Operation Utah Mesa
Operation Utah Mesa was a United States Marine Corps, United States Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) operation in northwest Quảng Trị Province, South Vietnam from 12 June to 6 July 1969.
In late May, intelligence gained during Operation Cameron Falls and from sensor and reconnaissance reports indicated that the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) 24th Regiment of the 304th Division had infiltrated Quảng Trị Province near the Khe Sanh plateau. Task Force Hotel which was responsible for this area of Quảng Trị Province ordered the formation of Joint Task Force Guadalcanal, comprising 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, and Task Force Mustang, comprising Companies B and C, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment (Mechanized) and Company B 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment of the 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) operating with the ARVN 2nd Regiment to sweep the area.:71
The operation began on 12 June with the 1/9 Marines landed by helicopter at Landing Zone Bison (Hill 950, while the ARVN 3rd Battalion, 2nd Regiment was landed at Firebase Quantico ( ); both battalions were to sweep west towards Khe Sanh.:5–430 On 13 June the ARVN 2nd Battalion, 2nd Regiment was landed at Landing Zone Cokawa, north of Hill 950. On 15 June Company D 1/9 Marines was landed at Landing Zone Horn ( ) to secure the advance of Task Force Mustang west along Route 9 towards Khe Sanh.:5–250) and
At 03:35 on 18 June over 100 soldiers from the PAVN 24th Regiment attacked Company B 1/61st Infantry's night defensive position east of Lang Vei penetrating the perimeter. When they withdrew at dawn the PAVN left behind 41 dead while U.S. losses were 11 dead. Later that day a platoon (second) from Company C 1/9 Marines patrolling 3km southeast of Khe Sanh was ambushed by entrenched PAVN, the ambushed platoon was recovered by the rest of Company C and they overran the PAVN position. During recovery two first platoon members were wounded. Two members of second platoon survived the ambush.<ref=pfc K.Phillips></ref>
On 20 June the PAVN launched 3 separate attacks against a Company B, 1/61st Infantry and Company D, 1/9 Marines position. The attacks were repulsed with air and artillery support resulting in 27 PAVN killed.
At 01:30 on 24 June 2 PAVN platoons attacked Company K, 3/9 Marines' night ambush position south of Route 9, the Marines retreated to the main Company position which then came under attack in an attack which last until dawn. On the night of 26 June Company K, 3/9th Marines' night defensive position was attacked again by an estimated 2 companies of PAVN, this attack was repulsed within 3 hours. PAVN losses in both attacks were 41 dead. On the night of 27 June 2 PAVN companies attack Company I, 3/9 Marines position east of Lang Vei losing 22 killed.:71–2
On 2 July 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines reopened Firebase Spark ( ), 14km south of Khe Sanh.:5–469 The PAVN soon began shelling the base and 2/9 Marines patrolled the surrounding area forcing the PAVN to withdraw.:72
On 6 July the 2/9 Marines and 3/9 Marines returned to Vandegrift Combat Base in preparation for the 9th Marine Regiment's redeployment from South Vietnam ending Operation Utah Mesa. U.S claimed the PAVN losses were 309 killed.:72
- Smith, Charles (1988). U.S. Marines in Vietnam: High Mobility and Standdown 1969. History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. ISBN 978-1494287627. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Kelley, Michael (2002). Where we were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press. p. 5–59. ISBN 978-1555716257.