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[Image 1: Marine
Corps Historical
Collection. Aerial
view of isolated
Nam Phong Air
Base, the "Rose Garden," as seen
during an approach
to Runway 36.
Task Force Delta/light
line and encampment
are on the left
side of the north
runway, most
of it constructed
after the Marine
Corps' arrival
in June 1972.]

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its aircraft flew air support missions under the operational control of the Air Force. On 15 August 1973, the United States officially halted all combat air operations in Southeast Asia and the Marine Corps began the final phase of its withdrawal from Nam Phong. Manned by more than 3,000 Marines at its height in early July 1972, Task Force Delta gradually decreased in size until the mount-out boxes were once again nailed shut and the last Marines departed Nam Phong on 21 September 1973. The task force's aerial refucl-crs and helicopters returned to Okinawa and MAG-15 returned to Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni.6


During MAG-15's assignment to Thailand, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) approved a new command structure in Southeast Asia. In November 1972, the JCS authorized the creation of a multi-service, integrated headquarters to be located at Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. The approved concept directed the new organization, upon inception, to assume many of the duties then performed by U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam and replace Seventh Air Force as the manager of aviation assets and the air war in Southeast Asia. In February 1973, the Seventh Air Force, located in Saigon, ceased to exist as a separate headquarters. Its commander, General John W. Vogt, Jr., USAF, received orders directing him to transfer to Nakhon Phanom and assume command of the newly created, combined headquarters. Its shortened title, USSAG/Seventh Air Force (an acronym for United States Support Activities Group/Seventh Air Force) soon became known, due to the sensitivities surrounding the combat role of the Seventh Air Force, as just USSAG. General Vogt, USSAG's new commander, also had been MACV's deputy commander since its reorganization on 29 June 1972. In that position, he had been fully responsible for all combat air operations in Southeast Asia, making him the obvious choice for the new billet in Thailand. In addition to the air war, General Vogt assumed responsibility for all military matters not exclusively pertaining to Thailand. Mili-

 






Page 24(The Bitter End)