Operation Starlite began on August 18, 1965. It was the first major offensive regimental size action conducted by a strictly U.S. military unit during the Vietnam War. The operation was launched based on intelligence provided by Major General Nguyen Chanh Thi, the commander of the South Vietnamese forces in northern I Corps area. Lieutenant General Lewis W. Walt devised a plan to launch a pre-emptive strike against the Viet Cong regiment to nullify the threat on the vital Chu Lai base and ensure its powerful communication tower remained intact. The operation was conducted as a combined arms assault involving ground, air and naval units. U.S. Marines were deployed by helicopter insertion into the designated landing zone while an amphibious landing was used to deploy other Marines. 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment – both stationed at Chu Lai – were chosen to move on Van Tuong, as well as 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, from the Special Landing Force, which made haste from the Philippines. Forty-eight years later, the lessons learned from Operation Starlite still echo through military operation manuals and the Marines who laid their lives on the line are recognized for their heroism. The engagement showed the Marine Corps to be a prime fighting force 190 years after its birth, even when faced with an enemy of relatively unknown capabilities in conditions less than ideal. Also the combination of amphibious assault and helicopter-borne forces used in Operation Starlite showed the Marines to be masters of their chosen crafts: amphibious assault and assault via helicopter. With success in Operation Starlite the Marines passed their first big test in Vietnam. Moreover, they tested on the battlefield the combined helicopter and amphibious doctrine that they had studied for more than a decade.
This was my first post for my ongoing "Uniform of the Month" series. Each month I spotlight a particular uniform from a time and place in U.S. military history. Because of my background and interests, these are mostly focused on World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. This uniform was pulled together over several months as my interest in the Marine Corps of the Vietnam War has grown. Everything in the photos is original except for the Utility Cover and the OG-107 Trousers, both reproductions from Moore Militaria. I don't currently own an M-14 rifle but I held my M-1 in the photos and then added in an M-14 later.
UNIFORM OF THE MONTH
I love deciding which unique uniform impression I want to put together each month. Follow me right here to see what's next!