Operation Pipestone Canyon

Operation Pipestone Canyon
Part of Vietnam War
Sea Knight Helicopters and Members of 1st Marines, 1969 (20116965914) (cropped).jpg
HMM-263 CH-46s deploy Marines in Dodge City
Date26 May – 7 November 1969
15°51′N 108°12′E / 15°51′N 108°12′E / 15.85; 108.2
ResultAllied operational success
PAVN/VC forces driven from Go Noi Island and "Dodge City"
 United States
 South Vietnam
 South Korea
FNL Flag.svg Viet Cong
 North Vietnam
Commanders and leaders
United States MG Ormond R. Simpson
Col. Charles S. Robertson
Col. Herbert L. Wilkerson
Vương Thừa Vũ
United States 1st Battalion, 1st Marines
2nd Battalion, 1st Marines
3rd Battalion, 5th Marines
1st Battalion, 26th Marines
South Vietnam1st Battalion, 51st Regiment
2nd Battalion, 51st Regiment
37th Ranger Battalion
South Korea2nd Marine Brigade
36th Regiment
Casualties and losses
United States 71 killedUS body count: 852 killed
58 captured

Operation Pipestone Canyon was a US Marine Corps, Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC) operation that took place on Go Noi Island, Quảng Nam Province, lasting from 26 May to 7 November 1969.


Go Noi Island was located approximately 25 km south of Danang to the west of Highway 1, together with the area directly north of the island, nicknamed Dodge City by the Marines due to frequent ambushes and firefights there, it was a Vietcong (VC) and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) stronghold and base area.[1] While the island was relatively flat, the small hamlets on the island were linked by hedges and concealed paths providing a strong defensive network. Go Noi was the base for the VC's Group 44 headquarters for Quảng Nam Province, the R-20 and V-25 Battalions and the T-3 Sapper Battalion and, it was believed, elements of the PAVN 2nd Division. The Marines had conducted Operation Jasper Square on the island during April 1968 with minimal results and then Operation Allen Brook from May to August 1968 severely disrupting the VC/PAVN infrastructure.[2]:328 In late November the Marines had launched Operation Meade River against the Dodge City area inflicting serious losses on the VC/PAVN.[2]:426

Despite the earlier operations the VC/PAVN returned to the area and by mid-1969 it was believed to be the base area for the PAVN 36th Regiment comprising the R-20, D-3 Sapper, T-3 Sapper and T-89th Sapper Battalions and elements of the disbanded 38th Regiment.[3]:175

In mid-May 1st Marine Division commander MG Ormond R. Simpson briefed the 1st Marine Regiment commander Col. Charles S. Robertson on the operational plane to completely clear and neutralize Go Noi Island and Dodge City and reopen Route 4 from Đại Lộc District to Điện Bàn District. A combined force of 10 Marine, ROKMC and ARVN infantry battalions supported by engineers would take part in the operation which was scheduled to commence on or about 27 May.[3]

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