In 1964, the United States involvement in Vietnam was a much smaller undertaking than it would become just a year later. The total number of U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1964 was 23,000. They were still considered technically advisors to the South Vietnamese Army. Nevertheless, 216 Americans would die in combat that year against the Viet Cong (VC) and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA).
Political chaos and constant regime change severely hampered the South. The Viet Cong communist guerrillas controlled about 40 percent of the countryside. The United States sent Green Berets from Ft. Bragg and they, with CIA assistance, began the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG).
The original design of CIDG was to prevent the Viet Cong from recruiting the Montagnards (an indigenous mountain people of Vietnam). This was done by, among other measures, building fortified camps that were manned by the Montagnards. Later, though, CIDG’s mission was changed to include the construction of outposts that monitored the major NVA infiltration routes from North Vietnam.
One of these CIDG camps was the camp at Nam Dong. The commander of the U.S. SF troops was Captain Roger Donlon, and the A-Team was A-726 from the 7th Special Forces Group. Nam Dong was situated 32 miles west of Da Nang along the border with Laos.