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battalion's operations officer, Major Marc A. Moore, symbolized the spanning of the 'broken link in the road which separated territory previously controlled by the VC from the RVN controlled villages immediately south of Le My.'10 Apparently well aware of this symbolism, a VC main force unit attacked one of the bridges on the night of 20 May. According to Lieutenant Colonel Clement, both the VC and the local population discovered the effectiveness of U. S security: 'The attack was repulsed, the bridge unharmed, and four VC were killed and abandoned.'11

The village held a dedication ceremony the next day at the two newly built bridges. Local government officials made speeches and cut a ribbon strung across the two spans. The festivities also presented grim reminders of the war; the chief displayed the bodies of the VC killed in the attack on the bridges at the gates of the village. This technique had been employed by both the government forces and the Communists to impress on the people what awaited the enemy.

At this early stage of the Marine intervention, the Le My experiment held promise for the future. General Collins stated that the 'Le My operation may well be the pattern for the employment of Marine Corps forces in this area.'12 On a visit to III MAF in mid-May, General Krulak described the pacification efforts in Le My as a:

USMC Photo 185766

A South Vietnamese official stands in front of a bridge at Le My rebuilt by Marines. The VC had destroyed the old bridge.

 

... beginning, but a good beginning. The people are beginning to get the idea that U.S. generated security is a long term affair. This is just one opportunity among many ... it is the expanding oil spot concept in action.13

Building the Chu Lai Airfield

At Chu Lai, the main effort in May was the building of the airfield. On 7 May, Lieutenant Colonel Charles L. Goode, the 1st MAW engineering officer, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Wilson, the commanding officer of MABS-12, and a small advance party from the MABS arrived at Da Nang from Iwakuni. While at Da Nang, they discussed the Chu Lai airfield problem with Colonel Graham, the III MAF/3d Marine Division engineering officer. According to Goode, he brought Graham 'up to date on the runway layout and location as I knew it, including the fact that . . . [the civilian contractor] had not yet provided the coordinates of the runway.'14

The following morning, Lieutenant Colonel Goode and the MABS-12 advance party flew to Chu Lai. There they conferred with Commander Bannister, the NMCB-10 commander, and several members of his staff concerning the initial phases of the airfield construction. Commander Bannister informed Lieutenant Colonels Goode and Wilson that he had received a message from Saigon that listed the coordinates for the runway. The two Marines, with Bannister and his operations officer, then toured the area of the proposed location for the SATS field. According to Goode, 'the site was completely unacceptable.' It was several hundred yards west of the original site selected by General Carl during the reconnaissance of Chu Lai in April. Goode related:

. . . the line being surveyed at the time was on the west edge of the natural drainage course, which would have placed the cross taxiways, parallel taxiway and the entire operations area in the center of the drainage course. From the signs of water in the area, it was obvious that most of this area would be inundated during the rainy season.15

Commander Bannister agreed with Lieutenant Colonel Goode's observations, but stated that he was

 

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