Charlie One Five
A Marine Company's Vietnam War
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
Download PDF (875.5 KB)
Download PDF (504.5 KB)
Illustrations and Maps
Download PDF (424.4 KB)
About the Maps
Download PDF (847.4 KB)
Maps are a vital part of any book that describes military operations. Th ey make verbal descriptions meaningful by visually depicting the relationships of place locations, unit positions, and terrain features. Maps also provide the reader with a feeling for the time and dis-tance involved in maneuvering and delivering fi re support. All of these factors are key elements in military strategy and tactics. Th e maps in Charlie One Five, which are gathered together in this book’s color section, are designed to do just that—to graphically support the descriptions of the operations in which Charlie 1/5 partici-...
Download PDF (873.5 KB)
When I fi rst arrived in South Vietnam in late January of 1968, my fi rst assignment was to command the legendary Marine rifl e com-pany 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 fi rst command in a combat situation, and it would be my fi rst command of a Marine rifl e company. When I graduated from Platoon Leaders Class and completed my training at the ...
Download PDF (579.1 KB)
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 chal-lenge of serving their country, risking every thing in that worthy endeavor. Much of what has been written and most of what was made into movies about the Vietnam War focuses on caricatures of aberrations: a renegade general being pursued by a drunken army captain; drugged-out sergeants turning on each other, Americans ...
Download PDF (576.9 KB)
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. Re-turning to those distant days, if only in memory, was diffi cult for many of them, and I want them to know exactly how much I ap-preciate their courage then and today and their dedicated ser vice to our Corps and country. Th eir combined eff orts added signifi cantly to this work, contributing to US Marine Corps history by providing a wide range of perspectives to the events that are Col. Marshall Buckingham “Buck” Darling, USMC (Ret), platoon commander, ...
Download PDF (736.2 KB)
The giant spider remained perfectly still. Th e tarantulalike arachnid’s brown coloring and yellow and green markings matched its surround-ings, allowing it to remain virtually invisible against the bark of the huge jungle tree trunk it clung to. Th rough instinct and experience, the fright-eningly ugly creature knew that food would come; it just had to stay perfectly still until the humans came and went. Th en the inevitable and frantic scattering of the small birds and mammals that lived in the area, as they fl ed the humans’ approach, would inexorably draw one of them into the giant spider’s web, ingeniously con-...
1. The Early Days and Operation Jackstay, December 1965-Early 1966
Download PDF (1.4 MB)
...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 Bat-talion, 5th Marines (Charlie 1/5). Th e battalion was afl oat at the time, serving as a Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) off the coast of South Vietnam. Buck Darling had graduated from the University of Cal i fornia at Santa Barbara in June 1963. Buck had then lived and worked on a ranch until he learned that the Ma-rine Corps, in his words, “gave away weapons and paid guys to hunt full time.” He liked the whole military idea. Inspired by a local recruiter in Barstow, Cal i fornia, he ...
2. Sparrow Hawk and Operation Colorado, June-December 1966
Download PDF (640.9 KB)
Buck Darling’s career continued to advance steadily. Promoted to fi rst lieu-tenant in early June 1966, Buck became the Charlie Company executive offi cer, and a week later Lieutenant Colonel Coff man made him the com-pany commander of Charlie Company. Th e Marines of 1/5 went back aboard ship and a few days later got orders to organize another combat operation. Th e TAOR for Operation Desoto/Deckhouse V was out in a very bad area in the Th e enemy shot down two helicopters during Desoto/Deckhouse V, but 1/5 didn’t take many casualties, and they killed many Viet Cong soldiers. Th e operation ...
3. Changes of Command, November 1966-March 1967
Download PDF (2.3 MB)
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. Hilgartner immediately reentered the Marine Corps and went to war. He served as an artillery forward observer as a second lieutenant during the Korean War and earned a Bronze Star for his actions in combat. Upon his arrival in Vietnam, the very se nior Major Hilgartner became the operations offi cer of the 7th Marines....
4. Changes of Weaponry, April 1967
Download PDF (5.7 MB)
The changeover from the M14 to the new and untested M16 rifl e caused a great deal of uproar and made a signifi cant negative impact on the 1/5 Marines’ daily lives. During April 1967 a total of 946 brand new M16 ri-fl es were issued to the Marines of the battalion. Within the fi rst few days of the month, all personnel within the battalion armed with the M14 rifl es received M16 rifl es, and all M14 rifl es (except for a handful) were sent to Fleet Landing Sup-port Group B at Tam Ky. Th is dramatic change in the basic weapon of the combat Marines fi ghting in Vietnam would cause some consternation and much discussion ...
5. Operation Union I, 21 April-9 May 1967
Download PDF (695.9 KB)
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 fi ghting 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 weeks. Charlie Company went to the fi eld, assigned as battalion reserve to take up the drag position, responsible for 3/5’s rear security. Nine long days later, Hilgartner got his Marines back and took command of the operation in the fi eld....
6. The Battle for Hill 110, 10 May 1967
Download PDF (6.0 MB)
Early on the morning of 10 May 1967, upon reaching Objective M, the small hamlet of Nghi Th uong (4) located about a kilometer and a half west of Hill 110,1 Charlie Company encountered a male and a female Vietnam-ese of military age. Following standard operating procedures, the Charlie 1/5 Marines took these individuals as detainees because they didn’t have the proper identifi cation papers. As the company departed the village with the detainees, two Marines stepped off a small trail that led out of the hamlet and detonated a booby trap. Capt. Jim Caswell remembers that incident quite clearly because he hated mines ...
7. Dying Delta and the Move to Hill 51, 11-17 May 1967
Download PDF (4.2 MB)
As Charlie 1/5 recovered from the events of 10 May 1967, the Marines of Delta 1/5 plunged into a diff erent, even more intense hell of their own. Company commander Dave McInturff recalls: Aft er 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 Ma-rines. We humped to a predesignated location and met up with the 3/5 CP ...
8. Operation Union II, 26 May-5 June 1967
Download PDF (2.4 MB)
Upon cursory examination, Operations Union I and Union II might ap-pear as merely numeric designations of diff erent phases of the same combat operation. Certain similarities between these operations did exist, but also many diff erences. 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 Con-dor and then swung north during Operation Union I, during Operation Union II they maneuvered in a generally eastern direction from their insertion at LZ Robin ...
9. Operation Swift, 4-15 September 1967
Download PDF (3.5 MB)
During the next two months, the Marines of 1/5 mounted two more rela-tively small combat operations out in the Que Son Valley—Operation Cochise and Operation Adair. 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 opera-tions 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. He had proved to be an outstanding leader in ...
10. Hoi An Days, 1 October-25 December 1967
Download PDF (3.1 MB)
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 hun-dred years ago. It was Vietnam’s most important international seaport from the sixteenth century to the late nineteenth century. Hoi An residents inter-acted with merchants from both Asia and Europe, trading all sorts of goods, from spices to gold. Located on the bank of the Song Th u Bon (Th u Bon River) thirty kilo-meters south of Da Nang, Hoi An seems a very quiet riverside town dotted with ...
11. Incoming! Phu Loc 6 Combat Base, December 1967-March 1968
Download PDF (3.7 MB)
Incoming! Incoming! Th e 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 motion, and then my ears picked up the dreaded hollow thunks of several more en-emy mortar rounds hitting their tubes. Only a few seconds, that’s all the time I had ...
12. Lang Co Village and the Phantom Mortar Crew, 16 January-10 February 1968
Download PDF (2.8 MB)
I believe that every single Marine of Charlie 1/5 was happy to leave the damna-ble hell-hole of Phu Loc 6 Combat Base. Speaking for myself, I was ecstatic. We had experienced heavy enemy mortar fi re 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 fi ft y kilometers over some of the most rug-ged terrain in I Corps before reaching our fi nal objective, the Lang Co village and Over a period of several days we climbed hills and mountains, and we spent one sleepless night at the Delta Company combat base at the top of the Phu Gia Pass ...
Download PDF (3.1 MB)
Download PDF (743.8 KB)
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 Strangely, according to census fi gures reported in August 1995, the number of Americans claiming to have served in-country during the Vietnam War was nearly ten million. Th is is a somewhat surreal statistic and is very confusing to most of us ...
Appendix A. Navy Cross Citation
Download PDF (425.0 KB)
Appendix B. Medal of Honor Citation
Download PDF (425.4 KB)
Appendix C. Medal of Honor Citation
Download PDF (423.3 KB)
Appendix D. Medal of Honor Citation
Download PDF (422.9 KB)
Download PDF (707.9 KB)
Download PDF (438.4 KB)
About the Author
Download PDF (704.3 KB)
Nicholas Warr, formerly an account executive and marketing manager in the high technology industry, lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. His fi rst book, Phase Line Green: Th e 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....
Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2008
Series Title: Modern Southeast Asia Series