As Marine ground units began landing in Vietnam in early 1965, BLT 2/3 arrived off the coast of DaNang on board the USS Lenawee. The battalion went ashore in April 1965 and immediately began combat operations in the DaNang area. In November 1965, 2/3 was rotated to Okinawa for a few weeks before boarding ship to become the Special Landing Force (SLF) of the Seventh Fleet. While on board the USS Valley Forge, 2/3 participated in Operation DOUBLE EAGLE I. At the end of February 1966, the battalion again landed in Vietnam, where it remained for a year before being designated SLF BRAVO.
As the Mount McKinley weighed anchor for the South China Sea, Task Force 76 and 3d MEB staffs completed embarkation and landing plans. RLT 3, BLT 3/4, and MASS-2 would sail from Okinawa on board five tank landing ships. VMFA-531 would fly its aircraft to Da Nang, while its heavy support equipment would follow in amphibious shipping. Lieutenant Colonel Clement's BLT 2/3 was already on board the ships of Navy Task Group 76.6, having completed the JUNGLE DRUM III exercise in Thailand. On 4 April, while underway for the Philippines, the task group received instructions to move to a position 50 miles off the coast of Da Nang. The amphibious squadron arrived there the next day and awaited further landing instructions.
Landing plans of the 3d MEB directed Lieutenant Colonel Clement, a holder of the Silver Star from the Korean War, to land his battalion over RED Beach 2 while the supplies and heavy equipment of the battalion landing team were unloaded at the LST landing on the Tiensha Peninsula, across the Da Nang River from Da Nang.* Two companies of BLT 2/3 were to be lifted to Phu Bai and await BLT 3/4. Upon the arrival of Jones' battalion, two of his companies were to land across RED Beach 2 and were then to relieve Cement's force at Phu Bai. The rest of BLT 3/4 would remain on board the transports and the task group would move north to the mouth of the Hue River where the Marines and their equipment would unload into landing craft for the trip to Hue City.
On the morning of 10 April, Navy Task Group 76.6, joined by the flagship Mount McKinley, entered Da Nang harbor. In contrast to the landing of 8 March, the sea was calm with only a light wind blowing from the south. Visibility was unrestricted with a slightly overcast sky.
At 0823, the first of five waves touched down on RED Beach 2. By 1310, the landing was completed. The ships then moved to positions off Tiensha Peninsula and general unloading continued. A provisional task force under Lieutenant Colonel Clement, consisting of Companies F and G of the 2d Battalion, 3d Marines and support elements was helilifted to Phu Bai. At Da Nang, Company H took up positions on Hills 278 and 312 north of the high ground held by the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines while Company E remained on board the ships to assist with the unloading. The next day, Company E joined Company H.