[Image 1: Photo
courtesy of BGen
William A. Bloomer,
USMC (Ret). An
RF-4 of VMCJ-1 lands on board the USS Midway (CVA 41). One
of the many Marine Corps supporting units then serving in
the U.S. Seventh Fleet. VMCJ-1 and its aircraft possessed
both aerial reconnaissance and electronic counter-measures
Page 29(The Bitter End)
(part of the Subic Bay complex), Kadena on Okinawa, and at Misawa and Atsugi
on the island of Honshu, Japan. Although the bases were not subordinate to
the Commander, Seventh Fleet, base commanders were required to give priority
support to the fleet and fleet aircraft.
Most of the ships and aircraft of the Seventh Fleet were detached from the California-based First Fleet for periods of six months, but one attack carrier, the USS Midway (CVA 41), two cruisers, including the flagship USS Oklahoma (CLG 6), a destroyer squadron, and two combat stores ships were home-ported in Japan. A submarine, the USS Grayback, and a tactical air support squadron called the Philippines home, while a reconnaissance squadron based its planes at the naval air station on Guam.19
In an emergency, the Seventh Fleet could be augmented by other units. In March and April of 1975, just such an emergency occurred when the Seventh Fleet was forced to concentrate its ships in the coastal waters near Saigon, ready for any eventuality. By the end of April, when evacuation of U.S. nationals was imminent, the Seventh Fleet realized the benefits of augmentation. The task force's size reflected the fact that it had been reinforced by a full carrier task group and an amphibious squadron. The III Marine Amphibious Force
During the 1973-1975 Paris Peace Accords "cease-fire," the Marine Corps had three Marine amphibious forces within its Fleet Marine Force structure. Two of them, I MAF and II MAF, were based in the continental United States while the third was in Japan. The III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) maintained its headquarters on Okinawa. The Commanding General, III MAF was also the commander of the landing force of the Seventh Fleet, Task Force 79. As commander III MAF, the units subordinate to him were the 3d Marine Division, the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW), and the 3d Force Service Regiment* Additionally, when wearing his Seventh Fleet "hat," the commanding general controlled the two deployed Marine landing forces with Amphibious Ready Groups Alpha and Bravo.
With most of its air units at Iwakuni, collocated with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and U.S. Navy patrol squadrons, the Marine Corps regularly had to rotate units out of Iwakuni in order to avoid overcrowding. As a result, normally two of the wing's five fixed-wing tactical squadrons were deployed for training, one to Naval Air Station Cubi Point, and the other to the Naval Air Facility Naha, Okinawa.20
*Thc 1st MAWs home base was Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan. In addition to its basic headquarters and support and control groups, (he wing was comprised of three aircraft groups, an aerial refueling and transport squadron (VMGR), and a composite reconnaissance squadron (VMCJ). With the exception of Marine Aircraft Group 56 (helicopters and OV-lOs), VMGR-152, and Marine Air Support Squadron 2, which were based at Marine Corps Air Station, Futema. Okinawa, all of the wing's subordinate elements were at Iwakuni. In March of 1976, the spelling of Futema was changed by the Japanese to ifs present form of Futcnrna. 1st MAW ComdC, lJan-30Jun7}.
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