On March 8, 1965, U.S. Marines — the first combat troops in Vietnam — waded ashore to the coastal city of Da Nang.

“By January 1968,” writes Vietnam veteran Roger Mulock, “it hosted high-level U.S. and South Vietnamese operations, including the headquarters of I Corps, the military zone encompassing South Vietnam’s northern provinces.”

Here’s a look back at the famous landing:

 

  • (Larry Burrows/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
  • (Larry Burrows/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
  • (Larry Burrows/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
  • (Larry Burrows/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
  • (Larry Burrows/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
  • (Larry Burrows/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
  • The following month, 3,000 Marines from the Ninth Marine Expeditionary Brigade land in Da Nang as reinforcements. (PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
  • (Larry Burrows/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)