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Home | SECRETARY OF THE NAVY (USS Cole) | The Moving Wall, Vietnam Veterans Memorial | Americans, Vietnamese gave up much in war | The 6th Vietnamese Marine Battalion

The 6th Vietnamese Marine Battalion
THE DIVINE HAWKS

A brief history of the battles fought by the 6th Vietnamese Marine Battalion.

The 6th Marine Battalion, Divine Hawks, was created and commanded by Colonel Pham Van Chung in 1965 and became part of Marine Task Force A (also know as 258th Marine Brigade). The Divine Hawks engaged the enemy at Tan Uyen in Zone D during the early part of 1967. In early 1968 they had performed operations in Phu Cu, Bong Son and Tam Quan in the province of Binh Dinh.

The North Vietnamese Army had agreed to a temporary ceasefire in order to observe the lunar New Year. However, there was a mix-up in the communications between the NVA and VC units. North Vietnam celebrates Tet on the 29th and South Vietnam on January 30th. Consequently some NVA units attacked their targets one day early this action became known as the Tet Mau Than Offensive (The Americans called it the Tet offensive). This failure to coordinate their attack cost the NVA and VC the element of surprise.

On New Year’s Day the 6th Battalion, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Hoang Tich Thong, received orders to dislodge the enemy from the Lien Khuong Airbase in Da Lat. The NVA had deployed a large number of antiaircraft units around Lien Khuong Airbase so they landed at Tuy Hoa Airfield. The Marines were then sent to Tan Son Nhut Airbase in Saigon on New Years Day.

The following day they were transported along Bien Hoa Highway to liberate the Thu Duc District of Saigon. The Marines arrived at a forest area north of the university area. The enemy had launched attacks on the 2nd and 3rd Marine Battalions. The enemy was well concealed in the abandoned rubber plantations behind the Marine positions. By the time the 6th Marines arrived the 2nd and 3rd had repulsed several enemy attacks.

The next day the 6th sent out patrols to search the rubber forest northwest of Thu Duc. The enemy had retreated and it took the 6th about a week to secure the area.

The 6th moved to Hang Xanh and Dong Ong Co in Gia Dinh province. The terrain was uneven giving the NVA units an advantage. The 6th had to retake the area meter by meter. With the aid of helicopter gunships the enemy retreated with many wounded and killed. The 2nd Marines relived the 6th who then returned to Marine Task Force A.

The 6th was then deployed to protect the Binh Loi bridge. They set up camp south of the bridge. In May of 1968 Captain Nguyen Xuan Phuc was placed in command of the 6th Marine Battalion. Captain Phuc had a reputation for being a tough commander. The NVA attacked the southern end of the bridge. The 1st Company was ordered to block the enemy advance. Captain Phuc saw enemy sappers attempting to reach the bridge. He ordered a platoon to reinforce the 1st Co. and together they routed the NVA sappers back to the coconut swamp.

Locked in the coconut tree swamp the NVA could not escape. With helicopters hovering overhead the NVA surrendered. Altogether the 6th Marines killed over 40 NVA soldiers and captured 150.

It was Captain Phuc’s first victory and the 6th Marine Battalion’s first battle where they had defeated the NVA unaided by any other unit.

On the 30th of March, 1972 the North Vietnamese Army invaded South Vietnam and became known as the Nguyen Hue Offensive (the Americans called it the Easter Offensive).

With the surrender of Camp Carroll and the retreat of the 147th Marine Brigade from Mai Loc Fire Base Pedro became the defensive line. The Divine Hawks occupied this position under the command of Major Do Huu Tung. Major Tung prepared for the advancing NVA tanks by setting up anti-tank mine fields on the approaches to Pedro.

The enemy shelled the position until morning when the NVA tanks and infantry attacked on the morning of April 9th. The Marine artillery, based at Ai Tu, responded causing the infantry to retreat but the tanks kept coming. They crushed the fence and continued their attack. The Major held his fire. One of the tanks hit a mine and exploded in flames. The other tanks stopped. The Major gave the order to fire. The Divine Hawks raked the column of tanks with M-72 rockets and 106 mm recoilless rifles. The enemy infantry retreated.

The battle lasted three days. The NVA lost 23 tanks (19 by the Divine Hawks and 4 by the Wild Birds) and 400 killed and many more wounded and captured. This battle was unusual in that an infantry battalion had defeated a tank battalion without using any of their own tanks. The strategy

Tank battle at Pedro (Phuong Hoang),

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