From Every Marine, Robert A. Simonsen
This article is authored by Bob Simonsen, please visit his site
for more details: [3rd
Bn 27th Marines] Video clip of President Johnson
addressing the 3/27 Marines
The 27th Marine Regiment was born out
of World War II on January 10, 1944. It was formed at Camp
Pendleton, California as part of the 5th Marine Division. In
August of that year, the Regiment relocated to Camp Tarawa in the
territory of Hawaii.
In January 1945, the 27th Marines
received its first combat assignment; the invasion of Iwo Jima.
The seizure of Iwo Jima was considered vital to the American war
effort as it was approximately 750 miles from the Japanese
Islands. American authorities felt that the island would provide
the United States with an excellent base from which fighter planes
could protect and escort B-29's on their raids.
The invasion of Iwo Jima began on 19
February, 1945. The 27th Marines stormed ashore at 0900 in its
designated area of Beaches Red 1 and Red 2. The Regiment was
initially assigned the mission of helping to cut off and isolate
Mount Suribachi from the rest of the island. As the Marines pushed
inland, resistance by the Japanese became more and more
determined. Once Mount Suribachi was isolated, the Regiment was
ordered to move north to join with the other units in continuing
the attack on the main enemy defenses. Rugged terrain, heavy enemy
fire, and well placed land mines all combined at times to hold the
attacking Marines to a standstill. They repeatedly met the
Japanese in hard, close combat.
On 16 March, Iwo Jima was declared
secure, although some resistance continued for about two months.
The severity of the fighting left 566 killed and 1703 wounded in
the 27th Marines alone. Four Marines from the Regiment earned the
Medal of Honor (the nation's highest award for valor).
In April 1945, the 27th Marines again
found itself back at Camp Tarawa where it started to reform and
prepare for the invasion of Japan.
The capitulation of the Japanese
cancelled the plans for the invasion and on 16 September, the
Regiment sailed to Japan for occupation duty. Returning to the
United States on 20 December, the 27th Marines was deactivated at
Camp Pendleton on 10 January 1946.
Video clip of the return of the 27th Marines from Vietnam to San
Due to the intensification of the
American war effort in Vietnam, the 27th Marines was again
activated at Camp Pendleton on 1 January 1966. The Third Battalion
reformed on 10 November 1966 at Camp Pendleton's Camp Margarita.
The Regiment embarked on a training program that was oriented
towards operations in Vietnam. The primary goal was to bring the
Regiment up to a high state of combat readiness. Not until the end
of 1967, however, was this end accomplished. Personnel shortages
and a high turnover of officers and men plagued the Regiment from
its reactivation date. By the late fall of 1967, the overall
strength of the 27th Marines had stabilized to the point where it
had become an effective fighting force.
Due to the infamous 1968 Tet
offensive, President Johnson gave signals to the Joint Chief of
Staffs that he was willing to commit more troops to the war
effort. General Westmoreland and the Joint Chiefs of Staff
responded with an Army Brigade from the 82nd Airborne and the 27th
Marine Regiment. Notified on 12 February 1968, the Regiment began
to reform immediately. Hundreds of Marines had to be transferred
out due to underage, time between combat tours and sole surviving
son limitations. These restrictions, combined with the fact that
the 27th Marines was used as a pool for normal overseas
replacements, left the Regiment vastly understrengthed. After
taking every available infantry Marine assigned to the 5th
Division, the Corps had to take another 400 Marines from the ranks
of non-infantry related occupations, including cooks, drivers,
engineers and you name it! The 3rd Battalion, being the last to be
brought up to strength, took the brunt of these non infantrymen. A
typical squad had only 1-3 infantrymen and maybe 1 Marine with
combat experience. After being met by President Johnson at El
Toro, California, the 27th Marines became the Corps first regiment
to fly into a combat zone.
These men were put together without
any training as a group and began running combat patrols
immediately upon their arrival in Vietnam. They were, however,
professionals and they learned quickly. They would prove the old
Marine saying that "Every Marine is a Basic Rifleman". They
performed with distinction on a big operation, Allen Brook, where
many were killed and wounded. They were credited with killing 270
NVA during Allen Brook and received the Meritorious Unit Citation.
During this operation, members earned the Medal of Honor, 2 Navy
Crosses and several Silver and Bronze Stars. The unit stayed in
Vietnam just seven months before returning to the United States.
The Marine Corps simply could not support units in Vietnam, as
long as the 27th Marines remained overseas. Personnel shortages
were affecting all combat regiments and unless there was a general
draft increase, the 27th Marines had to return. Members who still
had tour duty time left, were sent to other units while the others
returned to the United States and were even given a parade in
their honor in San Diego, California. The complete history of
3/27, a 350 page oral history, may be obtained thru the primary
GO NOI ISLAND AND OPERATION ALLEN BROOK
81 Mortars and CP Group with Captured NVA Flag on
Go Noi Island - 19 May 1968
Go Noi Island is located in the Dien
Ban District, Quang Nam Province, I Corps, Republic of Vietnam. It
is approximately 15 miles south of Da Nang, west of Hoi An and 5
miles east of An Hoa. Although it is not truly an island, it is
surrounded by rivers, streams and roads. To the south is a large
mountain range which is used as an NVA infiltration route from
Laos. Although the civilian population is considered sparse, they
were all strongly VC oriented. Most of the men of military age
were active Viet Cong. Traditionally, Go Noi Island served as a
staging area for NVA units building up for attacks against the Da
Nang area. In May of 1968, the 36th Regiment of the 308th NVA
Division and elements of three VC Battalions had found their way
onto the Island. The NVA troops were well trained and equipped.
Their field packs were stocked with medical supplies, munitions,
and gas masks. Their uniforms were immaculate and neatly pressed.
The men were young and had fresh haircuts. They possessed great
fire power. They had rockets, crew served automatic weapons and
mortars. The standard weapon was the AK-47 assault rifle. They had
Polish rifle grenades and the new RPG rocket launchers. Their
supply lines and leaders were excellent.
By late April 1968, through
reconnaissance observations and limited engagements, it was
determined that the enemy had fed in an equivalent of an NVA
Division in the area south of Da Nang. Major General Donn
Robertson, the 1st Marine Division Commanding General, decided to
change his tactics for the defense of Da Nang. Up to this time,
the defense consisted of heavily patrolling the rocket belt
extending in a semi-circle around Da Nang. With additional
available troops(27th Marines), it was decided to fan out in
deeper reaching, more mobile operations which would keep the NVA
forces away from doing damage to the Da Nang area.