Operation Indiana

Intelligence and Planning

Upon the termination of Operation Texas, the 3 rd Battalion of the 5th ARVN Regiment remained in positions near the hamlet of Lam Loc (1) and had repulsed sevral attacks by the enemy forces which either returned or remained in the area. On the morning of the 28th of March 1966 Col. Peatross received a phone call from the Senior advisor to the 2nd ARVN Division that ARVN units were in heavy contact with the VC. A decision was made to land the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines as a blocking force for a subsequent ARVN sweep to trap and destroy the VC. A meeting of the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion and supporting units was held and the helilift of the Marines into the Battle area began at 1400H that same day.

By 1700H LtCol. James P. Kelley's 1st Battalion, 7th Marines who were helilifted from Chu Lai, had landed in the designated Landing Zones without incident. The first Company had moved out to it's designated blocking position at approximately 1620H and the rest of the Marines continued with the deployment to effect the entrapment of the enemy.

The Battle

Departing the LZ Company "C" moved out in a column towards their blocking objective, in the bush covered terrain the Marines made a navigational error and moved north of their objective. The point sighted a VC outpost and reported immediatedly to the Company Commander who order the 3rd Platoon to pursue. No sooner had the Marines approached the edge of the Village when the VC sprung their ambush and took the Platoon under heavy machine-gun and automatic weapons fire. The Marines were unable to advance and orders were given for the 1st Platoon to envelop the right flank to relieve the pressure on their fellow Marines who had sustained numerous casualties and were unable to extract themselves from a procarious position. The Marines attacked the enemy with the support of the Weapons Platoon, they carried the position by use of anything at their disposal including grenades and bayonets.

Due to the heavy casualties and extreme enemy fire the 2nd Platoon which had been held in reserve was committed to the attack joining the 1st Platoon, and once again the attack was stalled. Marines fought hand-to-hand, one Marine attacked an Anti-Aircaft machine gun bunker which had been cutting his friends down in the open. He attacked the position with just a bayonet and hand grenades killing the gunner, and chasing down and killing the gunners helper who had tried to escape in a tunnel. Heavy artillery and air strikes were placed on the hamlet of Vinh Loc, but the enemy would not let up with its withering fire directed at the Marines and by now the "C" Company CP was receiving heavy incomming 81mm mortar fire. With dusk arriving the 1st Platoon was ordered to withdraw and assist the withdrawl of the 3rd Platoon with their casualties. During the withdrawl the VC made an effort to cover the Marine dead and wounded with intensive fire, the Marines managed to reach the Company perimeter with all their wounded but seven KIA had to be left behind until daylight.

As was the case in most battles the VC withdrew their able bodied men, their wounded, and some of their dead during the night. At first light the Marines were orded to enter the battlefield and recover their casualties and access the damage to the enemy. The fight was over, and all that remained was the broken and twisted remnants of a battle that was hard fought the day before. "Charley" Company with the help of "B", and "D" Company's swept the area and recovered all of their men that lay on the battlefield transporting them back to a rear area and eventually back to Chu Lai.

The Aftermath

During the short period of Operation Indiana, the Marine forces killed 69 VC , with an additional 160 who were probably killed or wounded. Five suspects were detained one VC captured, and several weapons were captured including two 12.7 mm Anti Aircraft machine-guns. Although considered a success, Marine casualties were high for the short but bloody battle. 11 Marines died in action and 55 were wounded, the majority of the casaulties were from "Charley" Company who had borne the brunt of the battle. It was fate that transformed "C" Company from a blocking force to an attacking force and forever left it's mark on the young men of that Marine unit.

Charley Company, 1st Battalion. 7th Marines killed on Operation Indiana March 28, 1966. Sgt John George Bansavage, Pfc Michael Ray Beck, Pfc Paul Elias Hassey, Cpl. Richard Lee Otis Mayes, Cpl. Joh Leigh McCarty, Pfc Thomas McEntee, Sgt. Pedro Padilla, Pfc. Richard Joseph Preskenis, Sgt. Colon Ricardo Rodriguez, Pfc. Leroy Eugene Simons, and attached from H&S Co. Pfc. Edmund Francis Eddy.

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