Fire support base Mary Ann was set up with the purpose of providing a shield for Chu Lai and the surrounding hamlets, the base was also designed as an interception point against movements of enemy troops and materiel down the Dak Rose Trail. The base was manned by 231 American soldiers.
The firebase was scheduled to be handed over to the South Vietnamese Army, so 21 ARVN soldiers were sent out to Mary Ann to take over the camp when all U.S. soldiers had pulled out.
For months leading up to the attack the level of enemy activity in the area had been low and contacts were infrequent, although two weeks before the assault a large cache of enemy supplies was captured. The lack of significant engagements, plus the insignificant position of the firebase, had given the U.S. soldiers in the area a false sense of security.
Prior to the attack on Fire Support Base Mary Ann, there had been reports of Viet Cong infiltration within the ranks of the 21 South Vietnamese contingent. In one incident, a South Vietnamese lieutenant inquired about the easiest way to get off the firebase because his men wanted to go fishing. He was told the easiest way in and out of the camp was the south end of the firebase.The incident, coupled with intelligence reports that the enemy were posing as ARVN, were largely ignored by officers of the 196th Light Infantry...... Read More