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Section 9. 1960-1975 "The Vietnam War"

Foreword

Those Marines who spent their lives and energies building an active combat support role for Marine Corps counterintelligence (CI) during the Vietnam War, developed into a aggressive group of individuals. From the early years of the Vietnam War until its conclusion Marine CI operated as small units or individually with other military allied services. To quote J.J. Flanagan; a former CI Marine "I believe we were then, and still remain, a closely knit brotherhood within the Marine Corps CI framework. Once a Marine - always a Marine ... as the saying goes."

Events thoughout the Vietnam War where Marine CI was involved covered an extensive period of time (1960-1975). To document each and every event would fill many volumes. In order to present this historic period and place it in its proper prospective, only those significant events and those individuals who took part in them are depicted herein. At the initial onset of U.S. activities in Vietnam, Marine CI focused its attention on inserting its personnel within the Republic of South Vietnam to act as military advisors. Once the U.S. military buildup was in full swing, and up until the fall of Saigon, six Marine Corps CI teams had been deployed to support the war effort. Most journals, reports or plans pertaining CI operations were classified. In the past fifteen year, however, many of these records have been officially declassified. Where possible, many events involving Marine CI were extracted from official records, declassified reports, and open source information to improve the scope of this history.

It is hoped that this period of CI History will tell the story of what the Counterintelligence field was like during the Vietnam War years... Unfortunately, many CI Teams Activity Reports, Command Chronologies and operational reports depicting Marine CI operations, etc., were destroyed or lost over the years. Without the help of these individuals who lived these events, this history would be incomplete. I would also like to give my special thanks to MSgt Terry Jesmore USMC (Ret.), who in the beginning of this period of CI history assisted me by providing many long hours collecting and recording many events where Marine Corps CI took an active role during the Vietnam War - "Thanks Terry."


Preface

The period from 1960 through 1965 saw the deployment of Marine Corps Counterintelligence (CI) assets in support of both the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Haiti uprising, and the Dominican Republic Campaign. It was during this period that Marine CI enhanced its Human Intelligence (HUMINT) collection capability and provided a direct combat support role to the Fleet Marine Force. Personnel assigned to Marine CI demonstrated an added benefit of direct involvement in combat operations and began to convince senior commanders that CI was more than a passive rear service unit; filling out individual clearance applications, conducting Physical Security Evaluation (PSE), and inspections to test a units secruity positure.

In 1964, a number of CI Marines entered the Republic of South Vietnam (RVN). They served as advisors or where assigned to special assignments. In 1965, as the Marine Corps began deployment of its forces to South Vietnam, Marine CI were sent as attachments - in the same piece-meal manner that both line and aviation units filtered into the country. In many of its initial assignments, CI assets were hampered by an undefined set of operational rules or a mission. Too often this was the case, CI assets were relegated to Staff CI functions, physical security evaluations and various types of surveys. Additionally, not fully understanding the potential use of Marine CI, many commanders reverted to the traditional use of intelligence assets. However, as time went forward, many opportunities surfaced for CI to be used in a true combat support role. By 1967 the CI mission was further defined through staff work at the I Corps level. Marine CI conducted liaison with many agencies in and outside of South Vietnam. The Pacification Program presented Marine CI with a considerable challenge to which they were particularly suited for such a roles. Encouragement from CAS/CORDS advisors built support for the utilization of CI assets to provide intelligence on the shadow government of the Viet Cong Infrastructure. III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF), Staff CI author and published orders that set the priority and mission of how Marine CI assets were to be utilized; identify, locate and neutralize the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI). Equally important was to use CI intelligence to aid in the recovery and accountability of both allied and Marine prisoners of war (POWs) or personnel missing in action (MIA's). Secondary to this mission was that CI would provide combat intelligence developed from low level sources in conjunction with the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam (ARVN) intelligence agencies and to coordinated their operations with allied forces. This mission established a direct command reporting chain to III MAF that oftened bypassed local commands. In situations, a dual reporting structure was established to some commands. Wherever possible, CI assets provided assistance and carried out additional assignments as directed by the 3rd Marine Division. Basically, there were three reason why CI assets took on these additional roles. First, to aid tactical units in screening indigenous personnel. Second, to conduct field interrogation of enemy POWs which were of a CI interest and finally, to neutralize a specific CI target, by giving as much CI assistance as possible. In some cases, CI units were assigned to participate in an operation through message traffic from higher headquarters. At times, Marine CI developed enough information on a specific target to initiate a combat operation with the main focus of neutralizing a specific target. However, which was most often the case, CI personnel would heard of an operation in a particular area of interest and would requested permission to go into that area with a tactical unit so information couldbe obtained and assist in creating a data base file on the enemy.

Theater control of intelligence sources resulted in the intermeshing of human intelligence (HUMINT) collections - low level sources developed by Marine CI was a result of a country wide collection program. Through the direction of the Office of the Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador in the Republic of South Vietnam, a system of operational interest and control of HUMINT assets began to be developed. This was reflected in a HUMINT control order initiated by I Corps and III MAF making low level agents recruitment by Marine CI subject to a theater operation of interest and development of a control registry. This established the flow of money and reporting requirements. It also caused Marine CI personnel to be attached as advisors to the Republic of South Vietnamese (RVN), Police Special Branch for close coordination and direction from the CAS/COORD advisors. This activity was most important in the establishment of the District Intelligence Operations Coordinations Centers (DIOCC) and Marine CI directly involvement in the "Phoenix Program" at all levels.


Marine Corps Counterintelligence Involvement Prior to 1965

Background

The Marine Corps operational involvement in the Vietnam War began some three years before the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade landed across Red Beach on March 1965 in the Bay of Da Nang. The Corps involvement actually began on 15 April 1962, when Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362 arrived at Soc Trang in the Delta just south of Saigon with its UH-34 SIKORSKY helicopters. A week late, the squadron, which was called "Shu-fly," began lifting and deploying the Republic of South Vietnam Army (ARVN) units into the country-side to engage Viet Cong forces. In 1963, several CI Marines received orders to South Vietnam to assist the South Vietnamese Army in the role as military advisors.

During the later part of July 1964, several members from the 5th CIT received temporary duty orders (TAD) for assignment with Army's 704th (CI) Detachment in the Republic of Vietnam.

Figure 15. CWO2 McMakin with Gunnery Sergeant Carlson and Sergeants Curley and Lantz
Figure 15. CWO2 McMakin with Gunnery Sergeant Carlson and Sergeants Curley and Lantz

Figure 16. Marines Attached to the 704th CIC Receiving Awards
Figure 16. Marines Attached to the 704th CIC Receiving Awards


On 4 August 1964, CWO2 John F. McMakin, along with GySgt Edgar M. Carlson, and SSgts Robert W. Curley and William C. Lantz reported for duty. The 704th mission was to provide CI support to the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) in their intelligence collection effort. In order not to cause a great deal of attention, CWO McMakin and the other CI Marines were issued South Vietnamese identification cards and passes. At the same time, the South Vietnamese Government was experiencing intense political unrest. Routinely, CWO McMakin and the other CI Marines would venture into the country-side collecting intelligence information on key individuals responsible for the unrest and demonstrations directed against the South Vietnamese Government.

According to CWO McMakin, "During these demonstrations and protests against the South Vietnamese Government, many rolls of film were used to photograph and record these events. Once the film had been processed, the film would be analyzed by the 704th in order to develop the infrastructure of the Viet Cong, and create the so-called Black, Gary and White (BGW) List."

On 5 October 1964, CWO McMakin and the others CI Marines departed Vietnam returning back to the 5th CI team space in the United States. Because of their outstanding contribtion to the 704th CI, a "Letter of Appreciation" noting their outstanding efforts was issued by Brigadier General C. A. Youngdale, Assistant Chief of Staff, J-2, MACV on 8 October 1964.

Early in 1965, another group of Marine CI reported for temporary duty with the 704th CI. The temporary duty was for a period of 4-5 months. The group included, Captain Eugene Burlson, CWO2 Donald Lorentzson, and Sergeant B. Voronin. CWO2 Lorentzson remembered, "While in Vietnam working with the 704th, we all worked under civilian documentation and lived on the ecomony. These civilian documents were issued by the Vietnamese National Police and the Military Security Service (MMS)."

From August 1964 until July 1967, the 2nd Counterintelligence Team, was administratively attached to 2nd Force Reconnaissance, and physically located at Camp Geiger, N.C. Sergeant Harry Manchester recalled that "one of the significant events during this period was a 60 day TDY assignment to a "covered" position overseas.

Team members assigned to the 2nd CIT were:

  • Capt William Gentry - Team Commander
  • CWO J.C. Lord - Sub-team Commander
  • 1stLt Joyner - Sub-team Commander
  • 2ndLt Ed Kemmis - Sub-team Commander
  • 2ndLt Russ Shroyer - Sub-team Commander
  • MSgt Summers - Team Chief
  • SSgt Floyd Jones - Team member
  • Sgt Thomas H. Marino - Team member
  • Sgt Harry Manchester - Team member
  • GySgt Robinette - Team member
  • SSgt Jack - Team member

Counterintelligence Team Synopsis

On 22 December 1964, Staff Sergeants Jack Stevenson and R. P. Brown - better known as "10 Fingers Brown" - were sent from the 3rd CIT to South Vietnam with the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB). Soon thereafter, they began conducting liaison visits with all U.S. Forces in Vietnam. The main purpose of these visits according to SSgt Brown, were "to determine what procedures would be followed pertaining to civilian control in and around the MEB's sector of responsibility." After setting up shop and running some preliminary intelligence missions, it was determined that the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI) had placed the commanding general, along with the chief of staff of the MEB on their assassination list.

During the latter part of February and into the early part of April 1965, Staff Sergeant R. P. Brown was sent to Phu Bai to establish a CI base camp. SSgt Stevenson remained with the 9th MEB at Da Nang until the remainder of the 3rd CIT arrived in country.

At Phu Bai as SSgt Brown remembers, "CI really started to get underway. Liaison was reestablished with the local CAST unit - which was an advisor to the National Police in each province." Also according to SSgt Brown, "In one coordinated effort with a newly established Combined Action Company (CAC), CI along with the CAC went on an operation into one of the villages located south of Phu Bai where a suspected group of Viet Cong were conducting in a recruiting efforts."

The main purpose of the operation was to capture and/or destroy the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI) so CAC could step-up their programs. "As the operation began around dawn and just outside the village, the patrol began to receive small arms fire. Under orders, return fire was prohibited even though we knew where it was coming from," as SSgt Brown remembered. The S-3, who was also a member of the party, gave the order to break-off contact and return to the base camp at Phu Bai.

Back at Phu Bai, a relationships with both the CAST representatives and the local Police Chief were developed. They began assisting Marine CI in gathering intelligence information on habitants within Phu Bai's tactical area of responsibility (TOAR). SSgt Brown noted "because of this coordinated effort, when Marine CI requested assistance in its operations, the chief of police would provide anywhere from 25 to 100 police officers to assist in capturing or destroying those VCI within the area." On one such occasion, Marine CI, along with over 100 police officers, raided a village and capturing a large group of suspected VCs. During one of the interrogations, it was confirmed that the majority of the village habitants were communist members of the Viet Cong National Liberation Front (VCNLF). Also, these interrogations produced a lot of good intelligence information that was subsequently passed to the National Police in Phu Bai.

In late April 1965, SSgt Brown was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) and remained at Phu Bai until he rotated back to the United States. Two years later, Brown would return for a second tour to South Vietnam.

March 1965, a Marine CI sub-team from 3rd CIT landed on Red Beach with the 1stMarine Brigade, The landing site was on the outskirts of Da Nang City. The sub-team's mission was to furnish CI combat support to the brigade. A short time thereafter, the remainder of the 3rd CI Team moved from its home base at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan and reported to South Vietnam.

Members of the 3rd CIT were:

  • Capt Don Davis - Team Commander
  • Capt Schaffer - Staff CI, 3rd Div
  • Dick Rhomas - Supply Myrza "Harry" Baig -
  • Sub-team Cmdr CWO1 Robert A. Connly - Sub-team Cmdr
  • CWO2 Kenneth Clem - Sub-team Commander
  • Don Dunnagan - Acting Team Chief
  • John Young - Team member
  • Bruce Moulton - Team member
  • Jack Baldwin - Team member
  • Bob Karp - Team memeber
  • ... Dean - Team member
  • Don Finney - Team member
  • O.W. Bledsoe - Team member
  • Merle Reese - Team member

Members assigned to the 3rd CIT during this period completed 9-11 month tours, while others completed a 13 month tour with the 13th CIT. CWO Connly and a CI Marine by the name of Jack Stepheson got caught up in an RVN flap with the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade under the command of General Davis..... which is not to be mentioned here !!!

Several months later, the 7th CIT reported to South Vietnam. During late summer and around the close of 1966, the 1st CIT followed by both the 5th and 15th CIT landed in South Vietnam to setup and conduct CI operations.

Members of the 1st CIT were:

  • CWO2 Ken Clem
  • CWO Jim Crum
  • SSgt Jack Herse
  • SSgt Lotz
  • SSgt Howey
  • Sgt Burton
  • Sgt R. Jarvis
  • Sgt Fitmaurice

Joining the 1st CIT a short time later were:

  • Otis Beldsoe
  • Al Falcon
  • Loyd Walker
  • Charles Boles
  • Bud Busko

Other CI Marines who passed through the 1st CIT during this time frame were:

  • Tom Cunningham
  • Robert Varn
  • S.E.Thomas
  • Denver D. Scott

1st Division Staff Counterintelligence

  • Yanochik
  • Rhyme Garris

Members of the 5th CIT were:

  • Capt J. Hennessy - Team Commander
  • Capt W. A. Burton - Sub-team Commander
  • Capt D.F. Beggen - Sub-team Commander
  • Capt C.L. Carpenter - Sub-team Cmdr
  • lst Lt E.B. Burleson,Jr - Sub-team Cmdr
  • CWO2. J.F. McMakin - Sub-team Cmdr
  • MSgt L.Charles - Team Chief
  • GySgt E.M. Carson - Team member
  • GySgt R. Albritton - Team member
  • GySgt J.E. Malstron - Team member
  • GySgt W. Ferris - Team member
  • GySgt R.E.Robinette - Team member
  • GySgt W. Powell - Team member
  • GySgt W.C. Lantz - Team member
  • GySgt R.H.Gurley - Team member
  • Sgt Woods - Team member
  • Sgt J. Justice - Team member
  • SSgt D.W. Lorentzson - Team member
  • SSgt B.Voronin - Team member
  • CWO4 H.Haught - Staff CI
  • WO1 C.I. Handley - Staff CI
  • GySgt C.L.Cline - Staff CI

During this period Captain W.A. Burtson from the 5th CIT remarked that "team activities for this period generally centered on providing CI support to Headquarters, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific and to the 1st Marine Brigade." Support also included, conducting both security surveys and inspections; security lectures pertaining to Defense Against Mechanism Entry (DAME) and Defense Against Surperticious Entry (DASE); monitoring and collection of CI information on areas within Southeast Asia area; and monitor collection and classification of CI information. Captain Burton further noted that, "several mount-outs (Movement of personnel and equipment) in support of Joint Task Force 116 contingency plans were conducted and several teams members filled various line numbers during these tests."


October 1964

In order to enhance Marine Corps CI training, an group of enlisted CI Marines attend a eight week Military Assistant Training Advisors (MATA) course, at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, Fort. Bragg, North Carolina. CI Marines attending this course were the first enlisted

Marines to attend. Included were:

  • SSgt Richard Shamrell
  • GySgt Bob Johnson
  • SSgt George Nemeth
  • SSgt Gene Santee

Other who attended the course afterwards were:

  • 1stLt J. Guenther
  • CWO2 M. Handly
  • MSgt J. Foley

The main focus of the course according to R. Shamrell, "was designed to assist and advise allied military organizations on how to conduct and perform military operations, etc."

31 December 1964 - January 1966

Once the course was completed, SSgt Shamrell and the other CI Marines received orders directing them to report to South Vietnam for duty. SSgt Gene Santee was assigned to the 525th Army Military Intelligence (MI) in Siagon. 1stLt John Guenther, CWO2 Mike Handley, MSgt Jerry Foley and SSgt Shamrell, were assigned to the Naval Advisory Detachment Security element, Special Operations Group (SOG) MACV in DaNang. These Marines were the first to complete a full 13 month tour of duty in South Vietnam; Others CI Marines prior to this time spent an average period of six months or less.


May 1965

Regimental Landing Team (RLT) 7, commanded by Colonel Peatross, deployed to the Republic of Vietnam, May 1965, along with half the deployable assets of the 1st Counterintelligence Team. Two CI sub-teams, mostly made up of volunteers, deployed with the Regimental Landing Team. CWO Clem,and Bledsoe (who really didn't have to go) Sergeants Falcon, Walker, Boles and a clerk loaded their equipment into a jeep and a 3/4 ton truck with trailer.

In preparation for the movement, CWO Kenneth W. Clem noted that "Great pains were made to not only obliterate all tactical markings on vehicles, cargo and personnel equipment, but special attention was given to preclude the dissemination of our destination; what route we were to travel, etc., etc. Things went quite well while outloading from San Diego, California. The RLT didn't even know where the scheduled stop-overs would be enroute to an undisclosed destination in the Far East". When the RLT stopped in Hawaii, the newspapers had detailed accounts about RLT-7, its composition, and where it was headed, etc. It was later noted that information concerning RLT-7 had been released by the Public Information Office, Headquarters, FMFPAC to the press - the same command that instructed RLT-7 to execute maximum OPSEC. OPSEC? What OPSEC?


June - July 1965

On 5 June 1965, during the morning hours before dawn, the Marble Mountain Air Facility was hit by a Viet Cong ground attack by over 200 sappers. SSgt Shamrell, assigned to the Naval Air Detachment, remembered the events of the attack. He explained that "all the Viet Cong sappers (individuals carrying explosives next to their bodies), were in the nude, except for the loin cloths covering their private parts, in an effort to blend with the sand during darkness." The surrounding terrain as Shamrell continued "was like one big beach with tan colored sand. The Seabee Battalion across the roadway from the air facility was kept pinned down by a couple of .50 caliber machine guns throughout the attack." Shamrell further explains that "as the sappers reached and planted their explosives in and around the helicopters positioned on the flight-line, the explosions and the activity created by the Viet Cong could be heard and seen for many miles. It was the first real attack by the Viet Cong on U.S forces deployed around Da Nang City and showed just how vulnerable we were." The air facility location was south at one end of Dawning Peninsular road, while the Headquarters of the Naval Advisory Detachment (NAD) was at the other end and based at the foot of Monkey Mountain. About halfway between the two facilities was the village of My Khe, where both the Navy Seals and Marine Corps Reconnaissance units were camped. Soon after the attack had begun, the Commander of the Naval Advisory Detachment, Lieutenant Commander Fay, was about to drive his jeep to a camp site near the My Khe Village. SSgt Shamrell noted that he had often escorted the commander to the village. Prior to the commander's departure, he stopped by the security office and asked for Shamrell - he had wanted Shamrell to accompany him. CWO-2 Tony Cinnotti, who had relieved CWO Handley, told the commander that "Shamrell was positioning sailors around the perimeter of the Headquarters and would be back soon." In a rush, the commander departed towards the village unescorted. As the activity of the attack decreased, SSgt Shamrell recalled, "after the attack, the commander's jeep was found a couple miles from NAD Headquarters. He had been shot during the attack and subsequently died of wounds as he was heading for the camp site near My Khe. Due to the commander's impatience - not waiting for me - I might have been shot and become another statistic of the Vietnam War." In memory of the commander, the camp site was named after him. MSgt Foley recalled that "the commander really enjoyed the presence of having Marine CI attached to his Headquarter. He often referred to Marine CI as "Foley's bandits".

Shamrell's assignment was the advisor to a company of Nungs, tasked with the security of the NAD Naval Base and portions of the Monkey Mountain peninsula. Shamrell had two 40 foot sea-going Junks assigned to him. Each Junk had a three man Vietnamese crew and a five-man Nung landing/boarding party. Each of the junks was equipped with a .50 caliber Machine Gun (MG) that mounted on the rear, a .30 caliber Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), and a variety of other small arms, grenades and pyrotechnics. Their mission was to keep fishermen from entering within 500 meters of the peninsula, board any suspicious craft and investigate anything that might cause suspicion ashore. Marine CI personnel often patrolled with the Junks. Shamrell said, "he usually thought of the comic strip "Terry and the Pirates" when he boarded the junk on patrol, especially when he wore his campaign hat. The old Chinese hands in the comic strip had nothing on the Nung crew."

August 1965

1st CIT (Forward) with two sub-teams that had deployed with RLT 7 had been dropped off in Okinawa to replace the 3d CIT as it deployed with the 3rd Marine Division units into South Vietnam. In August 1965, these sub-teams in Okinawa departed for Da Nang aboard what was probably one of the oldest Landing Ship Transports (LSTs) in the naval service. After arriving, CWO2 Clem recalls that "we were still assigned to the 1st CIT and came under the operational controll of III MAF. This sure made things tough for us." CWO Clem further noted that "Capt Knepp the 3rd CIT Commander, had confiscated our vehicles as the 3rd CIT vehicles were essentially derelict. The Team Commander must have a vehicle to do his assigned mission was his remark for taking the vehicle. From then on a very bad taste soon developed between the 1st CI Detachment and the 3rd CIT. Captain Yanochik, Staff CI at III MAF was summoned to resolve the issue. A short time thereafter, 1stLt Otis W. Bledsoe, and recently joined GySgt Bill Lantz, were sent to Phu Bai to be with Jack Stephenson, who was scheduled to be rotated back to the States in November 1965. Around the same time GySgt William N. Brown Sr., was medevac'ed from Phu Bai after being diagnosed as possibly having Turburclosis. Due to enemy action throughout I Corps, Vic Congers and Charles Boles were sent to Chu Lai to work with the 7th Marines; Loyd Walker, Al Falcon and the clerk stayed at Da Nang."

Also during this time frame, the 1st CIT was formed at Camp Pendleton, California and subsequently deployed with the 1st Marine Division in 1966.

Other members assigned to the 3rd CIT were:

  • MSgt Roy E. Abercrombie
  • GySgt Charles J. Alderman Jr.
  • SSgt Vic Conger
  • SSgt Richard A. Conrad
  • Sgt G. Deering
  • Sgt Jurevich
  • 1st Lt Linstrom
  • CWO Kenneth W. Clem
  • Otis Bledsoe
  • Jack Stephenson
  • Bill Lantz
  • Al Falconi
  • MSgt J. E. Malstrom - Staff CI
  • CWO McClenithan - Staff CI
  • CWO Hank Singer - Staff CI

September 1965

Captain William A. Burton reported to 3dBattalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California. The Division's G-2, had him reassigned to 1st CI Team. The Staff CI at division at the time was 1stLt J. Gorman and GySgt A. W. Bromley. Most of the division had already deployed to the Republic of Vietnam.

During this same period, Major P. X. Kelley - who was from the Marine Corps Development and Educational Command (MCDEC), Quantico, Virginia - was on Temporary Additional Duty (TAD) with III MAF. For some unexplainable reason, MSgt Lad Walker who was assigned to III MAF Staff CI, along with Major Kelly, went up on top of Walker's tent. While atop the tent and in some sort of conversation, Walker drew and discharged his .38 caliber pistol - going through the floor below them, scaring the hell out of both of them. Walker didn't realize at first what had just happened and looked at Kelly. It was eivdent that Walker was shaken. Kelly on the other hand, remained composed and offered Walker some advise "it does fire, that's nice to know"! Nothing of the incident was ever mentioned again.

Elsewhere, CWO Clem received an urgent call to come to Da Nang from Phu Bai to provide technical services. Apparently someone had found a device in the G-3 Operations Area. Clem related that he laughed like mad when the device was described as being a transmitter built into a paper holer. The device was one that Clem had previously built on Okinawa in 1964-65 and used it to penetrate the SSO space of the division. After being used on Okinawa, Col Dutton, G-2 kept the device, it was the last time Clem had seen it until it showed up in the G-3 Operations Area. Major Kelley hearing of the incident phoned CWO Clem to ensure that the device didn't pose a threat, etc. Clem assured Kelly, that the device did not pose a threat and was only a dummy.


November 1965

In November 1965, Captain Jack E. Stephenson departed Phu Bai and CWO Clem took over as the sub-team commander. GySgt Lantz and SSgt Bledsoe were sent to the Phu Bai sub-team from Da Nang. SSgt Boles came up from one of the sub-teams in Chu Lai. CWO Hank Singer joined the sub-team at a later date. Prior to his departure; Captain Stephenson, 10 Fingers Brown, and a Naval Medical Officer constituted the 3rd Counter-Medical Team (Rein). The Navy Medical Officer had been banned from the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines by the Executive Officer for some personal reasons. The Lieutenant, not questioning the reassignment, relied on both Stephenson for shelter from the elements and his contemporaries at the nearby "A" Med. Together, they "survived" in a sandbagged, mildew-ridden Command Post-45 (CP) tent that was situated near the airfield and next to the Prisoner of War (POW) Compound. Provost Marshals Office (PMO) was an additional duty for the CIT Det Officer. One of the sharper MP Marines at Phu Bia was a Corporal by the named of Toney Gribble - who later became a CI Marine.

The detachment had several interpreters; an individual by the name of Hung, in his late 30s-40s, was regrouped from North Vietnam. It appeared that Hung, reportedly a previous Airborne Officer Candidate at Dalat, was caught up in a so-called 'mutiny' in the early 1960s. All the candidates were imprisoned on the island. Later as the story goes, Hung was used as a northern/central dialect and French interpreter in the GVN's dealing with the imprisoned Buddhist radical Thich Tri Quang and two other Thichs. It appeared that Hung could have walked up to Thich Tri Quang without any interference. However, Quang was whisked off to Hue City. Hung was a good interpreter from a HUMINT point of view. However, "he had to be watched carefully when he sensed that a suspect was lying to him - CI lost more mosquito net poles to Hung than to the rats" as Captain Stevenson recalled. Hung had a continuing skirmish with the Military Security Service (MSS) for some unexplained reason. CWO Clem noted that "the only time he saw Hung stymied was when CI was attempting to interrogate several villagers from the Co Bi-Thanh Tan area northwest of Hue." These people had not been out of their hamlet in over 500 years, and their language was separate and distinct and being situated into the hills. There seamed to have more contact with the hill people rather than with the cultured officials from Hue. CWO Clem also noted that "they collectively had more toes, thumbs and fingers than most other areas inhabitants in the northern provinces."

Another South Vietnamese interpreter by the name of Phouc, of Cambodian extraction, was used when dealing with people in the country side. He did not have the French or Central dialect that Hung posed. Both interpreters stayed on with the CI in Phu Bai and later moved south in 1968 to the 1st CIT. CWO Clem recalled that "Hung was with Sam Moyers (7th CIT) at Dang Ha during 1969 and did one hell of a job. Without question, effective combat CI support was not only rendered here, but was respectfully appreciated by several tactical commanders and troops." Phu Bai, as a reality, to both CI and the VC was a separate war zone in itself. This fact was especially well-handled by both LtCol S. Vale, Commanding Officer of 3rd Battalion 4th Marines and LtCol Hannifin, Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. In the later stages, newly promoted LtCol P.X. Kelley, Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines and LtCol Van D. Bell, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, 4th Marines were especially interested in CI acquisition of information along with those sources which were developed to assist them in offensive combat operations in there sector of responsibility.

By far the most receptive commands that assisted in the HUMINT effort were the CACs and Combined Action Platoons (CAPs), under control of various officers, like Capt Mullin, 1stLt Paul Ekland, and 1stLT Denny Tomlin. A special role was played by Sgt Russell, the USMC member of a special Combined Action Company-5 (CAC) unit - originally belonging to Det 3rd CIT, Phu Bai. As the story goes, a Vietnamese unit leader, by the name of Le Chat - a 'notorious' individual of uncommon demeanor - one day walked into the CP with crossed bandoliers of ammo, two .45 cal pistols, and at least four hand grenades hanging from his ammo belt and suspenders. He was all alone and some of the Marines seeing him didn't exactly know what was going on. Finally, Hung, the interpreter confronted him and noted that Le Chat was looking for the CAC Unit leader, Capt Mullins. During the 66 Tet Offensive, it was reported that Le Chat had joined his family and relatives in village of Gia Le, and played cards with one of his cousin whom he knew was still participating with the Viet Cong. As the story continues, Le Chat casually informed his cousin that when the holiday period was over, he would come after him and kill him unless he rallied to the South Vietnamese side. Before a month had passed, Le Chat, participated in an ambush just southwest of the hospital near Gia Le. A short time thereafter a group of VCs appeared and walked into the ambush. The ambush site sprung its deadly trap with the VCs inside. Once the gunfire stopped, the victims checked and among the victims was Le Chat's cousin. Another victim was a former Viet Cong acquaintance that he had also known.

There were two other Vietnamese of noted CI interest. The first was a Sgt Bao, a regular with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), and by some accounts was attached to the Huong Thuy District Headquarters or had worked for the Province Intelligence Section within the District. He generally operated in the Gia Le Village area and was instrumental in developing ralliers, etc. Reporting noted the "He was an exceptional source of intelligence and had a good number of VC kills' and according to those who saw him in action had his own form of entrapment to identify suspected or known VCs. On several occasions he would pose as a VC, seeking assistance in locating his unit - somewhere in the mountains - or would seek medical help. On one such occasion, he was introducted to a VC supporter. After confirming the individuals identity, he invariably would ensure their departure from their errant ways and life.

The second individual of interest was a individual by the named of Wo Toan. Wo Toan was the Officer-in-Change of the Voice of Freedom transmitter site, located east of Gia Le Village. The 3rd CIT first encountered him as a causal source that Jack Stephenson had developed. However, when Wo Toan provided information, he would only talk to one of the CITs interpreters - Hung. After information had been exchanged, Wo Toan was provided gas for his 1947 green Ford pickup truck. From a CIT prospective, the exchange seemed to be a reasonable price. The information which Wo Toan provided was often quite accurate. Things progressed with exchange of information between Wo Toan and CI until the Buddhist uprising which occurred during March through April 1966 time frame. (Additional information presented later).


December 1965

In December 1965, the 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, under the leadership of LtCol Hannifin, relieved a sorely under strength 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, commanded by LtCol S.A. Vale. One of the first tasks carried out by LtCol Hannifin's battalion was the expansion of their combat patrol base from 1000 to 2000 meters around a combat outpost that was situated west of the Battalion Command Post (CP). On the very next day, a security patrol from the battalion overtook 3 VC moving north toward the Gia Le area. Two were killed and the third was wounded and captured. The captured POW was brought to CI for interrogation. General Louis Walt, who happened to be flying around the area, swooped in, took charge, collected all the recovered documents, and headed back to Da Nang. During the interrogation it was noted that the captured POW was a youth from one of the Gia Le Hamlets. Marine CI had previously interrogated his sister and a uncle under different circumstances - he was not a total stranger. It was discovered that, he was an escort for the VC chief of My Thuy District who went by the name of Thuong Van AI. Thuong Van AI, according to reports, was a well-respected and exceptionally capable VC politico with Viet Minh experience. After finding out AI was among the dead durning the ambush, CI began questioning the patrol in order to ascertain if they had seen a walking stick near or next to AI's body - the walking stick was usually present with AI. Also, CI was interested in the whereabouts of a carbine that a guide was supposedly carrying at the time of the ambush, noted earlier which Le Chat had paticipated in the previous month. Concerned about the carbine, CI requested that the patrol be sent back to the ambush site to try and located the weapon. The patrol went back to the site and eureka, "they not only recovered the carbine but found AI walking Stick along with a pouch containing documents that must have been thrown into the ditch when all hell broke loose," according to the investigation report. CWO Clem stated, "Once the documents were analyzed, it was time to get back on the horn to Da Nang and try to obtain the other documents that had been picked up by General Walt." After calling the division and notifying the G-2, the documents were returned to the Team. Everything started to fall into place. There had been reports on various villages were AI often stayed enroute to the Dong Hoa War Zone Headquarters of CI interest. Some of the documents found identified sereral North Vietnamese Intelligence Agents operationing in the area - one being killed at the ambush site. It was later ascertained that the dead NVA agent had been establishing contacts in Hue City.

A short time thereafter, the District Police Chief for the provence got word that Marine CI had AI's body in their possession . A few hours later the body was turned over. Upon its arrival, a district official stated "that AI would be buried in the District". As the body was being turned over, CI personnel were not permitted to handle it as it was being removed from a jeep-trailer. Hung, the teams interpreter indicated, "that even in death, AI still had the respect of so many, and that his mother would have access to the grave site where AI would be placed to rest". After CI returned from the district, CWO Clem and GySgt Lantz decided to take possession of the walking stick and placed it up into the rafters of the team space. Upon rotating back to the States, CWO Clem and GySgt Lantz had apprently forgot about stick and as far as it was known, the stick remained in the rafters? According to CWO Clem, "I assumed that 1st CIT would eventually find the stick and dispose of it without knowing of its full significance. It was my understanding that when the 1st CIT replaced the 3rd CIT, the stick, along with important files collected concerning Phu Bai were destroyed. If the files were kept, the 1st CIT would have had a better understanding about what the war was all about at Phu Bai."


January 1966

The 1st CIT provided support to the remaining 1st Division units until it deployed on 14 January 1966, from Camp Pendleton, California to Okunawa, Japan. The 1st CIT had been reconstituted and had deployed with the 1st Marine Division Headquarters, along with Regimental Landing Team-5 (RLT-5) by surface ships. On 5 February 1966, after the Marines landed at White Beach on Okinawa and disembarked naval shipping, the 1st CIT moved to Camp Courtney and were attached to Fleet Marine Force Pacific/IMAC (Forward). Operational and administrative control of the Team was maintained by the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade. The team mission was to provide CI support to the remaining 3rd Marine Division and Wing units on the island. The mission also included; security inspections of the recently vacated 1stMarDiv Command Post; after hours inspection; security surveys; and liaison with other CI units on the island. According to Captain W. Burton, "the team also provided special training support to U.S. Army units at the intelligence school and Special Forces Military Intelligence Detachments on the island." Also to keep abreast of the situation in Vietnam, "several team members went On-the-Job Training (OJT) or conducted liaison trips to Vietnam to familiarize themselves and/or observe what was going on concerning CI Ops in the event that the Team was deployed in the future" as SSgt French recalled.


March 1966

In March 1966, Wo Toan mentioned earlier, came by the Team space in 3rd CIT at Phu Bai in order to obtain some gas - This was also around the start of the Buddhist uprising according to team records. This happened to be either the same day that Thich Tri Quang had flown into Phu Bai and the Division Chaplin had taken control of the 1st ARVN Division in the Citadel, or shortly thereafter. The CI's interpreter Hung had attended high school with Nguyen Cao Ky and was personally acquainted with Thich Tri Quang - they were in prison together at some time just off the South Vietnam coast. According to several personal accounts, Wo Toan needed gas to get back and forth into Hue. It was soon realized that Wo Toan had direct knowledge of what was going on in both Hue and other areas of the country. It was also noted that Wo Taon had met with General Thi and had dismantled some electronic components from the Hue Radio Broadcasting Station in order to exclude its use by the Buddhists. More importantly, Wo Toan kept Marine CI abreast of information which no one else had access to, according to the 3rd CIT Activity Reports. The information received by Wo Toan was passed to III MAF, Headquarters in Da Nang. Several days later a visitor from NAD dropped in at Phu Bai to inform the detachment that Wo Toan was also their source of information collection. Prior to the NAD departing, they informed the team that continued contacts with Wo Toan should be continued in light of the current situation. CI personnel liked, and appreciated, the manner of handling a potential operational control/interest source.


April 1966

On 7 April 1966, a sub-team from 1st CIT on Okinawa received orders for assignment with Marine Air Group (MAG)-15, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), Iwakunia, Japan. The sub-team consisted of one officer and two enlisted and support to MAG-15 was directed by FMFPAC. The 7th CIT was already in country and attached to MAG-12. In February 1967, the remaider of the 7th CIT was transfered to the 1st Marine Division control in South Vietnam.


June 1966

Continuing on with the 1st CIT. CWO Clem related that "we were to follow the sub-team to South Vietnam - shortly after they had departed in April 1966. The remainder of the 1st CIT was to join a BLT that was to arrive on Okinawa at the end of April. They didn't arrive until June 66. The reason was that the BLT had just been combat reloaded and ready for immediate action due to the current situation. The 1st CIT went to Camp Courtney to close out the 3rd CIT. Many members from the 1st CIT questioned the manner in which 3d CIT had deployed leaving house keeping tasks for them to accomplish!

The former Detachment of the 1st CIT's was due to rotate mid May 1966. However, due to the increased activity in South Vietnam they were delayed. They had been scheduled to rotate on 15 June. CWO Clem and SSgt Bledsoe were informed at 1230 hours, 21 June by 3rd CIT at Da Nang, that they were going home and had to be at the Air Freight Hanger in Da Nang at 1430 hours to catch a outbound flight at 1530 hours. After conducting a brief check with HMM-161 and Air America, they both got a ride on a Jolly Green Giant Helo - CH-47 - Chinook to Da Nang. Clem said that "he was filthy and cruddy from dirt and dust in Phu Bai and because of the time factor had no time to shower. After catching the flight out of Da Nang, they made a quick turn-around in Okinawa, - just time to pick up their baggage at Camp Hansen - and boarded a non-stop for Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California." As he disembarked from the aircraft, Clem met his wife and family, who almost disowned him because he still hadn't had time to shower or changed his camouflage utilities that reeked with the smell of Vietnam.

In 1966, Sam Moyer along with Stew Duncan attended the Counterintelligence Course at Camp Holabird, Maryland. At the time Stew Duncan was a reserve CWO on active duty (5 year SWAG). Both had been stationed with the PMO Office at Camp Pendleton, when they received orders to attend the CI Course. They drove in Duncan's car across country to the school's site. During the four month course, they rented an apartment. Bob Connly was on the school's staff as an Instructor at the time. Other CI Marines who were there at the same time were either attending the Basic CI Course - like Moyer and Duncan - or attending one of the technical courses. Others attending the Basic CI Course were: Chuck Cofty (then a WO); Andy Anderson and Al Cedarquist.

Sam Moyer noted that "Stew Duncan was an unusual character. Older than all of us, he had served in the Corps during the worst years of WW II and after the War returned to his job at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). He stayed in the reserve and during the Korean War was called back to active duty. After the Korean War, and upon being released from active duty, he returned to the LAPD, where he eventually made Detective Sergeant. As a police officer, he had been seriously wounded in the line of duty. When he saw that Vietnam was going to be serious, he retired from the LAPD, and requested to go back on active duty." Once they had completed the CI Course, Duncan received orders to South Vietnam and Moyer returned back to Camp Pendleton.

NOTE: A separate chapter entitled "Through These Eyes With Marine Corps Counterintelligence" has been set aside describing Sam Moyer's experience during and just after the Vietnam War.


August 1966

During the months of August through October 1966, the 15th CIT out of Camp Pendleton, California was administratively attached to the 5th Marine Division. The division was just forming and going through a extensive training period to ready itself for deployment to South Vietnam. Once the Division landed in South Vietnam,, it was assigned to the Dong Ha area within I Corps. The Team Commander at the time was Captain Billy Harris; other officers included 2nd Lieutenants Arthur Wilson, Bruce Moulton, A.J. Pavlick. Other team members were; Master Sergeants K. Smith (later killed in action at Cam Lo),Gunnery Sergeant Jim Krudwig, Staff Sergeant Harry Manchester and Sergeants Walter D. West and William Credon - who was subsequently wounded in action (WIA) at Dong Ha during one of the many rocket attacks.

On 27 August 1966, one of the 1st CIT sub-teams was recalled to Okinawa from Iwakunia; Japan and a short time thereafter departed from the Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF), Futema, Okinawa to South Vietnam. On 30 August 1966, the remainder of the 1st CIT boarded three KC-130 aircraft and flew directly into Phu Bai, South Vietnam. At the time the teams strength was 5 officers and 9 enlisted CI Marines.

Team members included:

Capt. W. A. Burtson - Team Commander

2/Lt. C. I. Handley - OpsO/Sub-team Cdr

2/Lt. R. Y. Goodwin - Sub-team Cdr

2/Lt. R. L. Lord - Sub-team Cdr

2/Lt. C. L. Peterson - Sub-team Cdr

GySgt. G. E. Anthony - Team Chief

GySgt. G. F. Lotz - CI Asst.

SSgt. R. R. Acuff - CI Asst.

SSgt. J. J. Elliott - CI Asst.

SSgt. D. R. French - CI Asst.

SSgt. W. C. Howey

Sgt. W. B. Lange

LCpl C. E. Donoho

Cpl. E. W. Jones

Additional personnel joining the team after deployment to South Vietnam were:

GySgt. Cummins

GySgt. Mcloughlin

Sgt. D. A. Braun

Cpl. A. Gribble

Sgt. T. K. MacKinney

Upon the 1st CITs arrival in South Vietnam it was broken down into 4 two men sub-teams. From Phu Bai, one sub-team was assigned to Hue; a second assigned to the Troui Bridge; a third assigned to the Troui Bridge south to Phu Loc; and the last assigned and responsible for the Phu Bai Tactical Area Of Responsibility (TAOR). The three sub-teams operating outside of the Phu Bai TAOR were responsible in providing CI support to friendly units operating in the Divisions TAOR, to include the Phu Loc District. CI support mainly consisted of maintaining daily contact with the CAC unit, platoon and company size units operating in the areas. Additionally, CI support was also maintained with the District, Villages and Hamlet officials within the TAOR. Any time a friendly unit conducted a search and clear operation, a sweep of an area, a MedCap or any other type operation, a CI team was attached to that unit. During this support, Marine CI was mainly utilized in screening operations of the villagers and would provide those units operating in the area vital CI information. This included, a Black List to assist them in determining the possible number of Viet Cong operating in that particular area, along with current CI source reporting. During this time frame that the lst CIT had been in South Vietnam, they had participated in many operations.

Also, the 1st CIT had assigned a sub-team to operate with the CAC unit and district officials in the Phu Loc area. This support was considered necessary due to the planned activation of forty CAPs within the Phu Loc District. Another sub-team was assigned in the so-called "Chinook Area" to assist in I Corps Operations. One member from the Team was assigned to the Special Branch of the National Police CAS Office in Hue City. Duties in the Hue/Phu Bai areas were initially in support of the 4th Marines area of operation (AO) that eventually became the 3rd Marine Divisions (Rear), with the 3rd Marine Division (Forward) deployed north in the Dong Ha/Kale San AO. In the early stages of the team's employment at these locations it developed its own methods of operations which were best suited to accomplish its support mission. Also, which was somewhat of a benefit was the fact that the team commander also served as the Staff CI Officer of the 3rd Marine Division.

It was decided that the initial effort of support would be directed toward making the team a visible and viable asset to every command. The support was often accomplished which was dependent on the available of a sub-team. This goal was partially achieved, inasmuch as supporting and providing the division G-2 with timely Order of Battle (OOB) information obtained during the screening and interrogation process of those Viet Cong or suspected Viet Cong. Other CI tasks included the development of source files and the establishment of the Black, Gray and White (BGW) lists which were a ongoing project. CI support to the individual infantry units were furnished in sweeping and patrolling operations which often yielded various results of CI interest. Marine CI personnel - which was often-the-case - were deployed and conducted liaison with various CAPs operations, and various County Fair and Civic Action Programs. This participation of support offered the added opportunity to develop additional information of CI interest. Constant liaison with ARVN district level personnel were also developed and maintained.

NOTE: During the period from November to December 1966, 2dLt R.Y. Goodwin, while temporarily assigned with the U.S. Advisory Unit at Phu Loc was involved in a jeep accident in the Hue area. The lieutenant suffered a serious head injury and was eventually Medevaced to the United States.


1967-1968 Counterintelligence Teams (TAOR)

Marine Corps Counterintelligence units were assigned and located in various parts of South Vietnam. These locations and assignments were critical in order for the teams to accomplish their mission. These locations and assignment were:

Team/Sub-TeamOperational BaseProvince

15th CI Team

1 Officer (0210)

5 enlisted (0211)

Detachment A

1 officer (0210)

3 enlisted (0211)& 2 interpreters

Detachment B

1 officer (0210)

2 enlisted (0211)

1 interpreter

Detachment C

1 officer (0210)

5 enlisted(0211)

3 ARVN interpreters

7th CI Team HQ

Team Commander

Target Officer

Operations Officer

Detachment U

Target Officer

Detachment W

GySgt & 4 enlisted (0211)

Detachment X

SSgt (0211)

Detachment Y

2 SSGT (0211)

Detachment Z

1 SSGT (0211)

HQ Dong Ha

Combat Base

(Home of 3rd MarDiv)

Cam Lo District HQ

Cua Viet River Operated out 
of 1st LVT Bn 
Combat Base

Team HQ Dong HA

Quand Tri Combat

Mai Linh District HQ

Trisu Phong District HQ

Hai Lang District HQ

Quang Tri Province

(Quang Tri Base City) Province HQ

The 7th CI Team was the only team in South Vietnam at that time having a defined position and living in hard backs - wooden framed structures, utilizing tentage as the roof. The team had recently been re-located from Chu Lai to its new location in Da Nang. This was prompted by the deployment of Marine tactical units to the north and the need for additional CI coverage in the northern area.

Team/Sub-TeamOperational BaseProvince

1st CI Team

Sub-team A

1 SSgt (0211)

1 enlisted (0211)

1 ARVN interpreter

Sub-team B

1 officer (0210)

1 enlisted(0211)

Phu Bai Combat Base
(Task Force X-Ray)

Huong Thuy District HQ

Team HQ Phu Bai

 

One of the members from sub-team B was positioned in Hue City and ne functioned as an Assistant Advisor to the National Police Special Branch.

Team/Sub-TeamOperational BaseProvince
Sub-team C

2 Sgts (0211)
Sub-team D

1 officer(0210)

2 enlisted(0211)

1 ARVN Interpreter
3rd CI Team

Phu Loc District HQ

Operated out Team HQ Phu Bai

Da Nang Air Base (Near 1stMarDiv)

 

The 3rd CIT operated in support of 1st MarDiv units in the Da Nang TOAR, four of its sub-teams were deployed exclusively with tactical units. They operated with units from the 7th and 27th Marine Regiments. Four ARVN interpreter were also assigned to the 3rd CIT are assign to the team and one each were deployed with each sub-team.

With the redeployment of the 1st CIT in September 1968, along with Marine tactical units, the 3rd CIT took over support provided tp the 1st Marine Regiment located south of Da Nang. The 1st CIT moved into the Northern Artillery Base in a area better known as "Elephant Valley". Additional support was provided to those units operating east of the Song Tuy Long River. 1st CIT took over 7th Marine assets on Hill 10; Heiu Duc District, along with supporting the 26th Marines north of the artillery cantonment. Both the 1st and 3rd CITs supported the Liberty Road LOC by providing one sub-team each, that was located at the An Hoa Combat Base.


5th CI Team - Hq Da Nang: (Adjacent to 2d CAG HQ)

The 5th CIT consisted of four sub-teams, where one of its sub-teams was physically placed at Red Beach to support the Force Logistics Command (FLC), Headquarters.

5th CITs AOR and some of their responsibilities were some what unique. Because the 3rd CIT had insufficient manpower to support all elements of the 1st Marine Division, the 5th CIT shared a portion of the 3rd CITs responsibilities. The 5th CIT provided support to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 7th Engineers, 5 batteries from the 11th Marines and FLC. One of the sub-teams operation out of its Headquarters, supported the 1st and 3rd Military Police Battalions in and around Da Nang City, the 3rd Light Vehicle Track (LVT) Battalion and the 1st Ballation, 27th Marines positioned south of Marble Mountain. In addition to its already taxing responsibilities, the 5th CIT had to provide support to Marine Air Group-16, the III MAF Prisioner of War (POW) Compound and the Da Nang Chieu Hoi Center. Two things made the 5th CIT unique; First, it was responsible for debriefing Marine and Navy personnel who were captured and returned to U.S. control after having been in the hands of the enemy. Second, because of the 3rd CITs location near III MAF's, Force CI Office, became the heir apparent to perform many special projects.


April 1967

The 15th Counterintelligence Team, located in Dong Ha, was attached to the 3rd Maine Division. According to reports, the first 90 days of their assignment were not bad. However, during the month of April things changed, the North Vietnamese began an extensive artillery and rocket attack that lasted through December of 1967. According to Harry Manchester, a team member, remarked, "if it weren't for the Seebeas constructing reinforced bunkers along with CIs help, we might not have survived the continued bombardment that the North Vietnamese tossed at us." During this period, MSgt Jim Krudwig was assigned to Special Police Branch, Qunag Tri Province Headquarters. Also, one of the 15th CITs sub-team, commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Alfred Pavlick was assigned to Khe Sanh. Lt Pavlick remarked, "after thirteen months in Dong Ha, I can unequivocally state that our CI effort was responsible for killing or capturing literally hundreds of Viet Cong and North Vietnam Forces."


September 1967

During the latter part of September 1967, the 19th CI Predeployment Training Team was formed. As Lt. Bernie Voronin recalled, "During my tenure as the Team Commander, 1st CIT in Phu Bai late 1966 to 1 September 1967, we had problems with incoming CI personnel not being able to work right away, where several weeks were spent bring them up to speed as to how CI operations were carried while in Vietnam." To resolve this training deficiency, Lt. Voronin began to relay this problem and conducted liaison with both Captain John Walsh - CI Chief -and LtCol John Guenther, CI Branch Chief at HQMC. The discussion primarily centered on creating a special training program for CI Marines reporting for duty in Vietnam to be better prepared. The training period would be beyond that taught by Army CI. The main focus of this training would be directed towards "How to conduct Marine CI in a fast moving combat environment. Lt. Voronin further noted that, "The main objective was to shorten the break-in time spent after CI personnel had arrived in country so that they would be better prepared in carry-out the Corps CI mission". A short time thereafter - after many more discussions on the subject - LtCol Guenther agreed that a short course was needed and approved the proposed training. The course would to be setup at Camp Pendleton, CA. Since Lt. Voronin initiated the interest for such as course, HQMC assigned him to command the newly formed 19th CI Predeployment Training Team. However, as Lt. Voronin further remembered, "With only 10 days left prior to rotating back to the United States, the unexpected, happened, I was wounded and Medevaced in a body cast back to the US. I was hospitalized for several months at Camp Pendleton which delayed getting things developed for the new training course." During Voronins' hospitalization, he keep in close touch with HQMC. Upon his release, the original 19th CIT began preparing lesson plans, manuscripts, rehearsals, and rehashed over and over what would be taught during the two week training period. Beginning with the first class - scheduled for January 1968 - all CI Marine would go through the training course prior to deployment to Vietnam. What was to be taught in the course was pretty much left up to the 19th CIT. In order to provide the best training, Lt. Voronin contacted several of the other CI Team Commanders throughout Vietnam to get their input to better prepare CI personnel sent to Vietnam. The reason for these contacts, "were that Marine CI operations conducted in the northern area of South Vietnam were quite different in the South".


Figure 17. Members of the 19th CI Training Team
Figure 17. Members of the 19th CI Training Team

In January 1968, the first class was conducted. Eight CI Marines attended. Attending the first class were:

Lt. Gould

CWO Johnston

GySgt Lee

SSgt Johnson

SSgt Kone

SSgt Martinez

SSgt McClain

Sgt Brown

The 19th CIT original instructors for the two-week CI Predeployment Course were:

Lt. B. Voronin

Lt. Pavlik

Lt. Bromley

CWO S. Duncan

CWO S. Lorentzson

GySgt Ham

SSgt Bresemann

SSgt Dietrich

SSgt Lindell

SSgt MacKinney

Sgt Shea

Cpl Madsen

Pertaining to the 19th CIT composition, Lt. Voronin quoted that "The original 19th CIT of instructors worked hard and long hours to prepare the very best professional course that we were capable of doing. We put through a different class of various size every month until we were disbanded and integrated into the 13th CIT during the latter part of 1969. Between classes we were updating, dropping and adding new course materials, rewriting different sections,and conducting many rehearsals to ensure that everything presented was current. These updates etc., were necessary in order to provide real-time training and to reflected current CI operations that were conducted in Vietnam. A three day field exercise of what had been taught in the classroom was also part of the course. During the three day field exercise, a mock-up Vietnam village was set-up. Various staff members would act in a variety of roles -Vietnam National Police, Village Chief and POWs where the use of Interrogator/Translators were used. The field exercise was conducted as realistic as possible to convey those types of situations that would be encountered by CI personnel deployed to South Vietnam."

One CI Marine attending the course remarked, "It put into proper prospective the associated problems that we would face conducting CI operations in Vietnam. I<

Published By:
Bob McDonough
July 1, 2017