Famous Battles of the 12th Marines, RVN, 1965-69 12thMarineBattles

Battles of the USMC Artillery Association
Personal Accounts and Remembrances...

Many battles were fought throughout the course of the Vietnam War; Some remain in the forefront of public memory due to past and present media coverage. Khe Sanh was the media choice for representation of the Vietnam War. We salute our Marines who fought at Khe Sanh yet, they would tell you Khe Sanh was fierce but the "tip if the ice berg." The bulk of battles remain lost, living within those souls who fought the terrible encounters; some for a day, some for a black, dark, night, while others fought for months at the same location. This web page is dedicated to the Marines of our United States Marine Corps Artillery Association (USMCAA) who fought with ferocity and courage unknown to most, unseen by others, unheard by the masses. We honor all of our USMCAA Marines; to name a few is ignoring the many. Let their history, sacrifices, and unbridled courage stand as an example to our coming generations of artillery Marines. Semper Fi to eternity... Their stories...

BattleYearBattery  Story

1. LZ Cates/Cam Lo  1969Golf 3/12 - Hotel 3/12   Partial information below

Golf 3-12 1966-67, Hotel 3-12 late 1968 on LZ Cates. You can get lots of stories about the Battle at Cam Lo that Golf, Hotel, and Headquarters Batteries fought. I know there were 6 KIA's, about 25 WIA's, and at least 2 Navy Crosses were awarded 26 August 1966. Golf Battery I consider the best in Vietnam but that is a little one sided. I know 2-12 and 1-12 were as good as it gets over there; maybe we should just say the 12th Marines kicked butt!

Semper Fi,

Dan Post - Email: postd_j@yahoo.com

Read the "Attack on Cam Lo by single or double clicking the book icon below"

2. LZ Argon       1969     Partial information below

I was a CH-46A pilot that was called twice on March 21, 1969 for emergency medivac duty. My helicopter pulled at least 12-18 Marines out of LZ Argon that day. A lot of mortar and other ground fire nearly killed all aboard as muzzle flashes and nearby mortar shrapnel was everywhere in the Zone. Luck to be alive and happy to have saved whomever that day from a definite s---sandwich. (More information needed!)

Jim Berg - CH 46A pilot Email: jim@MatsonCreative.com

Please send more information about the battles at LZ Argon...

3. LZ Russell        1969Hotel 3/12 Information Below

At FSB Russell North Vietnamese soldiers breached perimeter defenses and attacked Hotel 3/12, assaulting three gun pits, damaging two howitzers.  After a brief period, Hotel Battery Marines re-grouped, counter attacked and re-captured their gun pits from the North Vietnamese. 

It was a chaotic battle as North Vietnamese sappers had penetrated the FSB defenses. A total of 25 Communist soldiers were found dead inside the perimeter. Hotel Battery suffered 8 KIA and 25 WIA at FSB Russell.

Read the account of the "Attack on LZ Russell" by single or double clicking the book icon below...

4.LZ Torch1968Charlie 1/12     Information Below

At LZ Torch an estimated two  companies of North Vietnamese regulars led by Sappers attacked Charlie 1/12's field position; the battery was deployed as part of new "field tactics" implemented by General Ray Davis, CG of the 3rd Marine Division. When deployed in support of 1/4, Charlie Battery was only allowed 70 Marines in the field; a normal 105 battery carries up to 120 Marines. Lieutenant Brown, Charlie's commanding officer,  made "tough choices" in selecting his field Marines but was left a group with virtually no combat experience to choose from.

When attacked, the battery was taking part in "Operation Scotland 2." With no infantry support the Charlie Battery and it's 70 Marines defended their perimeter in fierce hand-to-hand combat.

Seven Charlie Battery Marines were killed and twenty-two were medivaced. Many wounded refused evacuation and stayed to defend the battery from counter attack. As the sun rose, 27 North Vietnamese bodies remained in the battery position. Numerous blood trails and drag marks led towards the northern ridge line, the only NVA route of escape. It was pounded throughout the later part of the attack by battery guns.

A Thought from a Marine machinegunner in 1/4 about Charlie Battery at Torch...

Every year I've put together a tribute for the men of 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, 1st Battalion Fourth Marines who gave their lives defending their fellow Marines on LZ Torch Hill 515 on June 11, 1968.

Out of 12 men in 1st squad only two made it out of that battle, Lance Corporal Moseley who was WIA, he was a rifleman and myself Corporal Gutierrez, also WIA. This M-60 Grunt just wanted to take the time to recognize the brave actions of the Marines of Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion 12th Marines, God Bless & Semper Fi.

Well Done Marines

Corporal Gutierrez - Email: USMCM60GRUNT@cs.com

Read the "Attack on LZ Torch" by single or double clicking the book icon below": 

5. LZ Neville   1968Golf 3/12   Information Below

At FSB Neville NVA forces attacked and penetrated the defensive perimeter of Golf 3/12 and overran Gun 6.  Golf Battery Marines counter attacked and re-took the gun pit. 17 North Vietnamese soldiers were killed by Golf Battery personnel; Hotel 2/4 held the perimeter; their staunch defense helped hold the firebase. 34 dead NVA were found inside FSB Neville. The casualties suffered by Golf 3/12 were 3 KIA and 5 WIA.

Read the "Attack on LZ Neville" by single or double clicking the book icon below":         

4.FSB Gio Linh   1967Charlie 1/12                     Information Below

At FSB Gio Linh, 1100 meters south of the Demilitarized Zone Charlie 1/12 moved into position 26 February 1967 initiating Operation Highrise, the first American artillery presence near the DMZ. Relentlessly attacked by NVA mortars during the first two days, 800 enemy rounds fell in the battery position. Charlie Battery held, returning counter mortar fire; Gun 3 sustained a direct hit on its ammo bunker. Initially believed to be a 3 to 5 day "artillery raid" the Provisional Artillery Battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Bill Rice remained in position 62 days. Charlie Battery was the only artillery unit to remain at Gio Linh for the initial two months.

On 20 March 1967 Lieutenant General Lewis Walt, 111 MAF CG initiated "Operation Beacon Hill" in defense of Gio Linh. That same evening two North Vietnamese artillery battalions attacked FSB Gio Linh; it was the first use of artillery by North Vietnamese since the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The historic attack lasted over eight hours.

Gio Linh was two acres in size, at the time the smallest FSB in I Corps; the artillery battle raged for eight hours; Charlie 1/12 was the only artillery unit returning counter battery fire during the NVA incoming. The enemy had positioned their weapons under the 5 mile limit for Army 175's, splitting the two attacking battalions, one to the NE the other to the NW of the Marine outpost. Golf 3/12, part of the arriving BLT with Operation Beacon Hill, was unable to return counter battery fire during NVA incoming. The battery did not have time to build parapets or any type of protection for their Marines; they were able to fire when incoming would subside. With the gun positions unprotected during incoming, it would have been suicide to expose their gun crews to NVA fire. As it was,  Golf 3/12 lost one KIA to the North Vietnamese artillery. John Arnold of Golf 3/12 became the first casualty the United States suffered from North Vietnamese artillery fire in the Vietnam War.

Charlie Battery sustained two direct hits on gun's 2 and 4 but the crews took care of the wounded, repaired their howitzers and returned to the fight. Eight hours passed before permission for an AO to over-fly the DMZ was granted; finally, at 0200H 21 March 1967, the NVA 105 battalion consisting of nine howitzers was located to the NE of Gio Linh. One fire mission and 90 rounds later, Charlie Battery quickly destroyed the enemy 105's; in less than 5 minutes the battery accomplished what two NVA artillery battalions could not do in eight hours. The second enemy battalion withdrew; 1462 incoming rounds fell inside the Gio Linh perimeter that night. An ammo resupply convoy was partially destroyed 300 meters south of Gio Linh's main gate at 0330H 21 March 1967; the convoy was attempting to break through NVA infantry, which had encircled Gio Linh. 7 trucks were destroyed in the attack.

The next day it became apparent for the reason of Operation Highrise; 20 bulldozers were airlifted and dropped outside of the Gio Linh perimeter; they immediately began cutting a swath towards Con Thien. Gio Linh was the first and eastern anchor of the "McNamara Barrier." It soon was obvious the SLF infantry was not going to focus on disrupting the North Vietnamese who were now massing two regiments north and northwest of Gio Linh. The infantry surrounded the bulldozers and moved with them as they began cutting through the countryside between Gio Linh and Con Thien. It would be a costly venture in the terms of  casualties, one Marine was lost, KIA or WIA every 200 meters of the 11,000  that was cleared.

Incoming was constant in the form of mortars over the next 37 days, lines were probed, LP's ambushed, as Gio Linh remained surrounded by 8,000 Communist soldiers. On 27 April 1967 the NVA attacked Gio Linh; it was their second use of artillery in the Vietnam War. Using new tactics developed from lessons learned from the 20 March attack, North Vietnamese artillery pieces were in single, camouflaged, and fortified locations throughout the northern DMZ region and southern reaches of North Vietnam. An estimated 25 NVA artillery pieces attacked Gio Linh, all out of 105 ranges.

In spite of not being able to reach their enemy Charlie Battery manned their howitzers returning fire at what ever could be hit. Slowly, gun by gun, Marine by Marine were hit and taken out of the fight. Observers from 6/27, a 175 battery noted it had to be one of the bravest and gallant stands in the history of Marine Corps artillery. Over 2000 rounds fell that night inside the tiny FSB, its two acres were torn to pieces. The NVA made attempts to breech Gio Linh's outer perimeter by throwing blocks of C-4 into the wire, trying to simulate incoming mortars; all ground probes were repulsed.

2 KIA's and in excess of 80 WIA's are the casualty count from Charlie Battery; it is believed the estimate is not yet accurate. More than 70% of the battery were killed or wounded, over 30 were medivaced while others were treated by corpsmen and continued the fight. It took hours to get the wounded out by helicopter due to the heavy volume of incoming artillery. LZ's were rotated using heat tabs as markers; pilots would have less than one minute before NVA gunners would adjust fire on the new LZ.

12th Marine Regiment ordered Charlie Battery to displace the morning of 28 April 1967, relocating to Dong Ha; Delta 2/12 replaced the battery at Gio Linh. Charlie Battery had remained in position inside Gio Linh's two acres for 62 days, continually repulsing North Vietnamese mortars, artillery and soldiers. They were the first Marines to face the artillery onslaught from the North Vietnamese. India 3/4 held perimeter security with elements of Alpha and Delta 1/4 assisting. The battery was never recognized or remembered for their historical stand at Gio Linh...

5.Assault on Alpha North            1966      Alpha 1-11 and Kilo 4/12

A-1-11 was about 2300 meters from K-4-12 and both were hit on an night assault in April of 1966.  The wire at A-1-11 (Alpha North) was breached and the battery was overrun.  They did not breach our wire but tried.  The mortared us and we took a number of casualties from that, but no KIA.  We were direct firing the M109 howitzers at them.  One Lieutenant sighted a gun by laying on the barrel and giving directions to the gun crew.  I was on outpost 5 on the Alpha North side of the perimeter and in the thick of it.  We were lucky that we were on a sand pile which ate up most of the mortar shrapnel or we would have had a lot more casualties.  On Marine had a mortar round land in a foot locker beside his rack while he was sleeping.  The foot locker absorbed most of the blast, lucky guy.

Jerry West, Kilo 4/12 -  Email: record@island.net

Early in 1966 (just prior to my arrival in RVN in April) a 105 battery of 1/11 designated "Alpha North" was overrun by VC sappers. The unit was part of the Hill 327 defense structure. It was a major event for an artillery unit and should be included in your battles. The battery commander was Lieutenant Richard Seed. Lots of lessons learned came out of that tragedy.

Michael G. O'Neill - Email: moneillsc@adelphia.net

6.Operation Starlite            1965       12th Marines

  An United States Marine Corps operation aimed at eliminating the 1st Viet Cong (VC) Regiment, "Operation Starlite" began near the Van Tuong Peninsula in Quang Tri Province; the year was 1965. Marine planners designed a three-pronged attack. It called for elements of the 7th Marines at Chu Lai to move south and block any VC escape north while units of the 4th Marines were helicoptered to three landing zones, named Red, White, and Blue, west and southwest of the hamlets Nam Yen and and An Cuong. These Marines would then drive the BVC northeastward toward the sea. Finally, elements of the 3d Marines would land on the beach due east of these hamlets, with amphibian and armored support, and drive west and north. Despite stiff resistance from VC forces, Starlite succeeded in pushing the insurgents to the coast. Close air support, tanks, and naval gunfire were critical to the operation's outcome. Operation Starlite came to a close on 24 August.

        Link to the story of Operation Starlite:"Operation Starlite"
Link to Historical Archives:    "Historical Journals"

7.FSB Con Thien1967Whiskey 1/12    Information below

Whiskey 1-12 landed in Viet Nam  from a Navy LST in early May 1967 at Cua Viet.  We went from there to Dong Ha.  Sometime in late May we were deployed to Con Then and were there until early October.  While deployed we had 7 or 8 KAI's and several seriously wounded.

It was tough there; were were at Con Thien when Bravo 1-9 was slaughtered along the DMZ.  We fired in support of that tragedy.  We suffered our fist KAI's on 6 July 1967; three of our Marines were on a ammo run (were low because of the all firing we had done) when then were killed by an incoming artillery round.

Our last KIA was on 19 September 1967;  I hope this helps.  I know the dates of all our KAI's, I do not where to start, much less  when to stop.

22 September 2007 - Forty years ago today PFC David Schouweiler, USMC from Tulsa, Oklahoma was killed at Con Thien. I heard the last words he ever spoke: "Hey, I am hit." Con Thien was a hell hole in September 1967; I remember David. I use this site to honor him; his life was cut short, I wish he had more time to spend on his front porch where a summer day seemed like a year. Rest in peace my friend. You are a noble warrior...

Semper Fi,

Russ Adams Whiskey 1/12

More to follow...

8. Khe Sanh  1968              1/12, 1/11, 1/13

   Cliff Treese's Khe Sanh Story...Link to Treese Story  Bravo 1/13

9.FSB Cunningham     1969Echo 2/12

  Nov 12        Sapper Attack in the A Shau Valley

As the sun rose, the light and warmth it brought created a calming sense of temporary peace at FSB Cunningham. When it became apparent that the NVA had withdrawn for good, the counting began. Lieutenant Benfatti, who would win the Silver Star Medal for his actions during the attack, supervised the medical evacuation of casualties and ascertained the welfare of his Marines, resolutely refusing medical attention for his own wounds until all the other wounded men had been cared for. The Marines found a total of 25 NVA bodies inside their defensive wires. One of those bodies was that of a sapper officer. Documents found on his body were examined, translated and analyzed by the 15th Interrogator/Translator Team, revealing the detailed planning of the attack described above. Searching the enemy bodies, the Marines captured 26 RPG rounds, 25 Chicom grenades, 253 bamboo explosive devices, seven rifle grenades, 12 packs, two radios, 11 AK-47 rifles and numerous signal flares. The packs contained large quantities of marijuana and other drugs. ýThe use of narcotics,ý platoon leader Milton J. Teixeira said, ýmad them a lot harder to kill. Not one of the gooks we had inside the perimeter had less than three or four holes in him. Usually it took a grenade or something to stop him completely.ý A final tally of the battle damage revealed four Marines killed in action, 46 Marines wounded in action and 37 NVA killed in action. In ýEý Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12 Marines, had taken heavy battle damage. Surveying the smoke-shrouded fire support base, Colonel Barrow said: ýTheyýll probably think twice from here on out before taking on another Marine headquarters group. These lads did a fantastic job in what could have been a nasty situation. They were 100 percent professional fighting men; good Marines all the way.ý This article was written by Michael R. Conroy and originally published in the August 1991 issue of Vietnam Magazine. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Vietnam Magazine today. 

From the 12th Marines Historical Center...

Historical entries can be reviewed concerning records from the Battle of Chu Lai, Con Thien, Gio Linh, or other battlefields as events were recorded in combat journals by participating Marines. The monthly report of August, 1965, for the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines alone is 320 pages in length.  Pages from various "After Action Reports" were selected to illustrate the quality and enriched content of our archives.

Click here to view actual declassified documents!

10. Tet  1968  Information Pending

11.       India Battery 3/12 - 27 July 1966

  "The Link to TALKING FISH"

12th Marines: If you know of other battles, email me. Those who fought in the above named battles/sieges please email me with your remembrances so I can publish a comprehensive story built from the eyes of those who fought these legendary battles. Please sign the guest book if you fought in any of the conflicts;  email additional info to the following address charliebattery67@wavecable.com

As a Regiment, we should all take pride in the tremendous accomplishments of our individual batteries, HQ personnel, all who were involved no matter where and what you were doing. If there was no "in the rear with the gear" there would not have been such places as Gio Linh, Con Thien, Torch, Russell, Neville, Alpha North, and so on....

The 11th, 12th and 13th Marines accomplished what others few did; most know very little about the regiments. It is our "duty" to inform those following us into harms way the legacy left to us and what we have left to them, upholding the unmatched combat record of the 11th, 12th, and 13th Marines, who stared down the tubes of every large artillery weapon the North Vietnamese possessed... We did not blink...
Sign InView Entries
This page was last updated: 31 January, 2009
As you "tour" your 12th Marines website; keep in mind I need your help developing the 11th & 13th Marines web pages, we need photos and their combat stories...
Guest Book below; please leave your thoughts, suggestions, and pending information below in the book. We value your opinion here at the USMCAA...
Read the "Battle for Cam Lo"
Read the "Battle for LZ Russell"
Read the "Battle for LZ Torch""
Read the "Battle for LZ Torch""