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The Magnificent Bastards of Chu Lai

By Lawrence Cortesi

In the early morning hours of August 18, 1965, two battalions of Marine Corps leathernecks launched a surprise attack against firmly entrenched Communist troops on Vietnam’s Chu Lai peninsula.

Code named Operation Starlite, it would be the war’s first full-scale battle between American and North Vietnamese combat troops. American military leaders who planned the attack knew the stakes were high; victory-or defeat-would have far-reaching political consequences.

But no one could have known that the success of Operation Starlite would ultimately depend on the efforts of a mere 170 gyrenes-the “Magnificent Bastards” of Company H.

At the height of the battle, in the face of wave after wave of fanatical North Vietnam and Viet Cong counterattacks, Company H suddenly found itself on the edge of annihilation. And as their ammunition ran out and they fixed bayonnets for one final stand, the Magnificent Bastards climbed out of their foxholes to face one of the severest tests of military history…

Lawrence Cortesi was an American school teacher and prolific writer, who published multiple books, often telling history as a story in his trademark style. Born on August 6, 1923, he married Frances Barringer and had four children. He died on October 12, 1987.

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