Close Air Support and the Battle for Khe Sanh by Shawn P. Callahan, Marine Corps History Division

By Shawn P. Callahan, Marine Corps History Division

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The Aos used different radios than the pilots, and were responsible for all coordination with ground units engaged with the enemy, including artillery support. Bringing crew A TF-9J Cougar from Marine Aircraft Group-11 taxies for takeoff from Da Nang on the aircraft’s last combat sortie in Vietnam. The two-seat version of the Cougar, originally developed by the Navy for training, was used for Strike Coordination and Reconnaissance (SCAR) north of the DMZ, where enemy defenses proved too dangerous for the O-1.

Destroyed in its attack to support what remained The FAC(A) hit the enemy with tactical aircraft, of B/1/9, so III MAF’s company-sized reaction allowing the Marines to withdraw. 150 K/3/9 did ed in strength, but were beaten back by effective not enjoy much greater success. close air support and melted away into the highland jungle. The contacts of March 1967 were Even as the NVA mauled the Marines in their ominous, but again the enemy chose not to re- sustained effort to take Hill 861, the enemy also veal himself in force until provoked by the patrol began to attack the combat base itself with heavy that would begin the ongoing two-week-long Hill mortar and recoilless rifle fire.

97 By the 1968 battle of Khe sanh, the Marine aviation presence in Vietnam (shown in Annex B) was considerable. the premier Marine CAs aircraft was the A-4 skyhawk. like the Air force, served to be in a level dive pointed at the target the Marine Corps had discarded the Ad skyraider which would not endanger friendly forces. the after the Korean War because many were lost to fAC, therefore, was the primary means of ensur- anti-aircraft fire in the last year of the war. unlike ing that close air support would effectively sup- the Air force, however, the Marine Corps made port the ground commander without the danger sure that it developed a suitable CAs aircraft to of fratricide.

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