Beacon Torch / Calhoun
(18 June - 2 July, 25 June - 2 July 1967)
Operation Beacon Torch placed SLF Bravo south of Da Nang in the coastal region near the Quang Nam and Quang Tin provincial border. A conventional search and destroy operation, Beacon Torch covered an enemy-controlled area east of the Troung Giang River and southeast of the city of Hoi An.
A companion operation, Calhoun, targeted against the "Pagoda Valley" west of the Beacon Torch AOA, started on 25 June. The area received this name because of the many small pagodas on the valley floor. III MAF suspected "Pagoda Valley" of being a Communist forward logistic base. In essence, BLT 2 / 3 phased into Calhoun and, when Calhoun ended, it withdrew as originally planned in Beacon Torch.
Beacon Torch started at 0630 on l8 June as assault elements of Company F, followed by Command Group Alpha landed in what the helicopter pilots thought was 12 Cardinal. Actually, the heliborne troops landed 2,000 meters south of Cardinal. Company H landed at what the pilots believed was LZ Wren. It, too, landed in the wrong place and 2,000 meters south of its planned starting position.
While the first heliborne companies untangled their 12 problems, Company G landed on Red Beach, followed by the 2d Platoon (Reinforced), Company A, 3d Tank Battalion. Once the squadron resolved the 12 location problems, it lifted Company E into the correct 12 Cardinal.
Company H made the first contact at 0930. Light encounters continued throughout the day until 1540 when Company H engaged about 100 enemy troops. In the ensuing firefight, 43 of Company H's Marines succumbed to non-battle causes; most were heat casualties. The enemy killed five Marines and wounded 14 while the Communists left 23 bodies behind. The enemy disengaged at sunset.
The BLT moved out again on the 19th. Small actions flared up throughout the day and the advancing Marines began discovering hidden enemy food stocks.
After another quiet night, the BLT renewed sweep operations at 0845 on the 20th when Company E crossed the Troung Giang River. That afternoon, Company H had great difficulty fording the Troung Giang, but by late afternoon the battalion began moving westward again. Scattered contact continued west of the river for the next three days. The highlight of this period was Company E's discovery of three tons of rice and two tons of potatoes early on the morning of the 24th. At 0600, 25 June, Operation Beacon Torch phased into Operation Calhoun.
By 1300, 25 June Company E had discovered another 1,000 pounds rice and at 1600 Company G uncovered a two-ton cache The rice hunt continued and on the 26th the Marines bagged and helilifted another 7,600 pounds to the ARVN-controlled town of Dien Ban, nine kilometers west of Hoi An. The largest single find of the operation was a five-ton cache discovered by Company F on the morning of the 2 7th. Complementing this discovery, Company G, assisted by ARVN troops, rounded up and evacuated 84 stray cattle.
Minor skirmishes and the detention of scattered suspects continued until Calhoun ended at 1200, 1 July. Reverting to the Beacon Torch plan, the BLT began its retraction. As the last units returned to their respective ships, Beacon Torch ended at 1300, 2 July.
Beacon Torch/Calhoun hurt the Communists in central I Corps. The BLT captured more than 40 tons of rice and other food stocks, over 31 of which they evacuated for ARVN use. The rest they destroyed in place. The BLT's casualty ratio was favorable. Eighty- six enemy died in contrast to only 13 STY Marines. The BLT suffered 123 non-battle casualties.
Beacon Torch/Calhoun, however, had no lasting impact, as emphasized by the fact that the departing Marines sighted enemy troops near the beach area during the retraction. The Communists could not afford to lose control of the population and immediately reoccupied the area to repair the damage caused by the operation.

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