3/12's Vietnam Deployment
Part of the escalation involving American units in the Vietnam War was brought about by the redeploying 3/12 to Okinawa in March of 1965. There the unit rejoined the 12th Marine Regiment after a 10 year absence. Its stay on Okinawa was temporary; the escalation of Marine ground forces in Vietnam initiated the unit's movement from Okinawa to the war-torn nation. 3/12's initial entry was made at Chu Lai on 7 May 1965 with the battalion maintaining a defensive action. This lasted until mid-summer. Concurrently, Marine forces initiated offensive operations against Viet Cong units. The battalion supported 7th Marines in "Operation Starlite," the first regimental size combat operation of the war. The operation resulted in the defeat of the 1st Viet Cong Regiment on the Van Tuong Peninsula, south of Chu Lai. Eventually the battalion shifted its TAOR to the northern sector of South Vietnam, named "I Corps." Elements of the battalion, during July and August 1966, participated in Operation Hastings, the largest multi-battalion operation to date in the war. Third Battalion 12th Marines continued its combat support of Marine ground forces and other allied units until its withdrawal from the war zone. Heavy fighting broke out in the I Corps region in 1968 involving the Communist Tet Offensive. The battalion, in an effort to stem Communist advances, engaged in severe fighting, some of the most intense of the war. Batteries from 3/12 furnished support in major operations as "Napoleon/Saline Kentucky, Lancaster, and Scotland." Fighting in the area subsided to a low level in 1969. Although contact with enemy units decreased, 3/12 still provided fire support to infantry units in small scale engagements. All combat activity for the 3d Battalion, 12th Marines came to an end in November 1969. The battalion was ordered to redeploy as part of the first phase of American withdrawal of ground combat forces from Vietnam.
3/12 departed South Vietnam on 5 November, sailing on board the USS Tom Green County (LST 1159). Subsequent to its arrival, 3/12 embarked on a training program that called for its participation in maneuvers both in Japan and the Philippines in order to maintain the combat effectiveness it had so recently demonstrated in Vietnam. It disembarked at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, which became the permanent home for the battalion.
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Last Website Update: 24 March, 2009