driven out by savage counterattack;
109 NVA and 7 Marines KIA.
Feb 7 - Special Forces
camp at Lang Vei overrun by enemy battalion supported by
PT-76 Soviet-built tanks; first use of NVA
tanks in South Vietnam.
Feb 8 - Some 3,000
indigenous personnel, both military and civilian, from Lang Vei
move overland to Khe Sanh. After being
searched and processed, several
hundred refugees are air evacuated.
combat outpost 500 meters west of 1/9 perimeter hit and partailly
overrun by reinforced NVA battalion. During
three-hour battle, reinforcements
drive NVA from Marine positions and with the
aid of supporting arms kill
150 NVA; Col Lownds decides to abandon
outpost and units withdraw to
1/9 perimeter. 27 Marines from A/1/9 die in
Feb 10 - Marine C-130 of
VMGR-152, hit by enemy fire during approach, crashes after
landing at Khe Sanh and six are killed.
Feb - Apr Paradrops,
low-altitude extraction systems, and helicopters are primary means
of resupplying 26th Marines due to bad weather
and heavy enemy fire.
Feb 21 - After heavy mortar
and artillery barrage, NVA company probes 37th ARVN
Ranger lines but withdraws after distant fire
fight. It is estimated that 25-30
NVA were killed.
Feb 23 - KSCB receives record
number of incoming rounds for a single day - 1,307.
First appearance of enemy trench system around
Feb 25 - B/1/26 patrol
ambushed south of KSCB; 23Marines KIA. Patrol is later
called the "Ghost Patrol".
Feb 29 - Estimated NVA
regiment maneuvers to attack 37th ARVN Ranger positions
Mar 1 but fail to reach defensive wire.
Mar 6 - USAF C-123 shot down
east of runway; 43 USMC, 4 USAF, and 1 USN
Mar 7 - Large groups of
refugees begin to filter into the base and are evacuated.
Mar 8 - ARVN patrols attack
enemy trench line east of runway and kill 26 NVA.
Mar 15 - American intelligence
notes withdrawal of major NVA units from KSCB area.
Mar 22-23 - KSCB receives
heaviest saturation of enemy rounds for the month - 1,109.
Mar 24 - A/1/9 patrol kills 31
NVA west of 1/9 perimeter.
Mar 25 - 1/9 CavSqd, 1st ACD
begins reconnaissance in force operations east of
Khe Sanh in preparation for Operation PEGASUS.
Mar 30 - B/1/26 attacks enemy
fortified position south of combat base and kills 115
North Vietnamese; 9 Marines are KIA. Operation
SCOTLAND I terminates
with 1,602 confirmed NVA and 205 Marines KIA;
estimates place probable
enemy dead between 10,000 and 15,000.
KILO launches diversionary attack along Gio Linh coastal plain to
divert attention away from Ca Lu where 1st ACD,
and 1st Marines are staging
for Operation PEGASUS.
Apr 1 - Operation PEGASUS
begins; 2/1 and 2/3 (1st Marines) attack west from Ca Lu
along Route 9. Elements of 3d Bde, 1st ACD
conduct helo assaults into LZ
Mike and Cates. Joint engineer task force begins
repair of Route 9 from Ca Lu
to Khe Sanh.
Apr 3 - 2d Bde, 1st ACD
assaults LZs Tom and Wharton.
Apr 4 - 1/5 CavSqd moves
northwest from LZ Wharton and attacks enemy units near
old French fort; 1st Battalion, 9th Marines
moves southeast from rock quarry
and assaults Hill 471.
Apr 5 - 1/9 repulses enemy
counterattack on Hill 471 and kills 122 North Vietnamese.
1st Bde, 1st ACD departs Ca Lu and assaults LZ
Apr 6 - One company of 3d
ARVN Airborne Task Force airlifted to KSCB for the
initial link up with defenders. Elements of 2d
Bde, 1st ACD relieve 1st Battalion,
9th Marines on Hill 471; 1/9 commences sweep to
northwest toward Hill 689.
1st Bde, 1st
ACD helilifted north of KSCB. 2/26 and 3/26 push north of combat
base; Company G, 2/26 engages enemy force and
kills 48 NVA.
Apr 8 - 2/7 CavSqd links up
with 26th Marines and conducts official relief of combat
base. 1/26 attacks to the west. 3d ARVN Airborne
Task Force air assaults into
LZ Snake west of Khe Sanh and kills 78 North
Apr 10 - LtGen Rosson arrives Khe Sanh and directs LtGen Tolson to
prepare for Operation DELAWARE in A Shau Valley.
Apr 11 - Engineers complete
renovation of Route 9 and road is officially opened. Elements
of 1st ACD begin withdrawal to Quang Tri City in
preparation for Operation
DELAWARE; 37th ARVN Ranger Battalion airlifted
to Da Nang.
Apr 12 - Col Meyers relieves
Col Lownds as CO, 26th Marines.
Apr 14 - 3/26 attacks Hill
881N and kills 106 NVA; 6 Marines are KIA.
Apr 15 - Operation PEGASUS
terminated; Operation SCOTLAND II begins.
Apr 18 - 26th Marines
withdrawn to Dong Ha and Camp Carroll.
May 23 - President Johnson
presents the Presidential Unit Citation to 26th Marines and
supporting units during White House ceremony.
Jun 23 - Although forward fire
support bases are maintained in Khe Sanh area, the KSCB
is dismantled and abandoned. LZ Stud at Ca Lu is
selected as base for air mobile
operations in western DMZ area.