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Navy Photo K31362

Merchant ships in Da Nang Harbor wait their turn to unload their cargo. At the end of December 1965, 12 ships were in the harbor waiting to be unloaded.

staff and that officer would then become the 'duty expert' and action officer for that matter. Colonel Harold A. Hayes, who became the III MAF G-4 on 26 August, recalled the early morning briefings that he held for General Walt and the rest of the III MAF staff where he had to report on the 'low, low supply levels at different times in aviation gas, artillery ammunition, and even rations.'9

One particularly serious shortage during 1965 was that of aviation ordnance. The data used to forecast aviation ammunition needs in early 1965 failed to reflect the actual combat needs or delivery capabilities of the aircraft deployed to Vietnam.10 Thus, from the very beginning, the F-4B pilots, and later the A-4 pilots, had to conserve ammunition and to make value judgments on the necessity for firing at assigned targets. No targets were left unhit, but the Marines had to employ their resources sparingly and, on at least one occasion, the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing ordered F-4B squadrons not to expend rockets unless they were being used to support Marines.11 According to Colonel Robert F. Conley, who commanded MAG-11 from July to November 1965: 'Without the Navy's strong support in this field, we would not have been able to function.'12 The aviation ammunition situation, like the rest of the logistic problems that the Marines faced, could not be corrected until a productive pipeline was established and adequate port and storage facilities were built.*

III MAF Naval Responsibilities

In his role as Naval Component Commander (NCC),** the III MAF commander was in the U.S. Pacific Fleet chain of command rather than that of MACV. In this capacity he was responsible for base construction in I Corps and the operation of all ports, beaches, and depots from Quang Ngai to the DMZ. Colonel Nickerson, in his 16 May concept of logistic support for III MAF, projected a Naval Support Activity under the NCC that would carry out the above assignments, as well as provide common item support for all U.S. forces in I Corps, but the Navy did not have the available manpower for the activation of such a unit. In a message to Admiral


*Colonel Thomas J. O'Connor, 1st MAW chief of staff until August 1965, observed: 'We discovered that we had dipped deeply into the national war reserve ammunition supplies in the United States. That's what happens when you initiate a war, but try to conduct business as usual in the United States as if no war were going on.' Col Thomas J. O'Connor, Comments on draft MS, did 27Nov76 (Vietnam Comment File).

**As NCC, General Walt did not control all U.S. Naval Forces in South Vietnam. The Naval Advisory Group and CTF 115 remained separate entities.

 

 

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