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Marine Division

Organized October 1, 1954
Decree 991-QP/ND of October 13, 1954

The Marine division was descended from French organized commando companies and river patrol units. Two battalions of troops (1st and 2nd Bataillons de Marche) which the French had formed from commando companies in the North and South, respectively, were transferred to the control of the Armed Forces of the then State of Vietnam on January 1, 1954. (The original elements were commando companies 1, 2, 3, 7, 13, 17, 24, 63, Commando Vendeberg, and Commando Nam Dinh) Following the July 1954 Geneva agreement, the 1st Battalion moved to the South.

On October 1, 1954, the Viet Nam Marine Corps (VNMC) was formally created as part of Vietnam's Navy. Organizational work was completed in early 1955. At that time, the VNMC included one landing battalion, six riverboat companies, five combat support light infantry companies, one raiding party, and headquarters and training units. The landing battalion was under the command of a French officer until May 31, 1955. The 1955 strength of the Marine Corps was slightly over 1,100 officers and men.

The VNMC was reorganized on February 1, 1956. On April 16, 1956, the combat elements of the corps was designated the Marine Group (it had previously been known as the Marine infantry). The VNMC became part of the general reserve of South Vietnamese armed forces on August 1, 1961. On January 1, 1962, the Marine Group was redesignated the Marine Brigade.

The Marine Division officially came into being on October 1, 1968. The Marine division was composed of nine maneuver battalions, the three artillery battalions, and various support elements. Activation dates for the maneuver battalions follow:

  1. 1st Battalion October 1, 1954
  2. 2nd Battalion April 1, 1956
  3. 3rd Battalion September 1, 1959
  4. 4th Battalion September 1, 1961
  5. 5th Battalion August 1, 1964
  6. 6th Battalion July 1, 1966
  7. 7th Battalion January 1, 1970
  8. 8th Battalion February 1, 1970
  9. 9th Battalion April 1, 1970
On July 1, 1964, two task forces, "A" and "B", were established within the then Marine Brigade. On July 1, 1968 or three months before the Marine Brigade officially became the Marine Division, Task Force "A" became Brigade "A" and Task Force "B" became to Brigade "B". Another change in unit designations took place on July 1, 1970. Brigade "A" became the 147th Brigade (1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions), and Brigade "B" became the 258th Brigade (4th, 5th, and 6th Battalions. At this time, a third, newly formed brigade, which had been activated on June 1 1970, was designated to the 369th Brigade (7th, 8th, and 9th Battalions).

The VNMC, which was composed entirely of volunteers, saw action in all parts of the Republic of Vietnam and also in Cambodia (1970-71) and Laos (1971). In the field, Marine battalions were frequently placed under the operational control of brigades other than their parent Brigade. As of1972, the Viet Nam Marine Corps (which consisted almost entirely of the personnel of the Marine division) was officially a component of the South Vietnamese Navy. However, the Navy had no Marine Corps-related responsibilities, and the VNMC was under the direct operational control of the Joint General Staff. The Marine Division remained part of the RVNAF general reserve along with the Airborne Division. The headquarters of the Marine division/ VNMC (the commander of the division is the commandant of the corps) was located in downtown Saigon close to the headquarters of the Navy. A number of facilities of the division were located in the Saigon area.

The Marine Division was deployed in Quang Tri province in 1972. It had operated in northern MR 1 since the Communist Spring Offensive of 1972 and maintains a forward headquarters in Quang Tri. Marine units recaptured Quang Tri City on September 16, 1972 after its abandonment by ARVN troops in May 1972.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:37:22 ZULU