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9th Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, FMF


The 9th Engineer Battalion was activated 1 November 1965 at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California. The nucleus was formed of experienced Marine engineers with many years of training and experience. First to form were Headquaters Company and Service Company with a total battalion strength numbering 30 officers and 93 enlisted Marines as the building program began. On 13 December 1965, the four remaining engineer companies, A, B, C and D, were acitvated, and by 31 December 1965, the number of personnel had increased to 43 officers and 790 enlisted Marines, reassigned from almost every station of the Marine Corps. On 1 April 1966 the battalion was redesignated to 9th Engineer Battalion, Force Troops, FMFPac, coming under operational control of the 29 Palms, California - based command, although continuing to be based at Camp Pendleton, California, where intensified training continued until an advance detail left the States on 2 May 1966 when one officer and eleven enlisted Marines embarked aboard the USS Mathews (AKA-96) and sailed from Long Beach, California, for the Republic of Vietnam. On 15 May 1966 the battalion personnel embarked aboard the USS Ogden LPD-5 at San Diego enroute to the Republic of Vietnam, and on the following day another group embarked aboard USS Fort Marion LSD-22 at San Diego, California, enroute to their destination at Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam. On 18 May 1966 an Advance Party departed MCAS, El Toro, California, by government air enroute to Vietnam, arriving 23 May 1966 to begin preparations for the arrival of the remainder of the battalion. Part of service Company arrived aboard the USS Mathews (AKA-96) on 27 May 1966. The Battalion Headquarters, Headquarters Company, Company B plus other battalion elements arrived 6 June 1966 aboard the USS Ogden (LPD-5). Companies A and C arrived and disembarked 15 June 1966 with final personnel of Company D arriving in the battalion area on 17 June 1966. On 25 June Company A departed Chu Lai for Da Nang aboard the USS Summit County (LST-1146) where it came under operational control of the 7th Engineer Battalion. The 9th Engineers' new home in the Republic of Vietnam was a flat, sandy area stretching alongside Highway 1, one-quarter mile southeast of the Chu Lai "New Life" village. The engineers first task was setting up camp in the sandy area and buildin a road network throughout so shops and living quarters could be set up. Eleven days after its arrival the battalion made its first commitment in support of the 1st Marine Division. By the end of June the engineers were fully employed with the vast majority of their efforts being spent in support of the 1st Marine Division (REIN). During its stay in the Republic of Vietnam, the battalion accomplished many varied tasks, including repairing and paving a segment of Highway 1, building and repairing bridges, building and operating cable-operated ferries, general camp construction, rock crushing, and installation and operation of water points. In addition to its many construction jobs the engineers were actively engaged in maine-clearing assignments, convoy security, and other general combat support operations. They also maintained their own perimeter and ran combat patrols in their own area of operation. Although the battalion's main effort went to the 1st Marine Division, it also supported US Army units and other Free World Forces, as well as local Vietnamese civilian and military projects near Chu Lai. Some of the operations that the battalion actively participated in were Colorado, Washington, Fresno, Napa and Golden Fleece. In March 1970, though all operational commitments were continued, significant effort was placed on relocation of the battalion to Da Nang. By 30 March 1970, 475 personnel and 2,650 tons of equipment had been moved by convoy and sealift to the 1st Marine Division AO in the Da Nang area. During the remainder of its stay in Vietnam the battalion continued to stress its primary mission of minesweeps, upgrading and haul support, and keeping Highway 1 open to traffic in its area. Company A completed its stay when on 2 March 1970 it was deployed out of the Republic of Vietnam. Its designation was changed to Company A (REIN), 9th Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Brigade, FMF, as it departed for Hawaii, arriving there on 16 March 1970 and becoming an increment of the 1st Marine Brigade. While a unit in Vietnam, its headquarters was Hill 10, south of Da Nang, with its primary mission being the maintenance of Highway QL - between Tam Ky and Thang Binh. In addition, it carried out such engineering assignments as minefield clearing, small bridge construction and bunker complex construction in and around various Marine elements located south of Da Nang. During July 1970, Company C, 9th Engineer Battalion deployed from the Republic of Vietnam, arriving at Camp Pendleton, California on 1 August 1970. While awaiting the arrival of its parent organization, it was attached to Provisional Service Battalion on 11 August and remained there until detached on 11 September 1970 to rejoin the 9th Engineer Battalion. The battalion with Headquarters Company, Service Company and Company B departed Da Nang on 24 August 1970 aboard the USS Juneau LPD-10, arriving at Long Beach, California, and joining the 5th Marine Amphibious Brigade at Camp pendleton on 11 September 1970. Immediately operations began for deactivation of the 9th Engineer Battalion. On 6 October 1970 the battalion came under operational control and administrative control of the 7th Engineer Battalion. On 30 October 1970 the 9th Engineer Battalion was deactivated and its colors retired. Company A (REIN), 9th Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Brigade FMF continued in existence at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. (History from the book, "The 9th Engineer Battalion, First Marine Divison, In Vietnam", by Jean Shellenbarger and published by McFarland and Company)



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