The Landing at Đà Nẵng, 1965
Đà Nẵng, 2nd LAAM BN

Copyright (2009) by Granderson Walton
USMC Motor Transport Chief of 2nd LAAM , A missile BN
USMC, Retired CWO, AUG 1970

Great Dog and Pony Show - The Landing at Đà Nẵng, 1965Đà Nẵng, 2nd LAAM BN

I was the Motor Transport Chief of 2nd LAAM , A missile BN, sent to Vietnam to provide protection for the air strip against air attack. But as the only motor transport unit in Đà Nẵng. We were called on to provide transportation for all of the combat units at Đà Nẵng.

I seldom went out with the vehicles unless there was something big going on and a lot of trucks were needed. We were getting on with the task of maintenance of the equipment and supporting the A Battery on Hill 324. There was always lots to do.

We were there about a month when we are told that the 3rd Marine Div. was coming to support the war. Until then we only had advisors that went out with the south Vietnamese, to teach them how to fight. I think that was an insult those people, having been fighting for as long as there were people in the far east. Any way, we would have the finest fighting Marines to carry out the battle to all corners of the country side.

I for one think it is a big mistake (Oh, no one asked me.) The assault plan was to bring the troops across the beach at noon, it was late March or early April. Why not just come in to port like we did? Marines want all the ribbons they can get, and the (General needed to fill the last row on his dress whites.) To get that Combat ribbon, the unit must assault a beach.

There was only one beach facing open water and the Air Force used that as a recreation beach so that was out of the question. Just north of the city of Đà Nẵng was a wide river and about a mile up that river was a fine sandy beach. Great place to put on a show at NOON. Most of the time Marines land just before dawn or at dawn. Remember I said that it was not safe to be out at night. Well that meant a landing in very early morning also -- we don’t want this to be a fire fight as the Marines come ashore in a friendly country.

As happened so often in that war, there were not enough recon dones, this was a friendly river what was there to fear? 2nd LAAM BN Motor Transport was to meet the Marines of the 3rdDiv. and transport them to the camp site picked out for them. Now that was only the grunts, and the rest of the 3rd Div. would come down later. For then they needed our vehicle support.

I went to see this Dog And Pony Show. The river was wide at the beach area, and we could see the landing crafts coming up the river. As they got parallel to the shore they turned toward the shore. About 50 yards from shore the first boat hit a sand bar. Thinking that it would be shallow the rest the way, the Coxswain let down the ramp and let the Marines out in about waist deep water. Not all that bad, as the water was not real cold. With rifles over head they started to shore. If they had stepped off into six or eight feet deep water, it might have been a catastrophe. Some of the Marines had not taken off their life jacks so they just paddle to shore.

By that time more landing crafts were making the turn and ready to let off more marines. In the third craft was the beach masters and the Sea Bees, and they had bulldozers. They also had a hard time making it to shore, but as many as could hang on to the heavy equipment came ashore with them . They set up rescue parties to get the rest of the marines ashore. While the Marines took up defense position, the Vietnamese girls ran up to them putting leis on their necks.

By then, they saw the problem and sent the landing crafts around the sand bar. In one of these was the 3rd Marine Div.’s General. I do not remember his name. At that time it had began to rain so I took my rain coat out of my jeep and put it on. I was taking pictures with my 8mm camera, and wanted to have it on film (I never had the film up graded to the latest picture, taking equipment).

The General’s Aide came up to me and asked if I could get the General a rain coat. I took off mine and gave it to him, what a sight! The General was about five foot two, and I am six-three. The coat drug the ground. The Aide returned my coat a few days later. What a great climax to a spoiled combat landing. Shortly I was told to put that camera away. I was glad they did not ask for the film.

We loaded the wet troops on our trucks and trucked them to the camp site. It was well after dark by then and some of the troops were still waiting to go to camp. I told the Captain in charge that I would have to have armed guards to go on all my trucks or we would camp there for the night. I said, we do not travel these roads after dark without armed guards.

Most of the troops that had taken part in the landing had only blanks for ammo, to make the landing look real. The Captain said, "I’ll order you to take my troops to the camp site." I replied, "Order on, Sir. You may ride up front as the lead unarmed vehicle." He soon realized I was not going to budge, and called for some live-ammo to be given to the troops.

I instructed my drivers to drive together unless we were fired on, then they were to go as fast as they could to the camp and to stay there until day light. We made the trip with out any trouble. That was the one-time my duty took me on the road after dark.

When I tell my children & grandchildren this story I show them the Bulldozers coming up on the beach with great slanted eyes painted on the blade.

Gy Sgt GF Walton “ Granny” USMCRetired CWO, AUG 1970.