E. Lane United States Marine Corp
1st Marine Division/3rd Battalion/5th
Marines Vietnam 1968-1969
March 1969, Marines,
Danny Lane & Sotere Karas
wait for NVA attacks
at Fire Base Tomahawk near Laos!
Machine Gunner M-60, Mortar Man, Forward Observer
Danny above on Operation Meade River &
Daniel "Danny" Lane served with the 1st Marine Division 3rdBattalion/5th
Marines in 1968-1969 in Vietnam as an 0341 & 0331 Grunt Infantry Combat Soldier.
While in country Danny operated out of An Hoa Combat Base known as "Rocket
City" and the "Dodge City" area known to the grunts as Dodge City for its
shoot-' em-up atmosphere twenty kilometers south of Da Nang. He
participated in the following military operations to wit:
Operation Meade River,
Operation Taylor Common,
and several other unclassified Covert Operations.
He was a Mortar Man, Rifleman and M-60 Machine Gunner and
with H&S Company & Mike Company 3/5 Marines.
He specialized in 60mm mortars,
M-60 machine guns, M-79 grenade launcher, M-16 and explosives.
He was an FO
(Forward Observer ) for other infantry companies during major operations. For his combat
efforts, Danny was awarded 2 Purple Hearts and numerous
other individual and unit decorations.
Danny has written a book on his Vietnam Missions
coming out next year!
It is titled
"Some Gave it All"
Made for Success
Click here to get my
The Psychological Conditioning, Reaction, Consequences and
Operation Meade River
was to become the largest helicopter assault of the entire war.
10, 1968 through December 9, 1968 Five
were involved in the operation.
Six Marine infantry
The North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong had embedded themselves in a place
the Americans called Dodge City known for its old west shoot‘em up gunslinger
style of fighting.
Operation Meade River concluded on December 9, 1968. Stars & Stripes Newspaper
reported that 108 Marines lost their lives in the operation. Another 513 were
wounded. Stars & Stripes also reported that there were 1,325 confirmed enemy
It was estimated that another 3000 enemy soldiers’ bodies could never be found
because they were obliterated from the pin point accuracy of the American
bombings from heavy artillery, fixed-wing aircraft and battleships such as the
most decorated battleship in US history, the New Jersey.
The New Jersey, also known as “Big J” or “Black Dragon,” had an armament which
included nine of the devastating, 16 inch, 50 caliber Mark 7 guns which could
hit a bulls eye at a distance upward towards 58 miles.
All of this devastation took place in an area not much larger than your own
neighborhood. The entire operation took place in a small trek of land measuring
only two square miles. “Dodge City” was everything it was built up to be and
more. When 10,000 men create havoc on each other in a two square mile area for
nineteen days and nights total devastation is sure to happen.
Common was a search and destroy operation conducted by Task Force Yankee, a task
force of the 1st Marine Division supported by the Army of the Republic of
Vietnam (ARVN), southwest of Hoa An from 6 December 1968 to 8 March 1969.
Base Area 112 was a Vietcong and People's Army of Vietnam base area located in
the mountains of Quảng Nam Province southwest of Danang near the area known to
the Marines as the "Arizona Territory" The base was believed to support the PAVN
21st Regiment, 3rd Battalion, 68B Rocket Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 141st Regiment
and command and support units.
The operational plan was for "Task Force Yankee", an ad hoc unit based around
the 5th Marine Regiment, to secure the An Hoa Basin together with the ARVN 1st
Ranger Group, the Task Force would then construct a series of fire support bases
to support operations west into the Base Area and finally destroy the Base
The operation commenced on 7 December with the 2nd Battalion 7th Marines being
landed by helicopters from HMM-165 and HMM-364 into the Arizona Territory to act
as a blocking force for the ARVN Rangers. The 2nd Battalion 5th Marines and 3rd
Battalion 5th Marines which had just completed Operation Meade River had already
moved southwest from the Liberty Bridge.
On 9 December control of the operation passed to Colonel Michael M. Sparks,
commander of the 3rd Marine Regiment which had recently redeployed.
On 11 December following a preparatory air and artillery strike the
Company B, 3rd Engineer Battalion supported by Company K 5th Marines landed on
Hill 575 8 km southwest of An Hoa Combat Base and established Firebase Lance.
On 15 December several M-121 Combat Trap bombs were dropped on Hill 558 in an
experiment to blast helicopter landing zones in dense jungle. The Combat Trap
was only a partial success and Company B, 3rd Engineer Battalion supported by
1st Battalion 3rd Marines were landed by helicopters to establish Firebase Spear.
On 18 December 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines was landed on Hill 375 4 km southwest
of Firebase Spear and established Combat Operations Base Mace.
Having established their operating bases the Marines began patrolling west into
the eastern part of Base Area 112, while they found numerous abandoned bunkers,
barracks and support facilities no major encounters with the PAVN/Vietcong
occurred and Phase 2 of the operation ended on 31 December 1968.
On 1 January 1969 3/5 Marines was landed at Combat Operations Base Javelin
however heavy PAVN fire prevented a landing there and the 3rd Battalion 3rd
Marines was landed on Hill 728 and fought their way to Hill 508 seizing it by 15
January and establishing Firebase Maxwell there. The Marines then
proceeded to search the western part of Base Area 112, establishing further
firebases as they went and uncovering PAVN base camps and stores.
On 15 January an Army UH-1H carrying COL Sparks and his command group was hit by
machine-gun fire near Firebase Maxwell and crashed killing all on board.
On 29 January the 1st Battalion 7th Marines on Go Noi Island observed a 300
strong PAVN force crossing the Song Ky Lam and artillery fire was directed
against them, the PAVN tried to escape to the west but were engaged by Company D
5th Marines. The fighting continued all night before the PAVN broke contact and
the next morning the bodies of 72 PAVN were found.
On 10 February BLT 3rd Battalion 26th Marines joined the operation and was
landed in the Arizona Territory where they engaged numerous small PAVN units. At
the end of February Company L 3/26 Marines killed 75 PAVN and destroyed two
anti-aircraft machine-gun positions.
By mid-February Base Area 112 had been largely neutralized and the participating
units were needed in the DMZ area, so the operation was progressively scaled
back with the 3/3 Marines and the 3rd Marines command group being withdrawn on
the 16th and redeployed to Dong Ha Combat Base, followed the next day by 1/3
After midnight on 23 February PAVN mortars hit An Hoa Combat Base triggering
explosions in the ammunition dumps, followed by a sapper attack which was
repulsed with gunship and artillery fire. At the same time firebases Maxwell and
Tomahawk were hit by mortar and sapper attacks.
Due to the withdrawal
of participating units from the operation it was decided to withdraw the Marines
from the western firebases.On 3 March a patrol from Company M 3/5 Marines
was ambushed near Firebase Maxwell, 3 Marines were killed and 2 of the bodies
were left behind as the Company withdrew. The next day the Marines recovered one
of the bodies and the following day attempted to recover the other body but were
ambushed again losing 2 Marines killed who bodies could not be recovered. On 6
March the Marines tried to recover the bodies again but were forced back by PAVN
fire, the bodies were later recovered by a reconnaissance team. Firebase
Tomahawk was evacuated and closed on 5 March while Maxwell was closed on 7
The Operation ended on 8 March 1969. Marine losses were 183 killed and 1,487
wounded, ARVN losses were 100 killed and 378 wounded. The Marines reported
1,398 PAVN were killed and took 29 POW.
Two Marines, Lance Corporal William
R. Prom, and PFC Daniel Bruce were awarded the
Medal of Honor for gallantry during Taylor
This was a major land clearing operation in the Dodge City and Go Noi Island
area 10-20K south of Da Nang for units of the 1st Marine Div, primarily the 1st
Marines, plus SLF Alpha, the 51st ARVN Reg, and 2d Korean Marine Bde. Prior to
the war about 27,000 people lived in this area but by 1969 it was a tunneled,
cave infested VC haven. Most of the island's residents had fled to other areas
in Quang Nam Province. This operation was in the same areas as ALLEN BROOK in
May and MEADE RIVER in Dec, 1968. The objective was to clear the seven to nine
enemy bns out of the area and reopen Route 4 from Dai Loc to Dien Ban once and
for all. The operation had many phases and Inf units moving to phase lines and
blocking positions. Joint Army and Marine landing clearing companies cleared 250
acres at a time to a depth of 6 inches completely destroying the area for
military use by the enemy.
In all 852 enemy were killed, 58 captured
plus 410 weapons and some impressive food caches.
USMC losses were 71 KIA and 498 WIA;
mostly to mines. During 1970, the GVN would start a huge resettlement into this
area. started on May 26 and ran through November 7, 1969 in Goi Noi Island
and Dodge City. This was a multi battalion effort and included
ARVNs and ROKs (Republic of Korea Marines). 3/5's part of this op
involved driving into east Goi Noi alongside BLT 1/26, then establishing
a blocking position west of the railroad berm on 30 May. The
results of this op was to "transform Goi Noi Island from a heavily
vegetated tract into a barren wasteland, free of tree lines and other
cover long used by the enemy to conceal his movements across the
Operation Durham Peak
ran from July 18
to August 13, 1969. This operation took place in Antenna Valley
and the Que Son Mountains. Enemy forces fleeing the carnage in Goi
Noi and Dodge City because of Pipestone Canyon were filtering into this
area. 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 5th Marines, along with 2/1,
participated. The Army's Americal Division established
blocking positions south of the AO. According to Murphy most
of the heavy contact was sustained by a platoon of Hotel
Company 2/1, ambushed on July 26th.
Danny and his squad were taken off of Operation Pipestone Canyon and assigned to
a new operation that was called Durham Peak. The goal of Durham Peak was to send
Marines into the Antenna Valley which was adjacent to the Que Son Mountains.
This was about six miles south of where they had been at An Hoa.
The terrain of this region can be quite daunting. The jagged peaks of the
Que Son Mountains tower about 2,700 feet above the jungle canopy. The lowlands
are carpeted with a thick, densely packed undergrowth which is cut into an
uncountable number of deep ravines. Not a place you would want to go for a hike
on a warm, sunny afternoon. But, that is where the Marines were sent and Marines
go where they are sent.
Intelligence reports indicated that the enemy forces that were fleeing the
Americans at Go Noi Island and Dodge City had now embedded themselves in this
treacherous region. Now, it was time for the Marines to go get them out.
As Danny and his team pushed southward into the mountain chain, they began
to find evidence of the enemy. They discovered abandoned bunkers, hooches,
supply caches, and even a few fresh graves. They were obviously on the right
track. As they continued the push further into the mountains, enemy resistance
began to pop up. It was light initially, but then it began to intensify. The
Marines were getting closer to the lion’s den and the lions weren’t too pleased
about it. As the hike continued, Danny felt as though he was having a little de
ja vu. The terrain looked very familiar and for good reason. He had been there
during Operation Taylor Common. The Vietnam War was one of oddities. Take this
land – then give it back – and then take it again.
The mission continued for three long weeks. Every day was the same. It
began to get monotonous – hike everyday, search for the enemy, dig in at night.
It was like going to the same mundane job every day doing the same boring
activities just to get up and do it all over again the next day. The only
difference here was that people kept trying to kill you and you never got a
break. In the jungles of Southeast Asia, the Marine never had the opportunity
to go home at night and relax in front of the television set. Instead, you had
live theater every night where the actors were the Viet Cong breathing at your
neck. This live theater did have a short run though. The mission didn’t go as
planned and it was called off on August 13th.
Danny and his squad were then put back on Operation Pipestone Canyon to help the
Marines clear out the rest of the enemy near DaNang.
Danny was wounded
TWICE in Operation Pipestone Canyon. Several of his SQUAD here sadly didn't make it!
USMC losses were 71 (KIA) Killed In Action and 498
(WIA) Wounded In Action.
852 enemy were killed.....
Danny received 2 PURPLE HEARTS for his COMBAT
is a time in some men's lives their country calls in time of war, and asked to
heed what they deplore. These gallant men who fight with pride with pain that
lives and dies inside. They place their lives in dangers way to face the
enemy each day. Some wounds severe with loss of limb, while some will heal and
try again. To suffer wounds with death at hand, to fight a war in many lands.
They do their duty and beyond they're swift to act and to respond. They shed
their blood, some live, some die to keep Old Glory flying high. Their children
cry, their widows weep, the blood that's shed runs very deep. They live with
pain for many years and suffer stress that brings the tears. To honor those who
played the part we give, with thanks, the Purple Heart.