3rd Force Reconnaissance Company was activated, trained, fought and deactivated during the Vietnam War. Activated in September 1965 as one of the first group of add on units to meet demands of operations in the Republic of South Vietnam, 3rd FORECON formed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. and satellite on 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company that was under strength due to the demands for trained Force Recon Marines assigned to 1st Force Reconnaissance Company in country. Facilities, cadre and equipment for training were provided by 2nd FORECON.
Volunteers were solicited from throughout the Marine Corps and the first four months were devoted to bringing 3rd FORECON up to strength in personnel. Beginning in January 1966 all operational personnel departed Camp Lejeune to train in the Caribbean and Panama.
Returning to North Carolina in March, final preparations were carried out to meet the projected deployment date in May 1966. The expected deployment of the entire 3rd FORECON did not occur, but a two-platoon detachment embarked on the USS Boxer, transited through the Suez Canal, and arrived in country in time to be introduced to combat in Operation Hastings as part of the Special Landing Force Alpha in early July 1966.
3rd FORECON (-) dropped to a not-combat-ready readiness status. Headquarters Marine Corps transferred several commissioned officers and numerous enlisted ([staff] non-commissioned officers) immediately after the Detachment departed.
In mid-June, 3rd FORECON (-) was alerted to deploy immediately. Due to the reduced personnel readiness status, HQMC changed the deployment plan and ordered that a Platoon be assigned to deploy with 1st Battalion, 26th Marines (1/26) that had been activated at Camp Pendleton. The remainder of 3rd FORECON was ordered to move to Camp Pendleton to refit.
At the conclusion of Hastings the Detachment was attached to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion that had just arrived in Phu Bai from Da Nang, having been replaced by the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion that had just begun arriving with the 1st Marine Division. Shortly, they were joined by the Platoon that had come in country with 1/26.
They patrolled in Thua Tin Province, until early January, 1967, when a task-organized "Special Purpose group" carried out a prisoner rescue attempt. The remainder were sent to Khe Sahn where they developed the intelligence of a large enemy buildup, that was the prelude to the hill fights that occurred in April 1967.
Reunited, what was left of the three platoons, returned to Phu Bai to await the arrival of the 3rd FORECON (-). Having been brought up to strength and operational readiness, 3rd FORECON was reunited on May 27, 1966, just in time for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) offensive to seize Quang Tri Province. The logistics element arrive at the "Ramp" at Dong Ha just in time for the opening salvos of the NVA artillery attacks that would continue daily until late Autumn.
The operational element experienced a mortar attack in Phu Bai at the same time resulting in several shrapnel wounds, only one of which, required evacuation. The new arrivals were integrated with combat veterans and the entire eighteen teams conducted a zone reconnaissance in the Cobi Than Tan Valley east of Quey City before displacing to Dong Ha.
Upon arrival at Dong Ha in early May the Commanding Officer assumed command of 3rd Recon Battalion (Forward), which had reconnaissance responsibility for all of Quang Tri Province except the Khe Sahn Tactical Area of Operations (TAOR). 3rd FORECON patrolled the area north of Highway nine to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), while a recon company from 3rd Recon Battalion was targeted south of Highway Nine to the Thua Tin border. Occasional circumstances caused deviation from that concept, but, for the most part, those deviations were rare. 3rd FORECON continued that operational commitment until the 3rd Marine Division left country in November 1969.
3rd FORECON was placed under command of the III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) and operated in general support of III MAF until deactivated in mid 1970.