327th INFANTRY - Yesteryear, Today and Yet to Come
327th Infantry Regiment 327th INFANTRY - History - Vietnam 327th Infantry Regiment
   


Post WWII:
The 101st remained in Germany serving occupation duty until November, 1945 when they were deactivated in France and shipped home. Between 1945 and 1956, the 101st was activated and deactivated three times as a training unit at Camp Breckinridge, KY and Fort Jackson, SC. They were responsible for training the 11th Airborne Division which served with honor in Korea. In March, 1956, the 101st transferred to Fort Campbell, KY where they remained in active service but at reduced manpower levels. In the early '60s, the Army predicted a larger involvement in Southeast Asia and began building up the 101st in addition to several other units.

Late in the winter of 1964 the decision was made in Washington to commit American troops to combat in the Republic of Vietnam. The Marines were in first, around Da Nang, then the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade. In the spring the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., was alerted to send a brigade of infantry plus support troops to Vietnam. Thus becoming the first combat troops in Vietnam from the continental United States.

Note: Our regiment had embarked for Vietnam the week prior to the letter below.

General William C. Westmoreland wrote this letter to his friend Lt. Col. Lewis L. Millett, commander of the U. S. Army Security agency Training Regiment on July 15, 1965.

Dear Lewis:

As you can appreciate, our Army is faced with a tremendous challenge here in Vietnam. Initially our soldiers were committed strictly in an advisory role, and as such the number required was relatively small. But now it has become necessary to commit more and more US troops to actual combat. It is necessary therefore that our training programs in the United States Be oriented toward the type of fighting we are involved in today in this country.

Here we have an enemy who operates covertly. The battlefield is everywhere – no front to it nor rear. The enemy is here today and gone tomorrow. He moves at night, concentrates, attacks, and then he disappears into the wilderness of a jungle or into the landscape when reaction forces are brought to bear.

The basic squad tactics we have taught our soldiers over the years are still applicable here in Vietnam. But in addition, we must stress the importance of knowing how to search and destroy in difficult terrain and how to counter ambushes and other tactics used by guerilla insurgents.

The importance of training programs such as yours cannot be over emphasized. I am confident that your work will add significantly to the Army's effort in Vietnam as your trainees begin to join their comrades over here. I look forward to their joining us in the fight against this cunning and persistent enemy.

Best wishes.
Sincerely,
W.C. Westmoreland
General, United States Army
Commanding

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July 29th 1965 1st Brigade 101st Airborne Division arrives in Vietnam
 

The Nomads of Vietnam: The first 4000 paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division arrive in Vietnam, landing at Cam Rahn Bay. They made a demonstration jump immediately after arriving, observed by Gen. William Westmoreland and outgoing Ambassador (formerly General) Maxwell Taylor. Taylor and Westmoreland were both former commanders of the division.

327th Infantry
The first major action, Operation Highland, was to secure a base at An Khe and the road from Qui Nhon to An Khe for the arrival of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. The 1st Brigade was still rootless unlike other units it did not immediately establish a base camp. The brigade was on its way to earning the nickname, "Nomads of Vietnam".

The 1st Cav arrived safely, and the 1st Brigade in August and September continued to provide security. In mid-September, elements of the 2nd of the 502nd won the honor of first defeating a Viet Cong main force unit, before any other U.S. unit.

The troopers of one-and-a-half companies air assaulted into what was later determined to be a VC battalion command post. The paratroopers found themselves completely surrounded and outnumbered, but the assault had caught the enemy by surprise. The Americans took the offensive and badly mauled the VC battalion. When the battle ended three days later, after the arrival of reinforcements, 226 enemy dead were left on the field.

Following Operation Gibraltar, the 1st Brigade moved to Qui Nhon to provide security for the incoming Korean Tiger Division.

In early November, the brigade found a home of sorts. Phan Rang is 175 miles up the coast from Saigon, and there a mile-square base camp was set up. But except for a few hundred support troopers inhabiting a corner of the base, Phan Rang was deserted for all but 21 days in two years. The Nomads were always on the move.

Among the names that strike a chord in military history, Dak To ranks along side Khe Sanh, Con Thien, A Shau and Dong Ap Bia. In the central highlands the month of June 1966 meant monsoon rains, and under its cover came a major enemy offensive. Operation Hawthorne became the classic spoiling attack as it blunted the NVA offensive in Kontum Province.

It was one of the most viciously contested battles of the Vietnam War. Once the battle was joined, the fighting was continuous. Day and night the battle raged, moving from bunker to trench line, to spider hole, to bamboo thicket, to stream bed and finally to victory. In a brilliant scheme of maneuver, the two Screaming Eagle battalions executed a double envelopment against the entrenched 24th NVA Regt. The 1st of the 327th attacking north and the 2nd of the 502nd attacking south. All this was supported by massive fire-power including artillery (27,000 rounds) and bombs (473 Air Force sorties).

At the end of Hawthorne, the 24th NVA Regt. had been destroyed - it suffered more than 1,200 dead and the offensive stopped dead in its tracks. Lt. Gen. Stanley R. Larsen, then commanding general of I Field Force, publicly stated that the 1st Brigade was the "best fighting unit in Vietnam".

Operation Wheeler started Sept. 11, 1967, near Chu Lai. Continuing under Task Force Oregon - which was redesignated the Americal Division - the Screaming Eagles encountered elements of the 2nd NVA Division west of Tam Ky.

Surprise airmobile assaults into the Song Tranh Valley flushed out the enemy. Paratroopers killed scores of the fleeing NVA. After three weeks enemy dead had risen to 396, and by early November to more than 800, making Wheeler the largest single operation conducted by the brigade in Vietnam.

In their 75 days of Operation Wheeler, the 1st Brigade troopers killed 1,105 enemy. Late in November the brigade was on the move again, this time back to II Corps after an eight-month absence in I Corps, during which they accounted for 2,405 enemy killed. The "Always First" troopers went back home - to Phan Rang.

1st Brigade Separate

During the fall the "Nomads" learned that they would no longer be alone in Vietnam. The divisions 2nd and 3rd Brigades and support elements would be coming over in late fall.


The 1st Brigade fought as a separate brigade until Dec. 1967, when the remainder of the division arrived in Vietnam.
In two and a half years, the first brigade traveled 2,500 miles and engaged in operations in 3 of the 4 established tactical zones. The men of the brigade killed six thousand enemy troops, captured enough weapons to arm eight enemy battalions, and took two thousand tons of rice. Medical attention was given to 25,000 friendly Vietnamese and 15,000 were relocated as refugees by the brigade.

 

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The Remainder of the Division Arrives
 

101st AirborneThe operation to move the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell to South Vietnam, code named Operation Eagle Thrust, was the largest airlift transfer of men and equipment from the United States to Southeast Asia to date. Approximately 10,500 troops and 14,000 pounds of basic combat equipment flew over 9,700 miles during a period from November 17 until late December 1967. General William Westmoreland, commander of all U.S. troops in Vietnam and a former commander of the 101st Airborne, and General Cao Van Vien, Chief of the ARVN Joint General Staff greeted General Barsanti and the units of the 101st at Bien Hoa airport on December 13. General Barsanti reported to General Westmoreland “the 101st Airborne Division is present for combat in Vietnam.” It would not be long before these troops experienced combat.

The division was initially committed to the III Corp tactical zone, although the 1st brigade continued to operate out of Phan Rang in II Corps.

The Brigade participated in numerous campaigns to include the Defense: Counteroffensive Phases I-IV; TET Counteroffensive; TET 69 Counteroffensive; Summer-Fall 1969; Winter-Spring 1970; Cease-Fire, and Consolidated Phases I and II. The Brigade redeployed back to Fort Campbell in January 1972.
However, the 2nd Battalion of the 327th was chosen to remain in country until March. Thus becoming the longest serving infantry outfit to participate in the Vietnam war.

 

*More info to follow...

Major General Barsanti
On November 19, 1967, during a “Screaming Eagles Day”‚ salute for the 101st Airborne Division by the neighboring communities of Clarksville, Tennessee and Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Major General Barsanti addressed the crowd. The 101st Airborne was soon to be transferred to duty in Vietnam. U.S.
Army photograph