199th Light Infantry Brigade
As the rapidly deteriorating situation in Vietnam continued. It became apparent to the United States that military advisors and small units of Special Forces wouldn't be enough to stem the tide of communist expansion in southeast Asia. The United States answered the call in March 1965 by sending in the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade to defend the airfield at Da Nang. On April 10th 1965, the 9th Marines were reinforced by the 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines, and by May the whole 3rd Marine Division took hold to strengthen the defenses of the northern portions of South Vietnam.
By April of 1965, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, "The Herd", got the green light. Being the first Army ground combat unit to arrive in Vietnam, it was based in Bien Hoa outside Saigon. The first Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division arrived at Cam Rhan Bay July 1965, and on Oct 1 1965 the 1st Calvary Division assumed its place at An Khe, the heartland of the country.
The 1st Cav would get its baptism in fire at LZ X-RAY and LZ ALBANY in the Ia Drang valley campaign. After the involvement in Vietnam in Ia Drang valley it became clear to the U.S. government that it would take a massive American ground force in Vietnam to hold back the North Vietnamese communist.
On the anvil of Vietnam the hammer struck down to forge a new separate Brigade. From the sparks flying off the anvil, the new 199th Light Infantry Brigade was shaped around three elite Infantry units with a glorious past. Re-designated 23rd March 1966, the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, and the 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry, were assigned to the newly formed 199th (Separate) Light Infantry Brigade out of Fort Benning Georgia.
The Motto was, Light, Swift, and Accurate. The Brigade would live up to this Motto from the very start. Pressed for rapid deployment in November 1966 for Vietnam, the unit was swiftly formed and rushed into training before it's ranks were fully filled, truly making the unit light on personnel. After a brief period of training at Kelly Field in Fort Benning, Georgia the unit was moved by ground transportation to the World War II training camp of Shelby, Mississippi in September 1966 for advanced jungle training.
Following the intense training in Mississippi, on November 28, 1966 a 280 man advance party of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade arrived in Vietnam at Long Binh, the site of what was to become their Main Base camp. After final review, the majority of the Brigade was flown to Oakland California, where they boarded the USS Sultan and USS Pope for the more than two week trip across the Pacific Ocean to South Vietnam. On December 10, 1966 the USS Sultan docked at Vung Tau. and on December 12, the USS Pope arrived.
The 199th Light Infantry Brigade took up permanent residence at the north east corner of Long Binh. Faced with a rotation of personnel problem, the Brigade switched many of it's original members with other combat units in Vietnam adding experienced combat veterans to its ranks. Along with the infantry units, the 2nd Battalion 40th Arty and 7th support Unit rounded out the Brigade. Other units assigned to the 199th included D Troop 17th Cav., 87th Engineers, 49th Scoutdog, 76th Combat Trackers, F-Co. 51th Infantry, 71st LRRP, M-Co. 75th Rangers, 179th MID, 313 Signal, 856th RRD, 152nd MP, 40th PIO, 44th HIS, 503rd CHEM, and the 1099th Med Boat.
Once in Vietnam, the Brigade continued its wartime preparation on the battle field. Six days after landing, and despite not being fully equipped, its Battalions were farmed out immediately in Operation UNIONTOWN to secure the defenses of the Long Binh complex. Its first airmobile mission was an actual combat air assault conducted December 17th by the 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry.
May 04 2000 12:32:06:000AM