Battalion Landing Team 3/5
(research, write-up and maps courtesy of J.D. Murray, in honor of Hans Haupt, H&S Company Commander, 1966)
During the early summer months of 1966, evidence was mounting that large NVA forces were building up in Northern Quang Tri Province, Vietnam. With rare exception, most recon inserts were encountering armed, uniforned NVA throughout the province. Deserters stated the NVA were there to drive the ARVN out of the province.
General Walt (CG III MAF) met With General Westmoreland in Hue and discussed Operation HASTING. Westmoreland approved and authorized Walt to transfer up to an entire division to the Quang Tri Province.
Gen Kyle (CG 3RD MARDIV) established the 4th Marines (forward) at Dong Ha, and activated Task Force Delta headed by his Asst Div Cmdr, Gen English, in preparation for the operation. The Task Force included four infantry battalions (2/1, 1/3, 2/4, and 3 / 4). 3/12 Artillery Battalion also joins the task force.
Based on intelligence reports, General English decided to seek the NVA in the Song Ngan Valley.
Deckhouse II began with an amphibious assault conducted by BLT 3/5 in an area just north of the Qua Viet River near Dong Ha, in Quang Tri Province. The purpose of the assault was to support 3d Marine Division in Operation Hastings-the largest Marine operation in Vietnam at that time. BLT 3/5 mission along “The Street without Joy” was to halt NVA movement across the DMZ and to root out enemy units already inside South Vietnam. Plans call for BLT 3/5 to assume blocking positions about eight miles north of Dong Ha after landing via a combination of surface and helicopterborne lifts. In accordance with amphibious doctrine, once the landing force was firmly established on shore, Deckhouse II would be terminated and BLT 3/5 would conduct further operations inland under the OPCON of Task Force Delta of 3rd Marine Division.
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BLT 3/5 was airlifted into the area to exploit the B-52 strike and act as a blocking force for any NVA units escaping from the Song Ngan area where most of the Task Force were located. No friendly forces had operated in BLT 3/5 initial zone of action prior to their entry. It was suspected that the area might include a regimental sized CP, and perhaps, even the CP for the 324B NVA Division.
BLT 3/5 was commanded by LtCol Ed Bronars, with his able commanders, Capt Hans Haupt (H&S), Capt Sam Glaize (I Co), Capt Dick Maresco (K Co), Capt Reiss Tatum (L Co), and Capt. Harold (Dell) Pettengill(M Co).
In the initial landing, only Capt. Pettengills M Co. encountered serious resistance. The company landed on an NVA unit in LZ CROW at 043623. and after heavy airstrikes were able to overrun the NVA. 20 NVA killed during the afternoon battle.
L Co also landed in LZ CROW. Cos K, I, H&S, and BLT CP landed in LZ DOVE.
18 July 1966
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There was little contact during the morning of the 19th. L Co made contact with a platoon of NVA at 045625 and K Co had NVA contact at 038608 that afternoon.
L Co discovered a Bn CP at 040620 with 140 bunkers.
19 July 1966
At first light all BLT companies resumed search and destroy operations west in their assigned TAOR’s. At 0915am Co L destroyed an NVA Hqs. At 040620. Both L and M Cos had contact early in the day. A patrol from the 106rr platoon discovered a possible political reception center at 098619. At 1610 K Co at 044598 found a Bn/Regt CP with hundreds of uniforms, packs, shirts, shelter halfs, etc and documents. All were new.
Co M had contact at 028616 and 022610 killing 4 NVA and capturing supplies and documents.
At 1815pm L Co killed 2 NVA at 025610.
At 0100am K Co ambushed 10-15NVA. Results unknown
20 Jul 1966
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All BLT 3/5 companies continued search and destroy missions in their TAORs.
Co M at 0920am discovered prepared positions at 024618 with much equipment. 200 bunkers, hospital and mess hall in area. Large quantities of engineering equipment and explosives and mines found indicating probably an NVA Engineering Bn. Probably evacuated because of B-52 Arc Light. M Co found a Chinese Mine Detector at 028618. 2 NVA bodies, 12 graves were also found, apparently caused by arty fire or an earlier contact with Co K or M.
21 Jul 1966
Continuing search and destroy operations to the west, Co M reached Hill 314, which intelligence sources indicated was the site of a regimental CP. 1 NVA killed by M Co 024625. At 1545pm Co M 2d platoon surprised 30-40 NVA in prepared bunker positions vic. 034625. Co M overran the positions. While evacuating the wounded, the NVA assaulted from 034623. Both the 1st platoon under John Keker, and the 3rd Platoon, under Joe Mirgeaux overran the NVA on top of the nearby hill. The NVA probed M Co positions throughout the night.
At 1700pm, an ambush from L Co. fired on 4 NVA at 025610. Reinforcing squad helped kill 4 NVA.
At 1845pm I Co at 026608 contacted 12-15 NVA. NVA withdrew.
22 July 1966
At 0040am Co M killed 2 NVA.
At 0815am I Co killed 1 NVA.
At 1000am Co M killed 2 NVA. at 033627. Co K found 1 dead NVA at 025611.
Co I at 1105am sighted 2 NVA at 018602, killing one, capturing one and one 57mm recoilless rifle.
At 1555pm I Co discovered a large equipment cache at 017607. and captured another NVA.
At 2230pm L Co killed 1 NVA at 005605.
23 July 1966
At 0700am L Co was approached by 2 NVA at 005605 wearing camouflaged utilities and U.S. helmets. 1 NVA killed..
At 1115am I Co discovered 21 NVA bodies near 016617, in area of previous L Co ambush.
At 1155am H&S Co. patrol found NVA bivouac site at 083614 with 140 bunkers.
At 1200 Co I made contact with 3 NVA near 011616 along well used trail. 1 NVA killed, 1 captured.
At 1215pm Co I came under intense automatic and small arms fire at 013616. At 1425pm Co I received mortar and automatic weapons fire while moving up draw at base of Hill 362. Once on top of Hill 362 and moving across a saddle, I Co came under very heavy concentrated enemy fire from three sides. LtCol Bronars ordered K Co to reinforce I Co. K Co got within 300 meters before heavy NVA fire from an estimated 30-40 NVA halted their advance at 018614.
Meanwhile, I Co. remained under intense enemy firing including at least 4 NVA mortar positions. The mortars took a heavy toll on I Co Marines until an UH-1E helicopter gunships strafed the NVA mortar positions identified by Lt. Jim Kirschke, the 81mmMortar Platoon Commander, who deuced the position through a quick map study.
NVA captives identified the NVA forces as 6th Bn, 812th Regt, 324B NVA Division. Captured were 3 mortars, 27 rifles and machineguns, 1 57mm Recoilless Rifle and large numbers of packs and equipment.
At 2335pm M Co was probed at 025636.
24 July 1966
During the early hours, Co I was continually probed by an estimated 2 reinforced NVA companies. NVA broke contact 0430am.
At 1000am L Co killed 1 NVA at 016607 and at 1500am they sighted 7 NVA, killing 1 NVA at 011612. At 1630pm L Co was attacked by approx. 20 NVA at 011617, killing four NVA.
At 1645pm L Co received a tear gas grenade.
At 1700pm Co K discovered 6 NVA bodies and numerous drag trails vicinity 018617 and a large store of equipment including machineguns, submachineguns, grenades, and uniforms.
By 1715pm I Co patrols around 011617 had found 14 more NVA bodies and numerous drag marks.
25 Jul 1966
Today was relatively quiet, with contact consisting chiefly of small probes. M Co joined the other companies on Hill 362 in preparation for the foot movement to a newly assigned TAOR.
26 July 1966
L Co received probes at 0015am on Hill 362.
After conducting intensive air strikes and artillery preparation, the rifle companies moved westward to designated positions in the new TAOR. The BLT CP displaced by helicopter.
At 0815am, L Co. received sniper fire, returned fire killing 1 NVA. at 011617. and capturing 1 NVA with 2 submachineguns.
27 July 1966
The following companies conducted search and destroy operations against NVA forces in the grid squares indicated:
Co K – 7960
Co L – 9660
Co M- 9860. 9960, 0060.
At 1215pm Co M found a cache at 999593 of NVA equipment. An hour later M Co found another cache of clothing and equipment at 999593.
At 1400pm K Co received 10-20rds sniper fire from 987592.
At 1605 L Co made contact with 4-5 NVA snipers at 965603.
At 1815pm I Co moved into the BLT CP area to provide security and constitute the BLT reserve.
28 July 1966
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At 0915am Co K commenced movement to Landing Zone Bluejay vic. 983563 for subsequent helilift to the USS PRINCETON. H&S Co., 2d platoon, Co B,1stMotor Transport Bn, and I Co followed in trace. The helilift was completed by 1610pm.
Battery F commenced helilift from vic 117579 at 0900am to USS PRINCETON.
At 1227pm, the 2d Platoon M Co sighted 25-30 NVA at 989613 digging a mortar and 50cal MG position on top of the hill as the 2d platoon moved up a steep ravine. Artillery and air strikes were called in on NVA position.
During a search conducted by Co. M, a trail eight to ten feet wide was discovered in the area of 0161 to 9661 along the mountain ridge line. It was noted that tall trees were pulled and lashed together to complete the jungle canopy over the trail. The trail showed signs of frequent use and had communications wire throughout its length.
29 July 1966
At 0830am Co L and M and the remainder of H&S Co commenced movement towards LZ BLUEJAY. Helicopters lifted the first elements of Company M at 1305pm and by 1530pm all units of BLT 3/5 were aboard assigned shipping.
Operation Hastings ended for BLT 3/5 on 30 July 1966
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I have used the following references:
A few Good Men by Ronald Brown
Semper Fi Vietnam by Edward Murphy
BLT 3/5 After Action Report and Command Chronology
My experience with M Co as 2d Platoon Commander on Hastings
Input from Reiss Tatum, CO of L Co. on Hastings.
This graphic was created in honor of Hans Haupt, H&S Co commander for BLT 3/5 on Hastings.
In the last several years he has personally been responsible for locating many of the surviving members of the BLT 3/5 through his diligent and persistent efforts on the internet.