Cold War Files: All Units: Events: Operation Starlite, U.S. Victory at Chu Lai

August 17-24, 1965 one week
Operation Starlite, U.S. Victory at Chu Lai

After a deserter from the 1st Viet Cong regiment reveals that an attack is imminent against the U.S. Marine base at Chu Lai, the American army launches Operation Starlite. In this, the first major battle of the Vietnam War, the United States scores a resounding victory. Ground forces, artillery from Chu Lai, ships and air support combine to kill nearly 700 Viet Cong soldiers. U.S. forces sustain 45 dead and more than 200 wounded.

August 18-24

Operation Starlite begins the first major U.S. ground operation in Vietnam as U.S. Marines wage a preemptive strike against 1500 Viet Cong planning to assault the American airfield at Chu Lai. The Marines arrive by helicopter and by sea following heavy artillery and air bombardment of Viet Cong positions. 45 Marines are killed and 120 wounded. Viet Cong suffer 614 dead and 9 taken prisoner. This decisive first victory gives a big boost to U.S. troop morale.

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