In 1954, the French signed a peace treaty with the Viet Minh and withdrew from Vietnam. The United States determined to aid the South Vietnamese with aid and advisors. That all changed on March 8, 1965, when U.S. Marines landed at Danang.
Click on this map to make it zoomable. This composite image shows the entire area of operations for our battalion. I have marked in red numerals the more prominent hills i.e. 327, 268,368,55, 41 and 22. Hill 55 became a major Marine combat base after my battalion left. Those Marines who followed us probably find it amusing that our initial area of operations was so small
This heavily used 1:50,000 topographical map of Tourane (aka Danang) was made available by Lt. Steve Stull. This crop and the next two crops show Hills 327 and 268. All maps are zoomable. "327" and "268" are labeled by me with large white letters. Note that these two hills are the high ground overlooking and dominating the Danang airstrip at the lower right.
Hills 327 and 268 and their related ridgelines formed a big horse shoe.
Hill 268 from Hill 327, with Charlie Company's base camp on the far right. Slightly above center and slightly left is a smooth light patch of green. This was a natural spring that produced a steam that flowed west down the canyon between 327 and 268, ending in pools near the bottom of the canyon. When my patrol route called for my platoon to return via the canyon, I would always stop, put out security and take turns bathing in the cool water of the pools. Simple pleasures.
Eventually, we rigged up a diversion pipe near the spring that made a shower available for the troops.
Hill 268 from the crest of Hill 327. Near the center are the troop tents. Moving upslope are more troop tents, then the landing pad. Not visible are the mess tent, the NCO tent and the officers' tent.
By the time of this shot, a spur road had been constructed to the vicinity of the spring.
This was the Hawk missile radar at the peak of Hill 268.
Looking west from Hill 327. Generally speaking, the farther west we went, the less friendly it became.
A typical Delta Company defensive position.
Another Delta Company emplacement.
We called this a "John Wayne Photo".
Hill 327 looking south. The South Vietnamese rifle range is visible just left of center. Ricochets were a constant problem.
An H-34 on the Hill 268 landing pad.
Another view of the Hill 268 landing pad. The mess tent is at middle right.
On the far right, the road runs down Hills 268 and 327, through the battalion headquarters and Bravo Company and then through "Dogpatch" to the airstrip.
A slightly misaligned panorama looking east toward the airstrip, Danang and Monkey Mountain.
Battalion Headquarters in the early stage of construction at the base of Hill 327.
The Battalion Headquarters actually had a tent masquerading as an Officers' Club. Real luxury. Here, our artillery observer, Don Miller reads a newspaper.
This was the sign outside the club.
The view from Hill 268 north toward Hill 368. A month or two after we landed, the Fourth Marines arrived from Hawaii and occupied the terrain around Hill 368.
A panorama of the two previous frames.
Helicopters often flew low through the gap between between Hills 327 and 268.
Company Commander, Captain Lee Peterson
Company Executive Officer, Lt. Joe Feeley. In the background at the base of the hill is the battalion headquarters defended by Bravo Company.
First Sergeant Wagner.
Left to right--Lieutenants Tester, Feeley (Company Executive Officer) and Caputo.
The NCO tent. Left to right, Staff Sergeant Deville, Gunnery Sergeant Colby and, maybe, Gunnery Sergeant Marquadt.
Sitting on my cot in the officers tent. As darkness approached and temperatures dropped, I would put on my full uniform and boots, put magazines into my Swedish K submachine gun and pistol, rig up my mosquito net and go to sleep, ready to roll out ready to go.
Me on the left, Joe Feeley on the right and Captain Peterson clowning in the background.
Joe Feeley with half a moustache. There wasn't a lot to do in base camp. The other half came off the next day.
I also grew a mustache, but I didn't keep it long.
Lt. Lemmon and I with weapons taken from dead Viet Cong. Danang and Monkey Mountain are in the background.
Other Marines examine the same weapons. Sgt. Sullivan (standing in the middle) would die soon after during the fight at Hill 22.
Joe Feeley and Glynn Lemmon shaving at our "vanity".
Lt. Murph McCloy (Weapons Platoon) in our shower. The shower was a 55 gallon drum with a spigot dumping into a Lay's Potato Chip can with holes punched in the bottom. We would let the water sit in the olive drab water cans in the sun all day to get hot. We would get wet, turn off the shower, soap down and rinse off. Very little water was used.
The paparazzi catch skinny Glynn Lemmon coming up from the shower.
We were in great physical shape, but most of us had lost a lot of weight. We couldn't carry three days of C rations in our small packs for a three day patrol, so we carried enough to kill our hunger and tossed the rest. We then carried about 80 pounds of gear over rough terrain in 100 degree heat.
Capt. Peterson on his way to the shower.
I read a lot when in base camp. This book is "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich".
The tiny white square directly off my left shoulder was the movie screen at Battalion headquarters. Our Gunny Marquardt had somehow scrounged a large generator from the Seebees, so we often had electricity in Base Camp. When able, we showed generally lousy movies in our mess tent in the evenings. Snipers often shot at our movies, but by this time we did't even duck.
Lieutenants Miller (left) and McCloy (right) apparently examining something very small.
This day an explosion at the airbase broke the monotony. We heard it was a bomb which was being transported.
A B-57 Canberra crashed while taking off from the airstrip. We heard that Marines rescued the crewmen.
One day we were visited by a group of Ontos. The Ontos was a small tracked vehicle that carried six 106 mm recoilless rifles. They came through the brush, not on the road, so we assumed it was a trial run to see how they would handle movement through the brush.
How could I not pose with him?
And then he left. God bless him.
To pass the time, we played Hearts in the intense sun. Here, Sgt. Taylor with his back to the camera, me in the center and Sgt. Loker on the right.
Corpsman Ron Marx built his own shade and laid down C Ration boxes to stay out of the dirt and bugs.
Sgt. Loker decided to string up a hammock even though there were no trees to support it. We told him it wouldn't work, but he did it anyway. We showed him no mercy.
His second effort was no better.
He finally gave up and strung up a poncho for shade
This was the platoon command post on Hill 327. There was shade, cots and a land line to the company command post.
Another view of our CP on Hill 327. I am holding a bottle of beer.
One last view of our Hill 327 CP.
The Company Commander of H&S Company at Battalion HQ was First Lieutenant Mike Reilly, standing to the far right in this photo.
Mike Reilly was an extremely competent and likeable guy who wasn't afraid to get into the trenches and stack sandbags.
Many of these Headquarters officers had already commanded rifle platoons before rotating into Battalion Headquarters. Left to right are: Ben Benjamin (Legal Officer), Harry Marr (Embarkation Officer), Mike Reilly (H&S Company Commander), Neil McAloon (Motor Transport), Bob Rogers (S-1/Adjutant), Brad Latham (Supply) and Denny Harmon (Mortar Platoon). This was a really great group of guys each of whom I liked very much. Sadly, Mike Reilly, Neil McAloon and Bob Rogers have died in recent years.