The 1st Brigade,
5th Mechanized Infantry Division

in Vietnam



Colonel Richard J. Glikes - 25 July 1968-December 1968
Colonel James M. Gibson - December 1968-5 June 1969
Colonel John L. Osteen, Jr - 5 June 1969-22 November 1969
BG William A. Burke - 22 November 1969-30 June 1970
BG John G. Hill, Jr - 30 June 1970-19 May 1971
BG Harold H. Dunwoody - 19 May 1971-August 1971

The 5th Infantry Division, "Red Diamond" was reactivated on 19 February 1962 at Fort Carson, Colorado. It was the first Mechanized Infantry Division organized under the ROAD (Reorganization Objective Army Division) concept. The first Division Commander was MG Ashton H. Manhart who was commanding Fort Carson, his Assistant Division Commander was BG Joseph R.Russ. In 1963, MG John A. Heintges took command of the division and BG Edward C. Dunn was the Assistant Division Commander. From 1962 to 1968, the 5th Infantry Division (Mech) trained troops in Basic Combat and Advanced Individual Training (AIT). It provided support for the U.S.Armed Forces committed to Vietnam.

On 25 March 1968, the 1st brigade of the 5th Infantry Division (Mech) was alerted for deployment in the Republic of Vietnam. For this duty it was reorganized as a Separate Brigade (see link:"Organization of the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division in Vietnam"). Colonel Richard J. Glikes was in charge of the Brigade. After intensive training on small unit tactics and combined arms coordination, the brigade concentrated its personnel and loaded its vehicles on railroad cars for departure to Southeast Asia in June 1968. On July 2, 1968, the advance party of the Brigade arrived at Quang Tri, the remainder followed on 22 July 1968.

On August 12, the first unit of the brigade committed to combat was A Company of the 1/77 Armor. It moved from Wonder Beach to A4 (Alpha 4) at Con Thien to support the 1st Marine Regiment. The entire Brigade moved, on August 26, into "Leatherneck Square" (area borded by Con Thien, Cam Lo, Dong Ha, Gio Linh). On August 31, D Company, 1/11 Inf made the first heavy contact with enemy forces. The Brigade conducted several battalion-size operations in its area of operation. From 23 to 26 October 1968, operation Rich was an assault into the DMZ conducted dismounted by the 1/61 inf (Mech).

The 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry division (Mech) moved, on November 2, 1968, to AO (Area of Operations) Napoleon Saline II in the vicinity of the city of Quang Tri.The AO was redesignated "Marshall Mountain" on December 10. The Brigade conducted strike operations in coordination with ARVN forces of the sector and with the 1st Regiment, 1st ARVN Division to support the pacification of the Quang Tri province. In addition to these operations, the 1st Brigade provided transportation for refugees, assisted in road construction and established Medcap visits to friendly villages.

On February 24, 1969, the 1st Brigade took operational control of the 3rd Squadron, 5th cavalry. The 3/5th Cav was formerly assigned to the the 9th Infantry Division. It left the 9th Inf Div after the Tet offensive and worked for the 1st Marine Division at Da Nang, the 3rd Marine Division at Dong Ha, and the 101st Airborne Division at Phu Bai. In June 1968 the 3/5th Cav operated under control of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Air Cavalry Division.

On March 16, 1969, the 1st Brigade, 5th Inf Div (Mech) was again committed in the 3rd Marine Regiment's AO. It operated an Armor/infantry Task Force named Task Force Remagen to re-open the RC (Route Coloniale) 9 to the Laotian border, to conduct reconnaissance in the Khe Sanh plain, and support the 3rd Marine regiment's Operation Maine Crag.

On April 8, the 1st Brigade conducted operation "Ellis Ravine", a search and clear operation in Ba Long valley.

The 79th Infantry Detachment (LRP) (Long Range Patrol) was attached to the Brigade on December 15, 1968. The 79th received assets from F Co, 51st Inf, the Long Range Patrol of the II Field Force Vietnam. The 1 February 1969, all LRP units were assigned to the 75th Infantry Regiment (Ranger). The 79th Det was redesignated "P" Company, 75th Infantry Regiment (Ranger). The Papa company (Ranger)/75th Inf remaining attached to the 1st Brigade, 5th Inf Div (Mech). On April 25, 1969, Ranger Team 14 of Papa company (Ranger) killed a notorious VC leader, Nguyen Quyet.

During Operation Massachusetts Bay, the Battalions of the Brigade conducted patrolling and ambushes in the area of Base Area 101 and the Districts of the Quang Tri Province, from April 23 to May 25, 1969. The 1st Brigade provided security to friendly people and denied access to rice producing area to NVA and VC.

From June 2 to July 9, elements from 1/61st Inf and 1/77th Armor combined with units from the 3rd and 9th Marine Regts and units from ARVN Forces formed Joint Task Force Guadalcanal to conduct operation Utah Mesa in the Khe Sanh area.

On June 15, the 1st Brigade ended operation Massachusetts Bay and began operation Iroquois Grove in its normal AO, to protect civilians and assist in accelerated pacification program. Operation Iroquois Grove was conducted by TF 1/11 and TF 1/77. Returned from Khe Sanh area, TF 1/61 conducted operation Williams Glade, a search and clear operation performed from Dong Ha and Quang Tri Combat Base areas.

The 1/11th Inf and C Co/1/77th Armor participated in operation Idaho Canyon under control of the 3rd Marine Regiment. On July 28, the 1/11th Inf and the C Co/1/77th armor moved from LZ Sharon to Con Thien where they established their CP. They conducted search and clear operations and Reconnaissance in force south of the DMZ in the vicinity of A4 (Alpha 4).

On August 13, 1969, TF 1/11 returned to the OPCON (Operational Control) of the 1st Brigade, 5th Inf Div (Mech) which assumed responsibility for AO Orange (from DMZ south to Cam Lo river).

From Operational Control of The 3rd Marine Division, the 1st brigade, 5th Infantry division (Mech), passed to OPCON of the Commanding General, XXIV Corps, on October 1969. The Brigade took control of the defense of Quang Tri Combat Base and Dong Ha Combat Base in replacement of the 3rd Marine Division but in conjunction with the 1st ARVN Infantry division. The first Combat Operation under XXIV Corps control was Fulton Square.

In early 1970, the 1st Brigade was engaged in Operation York Market, a security and pacification program with RPF (Regional and Popular Forces). On April 1, TF 1/61 joined units of the 2nd ARVN Infantry Regiment, 1st ARVN Infantry Division in a drive against NVA about 5 miles west of C2 (Charlie 2). At Fire Support Base (FSB) Fuller, atop Dong Ha mountains, Delta Company, 1/11th Inf received more than 400 rounds of mortar fire from NVA positions on the surrounding hills, from the middle of April to May 10, when it was relieved by 2nd ARVN Regiment.

The pacification program continued by Operation Green River from January 19, 1970. The operations conducted by the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mech) were search and clear, rocket suppression and reconnaissance in force. Saturation daylight patrol and night ambushes were performed by units based at C2 and A4. Operation Dakota Clint was conducted to ensure security of the villages of the Mai Loc area. The Companies of 1/11th Inf were combined at Platoon level with RF/PF units (Regional Forces and Popular Forces). They performed security, night ambush and search and clear operations in the Mai Loc AO.

In July 1970, an Air Cavalry troop, C Troop, 3/17 Air Cav passed under Operational Control of the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry division. Now the Brigade could extend its area of influence toward the south and west of the Quang Tri Province. On July 22, the Brigade initiated Operation Wolf Mountain. During this operation, the 1st Brigade performed missions in the following districts of the Quang Tri Province: Mai Linh, Trieu Phong, Dong Ha, Gio Linh, Cam Lo, Huong Ha and Hai Lang.

On January 29, 1971, The 1st Brigade, under command of Brigadier General John G. Hill, Jr, initiated one of the most significant and well known operation of the Vietnam War, Operation Lam Son 719. The 1st Brigade was reinforced by: 3rd/187th Inf (101st airborne Division), 4th/3rd Inf (23rd Infantry Division), 1st/1st Cav (one-one Cav)(23rd Infantry Division). The TF 1/61 was detached from the 1st Brigade at the same time.

On January 30, A Troop, 3/5th Cav and units from 14th Engineer Battalion attacked dismounted southwest along two axes from Rockpile and Fire Support Base Vandergrift. They moved from Ca Lu to open the road for vehicles traffic from Dong Ha to Laotian Border. TF 3/5th Cav with A Company, 14th Engineer open a road from Rockpile to Khe Sanh. At the same time, TF 1/11th Inf air assaulted the high ground either side of QL 9 from Calu to Khe Sanh. Once that the road has been opened to Khe Sanh, TF 1/1st Cav moved from Dong Ha to the former Special Forces Camp at Lang Vei. They advanced to open the road (QL 9) to the border (Tabat). After these missions were executed, a ARVN Task Force of 20,000 men moved to the Laotian border.

On February 8, ARVN Forces moved into Laos to interdict Ho Chi Minh trail. The 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mech) had a mission to secure QL9 from Cam Lo to Tabat and to provide a mobile defense for Vandergrift and Khe Sanh support areas.

After Lam Son 719, the 1st Brigade conducted Operation Montana Mustang in the eastern half of the Quang Tri Province. The NVA launched indirect fire attacks against Fire Support Bases A4 and C2 along the DMZ. The 5/4th Arty did a great job in neutralizing enemy fires. During an attack on C2, the 1st Brigade suffered its heaviest casualties in a single engagement. On May 21, 1971, a 120mm rocket crashed on EM club bunker exploding inside. The rocket made 29 KIAs and 33 WIAs.

Early in June 1971, the 1st Brigade received orders for a redeployment beginning on July 1. On August 7, 1971, in a ceremony held at Quang Tri Combat Base, Camp Red Devil, Lieutenant General Lem, Commanding General of the 1st Military Region, presented to the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mech) colors, the Unit Citation Ribbon "Color of Gallantry Cross with Palm" and the Fourragere "Color of the Gallantry Cross". Brigadier General Harold H. Dunwoody, CG, 1st Brigade, was presented the Fourragere "Color of the Gallantry Cross with Palm", the "Gallantry Cross with God Star" and the "Armed Forces Honor Medal First Class". The "Gallantry Cross with Silver Stars and Bronze Stars" was presented to the outstanding members of the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized).

In the middle of August 1971, the 1st Brigade colors departed from Quang Tri to return to Fort Carson, Colorado. On August, 22, in a ceremony held at Fort Carson, the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mech) colors were de-activated.



Organization of the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) in Vietnam



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Created in May 1997

Updated July 07, 2009 by Yves J. Bellanger