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USMC Photo A 185018

Marines from Company B, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines are seen in Operation BLASTOUT I southwest of Da Nang. The 1st Battalion, 9th Marines conducted its search of the Cam Ne village complex, four miles to the north, in conjunction with this operation.

 

operations emphasis was on coordination and cooperation; the Americans were to be careful not to give the appearance of occupation troops. General Thi remarked that he hoped the expansion would be carried out ' 'by both parties in a spirit of friendly cooperation in order to obtain good results.''29

Even the smoothest of relations could not disguise the need for more Marines at Da Nang. The increased demands for airfield security and the expanded Da Nang TAOR, as well as the deployment of BLT 2/7 to Qui Nhon, forced General Walt to scrap his original plans to reinforce Phu Bai with a regiment. Instead, most of the Marine reinforcements authorized by the JCS, with the exception of BLT 2/7 at Qui Nhon and the 4th Marines (Rear) which was slated for Chu Lai, arrived at Da Nang on 6 July. These included all of RLT-9 headquarters, BLT 2/9, the remainder of the 12th Marines, and support units of the 1st MAW and 3d Marine Division.

With the arrival of the last units of the 3d Division, General Walt made some adjustments in the disposition of his infantry at Da Nang. While the 3d Marines retained operational control over the battalion at Phu Bai and responsibility for the defense of the western and southwestern perimeters of the Da Nang Base, Walt assigned the defense of the airfield and the southern portion of the TAOR to Colonel Frank E. Garretson, the 9th Marines commander. Lieutenant Colonel Ludwig's 1st Battalion, 9th Marines was retained as the airbase defense battalion, but reverted to parent unit control, while the 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, under Lieutenant Colonel George R. Scharnberg, was given the responsibility of expanding Marine control to the south.

To free the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines from a static role on the airfield itself. General Walt ordered the establishment of a provisional airbase defense battalion to be formed from the personnel of the various service units at Da Nang. Lieutenant Colonel William H. Clark, the executive officer of the 9th Marines, was assigned as the provisional battalion commander. The provisional battalion was to be organized as a conventional infantry battalion with a headquarters and service company and four infantry companies and a total strength of 38 officers and 911 enlisted men. On 19 July, Clark activated his new command. Three days later his newly formed Company A relieved one of Ludwig's companies on the airfield perimeter, and on l August, Company B relieved another 1st Battalion company.

The formation of the provisional base defense battalion released infantry companies from the airfield security mission, but the organization had a debilitating effect on the support and service units of III MAF. Too many specialists needed on their own jobs were serving as infantrymen. As early as 17 July, Lieutenant Colonel Clark had recommended

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