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in 1964 but the decision was deferred because of facility construction cost. Budgetary considerations on 7 February were of minor relevance; the battalion commander alerted his Battery A, commanded by Captain Leon E. Obenhaus, to prepare for an airlift to an unknown destination. The battery had just completed a firing exercise at Bolo Point, four miles northwest of Kadena, and its equipment was still emplaced there. After a rapid overnight breakdown from "the firing exercise configuration" and delays caused by the morning rush hour, the first echelons of Battery A arrived at Naha Air Force Base, 14 miles to the south of Bolo Point.4

Through the night of the 7th and the early morning of the 8th, Lieutenant Colonel Cook had worked out with Colonel Clarence B. Slaughter, commander of the 6315th U.S. Air Force Operations Group, the complicated details of moving a HAWK battery by air from Okinawa to Da Nang. Several years later, he recalled:

Colonel Slaughter had been a student at the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, Senior Course ... at the time I was attending the Junior Course. We had been personal friends then and this friendship plus his appreciation of our problems greatly contributed to an extremely smooth, well coordinated operation. His first comment to me upon receipt of his orders to provide aircraft for the airlift was, "How many aircraft of what type do you want and what time do you want them?" He immediately dispatched Air Force loadmaster personnel to work with the 1st LAAM Bn embarkation personnel to iron out possible problem areas. However, 1st LAAM Bn. had participated in several airlift exercises prior to departure from CONUS, and I immediately gave him our requirements-26 C-130 type aircraft and l C-124.5

The first aircraft took off at 1045 on the morning of 8 February. The LAAM battalion commander planned that the battery would have a "limited" operational capability after the arrival of the 8th or 10th planeload at Da Nang. Lieutenant Colonel Cook remembered, ' "This was not to be, due to my lack of knowledge that two different models of C-130 were to be used in the airlift and Colonel Slaughter's lack of knowledge that sequential loads were of great importance to our operational readiness.'' The older C-130A models of the Lockheed Hercules transports held 1,700 fewer gallons of fuel than the newer C-130B models and therefore had to make a refueling stop in the Philippines before flying on to Da Nang. According to Cook, "our sequencing was in trouble. This caused substantial delay (several hours) in achieving both partial and full operational status." Nevertheless, Battery A was set up on the northwest side of the Da Nang Airfield runway and prepared to fire less than 12 hours after the arrival of the first aircraft. On 8-9 February, the Air Force transports had lifted 52 loads of LAAM personnel and equipment, carrying 309 passengers and 315 tons from Okinawa to Da Nang.6

Lieutenant Colonel Cook had attached additional officers to the battery to facilitate the establishment of the battalion at Da Nang and to make liaison with Detachment l, 619th Tactical Command and Control Squadron, U.S. Air Force, already at the airbase. On arrival, Battery A established radio communication with the Air Force Control and Reporting Post (CRP), located east of the city on top of Monkey Mountain on the Tiensha Peninsula. For missile firing control, the Air Force detachment and the Marines used as their guide a Southeast Asia Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) which had been developed in November 1964 when Major George G. Long, the LAAM battalion executive officer, and USAF 2d Air Division representatives met at MACV headquarters in Saigon "to effect a common understanding." The Air Force determined under what conditions the HAWKs could be used, but employment authority remained with the Marines. On 14 February, Captain Ronald G. Richardson, the battalion operations officer, collocated the Marine Antiaircraft Operations Center (AAOC) with the Air Force CRP on Monkey Mountain.7*

On 16 February, the remaining units of the battalion, with the exception of Battery C, which remained on Okinawa, arrived at Da Nang on board the attack cargo ship USS Washburn (AKA 108), and the dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 5). Because the one pier at Da Nang was shallow draft, the cargo of the two ships was lightered from the bay to the military ramp in the port. Trucks transported the Marines of the LAAM Battalion's Battery B and Headquarters and Service Battery and their equipment through the city to the airfield.

Battery B, under Captain Everett L. Cowley, set up a HAWK site in the southwestern sector of the airfield complex in an old bunker area which the

 

 

* In the following months, the Air Force expanded its CRP facilities and capabilities and redesignated it a Control and Reporting Center (CRC), which reported to the USAF Tactical Air Command Center (TACC) at Tan Nhut Airfield in Saigon.

 

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