The US Marines Corps in Vietnam (Aug 1964)
It was aviation units that led the US Marine Corps’ contribution to the war in Southeast Asia. The leading elements of Marine Task Unit 79.3.5 (more commonly known as SHUFLY) arrived at Soc Trang on 9 April 1962. This unit was would provide the headquarters and command function for a Marine medium lift helicopter squadron that would be based in South Vietnam on a rotational basis. The first squadron, HMM-362, arrived on 15 April and consisted of 24 UH-34s, three O-1B Bird Dogs (on detachment from VMO-2), and one C-117D transport. In September 1962 the Marines left Soc Trang for Da Nang which would become their main base in South Vietnam as the Corps was allocated responsibility for the northern provinces closest to the DMZ. The US Marines would eventually take on responsibility for most US ground operations in I Corps. The first Marine aircraft lost during the war was a UH-34 of HMM-163 which crashed on 6 October 1962 killing the pilot. The Bird Dogs were used for a variety of tasks including visual reconnaissance for the helicopters, obtaining intelligence on potential landing sites, providing information on weather prior to a mission, and acting as a battlefield command and radio relay vehicle.