In late 1965 Hotel would be formed and led by 1st Lieutenant Jerome (Jerry) Doherty. He led Hotel company from Long Beach. CA on January 19, 1966, trained his men for three months of Jungle Warfare School training in Okinawa and then led his company to Chu Lai, Vietnam in April 1966.
From 22 February 1966 until embarkation the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines conducted extensive field training and field firing. Each company spent eight days attending Counter-Guerrilla Warfare School in the Northern Training Area of Okinawa where formal instruction, patrolling, and a two-day guerrilla problem were conducted. All units fired both day and night live fires using night firing techniques. Units also received instruction and application in the use of the sniper scope. A two-day period of instruction at Land Mine and Demolition School plus one day’s instruction at the Jungle Lanes impressed personnel on the current trends and tips for Viet Nam.
All companies of the battalion received instruction in such areas as mail censorship, password and countersign, civic action, and Viet Nam orientation.
The Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/5 departed Okinawa for Chu Lai, Vietnam on 8 April 1966 and arrived on 13 April 1966. The 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines was assigned the former TAOR of the 2nd Battalion; 4th Marines on Hill 69 relieving them of responsibility for the TAOR at 1200, 14 April 1966. Hill 69 became the Battalion CP area guarded by “F” Company sending Hotel Company to Hill 76. On Hill 76, “H” Company patrolled to the extreme western portion of the TAOR. Along with Popular Forces, they made 9 villages safe by running out the VC.
On April 15, Hotel’s Battalion H&S Company moved off Hill 69. During the period the Battalion participated in Operation ”Wyoming” (April 26 – April 30, 1966) with companies “E” and “F”. Marines dropped by helicopter and landed in LZ EAGLE (BT335182). The Battalion swept in columns to the North and North West portion of the TAOR; on order turned and with “E” and “F” companies conducted search and destroy operations to the southwest in the assigned TAOH and wept to the SONG TAM KY River in the assigned zone.
Hotel’s first contact in Vietnam with the VC took place on April 17, 1966, when they spotted 8 to 12 VC and were fired upon. A gunfire exchange took place for about 45 minutes. No U.S. KIA or WIA. For the next several days, Hotel was involved in ambushes and a firefight took place on Hill 54. Hotel reports an estimated 25 VC KIA and another 25 VC WIA.
April 25th, 1966 Hotel has its first two Marines wounded by booby-trapped punji stakes while searching and finding many tunnels during their search and destroy mission. Weather was partly cloudy with thundershowers, high of 89 degrees, and a low of 76 degrees with humidity at 90%.
During a search and destroy mission, on May 4, 1966, one of our Marines tripped an unknown explosive device resulting in two of them being wounded. During the rest of May, Hotel ran into many VC patrols and booby traps in the area resulting in another 1 Marine wounded by Hotel while capturing weapons, ammo, food, and capturing documents. In May, the 2nd Battalion was occupying Hills 76, 35, and 54 in addition to Hill 69. On May 19, 1966, Hotel is assigned to provide security and defense of the bridge at An Tan.
In June 1966, Hotel 2/5 moved to Hill 35 and fought the enemy in the nearby rice patties. Security on the An Tan bridge eventually became the responsibility of the U.S. Army as the U.S. Marines began moving northward to the Quang Nam Province.
Note: During May – Jul 68, the An Tân bridge had been upgraded to a 300′ steel stringer, timber pile bent, timber pile abutment, class 60 structure. At 0045 hr on 17 Nov 68, twenty feet of the center span of the An Tan Bridge was destroyed by a waterborne sapper attack, thus severing road traffic north of Chu Lai on QL1.