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Charlie One Five

A Marine Company's Vietnam War

Nicolas Warr, with foreword by Scott Nelson

Publication Year: 2008

The combat history of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines--or “One Five” (1/5)--is long and illustrious, but there are many periods of their combat operations during the Vietnam War about which there is little in print. This history is drawn from many years of research, from the author’s personal memories, and from careful study of the battalion’s Command Chronologies and Combat After-action Reports and other historical records. Most importantly it includes a collection of true stories told to the author by dozens of U.S. Marines who served in and fought with 1/5 during the Vietnam War, at all levels of the Chain of Command. 

         This book hunkers down with the “Mud Marines” of Charlie One Five, a small but determined band of American fighting men, and their very human and often painful stories of combat cover a wide range of scenarios and situations. Follow the Marines of 1/5 as they are lulled by the exotic and beautiful countryside, trudge through swamps, jungles, mountains, and rice paddies for seemingly endless days, and struggle to stay alert during their cautious passage through the extreme terrain and weather conditions of this incredibly scenic but deceptive land, only to be shattered by sudden and deadly attacks from Viet Cong snipers, ambushes, and command-detonated bombs. Despite the overwhelming odds against them, the Marines of Charlie One Five always emerge victorious in every battle they fight.

Published by: Texas Tech University Press

Title Page, Series Page, Dedication

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pp. 1-6

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations and Maps

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pp. ix-x

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About the Maps

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pp. xi-xv

Maps are a vital part of any book that describes military operations. They make verbal descriptions meaningful by visually depicting the relationships of place locations, unit positions, and terrain features. ...

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Foreword

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pp. xvii-xxi

When I first arrived in South Vietnam in late January of 1968, my first assignment was to command the legendary Marine rifle company Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines—Charlie One Five—a truly awesome responsibility. I wasn’t new to the command of Marines, as I had served in the Marine Corps for well over a year at that point and was an experienced platoon commander, but it would be my first command in a combat situation, and it would be my first command of a Marine rifle company. ...

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Preface

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pp. xxiii-xxv

My friends and family have oft en asked why I must tell these stories. First and foremost, I’m determined to write the truth about the Vietnam War as I experienced it—how it tasted and smelled, looked and felt, and how it is remembered by those who rose to the challenge of serving their country, risking every thing in that worthy endeavor. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xxvii-xxviii

My heartfelt thanks go out to all of those combat veterans who went above and beyond the call of duty to assist me in this project. Returning to those distant days, if only in memory, was difficult for many of them, and I want them to know exactly how much I appreciate their courage then and today and their dedicated ser vice to our Corps and country. ...

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Prologue

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pp. 3-5

The giant spider remained perfectly still. The tarantulalike arachnid’s brown coloring and yellow and green markings matched its surroundings, allowing it to remain virtually invisible against the bark of the huge jungle tree trunk it clung to. ...

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1. The Early Days and Operation Jackstay, December 1965-Early 1966

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pp. 7-18

1st Lt. Marshall Buckingham “Buck” Darling arrived in South Vietnam in early 1965 as one of the three platoon commanders serving in C Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines (Charlie 1/5). The battalion was afloat at the time, serving as a Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) off the coast of South Vietnam. ...

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2. Sparrow Hawk and Operation Colorado, June-December 1966

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pp. 19-32

Buck Darling’s career continued to advance steadily. Promoted to fi rst lieutenant in early June 1966, Buck became the Charlie Company executive officer, and a week later Lieutenant Colonel Coffman made him the company commander of Charlie Company. The Marines of 1/5 went back aboard ship and a few days later got orders to organize another combat operation. ...

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3. Changes of Command, November 1966-March 1967

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pp. 33-50

Maj. Peter Hilgartner arrived in Vietnam in August of 1966. Hilgartner enlisted in the Marine Corps on 8 October 1945 and served as an enlisted Marine for nearly two years before he reported to the US Naval Academy, from which he graduated with the class of 1951. ...

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4. Changes of Weaponry, April 1967

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pp. 51-64

The changeover from the M14 to the new and untested M16 rifle caused a great deal of uproar and made a significant negative impact on the 1/5 Marines’ daily lives. During April 1967 a total of 946 brand new M16 rifles were issued to the Marines of the battalion. Within the first few days of the month, all personnel within the battalion armed with the M14 rifles received M16 rifles, and all M14 rifles (except for a handful) ...

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5. Operation Union I, 21 April-9 May 1967

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pp. 65-90

Lieutenant Colonel Pete Hilgartner got his wish, but it didn’t start off the way he had hoped it would. On 21 April 1967, 1/5’s Alpha and Charlie Companies became chopped (attached) to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, augmenting Marine forces fighting in Operation Union I. Alpha Company’s Marines proceeded to the 3/5 combat base and worked for 3/5 for the next couple of ...

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6. The Battle for Hill 110, 10 May 1967

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pp. 91-146

Early on the morning of 10 May 1967, upon reaching Objective M, the small hamlet of Nghi Thuong (4) located about a kilometer and a half west of Hill 110,1 Charlie Company encountered a male and a female Vietnamese of military age. Following standard operating procedures, the Charlie 1/5 Marines took these individuals as detainees because they didn’t have the proper identification papers. As the company departed the village with the detainees, two ...

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7. Dying Delta and the Move to Hill 51, 11-17 May 1967

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pp. 147-155

... After the Battle for Hill 110 ended, Delta Company “chopped” to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. On 12 May 1967 we walked off the ridgeline, walked down the road, and now we’re working for the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. We humped to a predesignated location and met up with the 3/5 CP group. They had stopped and had set up temporary defensive positions. The 3/5 Battalion commander tells me, “Okay, McInturff , you get your people out ...

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8. Operation Union II, 26 May-5 June 1967

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pp. 156-185

Upon cursory examination, Operations Union I and Union II might appear as merely numeric designations of different phases of the same combat operation. Certain similarities between these operations did exist, but also many differences. Both operations took place in the same general tactical area of operations, the Que Son Valley. But while the Marines of 1/5 maneuvered in a generally western direction from their insertion at LZ ...

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9. Operation Swift, 4-15 September 1967

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pp. 186-216

... First Lt. Dave McInturff had taken command of Delta 1/5 in March of 1967, just as the battalion mounted up for some of their toughest combat operations during the entire Vietnam War. During the long, hot months of the summer of 1967, Dave led his Marines during both Operations Union I and Union II under some extremely adverse conditions. ...

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10. Hoi An Days, 1 October-25 December 1967

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pp. 217-246

Hoi An, one of the largest cities in central Vietnam, is also one of the oldest cities in the entire region. Settled by ethnic Chinese and other East Asian seafarers, Hoi An thrived as a population center three hundred years ago. It was Vietnam’s most important international seaport from the sixteenth century to the late nineteenth century. Hoi An residents interacted with merchants from both Asia and Europe, trading all sorts of goods, from ...

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11. Incoming! Phu Loc 6 Combat Base, December 1967-March 1968

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pp. 247-273

Incoming! Incoming! The frantic screams came from several Marines manning a bunker about one hundred meters to our right. Dozens of other Marines echoed the shouts as they scrambled desperately toward trenches and other bunkers surrounding Phu Loc 6 Combat Base. My heart in my mouth, I willed my adrenaline-pumped and shaking legs to move me toward the nearest trench; my mind raced with wild and fearful thoughts, my vision kicked into agonizing slow ...

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12. Lang Co Village and the Phantom Mortar Crew, 16 January-10 February 1968

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pp. 274-291

I believe that every single Marine of Charlie 1/5 was happy to leave the damnable hell-hole of Phu Loc 6 Combat Base. Speaking for myself, I was ecstatic. We had experienced heavy enemy mortar fire for only a few days, but that was plenty. We were happy to leave, but that doesn’t mean that we had it easy. On foot, we eventually moved nearly fifty kilometers over some of the most rugged terrain in I Corps before reaching our final objective, the Lang Co village and ...

Visual Material

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pp. 320-327

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Afterword

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pp. 292-295

According to research data, approximately 8.7 million Americans served in the military on active duty during the war years (August 5, 1964– March 28, 1973). Of those, approximately 2.7 million trudged daily across the soggy rice paddies and struggled through the mountainous jungles of the Republic of South Vietnam or provided direct support in the skies over North and South Vietnam or off shore in the South China Sea. ...

Appendix A. Navy Cross Citation

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pp. 297-298

Appendix B. Medal of Honor Citation

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pp. 299-300

Appendix C. Medal of Honor Citation

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pp. 301-337

Appendix D. Medal of Honor Citation

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pp. 302-338

Notes

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pp. 303-304

Index

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pp. 305-310

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About the Author

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p. 347-347

Nicholas Warr, formerly an account executive and marketing manager in the high technology industry, lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. His first book, Phase Line Green: The Battle for Hue, 1968, was on the Marine Reading List for over a decade and was a Featured Selection of the Military Book Club. He was a 2nd Lieutenant in Charlie One Five. ...


E-ISBN-13: 9780896727984
E-ISBN-10: 089672798X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780896727977
Print-ISBN-10: 0896727971

Page Count: 400
Illustrations: 36
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Modern Southeast Asia Series