6 – 15 August 1966 – Operation COLORADO. Hiep Duc – Song Ly Ly Valley.
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Operation Overview: Operation COLORADO began on 10 August 1966 for the Marines of 1/5. Seven Marines of Charlie 1/5 lost their lives on that same day.

Operation COLORADO required the Marines to search out the enemy by sweeping through areas north and west of Tam Ky in an attempt to route any Viet Cong that were hidden. These sweeps involved the entire Regiment, three Battalions, making their own positions quite clear to the enemy at the same time. Using the strategy of “baiting” the enemy, these maneuvers successfully resulted in engaging the Marines with their enemy, but not always as they expected. As the Marines of Charlie Company were preparing their night defensive positions, they received orders from the Battalion Commander to return to the combat base as quickly as possible. Captain Darling ordered the Marines to move out, and a few minutes later they walked into a village that just happened to contain the headquarters of an NVA Regiment. Although caught somewhat off guard, the Marines engaged the enemy at very close quarters, and essentially destroyed the enemy command post.

The 1 st Platoon of Charlie 1/5, under the new leadership of 2 nd Lieutenant Arthur C. Blades (who would retire many years later as a Lieutenant General), engaged the enemy in a deadly struggle during the brunt of Operation COLORADO, earning the combat leader a Silver Star for gallantry.

In the succinct shorthand of the Combat After-Action Report on Operation COLORADO, the 1/5 Battalion Commander reported that Charlie Company was in constant contact with the Viet Cong from 1515 to 1845, when they were ordered to return to the battalion perimeter. Lt. Col. Coffman reported 30 VC KIA’s confirmed, and estimated that another 11 VC were “probably” killed and 35 VC were likely wounded during this engagement. In addition to the seven Marines who lost their lives, an additional 27 Marines were wounded in action that day.

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