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Aug. 2001





   





 

KHE SANH COMBAT BASE

 

 

AUDIO RECORDING by DICK ROSSER from HMM164

 

Video of Khe Sanh Combat Base receiving incoming from NVA positions located in the surrounding hills

 

 

2003 entrance ticket to the base

 

 

 

DATE LINE

1962

    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

1963

     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.

1964

      March -       O-1B "Bird dog" shot down. Pilot, Captain Richard Whitesides
                              becomes first American KIA at Khe Sanh. Observer,
                              Captain Floyd Thompson is captured and becomes the
                              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, Company G
                              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.

1965

                              Special Forces builds camp next to airstrip. This camp becomes
                              the site of Khe Sanh Combat Base.

1966

     April 17 -     Marine Corps conducts Operation VIRGINIA looking for NVA
     May 1          troop concentrations between Hill 558 and Khe Sanh Combat Base.
                              No significant contact was made.

     June -          SOG and reconnaissance patrols report increased activity.
    August         Sightings of large NVA troop concentrations indicate possible
                              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.

1967

     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 move into
                               Khe Sanh.

     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 CROCKETT commences.

     June 13 -       Due to increasing enemy contacts, LtCol Hoch's 3/26 airlifted
                                to KSCB.

     July 16 -        Operation CROCKETT terminates with 204 NVA and 52
                                Marines KIA.

     July 17 -        Operation ARDMORE begins.

    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,
                                3/26, transferred to 9th Marines and Operation KINGFISHER.

     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.

1968

     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
                               881N.

     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
                               Sanh.

     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 Alpha.

     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.

                           A/1/9 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 battle.

     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 KSCB.

    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
                         personnel KIA.

    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.

                        Task Force 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 Snapper.

    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 Vietnamese.

    Apr 10 -   LtGen Rosson arrives Khe Sanh and directs LtGen Tolson to disengage and
                        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.

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