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[Image 1: Photo
courtessy of
LtCol George
E. Smckland.
USMC (Ret) LtCol
Strickland anci
VNMC LtCol Luong
observe NVA positions
across the Thach Han River near
Quang Tri. Later,
in 1975. the
258th Brigade
was deployed
on the southern
bank of the river, west of the city.]

Page 36(The Bitter End)




proached, training for the III MAF elements on Okinawa became more difficult.
The Japanese government had imposed more stringent regulations to ensure the
safety and success of Expo and adherence to these rules forced the Marine
Corps to restrict its training on Okinawa. As a result, Korean practice areas
and the Zambales training area in the Philippines came to be used more extensively
for III MAF exercises, as did the live firing ranges and maneuver areas located
at Camp Fuji, Honshu, Japan, and Subic Bay and Zambales in the Philippines.
Ranges in South Korea provided excellent practice areas for deployed BLTs,
amphibian tractor and reconnaissance units, and forward air control parties.28


Despite the restrictions and the additional expense of long-distance exercises, III MAF did not suffer from the experience. The situation on Okinawa and the requirement to train elsewhere produced some beneficial results. To get to the other training areas, considerable embarkation planning had to be done, both for air and sea movement, and as a consequence the III MAF agencies responsible for moving Marines and their equipment perfected the techniques to an exceptional degree. Americans Ashore


The deactivation of MACV and the creation of US-SAG obligated the Marine Corps to provide two officers for the new joint staff in Nakhon Phanom. Both staff billets were in J-3, the operations directorate. The first officers assigned were Colonel George T. Balzer, chief of the Operations and Plans Division, and one of his assistants, Major John J. Carry, a plans action officer. In May of 1973, Major Horace W. Baker relieved Major Carry and a month later Colonel Edward J. Bronars replaced Colonel Balzer. The following year, in April, Major Edward A. "Tony" Grimm replaced Major Baker. The official title of his billet was Eagle Pull Action Officer, Surface Plans Division, J-3, USSAG, In June 1974, Colonel James P. Connol-ly II arrived in Nakhon Phanom as Colonel Bronars' replacement for the designated Marine Corps billet. Instead, because of questions over seniority at this joint command headquarters, the USSAG chief of staff assigned Colonel Connolly to a different position, chief of the Ground Operations Branch.29


With USSAG located in Thailand, over 400 nautical miles from Saigon, the DAO, charged with attache duties, logistics and supply functions, intelligence collection and analysis, and technical support and contracts, became the administrative heir to MACV. Having inherited several of its predecessor's functions, the DAO conducted business and maintained its offices in the former MACV compound, adjacent to Tan Son Nhut Air Base, in the northwestern suburbs of Saigon.


When the DAO was established, the protocols of the Paris Accords limited it to a staff of no more than 50 military and 1,200 U.S. civilian personnel. In addition, the Accords stipulated that there could be no more than 4,900 Department of Defense contractors in South Vietnam. The majority of the DAO personnel worked on the military assistance program, but most of the contact with Vietnamese military personnel was by contractors. There was, however, an exception to this arrangement-the VNMC Logistic Support Branch, at 15 Le Thanh Ton in Saigon consisting of a chief (a Marine Corps officer) and five American civilians. Two of the five men had prior service in the Marine Corps: Jerry Edwards, a Marine Corps captain in WW II, who served as the staffs deputy, and Master Gunnery Sergeant Charles C. Gorman, USMC (Ret), a former supply chief, who used his expertise in the role of supply advisor. All five of them maintained daily contact with their Vietnamese Marine Corps counterparts, often conducting on-site visits, a rare occurrence for American civilians working at the DAO.30


When the ceasefire agreement was signed, it was understood that the civilian DAO employees would be phased out by the end of January 1975, and that








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