January 1

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Jan 1, 1966:

1st Marine Division advance elements arrive

On this day, advance elements of the 1st Regiment of the Marine 1st Division arrive in Vietnam. The entire division followed by the end of March.

The division established its headquarters at Chu Lai and was given responsibility for the two southernmost provinces of I Corps (the military region just south of the DMZ). At the peak of its strength, the 1st Marine Division consisted of four regiments of infantry: the 1st, 5th, 7th, and 27th Marines. It also included the 11th Artillery regiment, which consisted of six battalions of 105-mm, 155-mm, and 8-inch howitzers. Other divisional combat units included the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Antitank Battalion, 1st Amphibious Tractor Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, and the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company. The division numbered nearly 20,000 marines by the time all elements had arrived in South Vietnam.

During the Tet Offensive of 1968, the 1st Marine Division assisted the South Vietnamese army forces in recapturing the imperial city of Hue. The 1st Marine Division was withdrawn from Vietnam in the spring of 1971 and moved to its current base at Camp Pendleton, California. During the course of the Vietnam War, 20 members of the 1st Marine Division won the Medal of Honor for conspicuous bravery on the battlefield. The 1st Marine Division was twice awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for gallantry in action in Vietnam and received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm and the Vietnamese Civil Action Award.

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