The Gia Vuc Commo bunker display in 2007 also included a US Marines mannequin. You may ask why? After all not many Marines where found in A-camps in  South Vietnam! 

These were Marines from 
Force Recon
, Sub Unit 1, 
First Force Reconnaissance Co 

In 1965, only two active Force Reconnaissance Company existed, The 1st Force Recon, 1st Marine Division part of the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific: FMF PAC and the 2nd Force Recon Company, 2nd Marine Division part of the FMF LANT (Atlantic Fleet). The 3rd Marine Division based at Okinawa did not have an active Force Recon and was reinforced by the 1ST Marine Division through a Sub Unit (subordinate unit). SubUnit 1 was on a Platoon rotating cycle of approx 12 months. Sub Unit 1, 1st Platoon was the first Force Recon unit to serve in South Vietnam and was lead by Cpt David Whittingham . There first mission in Vietnam after their arrival in November 1964 was the reconnaissance of the area around CAM RAHN BAY for its selection as major port for the US forces in Vietnam , they also carried out reconnaissance and survey of the beaches around Da Nang prior to the Marine Battalion landing.

By May 1965 2nd Platoon had joined 1st Platoon in Vietnam and its members were assigned to US  Special Forces  A-camps in the I Corps with a twofold mission :
a) gaining experience  in the mountain approaches to the Marine tactical area of operation  along the Laos border
 b) to  forward intelligence  directly to the III  Marine Amphibious  Force.

"Current Vietnam made
Repro patch in my collection"

Force Recon
Sub Unit Number 1,
First Force Reconnaissance Company

At full strength a Vietnam Force Recon Platoons consisted of 16 Marines, 
1 officer, 1 senior NCO, 1 parachute rigger, 
1 dive NCO and 3 reconnaissance teams of 4 Marines each.

Their primary missions were to conduct:
A)  Pre-assault reconnaissance for
amphibious landing forces which included hydro graphic surveys of proposed landing sites as well as beach exits, inland cross-country trafficability and engineering data.
B)  Deep reconnaissance into hostile territory
to report on enemy locations, routes of communication, strength, equipment, etc.
Their secondary missions usually included direct action activities such as combat patrols, search & destroy demolition and combine operations with other units.


To give you an idea of the effectiveness of Force Recon, please read some facts and figures from
Maj James Steele, Intelligence Section, Senior Marine headquarters,
South Vietnam, 1967

Kill ratio for Marine battalion was 7.6 enemies to one Marine

Kill ratio for Force Recon was 34 enemies for each of their own

Marine infantry required approx 7 ton of equipment to produce a body count

Force Recon required 2 ton for the same result

In an infantry unit 80% of the contacts were initiated by the enemy

Only 5% of Force Recon contacts were initiated by the enemy.

Cpl Les Herring Team leader,
1st Platoon, Sub Unit 1, 
1st Force Recon Co,
Gia Vuc May-July 1965

“My platoon, Sub Unit 1 arrived in Okinawa in November 1964 and conducted training operations until December 1964 when we boarded a small destroyer specifically designed to carry Marine Recon and Navy UDT/SEAL teams to areas of operation. After spending Christmas day in Subic Bay , in the Philippines we sailed to southern Thailand to conduct recon patrols.  Each of our 4 man teams had 1 Thai Marine attached as interpreter. After completing those operations we arrived in Vietnam and began conducting operations for the planned Marine amphibious landings that would begin in March 1965. We began attachments to SF A-Teams in May 1965 for a couple of months and conducted recon and combat patrols in the I Corps. Members of  1st and second platoon were attached to Gia Vuc in Mai 1965”

LCpl Ray Rossi Radio Operator,
2nd Platoon, Sub Unit 1, 
1st Force Recon Co,
Gia Vuc May-July 1965
What I had become aware of almost overnight was just how special these Special Forces  A-Team troops really are…since we were fledgling young newcomers, we cherished every lesson learned. These A-teams consisted of 10-12 highly trained Special Forces Green Berets. The sergeant in charge of the Gia-Vuc's armory looked at our outdated M-3 A 1 grease guns and immediately marched us over to inspect the arsenal of weapons they had…every kind of military weapon and then some: shotguns, carbines, pistols, rifles…even an M-1 sniper rifle, (which I had the privilege of carrying on two patrols.) We had our choice of any of these weapons to use on upcoming missions.  It was at Gia Vuc that the Special Forces troops outfitted us with black pyjamas for casual wear around the camp at night and morning. They also gave us the ranger style web gear (M57) and plastic canteens, the Tiger Stripe uniforms and jungle boots.  Back in 1965, we were allowed to wear a variety of uniforms. I did wear a set of the Camo's from the era of the Marine Raiders of WWII but they were extremely hot so they were best suited for the monsoon season. In camp the dress code was fairly casual as I remember. Many times we simply wore the standard fatigue type trousers with OD T/shirt and jungle boots with Marine Corps cover. We did not wear side arm but generally always carried our weapon wherever we went.


SFC B Gifford & 
Sgt. H P Vialpando,  USMC

Photos taken during a patrol around Gia Vuc

(left) Detail photos taken with flash (right)


Force Recon NCO in Commo  Bunker

Detail of display board on Gia Vuc,
Bunker &
Force Recon

Information on this webpage was displayed  during the Gia Vuc Commo Bunker tribute display at Beltring, Kent, England in July 2007, this small Force Recon display was dedicated to two E-friends of mine who help me immensely with my research: 
Cpl Les Herring and LCpl Ray Rossi: 1st Force Reconnaissance Co.  RVN 1965

Back to the Commo Bunker

Click the link below for our display Video page 

A study of the real Gia Vuc Commo bunker thanks to Bill and Gary.

Go to the main Force Recon page

Any information and photographs on this site should not be used without prior agreement from the owners.
Copyright ©1997-2008 Gia Vuc Tribute website. All rights reserved