Operation Harvest Moon

Operation Harvest Moon
Part of Vietnam War
Usmc36-2919a.gif
2nd Battalion, 7th Marines move across paddy dikes during Operation Harvest Moon
Date8-20 December 1965
Location
ResultAllied operational success
Belligerents
 United StatesFNL Flag.svg Viet Cong
Commanders and leaders
United States LG Lew Walt
BG Melvin D. Henderson
BG Jonas M. Platt
South Vietnam Gen. Nguyễn Chánh Thi
BG Hoàng Xuân Lãm
Unknown
Strength
United States 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines
2nd Battalion, 7th Marines
2nd Battalion, 1st Marines
2nd Battalion, 9th Marines
South Vietnam 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment
1st Battalion, 5th Regiment
1st Battalion, 6th Regiment
11th Ranger Battalion
1st Regiment
Casualties and losses
United States 45 killed
South Vietnam 90 killed
91 missing
US/ARVN body count: 407 killed
33 captured

Operation Harvest Moon/Lien Ket 18 was a US Marine Corps and Army of the Republic of Vietnam search and destroy operation in the Quế Sơn Valley in western Quảng Tín Province, lasting from 8 to 20 December 1965.

Background

On the evening of 17 November the Viet Cong (VC) 1st Regiment overran the Regional Force garrison defending the district capital of Hiệp Đức at the mouth of the Quế Sơn Valley. On the morning of 18 November as helicopters from Marine Aircraft Group 16 and Marine Aircraft Group 36 began landing 2 ARVN battalions on a landing zone 700m southwest of Hiệp Đức, they were hit by antiaircraft fire from VC 12.7mm machine guns in the adjacent hills which hit 17 out of 30 UH-34s and killed 1 Marine crewman. The helicopter landings were suspended while F-4Bs from Marine Aircraft Group 11 and A-4s from Marine Aircraft Group 12 attacked the antiaircraft positions. The helicopter landings were resumed and the ARVN repulsed an attack on the landing zone. By 19 November the ARVN had recaptured Hiệp Đức, killing 141 VC and capturing 87 weapons while losing 33 killed.[1]

On 20 November the 2 ARVN battalions were withdrawn from Hiệp Đức to support a counterattack against a People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) attack on Thach Tru in southern I Corps.[1]:100

On 4 December III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) commander LG Lew Walt met with ARVN I Corps commander Gen. Nguyễn Chánh Thi to discuss the worsening security situation in the Quế Sơn Valley and they agreed to mount a joint operation there to neutralize the VC forces.[1]:101

On 5 December III MAF activated Task Force Delta commanded by 3rd Marine Division deputy commander BG Melvin D. Henderson to control the operation and the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines and a provisional artillery battalion formed from the 11th and 12th Marine Regiments were assigned to Task Force Delta. By 7 December BG Henderson and his ARVN counterpart BG Hoàng Xuân Lãm commander of the 2nd Division, had completed planning the operation which called for the ARVN 5th Regiment comprising the 1st Battalion and the 11th Ranger Battalion to advance along Route 534 from Thăng Bình to Hiệp Đức on 8 December and then on 9 December the 2/7 Marines would be landed by helicopter southwest of Quế Sơn where the VC 1st Regiment was suspected to be operating and force them eastwards towards the ARVN force.[1]:101-3

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