Vietnam 1965: Mission Creep, the Marines, and the Danang Airbase

Following the Vietcong attacks at Pleiku in the Central Highlands and Qui Nhon on the central coast of South Vietnam, President Johnson authorized U.S. retaliatory air raids against military targets in North Vietnam. These airstrikes marked the last of the tit-for-tat retaliatory raids against the North.

On February 13, 1965, Johnson approved the systematic, continuous bombing of North Vietnam. A little over two weeks later, the United States began Operation Rolling Thunder – later dubbed the most intensive aerial bombardment campaign in world history. Only days before the start of the air campaign, the president expressed an odd mixture of relief and pessimism at the likelihood that Rolling Thunder would force the Hanoi regime to abandon its support of the insurgency in South Vietnam. In a conversation with Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, Johnson remarked, “Now we’re off to bombing these people. We’re over that hurdle. I don’t think anything is going to be as bad as losing, and I don’t see any way of winning.”[1]

The American fighter-bombers flying missions against North Vietnam took off from aircraft carriers in the South China Sea and from airfields in South Vietnam. The Danang Airbase served as the major land-based launching site for northbound planes.

The Danang Airbase had several geographical and military advantages over the other two jet airfields in South Vietnam. Most importantly, Danang sat only fifty miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the border between North and South Vietnam.  Bien Hoa and Tan Son Nhut were over 370 miles further south. As a result, Danang-based aircraft had shorter mission turn-around times than planes flying out of Bien Hoa or Tan Son Nhut. That shorter turn-around time translated into less wear and tear on aircrews and machines, the burning of less jet fuel, and an increase in safety, since there was a direct correlation between increased airtime, pilot fatigue, and accident rates. The shorter turnaround time at Danang also allowed for higher daily and monthly sortie rates over the North.

Proximity to North Vietnam was not the only reason the Pentagon chose Danang as a key staging base for airstrikes against the North. In early 1965, South Vietnam lacked port capacity. Only Saigon and Danang possessed deep-water harbors capable of off-loading the huge volume of iron bombs, rockets, and fuel required for a sustained air campaign.

Danang’s defensibility also appealed to the Pentagon brass.  During the planning for Rolling Thunder, U.S. military officials concluded that there was a chance that North Vietnam, (or even Communist China), might respond to the air campaign by sending conventional units across the DMZ in an attempt to seize the airbase. Although Pentagon planners considered the threat of such a Communist invasion to be small, it remained a possibility, and U.S. officials wanted to ensure that such an attack could be thwarted.  The Danang Airbase’s location made it immune to a rapid cross-border invasion. The reasons for its invulnerability to a conventional Communist attack had to do with both the terrain north of the base and U.S. military capabilities. If such an invasion ever took place, North Vietnamese or Chinese Communist units would first have to travel down the coastal plain through Quang Tri and Thua Thien provinces before arriving on Danang’s doorstep. U.S. officials recognized that those two provinces would act as a buffer zone, or speed bump, against the loss of the airbase. The boggy, narrow coastal lowlands in South Vietnam’s two northernmost provinces would slow down an advancing Communist army and enable U.S. naval gunfire and air strikes to stop the invasion force altogether. If bombs and naval gunfire somehow failed to halt the Communists, U.S. and South Vietnamese ground forces could slow or stop the North Vietnamese Army or Chinese People’s Liberation Army on the heights of Hai Van Pass, a towering ridge line north of the airfield. Danang’s defensibility partly explained its choice over Phu Bai as a key staging area for Rolling Thunder raids. The Phu Bai airstrip, situated on the southern outskirts of the imperial city of Hue, lacked adequate port facilities, lay north of Hai Van Pass, and was only 25 miles from the DMZ, which made it more vulnerable to a lightning raid by North Vietnamese forces.

The Pentagon and the White House had a political motive for flying Rolling Thunder missions out of Danang. The United States could have flown raids against the North exclusively from its carriers in the South China Sea; but doing so would have given the impression that the air campaign against North Vietnam, and the war itself, was entirely an American affair. President Johnson wanted the American people to believe that the U.S. was coming to the aid of a truly independent nation rather than defending a barely functional government wholly dependent for its existence on the United States. Employing a South Vietnamese airfield to conduct strikes against the North, and occasionally sending South Vietnamese pilots and planes to accompany U.S. air forces on missions north of the DMZ, lent credence to Johnson’s claim that the Saigon regime was a viable partner in the war.

The U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam in early 1965, former general Maxwell Taylor, deemed it crucial to have South Vietnamese participation in Rolling Thunder in order to bolster South Vietnamese morale and provide the South Vietnamese a sense of ownership in the struggle. Taylor, like Johnson, also recognized the importance of demonstrating to the American people that the South Vietnamese were taking steps to defend themselves. The use of Danang by the Vietnamese Air Force gave the appearance – always so important to the media savvy Johnson – of South Vietnamese participation in the defense of their country.

As plans for a major air campaign against the North took shape in February 1965, the Pentagon and Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) became concerned that the North Vietnamese, or their Chinese allies, might retaliate for the U.S.’s air offensive by sending MiGs against the Danang Airbase, its U.S. aircraft, and its contingent of Air Force personnel. To protect against that scenario, the Pentagon requested White House approval for the deployment of a HAWK anti-aircraft missile battery to Danang. On February 7, the president agreed to the request.  Johnson worried that a successful Communist air raid against Danang would damage the U.S. public’s perception of him as a war leader.  He also believed that a North Vietnamese airstrike would lead to congressional calls for a massive U.S. military escalation against North Vietnam, an escalation that he feared might lead to a larger war with China. Thus, the president considered the deployment of the HAWK missile battery as a means of preventing a larger war.

The 500 Marines who manned the HAWK missiles arrived in South Vietnam late on the next day, February 8, and immediately took up positions at the airbase. The Marines had come ashore. This was the first group of Marines deployed to the war zone. Retaliatory air strikes against the DRV, and the planned start of Rolling Thunder in the weeks ahead, had led to a ground force commitment in the South. One escalatory military action (airstrikes against the North) had prompted another escalatory military action (the deployment of the Marine Hawk battery) in a perilous feedback loop, or what was referred to in military parlance as “mission creep.” America was edging closer and closer to a major ground war on the Asian landmass.

U.S. officials were not only worried about a cross-border conventional attack on the Danang Airbase or a MiG raid, they also expressed a deep concern about whether the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) could protect the base against the Vietcong, especially the better-armed main forces known to be operating south and west of Danang in the Que Son Valley. After conferring with the head of MACV, General William C. Westmoreland, Defense Secretary McNamara informed the president on February 26, that commanders in South Vietnam are, “…fearful that the huge number of aircraft we have in Danang and the personnel [there] are subject to attack.”[2] The airfield did indeed overflow with aircraft. Everything from F-100s to A1Hs flew daily missions from the airstrip. A large number of transient aircraft had to be accommodated at the airbase as well. These planes came in from other airbases or from aircraft carriers in the South China Sea, stayed on the tarmac for a few hours or days, and then took off. All of the planes had to be parked somewhere. If there wasn’t enough space in hangars or behind blast walls, the aircraft sat out in the open, vulnerable to Vietcong mortars and rockets. The array of high-tech American hardware parked at Danang presented the Vietcong with a tempting target.[3]

The rapidly changing situation on the ground in the northern provinces of South Vietnam contributed to the gloomy assessment of the security situation at Danang. The greatest increases in Communist territorial control and military strength in 1964 and 1965 occurred in South Vietnam’s northern reaches and in the provinces surrounding the base. In early March 1965, Louis Wahrmund, a retired Navy officer who supervised U.S. aid work in South Vietnam’s five northern provinces said, “…virtually all major (aid) projects had been suspended because the Vietcong had control of so much of the countryside.” The movement of rural refugees was another clue to the dramatic rise in Vietcong influence near Danang. In fall 1964 and winter 1965, an estimated 69,000 people, mostly Tonkin Catholics, fled the rural areas of Quang Ngai, Quang Tin and Quang Nam, the three provinces closest to Danang to the west and south, to seek safety in the coastal enclaves still under GVN authority. President Diem had resettled these loyal Catholics in rural areas around Danang in the 1950s to enhance the security of that strategic port city.[4]

By late February, Communist main forces roamed the countryside close to Danang. MACV concluded that those enemy units possessed the strength to break through the ARVN units ringing the base. The Vietcong attacks at Pleiku and Qui Nhon and the destruction of a South Vietnamese battalion in Binh Dinh Province in mid-February only added to the anxiety top U.S. officials felt about the security situation at the airbase. The developing consensus at MACV and the Pentagon was that the ARVN could not guarantee the safety of the base. In the last week of February, Westmoreland wrote CINCPAC Admiral Sharp, “In view of the great importance of the Da Nang air base to current U.S. strategy, augmentation of U.S. security forces is desirable soonest…security of site is mandatory. Adequate VN forces are not available for this purpose….”[5]

Westmoreland believed a large-scale Vietcong attack against Danang could come at any moment. If such an attack did take place, and the U.S. suffered massive casualties, Congress and the American public would almost certainly blame the MACV chief for failing to secure the base. Such a result might end Westmoreland’s military career. Johnson worried about Danang too. But unlike the general, the president feared how an attack would affect his political standing. The president wanted high public approval ratings to assist him in the passage of his ambitious 1965 legislative agenda. A successful Vietcong assault on Danang would make him less popular and less effective with recalcitrant congressional representatives. In a discussion with McNamara about whether to send the Marines to Danang to protect the base, the president informed the Secretary of Defense, “I’m scared to death of putting ground forces in [South Vietnam], but I’m more frightened about losing a bunch of planes from lack of security.”[6]  Johnson was considering the dispatch of the Marines to Danang not only to hold the base, but to protect his political influence, this at a time when he was seeking passage of major civil rights legislation.

There were some officials – Westmoreland was not one of them – who wondered whether the Communists might attempt a Dien Bien Phu-style siege at Danang. If Danang’s entire contingent of Americans met the same fate as the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu, it was possible that the already tenuous U.S. home front support for the war would collapse, forcing Johnson to order a hasty U.S. pull out from South Vietnam.  Or, rather than a public push for a U.S. withdrawal, the American people would demand a massive military escalation – an escalation that would risk war with China and the Soviet Union.

The American fear of a second Dien Bien Phu at Danang can be explained by the almost mythical status of North Vietnam’s General Nguyen Giap. Ever since Giap’s victory against the French in 1954, the Vietnamese commander and his dedicated “bo dois” were perceived by some in the American military establishment as capable of achieving super human military feats.  To those Americans who bought into the Giap mystique, it seemed reasonable to conclude that the North Vietnamese general might try to seize the airbase at Danang. Some U.S. military analysts in South Vietnam in 1965 wondered if Westmoreland and MACV were wrong in thinking Danang safe from a Dien Bien Phu-style seige and capture.  These skeptics pointed out that French military commanders in early 1954 had also been overconfident that they could keep Dien Bien Phu out of Vietminh hands.[7]

But Danang was not Dien Bien Phu. It sat directly on the coast, rather than in the mountainous interior. Ships of the U.S. 7th Fleet could come to the base’s aid in the event of a Communist ground assault or siege.  Furthermore, Danang’s climate differed from that of Dien Bien Phu; it had fewer days of cloud cover and rain, which meant U.S. carrier-based aircraft would likely be able to fly regular missions against any attacking force.  And if it appeared as though the Communists might overrun the base, the U.S. Navy could evacuate U.S. troops by sea, something that was impossible for the trapped French troopers stuck in the mountains of western Tonkin. These military realities made a Dien Bien Phu-style battle highly unlikely at Danang. Nonetheless, the airbase was susceptible to a surprise Communist ground assault; and U.S. officials knew that the Vietcong excelled at launching such raids, especially at night. Danang’s vulnerability to a lightening Vietcong assault, and the ARVN’s well-known incompetence, convinced Westmoreland and the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the base required a contingent of U.S. combat troops.

In late February, after the military brass had determined that U.S. combat troops should be sent to defend the airbase, a debate erupted in the Pentagon over what specific type of combat unit to deploy. Assistant Secretary of Defense John McNaughton wanted paratroopers sent to Danang. According to McNaughton, the paratroopers’ light bootprint on the ground in South Vietnam would be barely noticeable to the xenophobic and nationalistic native population, which would minimize the possibility of a negative South Vietnamese political reaction to the increased American presence. McNaughton also liked the fact that deployment of the airborne would not require significant logistical support or the addition of large numbers of rear echelon troops. The airborne was essentially self-sufficient, so the overall number of troops sent to the theater would be minimal. In addition, the airborne could be hurriedly pulled out of South Vietnam if the circumstances warranted it. McNaughton believed the airborne troops would signal the limited nature of the administration’s combat troop commitment to the war and notify the Communists that the U.S. did not seek a larger ground war.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) rejected the idea of sending the airborne to Danang. The chiefs believed the airborne were too lightly armed and equipped to handle the Vietcong main forces now near the base.  Instead, the chiefs wanted a Marine Battalion Landing Team (BLT). The airborne, the chiefs argued, would invite an attack on the base, while the Marines, with their heavy weapons, amphibious vehicles, and mobility, might deter an attack altogether. The Marines also had the added advantage that they could effectively coordinate with nearby U.S. Navy vessels for air support and naval gunfire. Plus, the Marines could resupply and reinforce “over the beach” – meaning they did not need port facilities.  Ever since the withdrawal of the French military from Indochina in April 1956, the port of Danang had suffered from siltation. Low water levels sometimes limited the size of the ships that could off-load at Danang’s docks. Insufficient port capacity would not, at least initially, adversely affect the Marines.[8]

The chiefs had another reason for insisting on sending the Marines to Danang. They viewed the Marines as the first troop increment in a series of larger troop deployments to come. Acutely aware of the deficiencies in the ARVN, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lieutenant General Earle Wheeler, along with Westmoreland, believed the U.S. would have to assume a larger role in the ground war in South Vietnam if the Allies had any hope of defeating the Vietcong. The two men wanted the Marines because they wished to have a versatile force on the ground in the South if and when the president authorized an expanded U.S. ground combat role. Both Wheeler and Westmoreland were certain the president would authorize future U.S. troop deployments to stave off South Vietnam’s collapse. With Marines on the ground at Danang, the U.S. would have a force in-country that could carry out a wide variety of strategies and tactical maneuvers. The Marines had a tradition of waging both counter-insurgency operations and conventional war. Marine units had fought guerrillas in Central America in the 1920s and conventional Chinese units in Korea in the 1950s. They had the weapons, training, and equipment to handle any contingency. If the president so ordered, Westmoreland could even use the Marines to launch an amphibious invasion of North Vietnam. A Marine BLT gave Westmoreland flexibility; and in early 1965, Westmoreland wanted that flexibility, since he did not yet know what the president might ask of him in the months ahead.

Westmoreland envisioned the Marines protecting more than just planes and non-combat personnel; the grunts would be deployed to hold the entire Danang area – with its airfields, port facilities, and roads. Westmoreland understood that he had to have Danang for the successful prosecution of a big war. The city and its military assets would be the jumping-off point for U.S. ground operations into the northern regions of South Vietnam. Danang was a geographical stepping-stone, a beachhead, a midway point between the U.S. position in the Pacific and the paddy country and highlands of South Vietnam. American troops would be unable to fight the enemy in South Vietnam’s hinterland without that important stepping-stone.

Westmoreland’s reasons for deploying the Marines to Danang contrasted sharply with National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy’s. Bundy, in a later account, claimed that he did not view the first Marine deployment as a precursor to a much larger U.S. role in the ground war in the South. He recognized at the time that such a deployment could be a first step in that direction, but it did not guarantee that outcome. Bundy recalled that the decision to send in the Marines had been made as a short-term stopgap measure in the face of rising Communist strength in the vicinity of the base.  McNamara saw the Marine deployment in the same way, he did not view it as a U.S. commitment to a ground war in South Vietnam. Nevertheless, securing Danang made later escalatory actions easier, since the U.S. held the infrastructure necessary for substantial increases in air, naval, and ground troop strength.[9]

Westmoreland and the Joint Chiefs got their way in the internal Pentagon debate over what kind of combat force to deploy to Danang. On March 1, 1965, the administration informed the public it planned on sending the Marines to Danang. An administration spokesperson said, “Such a force …would be assigned to guard airbases and other installations in areas where Vietcong guerrillas are particularly active …but it would not be sent into combat.” That last comment represented a poor attempt at deception, since the administration acknowledged the Marines would be deployed to a region where, “Vietcong guerrillas are particularly active.”[10] Sending the Marines to an area of high Vietcong activity all but guaranteed that the Marines and the guerrillas would exchange gunfire.

Two days before the landing of the Marines, President Johnson expressed to his friend and mentor, Georgia Senator Richard Russell, his feelings about the upcoming Marine landing. In his comments to Russell, the president confessed that the deployment risked further American escalatory action in the near term, something he hadn’t yet committed to. “…I guess we’ve got no choice, but it scares the death out of me. I think everybody’s going to think, we’re landing the Marines. We’re off to battle…Of course, if they [the Vietcong] come up there, they’re going to get them in a fight. Just sure as hell. They’re [the Marines are] not going to run. Then you’re tied down. If they don’t [go in], though, and they [the Vietcong] ruin those airplanes, everybody is going to give me hell for not securing them, just like they did the last time they made a raid.”[11] In this statement, Johnson revealed two important aspects of his Vietnam policy. First, the president deployed the Marines to Danang not only to secure the base, but also to provide political cover to Lyndon Baines Johnson. Second, the president, like his National Security Advisor and Secretary of Defense, did not see the Marine deployment as the beginning of a major U.S. ground war South Vietnam.  As a matter of fact, he hoped the deployment of the Marines might prevent such a ground war by revealing U.S. resolve – a resolve that might convince the Communists to seek peace.[12]

On March 6, the same day as the president’s conversation with Senator Russell, Vietcong main forces mauled three South Vietnamese battalions in a battle near the village of Viet An, a mere forty miles from Danang. Continued ARVN losses on such a scale so close to the base meant the Vietcong main forces might be at Danang’s doorstep in a matter of days.[13] On the same day as the ARVN defeat at Viet An, the Pentagon announced it would send two reinforced Marine battalions, or 3,500 men, to Danang. A Pentagon spokesperson claimed that the Government of South Vietnam had requested the deployment of the Marines and that the, “…Marines would have a limited mission.” Johnson’s people tried to downplay the significance of the moment, portraying the Marine deployments as routine, as no change in policy; but everyone at the White House and the Pentagon knew the U.S. had embarked on a dangerous new course in South Vietnam.[14]

On the windy, gray, overcast morning of March 8, 1965, U.S. combat infantry troops splashed ashore in the crescent-shaped bay north of Danang city. The first Marines to step foot in South Vietnam did not storm the beach like the Marines did at Iwo Jima twenty years earlier, nor did they face the withering fire of dug-in Vietcong troops. Rather, the landing took on the appearance of a festive occasion. A group of South Vietnamese women stood on the beach in sleek white ao dais, greeting each U.S. Marine with a smile and a wreath of flowers. For the first combat troops to step foot in South Vietnam, the country looked peaceful enough – with its beautiful girls and absence of gunfire. Of course, first impressions are almost always wrong.

The Marines arrived in the nick of time. To have waited longer risked a major attack on the base. On the day of the landings, Brig. General Frederick J. Karch, the commander of the two BLTs of the 3rd Marine Division, stated that the role of the Marines would be “strictly defensive.”[15] Yet, despite the assertions of Karch and administration officials, the Marines, who prided themselves on their offensive spirit, did not remain long behind the wire at Danang. Soon after establishing themselves ashore, they declared an eight-mile wide security zone around the base. Within that zone they conducted active patrols to pre-empt either a Vietcong ground assault or a deadly mortar barrage. This “active defense” of the base wasn’t exactly defensive, since it took the Marines into the hamlets and rice paddies outside Danang. Marine commanders justified this “active defense” as a military necessity since it enhanced the safety of U.S. personnel on the base. Ambassador Maxwell Taylor in Saigon agreed with the implementation of an “active defense. He commented, “When the first Marines landed, Administration statements had emphasized their security mission in protecting bases, and, indeed, that was the primary purpose at the time of their landing…[but] the best defense of the bases would be a mobile one which would seek to find and destroy threatening enemy forces before they could attack.”[16]

No one at the Pentagon or White House publicly admitted that the Marines had taken over the job of base defense because the ARVN could not be trusted to do it. Instead, administration officials asserted that the presence of the Marines would free up more of the ARVN for offensive operations. Framing the Marine deployments in such a manner gave the American people the impression the ARVN had a manpower problem rather than a problem with troop competency and motivation.

Closer to the wire, the Marines established a 500-yard-wide cleared zone. The creation of this zone required the forced removal of 7,000 South Vietnamese. Once the original inhabitants had been trucked out of the area, the Marines demolished their homes with bulldozers. Marine engineers leveled any building, vegetation, or landform that offered the Vietcong cover and concealment. After the engineers finished their work, the grunts on the perimeter had clear fields of fire out to a third of a mile.

West of the airbase, two separate Marine patrols seized 1,060 feet high Hill 327 (327 meters) and Hill 268. Marine commanders ordered the occupation of those two hills to keep Vietcong spotters from using the high points to direct mortar fire down on the airfield, its parked aircraft, and its Marines.[17]

The extension of the Marines’ defense perimeter beyond the wire at Danang illustrated how the distinction between offensive and defensive actions became blurred during the U.S. force build-up. The Marines certainly defended the base by seizing the promontories to the west of the airfield and by establishing an eight-mile-wide security zone around the base, but these actions could just as easily have been perceived as offensive. For the geographical facts were indisputable: the Marines had not only come ashore to hold an airbase in the heart of enemy territory, they had extended the U.S.’s troop presence deeper into the interior of South Vietnam. The Marine deployment to Danang was a clear example of how one geographical position (the airbase) led to the acquisition of further geographical positions (Hills 327, 268, and an eight-mile security zone) in order to secure the original position.  This was mission creep, pure and simple.

In early April, a month after the first Marine deployment to Danang, the Johnson administration announced the dispatch of an additional 3,000 Marines to South Vietnam. Half of those Marines went to Danang, where the continued Vietcong build-up in the northern provinces threatened the Marines already there. The other half went to Phu Bai to secure the northern approaches to Danang. The need to protect Danang and its growing task force of Marines had prompted the deployment of additional U.S. forces to South Vietnam.  Not only that, but Danang’s security necessitated the deployment of U.S. units over a wider geographical area of South Vietnam. According to Westmoreland, it became necessary to hold Phu Bai to hold Danang.

The need to secure Danang had become the pretext for a sizable build-up of U.S. combat troop strength in South Vietnam.  That buildup in-turn substantially increased the likelihood of direct U.S. involvement in the ground war because it placed the Marines over a larger area, which increased the odds of a confrontation with the Vietcong and its civilian supporters.[18]

In the weeks after the landings at Danang, the Marines patrolled the base’s new eight-mile security cordon. These foot patrols first started next to the base. But as the weeks passed, the Marines patrolled further and further afield.[19]

On April 22, 1965, a Marine patrol ran into a group of approximately fifty Vietcong at the hamlet of Binh Thai. The subsequent skirmish resulted in three U.S. casualties, one from a sniper’s bullet and two from heat prostration.  The brief fight at Binh Thai was actually militarily significant, not because of its size or intensity, which were negligible, but because it took place outside of the base’s eight-mile security zone. If the eight-mile buffer strip had been created strictly for base security and defensive purposes, then going beyond that eight-mile limit implied that the Marines had actually expanded their mission. They no longer merely protected the base; they had begun actively hunting down the guerrillas.  The Danang Airbase, and mission creep, had led America into a ground war in South Vietnam.[20]


Endnotes

[1] Michael Beschloss, Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson’s Secret White House Tapes, 1964-1965, (New York: Touchstone, 2001), 194.

[2] Ibid., 194.

[3] John Schlight, The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia, The War in South Vietnam, Years of the Offensive, 1965-1968, (Washington, DC: Air Force History and Museums Program, U.S. GPO, 1999), 26-27.

[4] New York Times, “Refugees From War in Vietnam Pose New Problem for Saigon,” Seth S. King, March 8, 1965; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume II, Vietnam, January-June 1965, “Document 84, Memorandum from the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson, February 7, 1965,” (Washington DC: GPO, 1996), 176; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume II, Vietnam, January-June 1965, “Document 177, Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State, March 2, 1965,” (Washington DC: GPO, 1996), 394; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume II, Vietnam, January-June 1965, “Document 182, Telegram From the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Westmoreland) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler), March 6, 1965, ” (Washington DC: GPO, 1996), 400-401.

[5] Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume II, Vietnam, January-June 1965, “Document 155, Telegram From the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Westmoreland) to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Sharp), February 23, 1965,” (Washington DC: GPO, 1996), 351.

[6] Beschloss, Reaching for Glory, 195.

[7] New York Times, “Is Another Dien Bien Phu in the Making,” Jack Langguth, April 11, 1965.

[8] Beschloss, Reaching for Glory, 214-215.

[9] Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume II, Vietnam, January-June 1965, “Document 266, Memorandum for the Record, April 21, 1965,” (Washington DC: GPO, 1996), 579; Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume II, Vietnam, January-June 1965, “Document 280, Telegram From the Department of Defense to the Embassy in Vietnam, April 30, 1965,” (Washington DC: GPO, 1996), 615; Beschloss, Reaching for Glory, 214.

[10] New York Times, “More Marines Due for Vietnam Duty,” Tad Szulc, March 2, 1965.

[11] Beschloss, Reaching for Glory, 211.

[12] Ibid., 214.

[13] New York Times, “Vietcong Batter Three Battalions of Saigon Troops,” Associated Press, March 6, 1965.

[14] New York Times, “3,500 U.S. Marines Going to Vietnam to Bolster Base,” Jack Raymond, March 7, 1965.

[15] New York Times, “Force ‘Strictly Defensive – Arrival is Protested by Hanoi and Peking,” by Jack Langguth, March 8, 1965.

[16] Maxwell D. Taylor, Swords and Plowshares, A Memoir, (New York: De Capo Press, 1972), 344.

[17] New York Times, “Marines at Ready Atop Danang Hill,” Seth S. King, March 11,1965.

[18] New York Times, “1,400 U.S. Marines Land in Vietnam,” Associated Press, April 10, 1965; New York Times, “U.S. Concerned About Bases,” April 10, 1965.

[19] New York Times, “Marines Lifted From Base,” May 4, 1965.

[20] New York Times, “Vietcong Retreat After A Skirmish with U.S. Marines,” Associated Press, April 23, 1965.

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