Operation Starlite (also known in Vietnam as Battle of Van Tuong) was the first major offensive regimental size action conducted by a purely U. The operation was conducted as a combined arms assault involving ground, air and naval units. It was launched on D-Day August 18, 1965, involving 5,500 Marines. The operation was launched based on intelligence provided by Major General Nguyen Chanh Thi, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) commander in northern I Corps area. Walt devised a plan to launch a pre-emptive strike against the Viet Cong (VC) 1st Regiment to nullify the threat on the vital Chu Lai Air Base and Base Area and ensure its powerful communication tower remained intact. Marines were deployed by helicopter insertion into the designated landing zone while an amphibious landing was used to deploy other Marines.One prisoner was taken and 40 weapons were captured.Company I, 3/3 Marines attacked An Cuong after receiving heavy fire from the hamlet and losing their company commander in the engagement.On 21 August, a Marine armoured supply column became lost in a field, and was subsequently ambushed by VC.Two M48A3 tanks and four LVTP-5 were disabled by the time reinforcements arrived.The expected reinforcements, were diverted to assist the supply column that was ambushed west of their position.73mm recoilless rifle fire from the VC positions tore into the 5 LVTs and 3 flame tanks, forcing the Marines to mount a rescue.
Company H, 2/4 Marines assaulted the VC 60th Battalion who put up a vicious fight, only being overwhelmed when helicopter gunships swooped on their position, peppering it with rocket and machine gun fire.The developing engagement necessitated the deployment of Company L, 3/7 Marines from the USS Iwo Jima to join Company I to assist the ambushed supply column.Part of Company L was caught in a horseshoe ambush in their attempt to rescue the LVT personnel, 4 Marines were killed and 10 wounded.3/3 Marines made an amphibious landing and were tasked with driving the VC towards the 2/4 Marines who were to be lifted by helicopter into three landing zones west of Van Tuong.Secrecy was paramount, and no ARVN commander or units were informed of the impending operation.
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