Military Wiki
1st Searchlight Battery
Country United States
Branch USMC
Part of 12th Marine Regiment
3rd Marine Division
Garrison/HQ MCAGCC 29 Palms
Engagements Vietnam War

1st Searchlight Battery was a United States Marine Corps unit formed during the Vietnam War to monitor the "Electronic Wall of Defense" that was set up along the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone. They fell under the 12th Marine Regiment and the 3rd Marine Division.


1st Searchlight Battery was a new unit organized, supervised and controlled by the United States Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara and was part of the "Electronic Wall of Defense".

The Battery began at Marine Corps Base Twentynine Palms, California. It was the first unit in the history of the Marine Corps with infrared/xeon arc technology searchlights.

There were 122 men in the Battery: 6 Officers, 113 Enlisted and 3 Enlisted U.S. Navy Corpsmen. Commanding Officer was Captain Victor B. Snider.

Deployed to Vietnam on the USS Paul Revere (APA-248), departing the continental limits of the United States from National City, California on May 31, 1967. All personnel had "Secret" security clearance.


On June 27, 1967 the Battery arrived in Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam. At 0530 on June 28 it departed Da Nang for Dong Ha. Arrived in Dong Ha on June 29. The Battery HQ was built in Dong Ha.

Attached to 12th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division (Rein) FMF.


There were 18 M274 Mechanical Mules converted with generators and the searchlight. Each searchlight had a 23" Dual Blade. They had infrared (viewed with M-18 binoculars) and white light capability. The white light had a Xenon Arc, with 75 million candlepower.

On apx. July 3 the Battery began deployment of the 3 platoons to seven areas of the Quang Tri/ICorps Con Thien, Cau Viet, Khe Sanh, Gio Linh, Dong Ha, Cam Lo, Camp Carroll and Thua Thien Provinces (Phu Bai & Camp Evans).

The primary use of the searchlight was for perimeter defense. The lights were also used in six major combat operations with excellent results.

Combat history[]

Record keeping in 1967-69 was done manually. The Operations [indented] were in the Command Chronology from the Battery Command Officer. These records have been scanned and are located on the 12th Marine Regiment Association (URL on page). The other Operations are from later records.

Significant operations participated in:

  • Apache Snow
  • Ardmore
  • Bear Claw
  • Buffalo
  • Cammeron Falls
  • Choctaw
  • Cimarron
  • Concordia Square
  • Con Thien, Siege of
  • Dawson River
  • Dewey Canyon
  • Dyemarker
  • Ellis Ravine
  • Fremont
  • Herkimer Mountain
  • Hickory II
  • Highrise
  • Iroquois Grove
  • Kingfisher
  • Kentucky
  • Lancaster II
  • Liberty
  • Marshall Mountain
  • Maine Crag
  • Massachusetts Bay
  • Montana Mauler
  • Napoleon
  • Neosho
  • Pegasus [Battle of Khe Sanh]
  • Prairie II [Battle of Con Thien]
  • Purple Martin
  • Saline
  • Saline II
  • Scotland
  • Scotland II
  • Rice
  • Thor
  • Utah Mesa
  • Virginia Ridge


The members of the battery had their first reunion on June 10–12 (2005), at The Leatherneck Club, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Of the 120 men originally in the battery, 50 were located and 18 members attended the reunion. The 2nd reunion was June 13–17th, 2007 in Quantico, Virginia. The 3rd reunion was held June 9–12, 2010 in San Diego, California. The 4th reunion will be held June 11–14, 2011 in Branson, MO.

External links[]

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