The USS Henrico, Union, and Vancouver, carrying the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade under Brig. Gen. Frederick J. Karch, use up stations 4,000 yards off Red Beach Two, north of Da Nang.
First ashore was the Battalion Landing Team 3/9, which arrived on the beach at 8:15 a.m. Wearing complete battle gear and carrying M-14s, the Marines were met by sightseers, South Vietnamese officers, Vietnamese girls with leis, and four American soldiers with a large sign stating: “Welcome, Gallant Marines.” Gen. William Westmoreland, senior U.S. military commander in Saigon, was reportedly “appalled” at the spectacle since he previously hoped that the Marines could land without any fanfare. Within two hours, Battalion Landing Team 1/3 started landing at Da Nang air base.
The 3,500 Marines were deployed to secure the U.S. airbase, freeing South Vietnamese troops up for combat. On March 1, Ambassador Maxwell Taylor had informed South Vietnamese Premier Phan Huy Quat that the United States was getting ready to send the Marines to Vietnam. Three days later, a formal request was submitted by the U.S. Embassy, asking the South Vietnamese government to “invite” the United States to send the Marines. Premier Quat, only figurehead, had to acquire approval from the original energy, Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, chief of the Armed Forces Council. Thieu authorized, but, like Westmoreland, asked that the Marines be “brought ashore in the most inconspicuous way feasible.” These wishes have already been ignored and the Marines have already been provided a hearty, conspicuous welcome if they arrived.